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Pope tells top Vatican court: the People of God need justice

February 04, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI met on February 4 with the officials of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court.

The Apostolic Signatura, led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, is meeting this week in a plenary session to discuss the needs of canonical courts throughout the universal Church. In his remarks to the group, Pope Benedict said: “The function of this tribunal is not, in fact limited to exercising supreme judicial authority", Benedict XVI added, "but it also has an executive role” in supervising other Church tribunals. The Pope explained:

The activities of the Apostolic Signatura aim to ensure that ecclesiastical tribunals are present on the ground and that their ministry is adapted to the just requirements of speed and simplicity, which the faithful have a right to expect in the handling of their cases.

The Apostolic Signatura also hears appeals of cases in which different Church bodies reach different conclusions. In such cases, the Pope remarked, the desired outcome of a trial is “the restoration of ecclesial communion; that is, the restoration of an objective order in conformity with the good of the Church.”

The virtue of justice does not rank as high as the virtue of love, the Pope said, yet justice is necessary to the health of the Church. The Pope said: “The Pilgrim People of God on Earth will not ever be able to realize its identity as a community of love, if it does not have regard within itself for the exigencies of justice.”


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