Tribunal of the Roman Rota

The Tribunal of the Roman Rota ordinarily acts as an appellate court of higher instance at the Apostolic See, with the purpose of safeguarding rights within the Church; it fosters unity of jurisprudence and, by virtue of its decisions, provides assistance to lower tribunals.

The Tribunal of the Roman Rota also includes the Office competent to adjudicate the fact of the non-consummation of marriage and the existence of a just cause for granting dispensations.

This Office is also competent to deal with cases of the nullity of sacred ordination, pursuant to the norm of universal and proper law, in accordance with the different cases.


The Tribunal has a collegiate structure and is composed of a certain number of judges of proven doctrine, competence and experience selected by the Roman Pontiff from various parts of the world.

The College of the Tribunal is headed by the Dean, as primus inter pares, who is appointed for a term of five years by the Roman Pontiff, who chooses him from among the judges.

The Office for procedures of dispensation from a marriage ratum et non consummatum and for cases of the nullity of sacred ordination is headed by the Dean, assisted by its proper officials and by designated commissioners and consultors.

Art. 202

The Tribunal of the Roman Rota adjudicates in second instance cases that have been decided by ordinary tribunals of first instance and referred to the Holy See by legitimate appeal.

It adjudicates in third or further instances cases already decided by the same Apostolic Tribunal and by any other tribunals, unless they have become res iudicata.


The Roman Rota, in addition, adjudicates in first instance:

1. Bishops in contentious matters, unless they concern the rights or temporal goods of a juridical person represented by the Bishop;

2. Abbots Primate or Abbots Superior of monastic congregations and Supreme Moderators of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right;

3. Dioceses/Eparchies or other ecclesiastical persons, whether physical or juridical, which have no Superior below the Roman Pontiff;

4. cases which the Roman Pontiff entrusts to this Tribunal.

It adjudicates these same cases also in second and further instances, unless other provisions are made.


The Tribunal of the Roman Rota is governed by its proper law.

[Apostolic Constituion, Praedicate Evangelium, 19 March 2022]

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