Rorate Caeli

Apostolic Letter Abolishing the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

Following a historical introduction, the norms of the new Motu proprio published today abolish the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED) and transfer all its powers and assets to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which shall establish a new specific internal section to deal with the former PCED's competencies. (Only Italian text available.)

One very positive aspect of the motu proprio, in its specific reasons given for the text, is the papal acknowledgement that, "the Institutes and Religious Communities that celebrate regularly in the Extraordinary Form have reached today a proper stability of numbers and life..."

For over thirty years, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established by the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta, of July 2, 1988, has acquitted with sincere and praiseworthy solicitude the task of collaborating with the Bishops and the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, in facilitating the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual religious men and women once attached to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who wished to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions.

In this way, the Commission was able to exercise its authority and competence over said Societies and Associations in the name of the Holy See, until otherwise provided.

Subsequently, under the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, the Pontifical Commission extended the authority of the Holy See over those Institutes and religious communities, which adhere to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and earlier traditions of religious life, maintaining vigilance over the observance and application of established dispositions.

Two years later, my Venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI, with the motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, of 2 July 2009, reorganized the structure of the Pontifical Commission, in order to make it more suitable for the new situation created with the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated without pontifical mandate. Moreover, considering that, after such an act of grace, the matters handled by the same Pontifical Commission were primarily doctrinal, my predecessor linked the Commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith more organically, conserving its initial ends, but modifying its structure.

Now, since the Feria IV [the regular Wednesday meeting] of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of November 15, 2017 had formulated the request that the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X [SSPX] be conducted directly by the aforementioned Congregation, and since the issues treated are of a doctrinal nature, to which request I gave my approval in Audientia to the Cardinal Prefect [Cardinal Luis Ladaria,SJ] the following 24 November, and [since] this proposal was welcomed by the Plenary Session of the same Congregation celebrated from 23 to 26 January 2018, I have come, after ample reflection, to the following Decision.

Considering today the conditions that had led the holy Pontiff, John Paul II, to the establishment of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei; noting that the Institutes and religious communities that usually celebrate in extraordinary form have today found their own stability of number and life; noting that the aims and issues dealt with by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are of a predominantly doctrinal nature; wishing that these aims be ever more visible to the conscience of the ecclesial communities, with the present Apostolic Letter motu proprio data;

I establish (Delibero):

1. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established on 2 July 1988 with the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei adflicta, is suppressed.

2. The tasks of the Commission in question are assigned in full to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, within which a special Section will be set up to continue the work of supervision, promotion and protection so far conducted by the suppressed Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

The budget of the Pontifical Commission is part of the ordinary accounting of the aforementioned Congregation.. E’soppressa la Pontificia Commissione Ecclesia Dei, istituita il 2 luglio 1988 col Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

Moreover, I establish that the present motu proprio, to be observed in spite of anything contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, is promulgated by publication in the 19 January 2019 edition of the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, entering into immediate force, and subsequently inserted in the official gazzette of the Holy See, Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given at Rome, in St. Peter’s, January 17, 2019, VI of Our Pontificate.

Francesco [unofficial translation provided by the Catholic Herald]


1Cf. Joannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Apostolicae ‘Motu proprio datae’, Ecclesia Dei adflicta’, 2 Iulii 1988, AAS, LXXX (1988), 12 (15 Nov. 1988), 1495-1498, 6a.

2 Cf. Rescriptum ex Audientia Sanctissimi, 18 Oct. 1988, AAS, LXXXII (1990), 5 (3 Maii 1990), 533-534, 6.

3 Cf. Benedictus PP. XVI, Litterae Apostolicae ‘Motu proprio datae’, Summorum Pontificum, 7 Iulii 2007, AAS, XCIX (2007), 9 (7 Sept. 2007), 777-781, 12.

4 Cf. Benedictus PP. XVI, Litterae Apostolicae ‘Motu proprio datae’, Ecclesiae unitatem, 2 Iulii 2009, AAS, CI (2009),

8 (7 Aug. 2009), 710-711, 5