Below is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave participants in the course of formation organized by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, on the new matrimonial process and on the procedure super rato (Rome, Palace of the Chancellery, March 7-12, 2016) Saturday morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.
I greet you all who took part in the Course of Formation, organized by the Roman Rota, on the new matrimonial process and on the procedure super rato. I am grateful to Monsignor Pinto for his commitment in favor of these formative courses, and I thank him for his words.
During the recent Synodal course on the family, intense expectations arose to render more flexible and efficient the procedure for the declaration of marital annulment. So many faithful, in fact, suffer over the end of their marriage and often are oppressed by doubt whether it was valid or not. They wonder, namely, if there was already something in the intention and in the facts to impede the effective realization of the Sacrament. However, in many cases these faithful met with difficulties to access the ecclesial juridical structures and noted the need for the procedures to be simplified.
Charity and mercy, in addition to reflection on the experience, drove the Church to become ever closer to these children of hers, coming to meet their legitimate desire for justice. Promulgated last August 15 were the documents Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus, which gathered the fruits of the work of the special Commission instituted on August 27, 2014 — after almost one year of work. The provisions have an eminently pastoral objective: to show the Church’s solicitude to those faithful who await a speedy verification of their marital situation. Abolished, in particular, was the similar double sentence and brought to life was the so-called brief process, putting back at the center the figure and the role of the diocesan Bishop, or of the Eparch in the case of the Eastern Churches, in marital matters. In fact, in addition to the administrative ascertainment — ratified and not consummated — to him is now given the responsibility of the judicial way in order to ascertain the validity of the bond.
It is important that the new normative is received and deepened, in its merit and spirit, especially by the operators of the Ecclesiastical Tribunals, to render a service of justice and charity to families. For so many people, who have lived an unhappy marital experience, the verification of the validity or lack thereof of their marriage represents an important possibility; and these persons are helped to follow this path in the easiest possible way — hence the value of the course you have attended. I encourage you to treasure what you have learned in these days and to operate, keeping your gaze always fixed on the salus animarum, which is the supreme law of the Church.
The Church is Mother and wishes to show all the face of God faithful to His love, merciful and always able to give strength and hope again. What is most at heart regards those who are separated who live a new union and their participation in the ecclesial community. However, while we take care of the wounds of those that require the establishment of the truth on their failed marriage, we look with admiration to those that, even in difficult conditions, remain faithful to their marital bond. These witnesses of marital fidelity are encouraged and pointed out as examples to imitate. So many women and men endure great burdensome things not to destroy the family, to be faithful in health and in sickness, in difficulties and in tranquil life: this is fidelity, and they are good!
I thank you for your commitment in favor of justice and I exhort you to live it not as a job or worse as a power, but as a service to souls, especially those most wounded. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you. Please, remember to pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]