PROPAGANDA, CONGREGATION AND COLLEGE OF THE: A congregation of cardinals and a college, both at Rome, for the implanting and extension of the Roman Catholic faith among pagans and heretics. Beginning with the thirteenth century missionary activity was carried on by various orders. Among these were the Jesuits, and Ignatius of Loyola formed the plan of founding "national colleges" for training missionaries, his idea being to educate young men from the very countries which were to be mission fields, so that they might be sent home as well-equipped champions of the Roman Catholic faith. Each of these institutions and every order concerning itself with missions independently cultivated the field of activity assigned it. On June 21, 1622, however, Gregory XV., the first pupil of the Jesuits to ascend the papal throne, created a congregation of cardinals De propaganda fide, in which was centralized the entire system of missionary labor.
When the Propaganda plans to begin operations within a certain district, which must first have received thorough geographic or ethnographic delimitation, a number of missionaries, furnished either by a religious order or by the national colleges, are sent there under the charge of a prefect apostolic, whence the district in question is termed an apostolic prefecture. All who are thus commissioned are priests, and their first object is to establish in their prefecture fixed missionary centers either for individuals or for small groups of their number. To every such station is also allotted a subdivision of the district as a prospective parish. In case the enterprise thrives, new parishes are detached; but even though such progress may be made that clergy may be trained either wholly or in part from the converts among the population without drawing priests from without, no new diocese is created until it may safely be assumed that it will be permanent. Instead of establishing a see, the apostolic prefecture is now made an apostolic vicariate, in which the pope, who is bishop there in his capacity of universal bishop, is represented by a bishop in partibus, or vicar apostolic. This prelate, like the prefect apostolic, may be removed at any time. In course of time, the apostolic vicariates are still further subdivided, since smaller districts facilitate more energetic activity; and finally, if all goes well, a bishopric is organized.
The situation and object of the missionaries not only dispense them from the minute observance of many rules of habit, breviary prayers, precise times of saying mass, and the like, but also from requiring rigid obedience on the part of their converts to the rules of life laid down by the Roman Catholic Church; and certain concessions may be made to divergent popular customs or similar factors, as in the case of fasts, impediments to marriage, etc. In both these directions, even as early as the thirteenth century, those in charge of missions were empowered with manifold privileges, or "faculties," which the Propaganda now confers upon its missionaries either as the mouthpiece of the pope or on the ground of unrestricted papal authority. Naturally no unnecessary faculties are conferred, and they are also generally limited to a certain number of years, their continuance being determined by the persistence of the conditions which originally evoked them. Here the determining factor is the attitude assumed by the State toward the Church, since from the Roman Catholic point of view the relative subordination of canonical rule to expediency can not entirely cease until the State undertakes its proper duty of maintaining the ordinances of the Church. Until this point is reached, the Propaganda directs its efforts to the desired end, and accordingly governs local church concerns. When, however, the State renders due aid to the Church, and the region in question has become wholly "Catholic," the Propaganda is replaced by the Inquisition. Where the latter is able to maintain pure doctrine and a corresponding mode of life with the full cooperation of the State, the territory in question is termed "Catholic"; but where, on the contrary, heresy revels unpunished, the land is regarded as a missionary district, and consequently as a "province of the Propaganda," since all church affairs are there controlled more or less by missionary motives. In modern times the distinction between the two is little more than a historic survival, since even in "Catholic lands" the aid formerly given by the State is being withdrawn. Nevertheless, a sharp difference is still observed by the Curia in the hope that recalcitrant States may return to their allegiance to the Church and again aid in the suppression of heresy.
Certain lands once "Catholic" have now become missionary districts through the continued recalcitrancy of their governments. Although this category includes primarily the Protestant countries, it also comprises the regions controlled by the Greek Church, despite the fact that they can scarcely be described as having once been "Catholic" in the technical sense of the term. Nevertheless, Pius IX. established, primarily for them, a special "Congregation for the Oriental Rites" (see under ROMAN CATHOLICS, "Uniate churches"). The Greek countries are treated similarly to the Protestant missionary lands.
Roman Catholic dioceses in Protestant countries-these including the German sees, the reestablished English and Dutch bishoprics, and the newly founded North American dioceses--are missionary sees; and their bishops are, therefore, vested with pastoral care not only over the Roman Catholics, but also over the Protestants, in their dioceses. These bishops are, accordingly, under the constant supervision of the Propaganda, from which they receive the necessary missionary faculties. Some uncertainty exists as to whether the Curia regards such pre-Reformation sees as are partly conterminous with newly established dioceses as preserving a de jure continuity. It is clear, however, that dioceses which are still administered by prefects or vicars aposto1ic are held to have been uninterrupted by the Reformation.