Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregation for

views updated


The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is the successor to two previously autonomous congregations: the Congregation of Rites and the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments (established by Pius X on June 29, 1908) (for historical information, see rites, congregation of).

The general reform of the Roman Curia by Pope Paul VI in 1967 left the Congregation of Rites, founded in 1588, relatively unaffected. It retained its competence over the ordering of divine worship, in its pastoral and ritual aspects, for the Roman and other Latin rites. As a temporary arrangement, the revision of liturgical books and the carrying out of liturgical renewal, together with relations with episcopal conferences, were to be handled primarily by the still distinct consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

A further step in reform was taken by the Pope on May 8, 1969, in the apostolic constitution Sacra Rituum. The original Congregation was divided into two congregations: the Congregation for Divine Worship, corresponding largely to the existing section for worship, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which succeeded to the Congregation's competence over beatification and canonization, that is, what had been called since 1969 the judicial section.

The new Congregation for Divine Worship thus succeeded to the liturgical competence of the Congregation of Rites. In effect, however, it succeeded the Consilium, the actual work of which far out shadowed the section for worship within the Congregation of Rites. The membership of the Congregation for Divine Worship (and in large part its personnel) was derived from the Consilium: the cardinal members of the Consilium became members of the Congregation; the bishop members of the Consilium, for this occasion only, elected the seven bishop members of the Congregation from their number. The president of the Consilium, Cardinal Benno Gut, was named as the first prefect of the Congregation; Father (later Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini, the secretary of the Consilium, became the secretary of the Congregation. In 1970 the first body of consultors was appointed.

On July 11, 1975, Paul VI established a new Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship by the apostolic constitution, Constans nobis. This was done by formally suppressing the two existing congregations, the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Divine Worship, and uniting their functions. On April 5, 1984, John Paul II separated the congregation into two: Congregation for the Sacraments and Congregation for Divine Worship. Pursuant to the reorganization of the Roman Curia by John Paul II under the apostolic constitution, Pastor Bonus dated June 28, 1988, these two congregations were reconstituted as one under its present name, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The congregation's purview encompasses the regulation of the liturgy and the sacraments. In the area of liturgy, it is responsible for the preparation of typical editions of liturgical texts, and it works closely with episcopal conferences to ensure the accuracy of translations and adaptations. In the area of sacraments, it is principally concerned with resolving disciplinary and administrative questions, without prejudice to the right of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to resolve doctrinal issues. Specifically, the congregation is concerned with questions of irregularities, impediments and validity in the administration of the sacraments of matrimony and holy orders. Where justified, it is authorized to grant indults and exemptions. The official publication of the congregation is a bimonthly journal, Notitiae.

[f. mcmanus/eds.]