(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters motu proprio on Tuesday, by which he introduced reforms to the legal structures of the Church, which deal with questions of marital nullity. At a news conference presenting the reforms to journalists at the Press Office of the Holy See on Tuesday, the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio – who was also a member of the Special Commission appointed to study the issue and make the recommendations on which the reform is based – explained that the reforms do not touch the nature and purpose either of marriage, or of the Church’s marriage law: marriage is a sacrament and is by its nature indissoluble; when a marriage is accused of nullity, the Church merely investigates to see whether the parties presumed to be married ever actually executed a valid marriage contract in the eyes of the Church.
“We are not strictly talking then, about a legal process that leads to the ‘annulment’ of a marriage,” as though the act of the Church court were one of nullification. “Nullity,” Cardinal Coccopalmerio explained, “is different from annulment – declaring the nullity of a marriage is absolutely different from decreeing the annulment of a marriage.”
The President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts went on to explain that the concern of the Holy Father is in the first place for the good of all the faithful, especially those of the faithful whose situations have been a cause of difficulty in living the Christian life as fully as possible. “The problem,” he said, “is rather of an exquisitely pastoral nature, and consists in rendering marriage nullity trials more swift and speedy, so as the more solicitously to serve the faithful who find themselves in such situations.”
Three specific changes most directly address the question of speed in the process: the removal of the need for a twofold conforming sentence from both the court of first instance and then from the appellate court, which automatically reviewed the acts of the first instance trial – meaning that a single trial in the first instance will be considered sufficient for persons, whose presumed marriage has been declared null, to enter into new marriages under Church law; the introduction of the possibility for a single judge to try and issue rulings on individual cases; the creation of an expedited trial process for certain cases, in which the evidence of nullity is abundant, and both parties accuse the marriage of nullity.
“The power of the keys of Peter remains ever unchanged,” explained the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, SJ, who was also a member of the reform commission and present at the press conference on Tuesday. “In this [nullity] process as well, the appeal to the Apostolic See is open to all, in order that the bond between the See of Peter and the particular Churches be confirmed.” Archbishop Ladaria concluded his remarks saying, “We all hope that this reform of the Code of Canon Law will bring with it the fruit the Holy Father desires, and that many Pastors and faithful desire with him as well.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
“A propitious occasion” to “renew responsibility by seeking ways to
prevent all threats of armed conflict, through the promotion of greater social
justice, freedom and solidarity”. Pope Francis expressed this hope in a message
signed by Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, for
the occasion of the Second Unveiling of the Panels
War and Peace at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The two large frescoes painted by Brazilian artist Candido Portinari
(1903-1962) have returned to their previous splendour after a meticulous,
five-year restoration. Beginning on 8 September 2015, it is possible to once
again admire them at the UN General Assembly Hall, the site of the unveiling
ceremony. The panels, measuring 14 metres high by 10 metres wide, have also
been displayed in Brazil and France, thanks to the “Portinari Project” directed
by the artist’s son, José Candido Portinari, at the Catholic University of Rio
de Janeiro. The murals illustrate the ruin and desolation of humanity on one
side, and portray a healthy and harmonious world on the other. In the message addressed to Cardinal Orani João Tempesta, Archbishop of
São Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, the Pontiff’s words are directed to all people
in this world who, as the Evangelii Gaudium decries, are “being torn apart by wars and violence, and wounded by a
widespread individualism which divides human beings, setting them against one
another as they pursue their own well-being” (n.
99). The message concludes: “In faithfulness to the commitment
subscribed in this building of the United Nations here in New York, we
anxiously await the time in which nations “shall beat their swords into
plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4)….
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters motu proprio on Tuesday, by which he introduced reforms to the legal structures of the Church, which deal with questions of marital nullity. One of the Letters motu proprio , known by its Latin title, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus – or “The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge” – reforms the Code of Canon Law (CIC) governing the Latin Church, while the other, Mitis et misericors Iesus or “Clement and merciful Jesus” – reforms the Code of Canon Law for Oriental Churches (CCEO).
According to the prefatory remarks attached to both Letters, the reforms are the result of an expert group appointed to study the current state of law and practice in the Church as far as marriage law is concerned. The Holy Father goes on in the preface to explain that the reforms are guided by seven specific criteria, ample excerpts of which Vatican Radio offers below in its own unofficial English translation:
That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.
A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.
The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.
Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.
Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.
The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion , and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.
There-establishment of vicinity between the judge and the faithful, in fact, shall not be successful if the stimulus does not come from the Conferences to the single Bishops, along with the necessary assistance, to put into practice the reform of the marital nullity process.
Appeal to the Apostolic See – It is fitting that the appeal to the ordinary Tribunal of the Apostolic See, i.e. the Roman Rota, be maintained: this, in respect of a most ancient juridical principle, so that the bond between the See of Peter and the particular Churches be reinforced – having care, in any case, in the discipline of the use of said appeal, to contain any and all abuse of right, in order that the salvation of souls be given no cause for harm.
Indeed, the prefatory remarks make clear from the very start, that the single most important principle guiding the Holy Father’s action and the work of reform undertaken, is that of salus animarum – the salvation of souls – which is the suprema Ecclesiae lex – the supreme law of the Church.
(from Vatican Radio)…