Curial congregation, with Pope’s approval, revises recent instruction on studies in canon law
August 27, 2018
Nearly four months after the Congregation for Catholic Education released an instruction on studies in canon law, the Congregation, with the Pope’s approval, has published the revised text of one of its paragraphs.
The revision emphasizes the bishop’s authority to judge matrimonial cases.
The Congregation released its instruction, entitled “Studies in canon law in the light of the reform of cases regarding the nullity of marriage,” on May 3, a week after its April 28 date of publication. One of the paragraphs of the instruction originally referred to
The Bishop, for whom can. 378, § 1, n. 5 requires that he be “in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.” As a minimum, the exercise of the office of judge in the processus brevior assumes that the diocesan bishop has knowledge of canonical discipline concerning matrimonial substance and matrimonial procedural law: prudence should guide us to ensure that some of those involved in the processus brevior are in possession of the academic degree of Licentiate in Canon Law ...
The revised paragraph states:
The Bishop, for whom can. 378, § 1, n. 5 requires that he be “in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines.” Such a knowledge of the sacred sciences (even without academic degrees), together with the sacramental grace of episcopal ordination, is sufficient to make every Bishop naturally and fully capable of instructing every matrimonial process, including the briefer one. That does not exclude that prudence may counsel the Bishop to ask assistance from collaborators who are even more expert in canon law; however, that is always left to his full discretion, according to circumstances in the individual cases …
A new footnote, placed after the paragraph’s second sentence, states, “Although this is certain on the level of formal law, it must not be forgotten that the Bishop, inasmuch as sent by God to be Pastor of his flock, possesses, more than anybody else, the grace and office to understand and pursue the true good of souls and, therefore, is able to unite justice and charity, truth and mercy also in this area of marriage, in which many people experience the fragility of the human condition.”
On June 5, Pope Francis authorized the revised text, which was published in the August 24 English edition of L’Osservatore Romano.
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