Pope: Faithful Have a Right to Rapid Annulment Process

Notes Signature’s Duty to Justice in the Whole Church

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ROME, FEB. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- People in doubt about the their marriage status have a right to a speedy and simple process to determine nullity, says Benedict XVI. 

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience members of the Apostolic Signature, the Church’s supreme court. 

He noted how this is the first time he has received members of the Signature since the 2008 promulgation of its “Lex propria,” which he signed in 2008. According to that document, the Signatura periodically holds a plenary assembly for “the promotion of the correct administration of justice in the Church.” 

The Holy Father affirmed that the tribunal’s function extends to “vigilance on the correct administration of justice in the Corpus Ecclesiae.” 

This entails among other things, he explained, gathering information on the state and activity of local tribunals; systematization and elaboration of data; and singling out strategies for the use of human and institutional resources. 

He called their work “coordinated and patient” and geared above all to give the faithful a correct, prompt and efficient administration of justice in relation to the causes of marital nullity. 

The activity of the Apostolic Signature, the Holy Father affirmed, is directed to ensuring that territories have the tribunals necessary, and that their ministry is adequate to respond to the demands of speed and simplicity to which the faithful have a right. 

He encouraged reflection particularly on “the correct jurisprudence to propose to the local tribunals in the matter of ‘error iuris’ as a motive of marital nullity.” 

And he spoke of another conflictive area: the controversies that can arise from an act of ecclesiastical administrative power. 

Beyond the spiritual 

The Bishop of Rome reflected that above all, injustice must be met with “the spiritual weapons of prayer, charity, forgiveness and penance.” 

But, he admitted, “in certain cases we cannot exclude the need for it to be met with legal instruments. These are, first and foremost, places for dialogue which can sometimes lead to harmony and reconciliation.” 

Speaking of the trials of the Church, he affirmed that justice is a “minimum requirement,” yet “insufficient if compared to the charity from which the Church lives.” 

“Nonetheless,” he said, “the People of God during their pilgrim journey on earth will never achieve their identity as a community of love if they do not remain attentive to the requirements of justice.” 

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