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Tribunal Defends Families, Says Dean

Sees Church Courts at Service of Love

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2007 ( The objective of the Roman Rota, the Church’s central appellate court, is to defend the truth about the family, says the tribunal’s dean.

Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz said this on Saturday, during an audience Benedict XVI granted to judges, officials, lawyers and collaborators of the tribunal.

Bishop Stankiewicz added: “Up for debate at present, is the unique natural physiognomy of marriage, in which man and woman can realize a genuine communion of persons, open to the transmission of life, thus cooperating with God in the procreation of new human beings.”

In particular, attempts are made “in the sociopolitical and juridical life to confuse marriage with other types of unions based on a weak or disordered love,” he continued.

The prelate explained that the first task of the Rota and other tribunals at diocesan levels is to be at the service of love.

Their task “is to recognize the full value of marriage, to respect its existence in the best way possible, and to protect those it has united in one single family,” Bishop Stankiewicz added. “Only for valid reasons and with proven facts can doubt be cast on its existence and its invalidity declared.”

The bishop said the judges’ duty “is respect of the person who has given his word, has expressed his consent and in this way has made a total giving of himself.”

Quoting a commentary from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Pope John Paul II’s 1981 apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio,” Bishop Stankiewicz concluded: Marriage is not “an extrinsic imposition, but an interior exigency of the conjugal pact of love.”

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