Under the auspices of the Society, Judicial Vicars and their Associates visited a number of Roman Dicasteries last November, from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th November 2015.

This was an opportunity to visit and discuss matters with officials of the dicasteries:  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Apostolic Signatura, Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Congregation for Clergy and Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.

Tuesday 24th November

Visitation to The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura                                      11.30am         

Our meeting at The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura was with His Eminence Dominique Francois Joseph Cardinal Mamberti, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Archbishop Frans Daneels, O.Praem., and Msgr. Joseph Punderson.   Our discussion encompassed a variety of issues. However, it was dominated by the recent motu propio.  Discussing the trust this new legislation places personally on Bishops, the Apostolic Signatura referred to the important role of the defender of the bond who ‘must be strong and wise’.  Also, conversation covered many other areas, including the relationship between First and Second Instance tribunals and the areas of competence. Archbishop Daneels stressed the requirement to maintain statistics and explore grounds of nullity and not remain focused on one particular ground.  Also, the necessity of law that rights of the accused always be protected.

Visitation to The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts                  4pm

We were welcomed to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, Prefect, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary of the Pontifical Council, Msgr. Markus Graulich, SDB, Under-secretary.  They expressed their good wishes to the Society and appreciation for the work of the Society, especially the valuable resources of the Society’s publications.  Discussions centered on the recent promulgation of the motu propios concerning the procedures for studying the validity of marriage and the ongoing work of redrafting Book VI of the Code.  They thanked the Society and its members for their submissions concerning Book VI and reported that the examination of all canons of Book VI is concluded.  The next stage of the examination is not yet decided. However, it is hoped a draft copy will be issued soon.   The Council spoke of the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop and the Bishop’s role as first judge being extended to include cases which are not graviora delicta.  One such area being addressed by the Council involves negligence in those holding ecclesiastical office. A discussion took place on matters which are handled at local level, especially when they are not being properly dealt with.  The Council spoke of the need for reconciliatory methods of dealing with disputes, like mediation.

Wednesday 25th November

Visitation to The Congregation for the Clergy                                                                      11am  

We were welcomed at the Congregation for Clergy by Fr Kevin Gillespie and Fr William Agley, a good friend of the Society and a former RSC Secretary. Fr Gillespie led the meeting with a paper on the issue of Special Faculties. Following an opportunity to ask questions and raise specific issues within the competence of the Congregation, we were honoured with the company of His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect.  The Congregation stressed the invitation to contact them at any time if they can be of assistance. Also, the Congregation extended an invitation to visit more regularly.

Venerable English College                                                                                                  6.30pm

We joined the community of the English College for the celebration of Mass and afterwards a drinks reception.  This was a gracious invitation and we thank Mgr Philip Whitmore, Rector, for allowing our group to join the College community for Eucharist and enjoy College hospitality.

Thursday 26th November

Visitation to The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith                                              11am  

Among the officials we met at the Congregation were two members of the Society, Fr Bob Geisinger, Promoter of Justice, and Mgr Kennedy.  Also, Rev. John Paul Kimes, We spend over an hour discussing matters relating to procedures for instructing privilege cases, laicisation cases, and cases of Graviora Delicta. Again the recent release of the motu propio impacted on our discussions.  We received a gracious welcome from the Congregation and an invitation to return again in the near future.

Visitation to The Tribunal of the Roman Rota                                                                     4pm

The visit to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota began with a tour of the different areas and departments of the Tribunal.  Afterwards we were honoured with the presence of Mgr. Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota.  Mgr Pinto thanked the CLSGBI for its contribution to the canonical world and spoke in detail about the recent motu propio, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus.   Mgr. Pinto spoke of the important role of the Diocesan Bishop as the first judge in his Diocese, referring to the thinking of Blessed Paul VI and the traditional role of the Bishop from the very early days of the Church as the one who decides all matters in his own diocese.  A Bishop has an important and privileged position, one of service and of love to his people, one who is in a responsible position and must be active as the principal judge of the diocese. Mgr Pinto and members of the Roman Rota were happy to respond to any questions and devoted time to such questions.  Mgr Pinto expressed his gratitude for our visit and asked us to return next year, stating the contact we have is extremely important.  

During our visit Mgr Pinto stressed the importance of understanding the mind of the legislator and the direction in which the Church is going.  One of our party summed up our visit to the Roman Rota, saying: “We have just witnessed history today”.