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Francis' Address to Members of the Apostolic Signature

At 12 o’clock this morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. Here is a ZENIT translation of his address.

***

Your Eminences,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This, your Plenary Session, gives me the opportunity to receive all of you who work in the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, expressing to each one my gratitude for the promotion of the correct administration of justice in the Church. I greet you cordially and I thank the Cardinal Prefect for the words with which he introduced our meeting.

Your activity is geared to fostering the work of the ecclesiastical tribunals, called to respond adequately to the faithful who turn to the justice of the Church to obtain a correct decision. You do your utmost so that they function well, and you support the responsibility of bishops in forming suitable ministers of justice. Among these, the Defender of the bond carries out an important function, especially in the process of matrimonial nullity. It is necessary, in fact, that he be able to fulfill his own part with efficacy, to facilitate the attainment of truth in the definitive sentence, in favor of the pastoral good of the parties in question.

In this regard, the Apostolic Signature has offered significant contributions. I am thinking in particular of the collaboration in the preparation of the Instruction Dignitas connubii, which explains the applicable trial norms. Placed in this line also is the present Plenary Session, which has put at the center of its works the promotion of an effective defense of the matrimonial bond in the canonical processes of nullity.

The attention given to the ministry of the Defender of the bond is without a doubt opportune, because his presence and his intervention are obligatory for the whole development of the process (cf. Dignitas connubii, 56, 1-2; 279, 1). Foreseen in the same way is that he must propose all sorts of proofs, exceptions, recourses and appeals that, in respect of the truth, foster the defense of the bond.

The mentioned Instruction describes, in particular, the role of the Defender of the bond in the causes of nullity for psychic incapacity, which in some Tribunals constitute the sole reason for nullity. It underlines the diligence that he must put in assessing the questions addressed to the experts, as well as the results of the opinions themselves (cf. 56, 4). Therefore, the Defender of the bond who wishes to render a good service cannot limit himself to a hasty reading of the acts, or to bureaucratic and generic answers. In his delicate task, he is called to try to harmonize the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law with the concrete situations of the Church and of society.

The faithful and complete fulfillment of the task of the Defender of the bond does not constitute a pretension damaging of the prerogatives of the ecclesiastical judge, to whom corresponds solely the definition of the cause. When the Defender of the bond exercises the duty to appeal, also to the Roman Rota, against a decision which he holds damaging to the truth of the bond, his task does not abuse that of the judge. In fact, the judges can find, in the careful work of him who defends the matrimonial bond, a help to their own activity.

The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council defined the Church as communion. Seen in this perspective are the service of the Defender of the bond and the consideration that is reserved to him, in a respectful and attentive dialogue.

A final, very important annotation as regards the workers committed in the ministry of ecclesial justice. They act in the name of the Church; they are part of the Church. Therefore, it is necessary to always keep alive the connection between the action of the Church that evangelizes and the action of the Church that administers justice. The service to justice is a commitment of apostolic life: it requires to be exercised by keeping one’s gaze fixed on the icon of the Good Shepherd, who bends down to the lost and wounded sheep.

At the conclusion of this meeting, I encourage you all to persevere in the search for a limpid and correct exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to Pastors, especially when, confidently, they ask to have their own status authoritatively clarified. May Mary Most Holy, who we invoke with the title Speculum iustitiae, help you and the whole Church to walk on the path of justice, which is the first form of charity. Thank you and good work!

[Translation by ZENIT]


2 posted on 11/09/2013 3:11:43 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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THE POPE: THOSE WHO ADMINISTER JUSTICE IN THE CHURCH MUST REMEMBER THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Vatican City, 8 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the plenary assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the dicastery of the Curia Romana which aside from exercising the function of supreme judicial authority, oversees the correct administration of justice in the Church. On this occasion, the Assembly focused on promoting an effective defence of the bond of marriage in canonical annulment.

The pontiff mentioned, first of all, that the activity of the dicastery is intended to promote the work of the ecclesiastical tribunals, called to respond adequately to the faithful “who turn to the justice of the Church, seeking a just decision”, and he described as “very favourable” the assembly's attention to the figure of the defender of the bond, “whose presence and intervention are obligatory throughout the entire process”.

In particular, he cited the instruction “Dignitas connubii” which describes the role of the defender of the bond “in cases of annulment on the grounds of mental incapacity, which in some tribunals constitutes the only permissible cause for annulment”, and “underlines the diligence with which [the defender of the bond] must appraise the questions addressed to expert witnesses, as well as the results of their reports”. Therefore, the defender of the bond must offer a careful service and “must not limit himself to a hasty reading of the acts, nor to bureaucratic or generic answers. In this delicate task, he is called upon to establish harmony between the prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law and the concrete situations in the life of the Church and society”.

The complete and faithful fulfilment of the duties of the defender of the bond “does not constitute impingement upon of the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical judge, who is solely competent in deciding the case. When the defender of the bond exercises his right to appeal, also to the Roman Rota, against a decision that he considers detrimental to the truth of the bond, his task does not intrude upon that of the judge. On the contrary, the judges may be assisted in their activities by the diligent work of the defender of the matrimonial bond. The Vatican Council II defined the Church as a communion. This is the context in which the services of the defender of the bond, and the esteem granted to him, should be regarded, in a respectful and attentive dialogue”.

The Holy Father mentioned that “those who work in the name of the Church are part of the Church”, and therefore “the link between the Church who evangelises and the Church who administers justice must be kept alive. Service to justice is a commitment to apostolic life: it must be exercised while remaining focused on the icon of the Good Shepherd, who tends to the lost and injured sheep”.

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the participants in the plenary to persevere in their dedication to the “transparent and correct exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate wishes of the faithful who turn to their pastors, especially when in good faith they seek authoritative clarification of their status”.

3 posted on 11/09/2013 3:16:02 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley
So, Francis, undo the annulments. I'd really respect that. I happen to know of a man who deserted his wife and children for a filthy lawyer who just happens to be Catholic. She inducted him into the Catholic church, which granted him an annulment (how is this anything but calling his honest wife a whore and his children bastards?) with his confirmation. Now she can't be bothered to have children of her own body, and they are traveling the world to find children to replace those he no longer loves.

What a spectacle. Everything turned upside down. I've always thought this praise was something that made the Church into something wildly irrational and cruel. If Francis disallowed these previous annulments, I'd be very impressed.

4 posted on 11/09/2013 3:19:41 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: markomalley

“f ) Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If yes, what form would it take?”

The above is a question from the Pope’s survey, posted on the Vatican website.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20131105_iii-assemblea-sinodo-vescovi_en.html


19 posted on 11/09/2013 1:58:16 PM PST by ebb tide
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