Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, March 13, 1989

Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity

Osservatore Romano 13th March 1989, page 3

Official Introduction

The faithful called to exercise an office in the Church’s name are bound to make a profession of faith, according to the form approved by the Apostolic Sea (see Canon 833). In addition, the obligation of especial oath of fidelity concerning particular duties inherent in the office to be assumed, previously prescribed solely for bishops, has been extended to the categories mentioned in Canon 833, 5-8. Therefore it became necessary to prepare suitable texts for the purpose of updating them as regards style and contents to bring them more into line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent documents

For the formula of the profession of faith, the first part is taken in full from the preceding text in force since 1969, and containing the Nicene -Constantinopolitan Creed (see AS 59 1967, p. 1058). The second part has been modified and sub-divided in three paragraphs in order to distinguish better the type of truth and the relative assent required.

The formula of the oath of fidelity on taking up an office to be exercised in the Church’s name is intended to compliment the profession of faith. It is prescribed for the categories of the faithful listed in Canon 833,5-8. It is a new composition; in it certain variations of paragraph four and five are envisaged for its use by major superiors of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life ( see canon 833,8).

The text of the new profession of faith and the oath of fidelity come into force from the 1 March 1989.

The Profession of Faith

(This is the formula which will now need to be used in cases in which it has been prescribed by law to make the profession of faith).

‘ I,...., with firm faith believe and profess everything collectively and individually which is contained in the Symbol of Faith, namely:

I believe in the one God and almighty Father, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is visible and invisible, and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was born from the Father before all ages, God from god, Life from life, true God from true God, born not made, consubstantial with the father through whom all has been made. Who because of us human beings and of our salvation descended from heaven and was made flesh through the Holy Spirit from the virgin Mary and became a human being; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried. He rose again on the third day according to the scriptures and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the father and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his reign will have no end. I also believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the father and the son, who with the father and the son is adored and glorified, who has spoken to the prophets. And I believe in the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come amen.

I also believe with firm faith all those things which are contained in God’s written word or in tradition and which have been proposed by the Church in a solemn judgment, in either the ordinary or universal magisterium as Divinely revealed and to be believed.

I also firmly embrace and keep everything collectively and individually which with regard to the doctrine of faith and morals is definitively proposed by the same authority.

I also adhere with a religious obedience of will and mind the doctrines which either the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops pronounce when they exercise the authentic magisterium even though they do not intend to proclaim them in a definitive act.

The Oath of Fidelity to be taken when undertaking an Office in the name of the Church taking up this office promise to always maintain communion with the Catholic Church either in words that i will speak or in my way of acting.

With great diligence and fidelity I will fulfil the tasks which I hold the duties which I have with regard to the Church, whether it is the universal church or the particular church in which I have been called to exercise my service according to the prescripts of the law.

In the fulfilment of my task which has been committed to me in the name of the church, I will keep the deposit of faith undiminished, I will hand it on faithfully and defend them. I will avoid whatever doctrines are contrary to them.

I will follow the common discipline of the whole church and I will promote the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially of those which are contained in the code of canon law. With Christian obedience I will fulfil whatever the sacred pastors, as the authentic doctors of faith and teachers declare or which the governors of the church state and I will give faithful service to the diocesan bishops in order that the apostolic action in the name and the mandate of the Church to the exercise will be fulfilled in communion with that church.

May so God help me and his holy Gospel which I now touch with my hands.

Commentary from Dr. John Wijngaards of

Are bishops, parish priests, theologians, etc. still bound by the ‘oath of fidelity’ if they come to realise that the arguments against ordaining women are invalid?

No, they are not. In that case, the oath ceases ‘ab intrinseco’ [from within] at least with regard to the ordination of women.

Catholics who are not academically trained may fear that bishops who have promised not to promote the ordination of women as a condition of their admission to the episcopacy, will not be able to change their position once they realise that the ban against women priests is based on faulty evidence.

Bishops, priests and theologians, however, know from their study of moral theology that a promise, even if made under oath, ceases to be valid if substantial error affected their knowledge regarding the object of the promise, or if an error affected the purpose of the promise (e.g. what is good for the Church), or if the promise was made under fear, or if the object of the promise has become impossible or harmful.

The promise ceases ab intrinseco, as Thomas Aquinas taught:

'Whatever would have been an impediment to the making of a promise if it had been present, also lifts the obligation from a promise that has been made.'

Scriptum super IV libros Sententiarum dist. 38, q.1, sol. 1 ad 1; D. M. Prümmer, Manuale Theologiae Moralis, Freiburg 1936, vol. II, 'De Voto', pp. 326-348.

- John Wijngaards 

See also The Secret Examination of New Bishops

See also Version published in 1998