Tips for writing to the Vatican, bishops and priests

Here are tips for writing tom Rome about what was formerly competence of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“, now entirely absorbed into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or to the Congregation for Divine Worship, (or any other office of the Holy See) or to the Apostolic Nuncio, or to your bishop, or even parish priest:

  • BE BRIEF. Make your letter no longer than one side of one sheet of paper.
  • Avoid writing long-hand.  Make it easy to read.  Type or use a computer and printer.
  • Include relevant proof of what you claim happened: Vatican dicasteries can’t act solely on the basis of Mrs. Joe Bagofdonuts’s description of events.  The best thing you can do is send concrete evidence, printed (such as a parish bulletin), or photographic, or sound recordings.  If someone wrote and distributed something, send a copy.
  • If you have relevant past correspondence, such as previous responses from priests or bishops, send copies.
  • Do not – not – tell the one to whom you are writing what their job is!  Don’t quote canons, blah blah, as if they didn’t know them already.  Leave the incredibly obvious unsaid.
  • Do not – not – engage in character assassination.  State FACTS with as little editorializing as possible.  Blathering on and on about how “disobedient” priests or bishops are will not strengthen your case.  State facts. They will know if they are disobedient or not.
  • If you must talk about your feelings, keep your personal remarks incredibly short, and do not –  not – be mean-spirited. If something made you sad or angry, okay, say it, but don’t DWELL on it.  The nastier you are, the more emotion you drone, the weaker your letter will be.
  • At the end thank the one you are writing to for his service, and promise your prayers.  And mean it. And then pray.

In summary, be brief, send evidence, leave out the obvious, don’t vent.

Remember: if you tell a story, it is hearsay.  The one to whom you write needs proofs.

If something happened to you personally, it would help your cause if other people also wrote letters in which they describe what they saw and heard happen to you.  These would then be included with your own letter.

Vatican offices generally can’t do much more and won’t do much more than make a simple inquiry unless they are presented with some sort of evidence.  This also goes for writing to bishops, though bishops can more easily make inquiries into local matters.   This is why it is always good to work your way UP the chain of authority: pastor first, then bishop, and finally the Nuncio or Holy See.

Remember:  Every Catholic always and at any time has the right to write directly to the Holy See.  That said, if you work your way up the chain, you have more of a paper trail and, perhaps, more proofs to offer and the office of the Holy See will take interest.  This is common sense.

Therefore, always keep copies of everything.

For matters having to do strictly with the the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, write to.  Be sure to mention immediately in the text that it concerns Summorum Pontificum or correspondence with the former Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” or matters of the traditional Roman Rite.

His Excellency
Most Rev. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.
Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio

It is proper when writing to an office (or “dicastery”) of the Holy See to address your letter to the one who is the head of the office, such as a Prefect for a Congregation or President for a Council or Commission, etc.

If you want to know why I think these are good tips, I worked at the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” for some time.   These tips are from personal experience.

For more general liturgical abuses or matters dealing strictly with the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, write to:

His Eminence
Robert Card. Sarah
Prefect of the Congregation for
Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni Pio XII

For matters of doctrine, or of the validity of sacraments in specific and concrete situations:

His Excellency
Most Rev. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.
Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio


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