Vatican: cardinals and bishops will be judged on an equal basis with others

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Tribunal of the Vatican City State
Tribunal of the Vatican City State

On April 30, Pope Francis unveiled an apostolic message of his own initiative (motu proprio) to amend the Vatican’s judicial system, which was approved in March 2020. From now on, cardinals and bishops will appear before the Tribunal of the State of the Vatican City, like everyone else, and not before the Court of Cassation under the chairmanship of the cardinal, as it has been so far. The need for the prior permission of the Pope to bring cardinals and bishops to trial remains in force.

Victor Vladimirov – Vatican City

In the new document Pope Francis quotes his speech at the opening of the Judicial Year at the Vatican on March 27 this year:

“It is imperative that – also through appropriate legislative changes – in the current procedural system there is equality between all members of the Church and their equal dignity and position, without privileges that are becoming a thing of the past and no longer correspond to the responsibilities attributable to each of them in the work of creation. Churches”.

It is on the basis of the principle of equality of all members of the Church that the Holy Father repeals Article 24 of the legal system, according to which cardinals and bishops charged with criminal offenses in the State of the Vatican City must appear before the Court of Cassation, consisting of three cardinals and two or more judges.

Thus, cardinals and bishops who are brought to trial for ordinary crimes (not related to violation of church laws governed by canon law) will be tried on an equal basis with others by the same Vatican tribunal, in accordance with three instances of justice. In fact, a new clause is introduced in the 6th article of the judicial system: “In cases involving the Most Reverend Cardinals and Right Reverend Bishops, outside the cases provided for by Canon 1405 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, the tribunal administers justice with the prior consent of the Pope.”

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