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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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In its present form, established by Pope Paul VI in 1965. It began in 1542, under Pope Paul III as the congregation of the Inquisition to defend the Church against heresy. In 1908, Pope St. Pius X reorganized the Inquisition, changed its name to the Congregation of the Holy Office, and united to it the Section for Indulgences. In 1965, Pope Paul VI once more reformed the Holy Office and changed its name to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noting, "We now provide better for the defence of the faith by promoting doctrine." Its competence covers a wide area, including whatever concerns the Catholic faith, such as new theological theories, writings contrary to the faith, the privilege of faith in marriage cases, and the judgment of crimes against the faith. Plenary sessions of the congregation decide major questions by deliberative vote and are proposed to the Pope for approval.

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