Dicastery for Bishops

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Dicastery for Bishops
Coat of arms of the Holy See

Palazzo delle Congregazioni in Piazza Pio XII (in front of St. Peter's Square) is the workplace for most congregations of the Roman Curia
Dicastery overview
FormedJanuary 22, 1588; 436 years ago (1588-01-22)
Preceding agencies
  • Congregation for the Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions
  • Congregation for Bishops
HeadquartersPalazzo delle Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, Rome, Italy
Dicastery executives

The Dicastery for Bishops, formerly named Congregation for Bishops (Latin: Congregatio pro Episcopis), is the department of the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church that oversees the selection of most new bishops. Its proposals require papal approval to take effect, but are usually followed. The Dicastery also schedules the visits at five-year intervals ("ad limina") that bishops are required to make to Rome, when they meet with the pope and various departments of the Curia. It also manages the formation of new dioceses. It is one of the more influential Dicasteries, since it strongly influences the human resources policy of the church.

The jurisdiction of the Dicastery does not extend to mission territories, under the Dicastery for Evangelization, or areas managed by the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches (which has responsibility for all Eastern Catholics, and for Latin Catholics in the Middle East and Greece.)[1] Where appointment of bishops and changes in diocesan boundaries require consultation with civil governments, the Secretariat of State has primary responsibility, but must consult the Dicastery for Bishops.[2]

The Dicastery for Bishops has jurisdiction over the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and the dicastery's prefect also serves as the commission's president. [3]


The Dicastery for Bishops has its origins in the "Congregation for the Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions" founded by Pope Sixtus V on 22 January 1588. Before the Second Vatican Council, when the pope announced the names of new cardinals at a Secret Consistory, that is, a consistory that only churchmen attended, the names of new cardinals would be read out, followed by those of archbishops and bishops. The name was changed from the Sacred Consistorial Congregation to the Congregation for Bishops in 1967.

Between 30 June 2010 and 2023 its Prefect was Cardinal Marc Ouellet.[4]

On 13 July 2022, Pope Francis appointed women as members of this Dicastery for the first time, two religious and one laywoman (Raffaella Petrini, Yvonne Reungoat, and Maria Lia Zervino).[5]

Current procedure[edit]

The Dicastery's members who live in Rome meet every other Thursday for an entire morning. Appointments for four dioceses are reviewed in a typical session. Before the meeting, dicastery members are sent documentation on the candidates for each diocese. At the meeting, one member takes the role of the presenter (ponente), reviews the information and makes his own recommendation from the list (terna) of three candidates. Each member, in order of seniority, offers his assessment. The Dicastery's recommendations, including any doubts, questions or minority opinions, are sent to the pope. He usually approves the dicastery's decision, but may choose to send it back for further discussion and evaluation. The prefect then meets with the pope every Saturday and presents the recommendations of the dicastery. A few days later, the pope informs the dicastery of his decision. The dicastery then notifies the nuncio, who in turn contacts the candidate and asks if he will accept the appointment.[6]


Prefect of Dicastery for Bishops
Robert Francis Prevost, OSA
since 30 January 2023
Dicastery for Bishops
StyleHis Eminence
Member ofRoman Curia
Reports toThe Pope
AppointerThe Pope
Term lengthFive years, renewable
Constituting instrumentImmense
Pastor Bonus
Formation22 January 1588
First holderDomenico Riviera

Secretaries of the Congregation for the Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions (1588–1965)[edit]


In 1965, the head of the congregation took the title prefect, while the prefect's deputy took that of secretary.


The secretary of the Dicastery for Bishops is concurrently the secretary of the College of Cardinals. During a papal election the secretary of the Dicastery acts as the secretary to the conclave.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pastor bonus, article 60 Archived February 23, 2001, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Pastor bonus, article 47 Archived February 23, 2001, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, Art 111-112". Vatican (in Italian). June 5, 2022.
  4. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine (continuazione), 25.01.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  5. ^ White, Christopher (13 July 2022). "Pope Francis names three women to Vatican office that recommends new bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  6. ^ "How Bishops Are Appointed". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 30.01.2023" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. January 30, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  8. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (12 October 2013). "Francis appoints a Brazilian to the "bishop factory"". Vatican Insider. Retrieved 21 November 2016.