Pope Francis, Rescript ex audientia SS.mi On the Establishment of a College within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Examination of Recourses by Ecclesiastics for Graviora delicta, 3 November 2014.


The motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (SST) of 30 April 2001, updated on 21 May 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, defines which are the delicts reserved to the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. arts. 1-6), in accordance with article 52 of the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

In the judgment of these delicts, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith proceeds by a penal process, judicial or administrative (cf. arts. 21 § 1 and § 2, 1º SST), without prejudice to the possibility of submitting the decision directly to the Supreme Pontiff for the most grave cases (cfr. art. 21 § 2, 2º SST). Regarding delicts against the faith, it is understood that the competence in the first instance is that of the ordinary or the hierarch (cfr. art. 2 § 2 SST).

Because of the number of recourses and the need to guarantee a more rapid examination of them, after profound reflection, in an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State on 3 November 2014,

the Supreme Pontiff Francis has decreed the following:

1. There is established within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a special college, composed of seven cardinals or bishops, who can be members of the dicastery or external to it;

2. The president and members of this college are named by the Pope;

3. The college is a provision made by the ordinary session (Feria IV) the Congregation to enable greater efficiency in the examination of recourses in accordance with article 27 SST, without modification of its competence in the matter as established in the same article 27 SST;

4. If the accused is honored with episcopal dignity, his recourse will be examined by the ordinary session, which will also be able to decide specific cases according the judgment of the pope. Other cases can also be deferred to it by the judgment of the college.

5. The college will take care periodically inform the ordinary session about its own decisions.

6. Specific internal regulations will determine the working methods of the college.

The Holy Father has ordered that this general executive decree be promulgated by means of its promulgation in L’Osservatore romano, becoming effective 11 November 2014, and later in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2014

Pietro Cardinal PAROLIN

Secretary of State




Pope Francis, Rescript ex audientia SS.mi On the Establishment of a College within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Examination of Recourses by Ecclesiastics for Graviora delicta, 3 November 2014, AAS 106 (2014) 885-886. English translation by John A. Renken.