The Congregation for the Clergy is the new title given by Paul VI to the "Sacred Congregation of the Council", in the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae dated August 15, 1967. The history of this Congregation goes back to the Sacra Congregatio Cardinalium Concilii Tridentini interpretum, instituted by Pius IV in the Apostolic Constitution Alias Nos dated Aug. 2, 1564, to ensure a correct interpretation and the practical observance of the norms issued by the Council of Trent. Gregory XIII increased its functions and Sixtus V entrusted to it the revision of the acts of provincial councils and, in general, the task of promoting the implementation of the reforms established by the Council of Trent. With the passage of time, the task of interpreting the canons of the Council of Trent ceased and the vast competence of this Dicastery was gradually transferred to other Congregations which had been created in the meantime. However, the Dicastery has kept its historical name of "Sacred Congregation of the Council" until December 31, 1967. Before being given its new title and role, which were established by Paul VI in the above-mentioned Apostolic Constitution, the tasks of the Congregation were enumerated in can. 250 of the Code of Canon Law.
The competence of the Congregation for the Clergy is now indicated in ns. 93-98 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus and is these are divided among three Offices:
1. Attached to the Congregation for the Clergy is the old Studio Pio, formally instituted by Benedict XV on Oct. 28, 1919, to help young priests to improve their skill in the normal and regular dispatch of ecclesiastical affairs and especially in the application of Canon Law in administrative matters.
2. In a Letter, dated June 7, 1973, Paul VI provided that the International Council for Catechesis would be attached to this Dicastery. This Council has the task of promoting an exchange of experiences, of studying the more important catechetical issues, and is an organ at the service of the Apostolic See and of Episcopal Conferences, with the purpose of making suggestions and proposals in these areas.
3. Beginning with the Academic Year 1994-1995 the Institute, "Sacrum Ministerium", has also been attached to the Congregation. Its purpose is to provide for the formation of those responsible for the ongoing formation of priests.
4. The biennial review edited by the Congregation, "Sacrum Ministerium", was also begun at the same time. This review is presented as an aid to Ordinaries, Presbyterates, individual priests as an instrument for ongoing formation in the vast arena of pastoral ministry.
The Dicastery is articulated in Four Offices:
1) The Clergy Office receives, suggests and promotes initiatives for the sanctity and the intellectual and pastoral updating of the Clergy (Diocesan Priests and Deacons) and for their permanent formation; it watches over Cathedral Chapters, Pastoral Councils, Presbyteral Councils, Parish Priests and indeed all Priests in what pertains to their pastoral ministry, etc., Mass collections, pious Foundations, pious Legacies, Oratories, Churches, Shrines, ecclesiastical archives and libraries; it also promotes a more adequate distribution of the Clergy all over the world.
2) The Seminary Office By the Motu Proprio of 16 January, 2013, Benedict XVI entrusted to the Congregation for the Clergy compentence over all Seminaries, except those dependent upon the Congregations for Oriental Churches or for the Evangelization of Peoples. Also transferred to this same Dicastery was the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations (established by the Motu Proprio of Pius XII, Cum Nobis, of 4 November, 1941), whose work received greater stimulus through the Conciliar Decree Optatam Totius, n. 2 (28 October, 1965).
3) The Administrative Office is competent in matter of preservation and administration of temporal ecclesiastical goods belonging to public juridic persons; further it concedes requests for approval of affairs regulated by canons 1292 and 1295 and approval of taxes and tributes; finally, it oversees that which concerns “congrua” remuneration, and of the social security of the Clergy (disablement, old age and medical care), etc..
4) The Dispensation Office. This office was instituted by the Letter of 28 December, 2007 (Prot. N. 64.730/P) and is competent to process, in accord with the norm of the law, dispensations from the obligations assumed upon sacred ordination to the Diaconate or Priesthood on the part of religious and diocesan clerics from the Latin and Oriental Churches.
Attached to the Congregation for the Clergy is the old Studio Pio, formally instituted by Benedict XV on Oct. 29, 1919, to help young priests to improve their skill in the normal and regular dispatch of ecclesiastical affairs and especially in the application of Canon Law in administrative matters.
Starting from the Academic Year 1994-1995 and following the publication of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul VI, Pastores dabo vobis and the Directory for the ministry and life of priests, the Institute "Sacrum Ministerium" has also been attached to the Congregation. Its purpose is to provide for the formation of those responsible for the ongoing formation of priests.
In the same year twice yearly publication of Sacarum Ministerium was launched, a journal edited by the Congregation. This publication is meant to be helpful to Ordinaries, Priests, and every cleric, in the formative scope of pastoral ministry, in the wide field of permanent formation.