Vatican City, 11 November 2014 (VIS) – St. John Paul II's Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (SST), published on 30 April 2001 and updated on 21 May 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, defines the offences reserved to the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Art. 1-6), in accordance with Art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges these offences by penal or administrative procedures (cf. Art. 21 paras 1 and 2, No. 1 SST), taking into account the possibility of submitting the decision directly to the Supreme Pontiff in the most serious cases (see Art. 21 para. 2, No. 2 SST). Crimes against faith remain, in the first instance, within the sphere of competence of the Ordinary or the Hierarch (cf. Art. 2 para. 2 SST).
Due to the number of appeals and the need to guarantee that they are examined more rapidly and following detailed reflection, in the Audience granted to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on 3 November 2014, the Holy Father Francis decreed the following:
1. A special college is to be instituted within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of seven cardinals or bishops, who may either be members of the Dicastery or external to it;
2. The President and the members of the aforementioned College are to be appointed by the Pope;
3. The College is a provision made by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation to enable greater efficiency in processing appeals in accordance with Art. 27 SST, without substantive modification to its competences as established in the same Art. 27 SST;
4. Should the offender be of episcopal dignity, his appeal shall be examined by the Ordinary Session, which will also be able to decide specific cases according to the Pope's judgement. Other cases to be decided by the College may also be deferred to the Ordinary Session;
5. The College shall periodically report its decisions to the Ordinary Session;
6. Specific internal regulations shall determine the working methods of the College.