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Vatican Tribunal opens new judicial year

Vatican Tribunal opens new judicial year

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Tribunal opened its 86th session on Saturday morning. At the Mass to mark the occasion, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the application of the law must be both rigorous and compassionate. But its application must also be free of vengeance and of popular notions of justice, he told the judges and members of the Vatican Tribunal.


The cardinal made reference to the teachings of Saint John Bosco, whose feast the Church celebrated on Saturday. In particular, he referenced John Bosco’s preventive system, which combines formation through reason, an openness to God, and the compassionate treatment of persons. The saint, he said, condemned repressive and vengeful methods.

The cardinal then noted that the judicial system has a preventive and educative function.

“And your qualified service… if you want to be effective,” he said, “must be anchored in a higher vision of faith.”

“The law, although necessary, is not enough,” he continued. It “is a means to achieve justice, and therefore, to lead us to the good.”

“Only reference to the supernatural dimension…can show a judge that necessary clarity for the proper understanding of the human soul, which allows the formulation of a just and fair judgment in which…(there is) a flicker of compassion, that is, of love and of the ability to take on the suffering of others, even of those who are judged.”

He reminded the judges and members of the Tribunal that the primary source of all law in the Vatican City State is canon law, whose ultimate goal is the salvation of souls. He also invited them to combine “the certitude of the law”  with “that fairness of natural law,” found in the Gospel.

May all the activities of the tribunal, he said, be “inspired in the constant effort to combine the necessary rigor of the law and legal certainty…with compassion.”

Following the Mass, the Tribunal’s Promoter for Justice, Gian Piero Milano, gave his opening address for the new judicial year. He spoke of the disturbing increase in the case law of financial crime and corruption. This is “a veritable plague,” which affects an inviolable right of the individual to his human dignity, he said.

He spoke of the process of reform launched by Benedict XVI and intensified by Pope Francis citing, for example, the establishment of the Council and of the Secretariat for the Economy. He also referred to the Motu Proprio of July 2013, which punishes certain crimes committed against the security, fundamental interests or assets of the Holy See and creates significant changes for the Vatican Tribunals.

Regarding crimes against minors, the promoter said there are ongoing investigation measures being put in place, including an initiative related to crimes against children committed abroad by a public official of the Holy See, including those with diplomatic duties and archbishops. This initiative is assumed to activate tools of international judicial cooperation, he said.

Regarding the prevention and fight against money laundering, the promoter noted that a Motu Proprio in August two years ago introduced “strict requirements” on cross-border transportation of cash. As a result, he said, checks were performed on more than 4,000 people and 7,000 vehicles entering and leaving the Vatican in the past year. 

With the globalization of crime, the Promoter said the Vatican Tribunal has experienced an increase in international cooperation, with 10 requests for legal assistance from foreign countries, of which eight were from Italy.

The Promoter said there has also been a call for the introduction of specific provisions for the crime of usury, which is not currently in the code of law. Milano concluded his address by stating there were six arrests in the past year.

(from Vatican Radio)