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Holy office

Organized in 1542 by Paul III, the Holy Office or Sacra Congregatio Romanae et Universalis Inquisitionis seu Sancti Officii was established to serve as the last court of appeal in heresy cases brought before the Inquisition.* Sixtus V in 1587 increased the number of cardinals designated to serve on it from six to thirteen. While the pope may preside over the deliberations of this body, it customarily functions without him. In 1908 the Holy Office was reorganized as the court to which final decisions in faith and morals were referred, and its name was shortened to the Congregatio Sancti Officii. It was subjected to further reorganization as a result of Vatican Council II.*