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Friday, December 11, 2015

Pope Francis' Rescriptum ex audientia on the implementation of the new law on marriage annulment proceedings

Vatican City, 11 December 2015 (VIS) – In the afternoon of 7 December the Holy Father signed the following Rescriptum ex audientia on the implementation of and compliance with the new law on procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage.

“The entry into force – which happily coincides with the Jubilee of Mercy – of the Apostolic Letters in the form of Motu proprio 'Mitis Iudex Dominus' and 'Mitis et Misericors Iesus' of 15 August 2015, given to bring justice and mercy on the truth of the bond to those who have experienced the failure of their marriage, necessitates among other things the need to harmonise the renewed procedures for marriage annulment with the regulations of the Roman Rota, awaiting their reform.

The recently concluded Synod of Bishops strongly exhorted the Church to stoop to the 'most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love', restoring trust and hope.

The laws that now come into effect are intended precisely to show the Church's closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many who experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ's healing work through ecclesiastical structures, in the hope that they may again discover themselves to be God's missionaries to their brethren, for the good of the institution of the family.

Acknowledging the jurisdiction of the Roman Rota as the ordinary court of appeal of the Apostolic See, and also its office in safeguarding the unity of the jurisprudence (art. 126 para. 1 Pastor bonus) and contributing to the continuing formation of pastoral workers in the Tribunals of the local Churches, I decree the following:


The aforementioned laws for the reform of marriage annulment procedures repeal or waive any contrary law or regulation currently in force – general, particular or special – eventually also approved in a specific form (such as, for example, the Motu proprio 'Qua cura' given by my predecessor Pius IX in times very different from the present).


1. In marriage annulment cases before the Roman Rota, doubt must be cast according to the long-standing formula: An constet de matrimonii nullitate, in casu.

2. There shall be no appeal against the decisions of the Rota in matters of the nullity of sentences or decrees.

3 Appeal for the N.C.P. (nova causae propositio) is not permitted before the Roman Rota after one of the parties has contracted a new canonical marriage, unless the decision can be demonstrated to be manifestly unjust.

4. The Dean of the Roman Rota has the authority to dispense with the Normae Romanae Rotae Tribunalis in procedural matters for a serious cause.

5. As wished by the Patriarchs of the Oriental Churches, the territorial tribunals shall have jurisdiction over the iurium cases connected with marriage annulment cases submitted to the judgement of the Roman Rota at appeal.

6. The Roman Rota shall decide cases according to the principle of evangelical gratuity, that is by ex officio patronage, notwithstanding the moral obligation of the more affluent faithful to offer a just contribution towards the causes of the poor.

May the faithful, especially the wounded and unhappy, look to the new Jerusalem that is the Church as 'the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship' and may it be granted to them, finding again the open arms of the Body of Christ, to sing the Psalm of the Exiles: 'When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy'”.

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