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Catholic World News News Feature

Cardinal Pompedda resigns as head of top Vatican tribunal May 28, 2004

Cardinal Mario Pompedda has resigned as the prefect of the supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest canonical court. He will be replaced by Bishop Agotino Vallini, the current Bishop of Albano, Italy-- who will assume the rank of archbishop with his new assignment.

Cardinal Pompedda, a native of Sardinia, had held his current post since 1999. He submitted his resignation, as required by Church regulations, upon reaching his 75th birthday on April 18; Pope John Paul accepted the resignation on May 27.

The supreme tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the highest court of appeal in the Catholic Church for questions of canon law. The tribunal hears appeals of all canonical questions. Cardinal Pompedda, a noted specialist on canon law, has published widely in the field. A former canon-law instructor at the Gregorian University, he has recently offered his views on controversial current topics such as the French law banning the Islamic headscarf from public-school classrooms (which he opposed), and proposals for a decentralized profess of nominating new bishops (which he favored).

Although Cardinal Pompedda had reached the mandatory retirement age, the Pope's prompt acceptance of his retirement was somewhat unusual. Several influential Vatican officials remain in place well beyond their 75th birthdays, including the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano; the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; and the president of the commission that governs the Vatican city-state, Cardinal Edmund Szoka.

For a more detailed analysis of the cardinals who remain in office beyond retirement age, and the prospects for change in the leadership of the Roman Curia and important Catholic dioceses around the world, see the accompanying CWN story.

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