The Apostolic Signatura functions as the Church’s Supreme Tribunal and also ensures that justice in the Church is correctly administered.
The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is composed of Cardinals, Bishops and priests appointed by the Roman Pontiff for a term of five years. It is headed by the Cardinal Prefect.
In dispatching the affairs of the Tribunal, the Prefect is assisted by a Secretary.
The Apostolic Signatura, as a tribunal of ordinary jurisdiction, adjudicates:
1. complaints of nullity and petitions for restitutio in integrum against sentences of the Roman Rota;
2. recourses in cases involving the status of persons when the Roman Rota has denied a new examination of the case;
3. exceptions of suspicion and other proceedings against judges of the Roman Rota arising from the exercise of their functions;
4. conflicts of competence between tribunals which are not subject to the same appellate tribunal.
The Apostolic Signatura, as the administrative tribunal for the Roman Curia, adjudicates recourses against individual administrative acts, whether issued by the Dicasteries or the Secretariat of State or else approved by them, whenever it is contended that the act being impugned violated some law, either in the decision-making process or in the procedure employed.
In these cases, in addition to its judgement regarding the illegality of the act, the Apostolic Signatura, at the request of the plaintiff, can also judge concerning the reparation of possible damages incurred through the act in question.
The Apostolic Signatura also adjudicates other administrative controversies referred to it by the Roman Pontiff or by institutions of the Curia. Finally, it adjudicates conflicts of competence between Dicasteries or between Dicasteries and the Secretariat of State.
The Apostolic Signatura, as an administrative institution of justice in disciplinary matters, is also competent:
1. to exercise vigilance over the correct administration of justice in the different ecclesiastical tribunals and, if need be, to censure officials, advocates or procurators;
2. to adjudicate petitions presented to the Apostolic See for obtaining the referral of a case to the Roman Rota;
3. to adjudicate concerning any other request relative to the administration of justice;
4. to extend the competence of lower tribunals;
5. to grant approval of a tribunal of appeal, as well as approval, if reserved to the Holy See, of the erection of inter-diocesan/inter-eparchial/inter-ritual, regional, national and, if need be, supranational tribunals.
The Apostolic Signatura is governed by its proper law.
[Apostolic Constituion, Praedicate Evangelium, 19 March 2022]
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