Saturday, January 21, 2012


On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI delivered his annual allocution to the judges of the Roman Rota, the highest judicial appeals court in the Catholic Church. In his remarks, Pope Benedict spoke of the essential role the court has to play in the life of the Church, concentrating on the profound connection between positive law and transcendent justice.
It was a theme the Holy Father developed in his discourse to the Reichstag last year in Berlin. “True law is inseparable from justice,” he said. “The principle,” said Pope Benedict, “is valid for Canon Law,” just as it is for civil law in the sense that Canon Law “can not be locked within a merely human system legal, but must be connected to a just order of the Church, in which there is a higher law. In this context, positive human law loses the primacy attributed to it, since law is no longer identified with it alone; in this, however, human law is valued as an expression of justice, primarily for what it declares regarding divine law, but also for what it introduces regarding self-determination as a human right. "

To respond then to the "crucial question" of what is right in each case one must "always look at the disciplined reality, not only when the Law is primarily declarative of divine right, but also when it introduces constitutively human rules." In such a realistic prospect, "the interpretation of canon law must take place in the Church. This is not merely an external, environmental circumstance: it is also a reference to the same humus of Canon Law and the realities that are regulated by it. Thinking with the Church also makes sense in this discipline, because of the doctrinal foundations that are always present and active in the legal norms of the Church. "

"These reflections take on a special significance in the context of the laws regarding the constitutive act of marriage, its consummation and the reception of Holy Orders, and those relating to the respective processes. Here the true sense of harmony with the law of the Church becomes a matter of deep and broad practical impact in people's lives and communities and requires special attention". In particular, all legally binding means that aim to ensure unity in the interpretation and application of the laws that is required by justice should be applied: papal Magisterium specifically regarding this field, especially in the content of speeches to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota; the standards and statements issued by other departments of the Roman Curia. This hermeneutic unity in what is essential does not in any way diminish the functions of the local tribunals, the first called to deal with the complex real-life situations that occur in every cultural context. Each one of them, in fact, is required to proceed with a sense of reverence towards the truth of law, trying to practice in an exemplary way in the judicial and administrative institutions, communion in discipline, as an essential aspect of the Church's unity".

“In encouraging your precious work,” said Pope Benedict, “which requires faithful, constant dedication and commitment, I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Speculum iustitiae – Mirror of Justice,” and imparted his Apostolic Blessing.

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