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Congregation for Catholic Education, Profile

by Catherine Frakas 05 Nov 2004

Congregation for Catholic Education Profile In 1588, with the Constitution Immensa, Pope Sixtus V erected the Congregatio pro universitate studii romani to supervise the studies at the University of Rome and other notable universities of the time, including Bologna, Paris and Salamanca. Leo XII, in 1824, created the Congregatio studiorum for the schools of the Papal States which, starting in 1870, began to exercise authority over Catholic universities. The 1908 reform by St. Pius X confirmed this responsibility. Seven years later, Pope Benedict XV erected in this Congregation the section for seminaries (which existed within the Consistorial Congregation), joined to it the Congregatio studiorum, and gave it the title of Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus. Pope Paul VI in 1967 gave it the name Sacra Congregatio pro institutione Catholica. Today's name-the Congregation for Catholic Education (in Seminaries and Institutes of Study)-was received in 1988 with John Paul II's Pastor Bonus. As do all congregations, it has a prefect, secretary and under-secretary who are, respectively, Cardinal Pio Laghi, Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., and Msgr. Giuseppe Baldanza. It has 39 members-cardinals, archbishops and bishops-a staff of 23, and 35 consultors. Within this congregation is the Pontifical Work of Priestly Vocations, whose president is Cardinal Laghi. This dicastery has authority in three diverse sectors: over all seminaries (except those falling within the jurisdiction of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples and for Oriental Churches) and houses of formation of religious and secular institutes; over all universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or civil dependent on ecclesial persons; over all schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities. Activity within the Office for Seminaries includes apostolic visits to Catholic institutions, preparation to receive bishops during their ad limina visits, nomination of rectors and the erection of seminaries. It has produced the Directives on the Preparation of Educators in Seminaries and constituted the Commission for a More Just Distribution of Priests in the World. It also produces a magazine entitled Seminarium. The congregation's second section, the Office for Universities, is responsible for, among other activities, approving new statutes for new or existing educational centers, nominating or confirming rectors and deans and approving the conferment of honoris causa doctoral degrees. It has published norms-due to an increased request-for those institutes or universities wishing to merge. The Office for Catholic Schools collaborates with other dicasteries of the Roman Curia on questions of mutual interest, has contacts with bishops and with pontifical representatives abroad to remain abreast of the educational systems throughout the world and maintains relations with national and international Catholic organizations on matters concerning Catholic education. Some of the issues treated by this office regard the teaching of sex education in Catholic schools, problems related to the teaching of moral or religious matters in public schools, the closing of Catholic schools in some countries or, in others, the juridical recognition of Catholic schools and ecclesial goods and properties. In 1994 the Congregation for Catholic Education, in collaboration with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, organized the 1st Latin American Continental Congress on Vocations, which took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from May 23-27. The 32nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations occurred this year. The congregation yearly publishes statistics on the number of seminarians and priestly ordinations throughout the world: these appear in both the Activity of the Holy See and in the Pontifical Yearbook or annuario.

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