ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO THE OFFICIALS OF THE TRIBUNAL OF THE ROMAN ROTA
FOR THE INAUGURATION OF THE JUDICIAL YEAR
Dear Prelate Auditors,
Officials and Collaborators of the Apostolic Tribunal
of the Roman Rota,
I am meeting with you for the first time, on the occasion of the inauguration
of the juridical year. I cordially greet the College of Prelate Auditors,
beginning with the Dean, Msgr Pio Vito Pinto, whom I thank for the words he
addressed to me on behalf of all present. I also greet the Officials, the
Advocates and other collaborators, as well as the members of the Rotal Studium.
This meeting offers me the opportunity to thank you for your valuable ecclesial
service. My acknowledgments go in a special way to you, Rotal Judges, who are
called to carry out your delicate work in the name and by mandate of the
Successor of Peter.
The juridical dimension and the pastoral dimension of the Church’s ministry
do not stand in opposition, for they both contribute to realizing the Church’s
purpose and unity of action. In fact the judicial work of the Church, which
represents a service to truth in justice, has a deeply pastoral connotation,
because it aims both to pursue the good of the faithful and to build up the
Christian community. Such activity constitutes a peculiar development of the
power of governance, turned toward the spiritual care of the People of God, and
is therefore fully inserted in the journey of the mission of the Church. It
follows that the judicial office is a true diakonia, that is, a service
to the People of God in view of strengthening the full communion between
individual members of the faithful, and between them and the ecclesial body.
Furthermore, dear Judges, through your specific ministry, you offer a qualified
contribution in confronting emerging pastoral themes.
I would now like to sketch a brief profile of the ecclesiastical judge.
Firstly, his human profile: to be a judge requires a kind of human
maturity, that is expressed in calm judgment, detached from personal views. Part
of human maturity is also to be able to immerse oneself in the mentality and
legitimate aspirations of the community in which one carries out one’s service.
Like this, he will become an interpreter of the animus communitatis which
characterizes that portion of the People of God affected by his work. He will
also be able to exercise justice in a way adapted to the exigencies of the
concrete situation, and not in a legalistic and abstract way. As a result,
superficial knowledge of the situation of people awaiting his judgment will not
suffice; rather, he will feel the need to enter more deeply into the situation
of the parties involved, studying in depth the documents and every element
relevant to the judgment.
The second aspect is the judicial one. In addition to the requirements
of juridical and theological doctrine, in the exercise of his ministry the judge
is characterized by his knowledge of law, the objectivity of judgement and
fairness, by judging with imperturbable and impartial equidistance. In his work
he is also guided by the intent to safeguard truth, respecting to the law,
without overlooking the delicacy and humanity proper to a pastor of souls.
The third aspect is the pastoral one. As an expression of the pastoral
concern of the Pope and Bishops, the judge is required not only to have proven
competence, but also to have a genuine spirit of service. He is the servant of
justice called to treat and judge the condition of the faithful, who with
confidence turn to him, by imitating the Good Shepherd who cares for the wounded
lamb. That is why he must be inspired by pastoral charity; that charity which
God poured into our hearts through “the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”
(Rom 5:5). Love — St Paul writes — “binds everyone together in perfect harmony”
(Col 3:14), and constitutes the soul as well as the function of the
Your ministry, dear judges and officials of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota,
lived out in the joy and serenity that come from working where the Lord has
placed us, is a special service to the God of Love, who is close to every
person. You are essentially shepherds. As you carry out your juridical work, do
not forget that you are pastors! In every case, every profession and every
cause, people are waiting for justice.
Dear friends, I thank you and I encourage you to proceed in your munus
with scrupulosity and gentleness. Pray for me! May the Lord bless you and may
Our Lady protect you.