January 23, 2012

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY: 21 - 23 JANUARY


AUTHENTIC LAW IS INSEPARABLE FROM JUSTICE

VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  Benedict XVI focused his remarks on a fundamental aspect of judicial ministry: the interpretation of canon law with a view to its correct application. The hermeneutic of canon law "is closely associated with the very concept of Law in the Church", the Pope explained, and he went on to define two forms of interpretation which lead to impoverishment of the law: "The identification of canon law with the system of canonical legislation", which effectively means overlooking "natural law, divine positive law and the vital relationship of all law with the communion and mission of the Church". In the second form of interpretation, "the specific situation becomes a decisive factor in determining the authentic meaning of a legal precept in a particular case"; but in this way "it is human interpretation that decides what is juridical, and a sense of objective law is lacking".

  "But there is another way", said the Holy Father, "in which a correct understanding of canon law leads to its being interpreted as part of a search for the truth about law and justice in the Church. ... Authentic law is inseparable from justice. Obviously, this principle also holds true for canon law, in the sense that it cannot remain closed in a merely human system of norms but must be associated with a just ordering of the Church in which a higher law holds sway. In this perspective, human positive legislation loses its primacy ... and can no longer simply be identified as the Law. Nonetheless human legislation is an important expression of justice, first and foremost for what it declares to be divine law, but also for what it identifies as being the legitimate ambit of human law.

  "In this way", Benedict XVI added, "it becomes possible to apply a legal hermeneutic that is authentically juridical, in the sense that, in keeping with the meaning of the law, we can raise the crucial question of what is just in each particular case. ... Human rules must be interpreted in the light of the situations with which they deal. These situations always contain a core of natural law and of divine positive law, with which all norms must be in harmony if they are to be rational and truly juridical.

  "From this realistic standpoint, the sometimes arduous task of interpretation acquires a meaning and a goal. ... It is revitalised by an authentic contact with the overall situation of the Church, which facilitates access to the true meaning of the law".

  "It follows that the interpretation of canon law must take place within the Church. ... 'Sentire cum Ecclesia' also applies to discipline, because of the doctrinal foundations which are always present and operative in the Church's legal norms. Thus the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, about which I have spoken with reference to Vatican Council II (which is so closely associated with current canonical legislation), must also be applied to canon law".

  "This basic approach is applicable to all forms of interpretation: from academic research on canon law ... to the daily search for just solutions in the lives of the faithful and their communities. Meekness is necessary in order to accept the laws, seeking to study ... the juridical tradition of the Church in order to identify with that tradition and with the legal dispositions issued by pastors, especially pontifical laws and Magisterium on canonical issues, which are binding in their teachings on the law".

  All this has particular importance "as regards laws on the act of Marriage and its consummation, and Holy Orders. ... Particular care must be taken to apply all juridically binding measures which tend to ensure coherence in the interpretation and application of laws, as required by justice. These measures include the Pontifical Magisterium in this field, contained above all in addresses to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Rota itself, ... and the norms and declarations issued by other dicasteries of the Roman Curia".

  The Holy Father continued: "This hermeneutical unity in the essentials in no way prejudices the function of local tribunals, which are called to face the complex real situations that arise in all cultural contexts. Each of them must proceed with a sense of reverence towards the truth of law, applying judicial and administrative norms so as to achieve exemplary communion in discipline, this being an essential aspect of Church unity".

  Finally Pope Benedict turned his attention to the recent transfer to the Roman Rota of an office dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination. "I am sure", he said, "that there will be a generous response to this new ecclesial task".

 

PRESENTATION OF THE LAMBS FOR THE FEAST OF ST. AGNES

VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Pope was presented with two lambs which had earlier been blessed for today's feast of St. Agnes. The blessing took place in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana which bears the saint's name and where she is buried. The wool of the lambs is used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The pallium is a white woollen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops. The lambs, the symbol of St. Agnes who was martyred in Rome around the year 305, are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.

 

CHRISTIAN UNITY, A GIFT OF GOD AND A DAILY TASK

VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from 18 to 25 January, was the theme for the Pope's reflections before praying the Angelus this morning, as he invited the faithful "to join the prayer which Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of His Passion: 'That they may all be one, so that the world may believe'".

  The theme of the texts for this year's Week of Prayer has been taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Pope explained how "we are all called to see Christ's victory over sin and death - that is, His Resurrection - as an event which radically transforms those who believe in Him and opens their way to incorruptible and immortal life. Recognising and welcoming the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ supports Christians in their search for full unity among themselves".

  Benedict XVI affirmed that "our search for unity will be realistic if change first comes about within us, if we let God act, if we allow ourselves to be transformed in the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ Who is the true victory. The visible unity of all Christians always comes from on high, from God; it requires humility to recognise our weakness and to accept the gift. However, to use a phrase often repeated by Blessed Pope John Paul II, each gift is also a task. And so the unity that comes from God requires a daily commitment on our part to open ourselves to one another in charity. ... The time we dedicate to prayer for the full communion of Christ's disciples will give us a deeper understanding of how we will be transformed by His victory, by the power of His Resurrection".

  In concluding the Pope recalled how the Week of Prayer will conclude this Wednesday with the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul. The event will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian communities, he said, "and together we will renew our prayer to the Lord, source of unity".

  After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes for a happy New Year to countries in the Far East which are celebrating the new lunar year. "In the present global economic and social crisis, my hope for those peoples is that the new year may be marked by justice and peace, and bring relief to the suffering. My particular wish is that the young, with their enthusiasm and ideals, may offer a new hope to the world".

 

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Six prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville.

    - Bishop Roger Joseph Foys of Covington.

    - Bishop Richard Frank Stika of Knoxville.

    - Bishop Ronald William Gainer of Lexington

    - Bishop James Terry Steib S.V.D. of Memphis.

    - Bishop William Francis Medley of Owensboro.

 - Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, ambassador of France, on his farewell visit.

  On Saturday 21 January he received in audience:

 - Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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