Francis' Address to Tribunal of Roman Rota

"The juridical dimension and the pastoral dimension of the ecclesial ministry are not in opposition"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 2072 hits

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today to Prelate Auditors, Officials and Lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, on the occasion of the solemn opening of the Judicial Year.

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Dear Prelate Auditors, Officials and Collaborators of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota,

I meet you for the first time, on the occasion of the opening of the Judicial Year. I greet cordially the College of Prelate Auditors, beginning with the Dean, Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me on behalf of those present. I greet then the Officials, the Lawyers and the other collaborators, as well as the members of the <Rota’s Office>. This meeting offers me the opportunity to thank you for your valuable ecclesial service. My gratitude goes in particular to you, Rota Judges, who are called to carry out your delicate work in the name and by mandate of the Successor of Peter.

The juridical dimension and the pastoral dimension of the ecclesial ministry are not in opposition, because both concur in the realization of the aims and of the unity of action proper to the Church. The ecclesial judicial activity, which is configured as service to truth in justice, has in fact a profoundly pastoral connotation, because it aims at the pursuit of the good of the faithful and to the building of the Christian community. Such activity constitutes a peculiar development of the power of government, geared to the spiritual care of the People of God and, therefore, is fully inserted in the path and mission of the Church. Consequently, the judicial office is a real diakonia, that is, a service to the People of God in view of the consolidation of full communion between individual faithful, and between them and the ecclesial whole. Moreover, dear Judges, through your specific ministry, you offer a competent contribution to address the emerging pastoral topics.

I would now like to trace a brief profile of the ecclesiastical judge. First of all, the human profile: required of the judge is a human maturity that is expressed in the serenity of judgment and detachment from personal views. Part of human maturity is also the capacity to go down to the mentality and the legitimate aspirations of the community in which the service is carried out. Thus he will be an interpreter of that animus communitatis that characterizes the portion of the People of God that are recipients of his work and he will able to practice a justice that is not legalistic or abstract, but adapted to the need s of the concrete reality. Consequently, he will not be content to have a superficial knowledge of the reality of the persons who await his judgment, but he will perceive the need to enter in depth into the situation of the parties in question, studying thoroughly the acts and all the elements useful for the judgment.

The second aspect is the judicial. In addition to the requisites of juridical and theological doctrine, in the exercise of his ministry the judge is characterized by his skillfulness in law, objectivity of judgment and equity, judging with imperturbable and impartial equidistance. Moreover, he is guided in his activity by the intention to protect the truth, in respect of the law, without neglecting the delicacy and humanity proper of the pastor of souls.

The third aspect is the pastoral. In as much as he is expression of the pastoral solicitude of the Pope and of the Bishops, required of the judge is not only proven competence, but also a genuine spirit of service. He is the servant of justice, called to treat and judge the condition of faithful who turn to him in trust, imitating the Good Shepherd who takes care of the wounded sheep. Because of this, he is animated by pastoral charity, that charity that God has poured into our hearts through “the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Charity -- writes Saint Paul -- which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14) and also constitutes the soul of the function of the ecclesiastical judge.

Your ministry, dear judges and agents of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, lived in the joy and the serenity that come from working where the Lord has placed us, is a peculiar service to God- Love, who is close to every person. Behind every practice, every position, every cause there are persons who expect justice.

Dear brothers, I thank you and encourage you to continue your munus with scrupulosity and meekness. Pray for me! May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]