September 28, 2011 // Uncategorized

Pope changes responsibility of worship congregation, tribunal

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has transferred responsibility for two very precise administrative procedures from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to the Roman Rota, a church court.

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published the papal directive Sept. 27 giving the Rota responsibility for handling procedures involving a marriage that was celebrated validly but not consummated and for cases involving the nullity of an ordination.

Pope Benedict said he made the change so that the congregation for worship could “dedicate itself principally to giving a new impulse to the promotion of the sacred liturgy in the church, according to the renewal willed by the Second Vatican Council.”

In the document, dated Aug. 30, the pope said a new office would be established within the Roman Rota to handle the two specific types of cases. He also said the new norms would go into effect Oct. 1.

The change was reported as a rumor in February and, at the time, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the change would give the Roman Rota responsibility for technical administrative procedures such as those involved in releasing a couple from the obligations of marriage when they have not consummated their bond.

Canon law also allows for a declaration of the nullity of an ordination to the priesthood when it can be demonstrated that there was a serious defect in the rite used or there was a “radical deficiency” in the ability of the person being ordained to understand what ordination meant or to consent to being ordained.

A Vatican official who served on the worship congregation’s special commission that would have dealt with the annulment of an ordination said the cases were “extremely rare” and, in fact, he had never been assigned such a case. Saying a priest’s ordination had been null from the very beginning also would call into question the validity of all the sacraments he later celebrated, the official said.

The number of cases of non-consummated marriages, however, is not all that rare. The Vatican yearbook, “The Activity of the Holy See,” reported that 301 cases were accepted by the congregation in 2010 and all but two resulted in the marriage being annulled.

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