Governance of the Universal Church after the Council of Trent
Papal Administrative Concepts and Practices as exemplified by the Congregation of the Council between the Early Modern Period and the Present
Former Max Planck Research Group
Between 2014 and 2021 the Max Planck Research Group investigated the emergence and development of the global governance of the Catholic Church via the study of the Congregation of the Council (in Latin, Sacra Congregatio Concilii, then SCC). This dicastery was founded in 1564 in the Roman Curia, and was in charge of the implementation of the Council of Trent throughout the Catholic world.
The research focused on specific aspects, including the role of the Congregation of the Council in the complex processes of translating the Tridentine normative order; the internal decision-making processes and operational procedures of the Congregation as well as the authority and validity of its decisions in local churches; the significance of the Roman Curia as global interpretative and judicial authority; the coexistence of post-Tridentine canon law with different and pre-existing normative orders in Europe and beyond; and the development of the concept of interpretatio authentica from the Council of Trent until today.
The Group’s research was modulated into individual and team research projects. With individual research (2 Postdocs, 6 PhDs, 1 Master thesis projects) dedicated to different and complementary themes, the group was able to acquire and elaborate highly specific competences related to different periods, places and topics. These competences were pooled and reworked from an interdisciplinary perspective within the frame of team research projects. Our major aim was to share the results achieved with the scientific community and lay the foundations for solid, systematic research into an institution that has hitherto been little studied.
In 2017 the Group concluded the team research project dedicated to the Reorganisation of the Archive of the Congregation of the Council, carried out in cooperation with the Vatican Apostolic Archive (formerly Vatican Secret Archive). It aimed at ensuring full usability of the dicastery’s archive for researchers. Based on the results obtained, from 2018 to 2021 the Group worked on the implementation of the SCC Explorer project, an integrated Digital Humanities platform that provides access to a set of coherent and scientifically organised data, facilitating future research on the Congregation of the Council.
Over the years, several guest researchers and PhD students spent periods of research at the Institute in order to work closely with the Research Group.