Congregation of the Holy Office

It was founded by Paul III in 1542. The pope is prefect with a cardinal as secretary. Besides officials common to other congregations it has an assessor who acts as secretary, a commissary, a Dominican, who conducts the trials, his two companions who are also Dominicans, a prosecuting attorney and one for the defense. Besides consultors there are also qualifiers or theologians who advise the cardinals on the degree of truth or error in the theses and books submitted to the congregation. This congregation defends Catholic teaching of faith and morals. Its decrees are not infallible, even when specifically approved by the pope; but they call for a true assent. It censors and condemns books judged dangerous to faith or morals, and can grant permission to read such books. It can dispense priests from the fast required before celebrating Mass. It has exclusive jurisdiction over questions about the Pauline Privilege and the impediments of disparity of worship and mixed religion. As a tribunal it judges all cases of mixed marriages carried to the Roman Curia. It also judges heresy and all offences leading to a suspicion of heresy. Its members are bound to the strictest secrecy, called the secret of the Holy Office.

New Catholic Dictionary

NCD Index SQPN Contact Author