Dicastery (from the Greek δικαστήριον , court of law, from δικάστης , judge or jury) is the denomination used to refer to the specialized departments or agencies of the Roman Curia.
In Ancient Greece, the dicasterion referred to each of the ten sections of the court of justice of the heliasts of Athens.
Pope Sixtus V, with the Apostolic Immensa aeterni Dei of January 22, 1588, constituted fifteen dicasteries, with the intention of grouping the Cardinals into fifteen congregations or colleges for specific matters.
In article 1 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus :
The Roman Curia is the set of dicasteries and organizations that help the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme pastoral mission, for the good and service of the universal Church and of the particular Churches… 1
The dicasteries, which are collegially organized, comprise Congregations, Tribunals, Pontifical Councils, and Offices, in addition to the Holy See’s Secretariat of State .
The Secretariat of State is the main and oldest dicastery in the Roman Curia, the government of the Catholic Church . It is presided over by the Cardinal Secretary of State. The congregations are headed by a prefect , usually a cardinal, and in the other bodies by a president . A secretary and an undersecretary are also appointed.
- 1. Congregations, of which there are currently nine, are the institutions that continue in importance and have a great tradition
- Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Dicastery for the Eastern Churches
- Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
- Dicastery for the Causes of Saints
- Dicastery for Bishops
- Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (or Propaganda Fide )
- Dicastery for the Clergy
- Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
- Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Study Institutions)
- 2. Dicasteries
- Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
- Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development (begins on January 1, 2017)
- 3. Courts
- Apostolic Penitentiary , run by the Major Penitentiary , who is a Cardinal Prefect
- Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura
- Court of the Roman Rota , presided over by a dean
- 4. Pontifical Councils
- Pontifical Council for the Laity
- Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
- Pontifical Council for the Family
- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (“Iustitia et Pax”)
- Pontifical Council Cor Unum
- Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
- Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers
- Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
- Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
- Pontifical Council for Culture
- Pontifical Council for Social Communications
- Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization
- 5. Offices
- Apostolic Chamber , headed by Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
- Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
- Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
- 6. Other institutions (not strictly considered dicasteries, but which are part of the organization as “institutes”)
- Prefecture of the Papal Household
- Pontifical Academy for Life
- Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
- Central Office of Church Statistics
- Pontifical Commissions:
- Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
- Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Assets of the Church
- Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology
- Pontifical Biblical Commission
- Pontifical Commission for Latin America
- International Theological Commission
- Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State
Commissions are often classified not as integral parts of the Roman Curia, but rather as associated with it, similar to how the Vatican Apostolic Archive and Vatican Apostolic Library are connected with the Holy See.
- Apostolic Constitution: The Roman Curia. « Pastor Bonus ».