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Dicastery (from Greek δικαστήριον, law-court, from δικαστής, judge/juror) is an Italicism that properly denotes the departments of the Roman Curia.

By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.[1]

Dicastery departments

These dicasteries or departments are grouped in the following categories:

  1. Congregations, headed by a prefect, who is most frequently a cardinal:
    1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which also has jurisdiction over sexual abuse of minors committed by priests)
    2. The Congregation for the Oriental Churches
    3. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
    4. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints
    5. The Congregation for Bishops
    6. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
    7. The Congregation for the Clergy
    8. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
    9. The Congregation for Catholic Education (for seminaries and educational institutions)
  2. Tribunals:
    1. The Apostolic Penitentiary, headed by the Major Cardinal Penitentiary, for the "internal forum" (matters of conscience, absolution of censures)
    2. The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, headed by a prefect
    3. The Tribunal of the Roman Rota, headed by the dean, which judges cases such as those brought to prove the nullity of a marriage
  3. Pontifical councils, each headed by a president
    1. The Pontifical Council for the Laity
    2. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
    3. The Pontifical Council for the Family
    4. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
    5. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum
    6. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants
    7. The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers
    8. The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts
    9. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
    10. The Pontifical Council for Culture
    11. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications
    12. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization
  4. Offices:
    1. The Apostolic Camera, headed by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
    2. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
    3. The Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
  5. Secretariats:
    1. The Secretariat of State (or Papal Secretariat)
    2. The Secretariat for the Economy
    3. The Secretariat for Communications

Other bodies are not considered "dicasteries", but part of the Roman Curia as "institutes":

  1. The Prefecture of the Papal Household (often referred to as the Audience Office)
  2. The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff
  3. The Central Statistics Office of the Church
  4. Papal Commissions, of which the following are given special prominence:
    1. The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church
    2. The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology
    3. The Pontifical Biblical Commission
    4. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
    5. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis

In June 2015, Pope Francis announced the creation of an ecclesiastical tribunal that would have the power to try bishops and archbishops, unless they are cardinals, for failing to adequately protect minors, or for letting priests suspected of or known to have abused minors - once actionable situations arise - continue to minister, or even for cases of abuse committed by them - which can also be tried by the civil criminal laws of Vatican City.

The commissions are often classified not as integral parts of the Roman Curia but rather as associated with it in a way similar to the way the Vatican Secret Archives and the Vatican Apostolic Library are connected with the Holy See.


  1. Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, "Dicasteries"