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Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Regulations for Doctrinal Examination
June 29, 1997

Article 1.
 The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the function
 of promoting and safeguarding doctrine on faith and morals
 throughout the Catholic world. In accomplishing this purpose, it
 renders a service to the truth, by protecting the right of the People of
 God to receive the Gospel message in its purity and entirety.
 Therefore, in order that faith and morals not be harmed by errors
 however disseminated, it also has the duty of examining writings and
 opinions which appear contrary to correct faith or dangerous.
Article 2.
 This fundamental pastoral responsibility concerns all pastors
 of the Church, who have the duty and the right to exercise vigilance,
 whether individually or gathered in particular Councils or Episcopal
 Conferences, in order that the faith and morals of the members of the
 faithful entrusted to their care not suffer harm. To this end, they can
 also be served by Doctrinal Commissions, institutionalized
 consultative bodies which assist Episcopal Conferences and individual
 Bishops in their solicitude for the doctrine of the faith. The principle
 remains, however, that the Holy See can always intervene and, as a
 rule, does so when the influence of a publication exceeds the
 boundaries of an individual Episcopal Conference, or when the
 danger to the faith is particularly grave. In such cases, the
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith uses the following
I. Preliminary Examination
 Article 3.
 The indicated writings or teachings, in whatever way they are
 disseminated, are given attention by the competent Office, which
 submits them to the examination of the Congresso [the weekly
 meeting of the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation]. After a
 preliminary evaluation of the gravity of the question, the Congresso
 decides whether or not to undertake a study by the Office.
II. Office Study
Article 4.
  Once the authenticity of the writings has been verified, it is
 carefully examined with the collaboration of one or more Consultors
 or other experts in the particular area.
Article 5.
 The outcome of this examination is then presented to the
 Congresso, which decides whether this is sufficient for an
 intervention with the local authorities, or whether the examination
 needs to proceed further by one of two established procedures:
 ordinary examination or examination in cases of urgency.
Article 6.
 Should the Congresso judge that the study undertaken was
 sufficient, it can entrust the case directly to the author's Ordinary
 and, through him, bring the doctrinal problems presented in the text
 to the author's attention. In such a case, the Ordinary is invited to
 deepen the study of the question and ask the author to provide the
 needed clarifications for submission to the judgment of the Congregation.
III. Ordinary Procedure for Examination
Article 8.
  An ordinary examination is used when a writing appears to
 contain grave doctrinal error, the identification of which requires
 attentive discernment, and the possible negative influence on the
 faithful does not seem to involve particular urgency. The
 examination is structured in two phases: an internal phase of
 preliminary investigation undertaken within the Congregation and an
 external phase involving the presentation of objections to the author
 and subsequent dialogue.
Article 9.
  The Congresso designates two or more experts who examine
 the text in question, give their opinions, and evaluate whether it is in
 conformity with the doctrine of the Church.
Article 10.
 The same Congresso appoints a relator pro auctore, who has
 the task of illustrating, in a spirit of truth, the positive aspects of the
 teaching and the merits of the author, of cooperating in the authentic
 interpretation of his thought within the overall theological context,
 and of expressing a judgment regarding the influence of the author's
 opinions. For this purpose, the relator pro auctore has the right to
 examine all the acts relative to the case.
Article 11.
 The Office Report, which contains all the information
 relevant to the examination of the case (including the antecedent
 elements), the opinions of the experts and the presentation of the
 relator pro auctore, is distributed to those who will take part in the
Article 12.
 The experts who had submitted opinions on the text can also
 be invited to participate in the Consultation-- in addition to the
 Consultors themselves, the relator pro auctore and the author's
 Ordinary (who cannot be substituted by another and is bound to
 secrecy). The discussion begins with an exposition by the relator pro
 auctore, who makes a comprehensive presentation of the case. After
 him, the author's Ordinary, the experts, and the Consultors each
 express their own opinion, orally and in writing, on the content of the
 text under examination. The relator pro auctore and the experts may
 respond to the observations and offer clarifications.
Article 13.
 When the discussion has finished, the Consultors alone
 remain in the room for the general vote on the outcome of the
 examination, aimed at determining whether doctrinal errors or
 dangerous opinions have been found in the text, and specifically
 identifying these in light of the different categories of truth-
propositions found in the Professio fidei.
 Article 14.
 The entire file, including the minutes of the discussion, the
 general vote and the opinions of the Consultors, is submitted to the
 examination of the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, which
 decides whether to present objections to the author, and if so, on
 which points.
Article 15.
The decisions of Ordinary Sessions are submitted to the
 consideration of the Supreme Pontiff.
Article 16.
If, in the prior phase, it was decided to proceed to a
 presentation of objections, the author's Ordinary or other concerned
 Ordinaries, as well as the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See, are
Article 17.
The list of erroneous or dangerous propositions at issue,
 together with an explanatory argumentation and the documentation
 (reticito nomine) necessary for the defense, are communicated
 through the Ordinary to the author and his advisor, whom the author
 has the right to nominate, with the approval of his Ordinary, to assist
 him. The author must present a written response within three
 canonical months. It is appropriate that, together with the author's
 response, the Ordinary also forwards his own opinion to the
Article 18.
The possibility is also foreseen of a personal meeting
 between the author, assisted by his adviser (who takes an active part
 in the discussion) and delegates of the Congregation. In this
 eventuality, the Congregation's delegates, who are appointed by the
 Congresso, are to keep minutes of the meeting, the text of which is to
 be signed by them, by the author and by his advisor.
Article 19.
 Should the author not send the written response, as is
 always requested, the Ordinary Session of the Congregation takes the
 appropriate decisions.
Article 20.
The Congresso examines the written response of the author
 as well as the minutes of any meeting that has taken place. If this
 examination reveals truly new doctrinal elements requiring further
 evaluation, it is then decided whether the question should again be
 presented to the Consultation, which may be expanded to include
 additional experts, among these the author's advisor, appointed in
 accordance with article 17. Otherwise, the written response of the
 author and the minutes of any meeting are submitted directly to the
 judgment of the Ordinary Session.
Article 21.
If the Ordinary Session decides that the question has been
 resolved positively and that the response is sufficient, the process
 does not go further. Should this not be the case, adequate measures
 are then taken, also for the good of the faithful. Moreover, the
 Ordinary Session decides whether and in what way the results of the
 examination are to be made public.
Article 22.
 The decisions of the Ordinary Session are submitted for the
 approval of the Supreme Pontiff and then communicated to the
 author's Ordinary, to the Episcopal Conference and to concerned
IV. Examination in Cases of Urgency
Article 23.
An urgent examination is employed when the writing is
 clearly and certainly erroneous and, at the same time, its
 dissemination could cause or already has caused grave harm to the
 faithful. In this case, the Ordinary or the concerned Ordinaries are
 immediately informed together with the competent Dicasteries of the
 Holy See.
Article 24.
The Congresso appoints a commission which is especially
 entrusted with promptly determining the erroneous or dangerous
Article 25.
 The propositions identified by the Commission, together with
 the relative documentation, are submitted to the Ordinary Session,
 which will give priority to the examination of the question.
Article 26.
If the Ordinary Session judges that the above-mentioned
 propositions are in fact erroneous and dangerous, after the approval
 of the Holy Father, they are transmitted to the author, through his
 Ordinary, with the request that they be corrected within two
 canonical months.
Article 27.
If the Ordinary, having heard the author, believes it is
 necessary to ask him also for a written explanation, this text must be
 forwarded to the Congregation together with the opinion of the
 Ordinary. Such an explanation is then presented to the Ordinary
 Session for the appropriate decisions.
 V. Disciplinary Measures
Article 28.
If the author has not corrected the indicated errors in a
 satisfactory way and with adequate publicity, and the Ordinary
 Session has concluded that he has committed the offense of heresy,
 apostasy, or schism, the Congregation proceeds to declare the latae
 sententiae penalties incurred; against such a declaration no recourse
 is admitted.
Article 29.
If the Ordinary Session ascertains the existence of doctrinal
 errors which do not involve latae sententiae penalties, the
 Congregation proceeds, according to the norm of law, whether
 universal or proper to the Congregation.
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the
 undersigned Prefect on May 30, 1997, confirmed these Regulations,
 adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, approving at
 the same time in forma specifica articles 28-29, contrariis
 quibuslibet non ostantibus, and ordered their publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the
 Faith, June 29, 1997, the Solemnity of the Blessed Apostles Peter and
+ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
+ Tarcisio Bertone
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli

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