VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Contrary to some media reports, John Paul II has not instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to establish a new court, says a Vatican aide.
Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the dicastery, said that the Vatican congregation has been a court since its founding; thus to speak of a “court” in connection with it is nothing new.
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has always exercised judicial jurisdiction in some specific cases, involving defense of the faith, morality, the dignity of the sacraments, especially of reconciliation and the Eucharist,” he said.
“Some more serious offenses (‘delicta graviora’) have always been the exclusive competence of the congregation,” Archbishop Amato told Vatican Radio.
“The Pope has recently reconfirmed this competence and updated both the procedures as well as the list of ‘delicta graviora,’ such as clerics’ abuse of minors,” he said.
These novelties are included in John Paul II’s 2001 apostolic letter “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela,” on the norms regarding the more serious crimes reserved to the doctrinal congregation.
“In any case, it’s about details of a technical and juridical character which have been decided on the competence of the congregation itself,” Archbishop Amato explained. “In fact, it is not a question of a new court.”
He said that the confusion might stem from a recent decision “to prepare some premises in the same building of the Holy Office to ensure more suitable environments to offer this service.”