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Church tribunals, in dispensing justice, serve the cause of evangelization, Pope says

November 08, 2013

In a November 8 address to members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest tribunal of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said that “the link between the Church who evangelizes and the Church who administers justice must be kept alive.”

The Pope said that the tribunals of the Church are designed to respond to “the legitimate wishes of the faithful who turn to their pastors, especially when in good faith they seek authoritative clarification of their status.” The members of these tribunals, he added, should keep in mind “the icon of the Good Shepherd, who tends to the lost and injured sheep.”

The plenary meeting of the Apostolic Signatura was dedicated to a discussion of the “defender of the bond,” who makes the argument in favor of marriage in cases involving a plea for annulment. The work of the defender of the bond is essential to the integrity of the process, the Pope observed. He said that when the defender of the bond appeals a decision by a Church tribunal, his action should be seen not as an affront to the judges but as an effort to help them in their task of determining the truth and dispensing justice.


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