Rorate Caeli

Motu Proprio "Quaerit semper", transferring competences
on the discipline of the Sacraments from the CDW to the Rota. / Reform of the Reform: CDW now dedicated essentially to Sacred Liturgy



Quibus Constitutio apostolica Pastor bonus immutatur atque quaedam competentiae aCongregatione de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum ad novum Officium de processibus dispensationis super matrimonio rato et non consummato ac causis nullitatis sacrae Ordinationis, apud Tribunal Rotae Romanae constitutum, transferuntur

Quaerit semper Apostolica Sedes sua moderaminis instituta pastoralibus necessitatibus accommodare, quae annorum decursu in Ecclesiae vita identidem exstiterunt, structuram ideo immutans et competentias Dicasteriorum Curiae Romanae. [Full Latin text.] [Update: English translation at the end of this post.]


Explaining this motu proprio: as we had reported in February 2011, and as the Supreme Authority himself explains in his text, when Pope John Paul II reunified the competences of the Congregation for the Sacraments and of the Congregation for Divine Worship in the general reorganization of the Roman Curia (Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, of 1988 - it was the second unification of the Congregation in less than two decades), matters related to the discipline of certain aspects of the sacraments of marriage and orders remained with the Congregation. They were those points mentioned in articles 67 and 68 of the Constitution "Pastor Bonus", now abrogated by the motu proprio Quaerit Semper, of August 30, 2011, which enters into force on Saturday, October 1, 2011.

The matters removed from the competence of the Congregation, including those related to the "non-consummation in a marriage and the existence of a just cause for granting a dispensation", as well as to "cases concerning the nullity of sacred ordination" are to be examined by a new office established within the greater structure of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

The main purpose for this, according to Quaerit Semper, is the following:

"In these circumstances, it appeared adequate that the work of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments be dedicated essentially [potissimum] to a resumption of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church, according to the renewal that the Second Vatican Council desired, beginning with the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium."

So, then: is the "Reform of the Reform", in law, about to get started, as it seems, with this new impulse planned by the Holy Father?


[English translation provided by Vatican Information Service - it is apparently a translation of the Italian version.]

"The Holy See has always sought [always seeks] to adapt its structures of government to the pastoral requirements of the various historical periods that have succeeded one another in the life of the Church, modifying the organisation and functions of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia".

"In the current circumstances it seemed fitting that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments should dedicate itself chiefly to giving fresh impetus to promoting sacred liturgy in the Church, in keeping with the renewal promoted by Vatican Council II through the Constitution 'Sacrosanctum Concilium'.

"Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to transfer the function of dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination to a new office to be created within the Tribunal of the Roman Rota".

Article 1

"Articles 67 and 68 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' are abolished".

Article 2

"Article 126 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' is modified to read as follows:

"1. The Tribunal of the Roman Rota is a court of higher instance at the Apostolic See, usually at the appellate stage, with the purpose of safeguarding rights within the Church; it fosters unity of jurisprudence,
and, by virtue of its own decisions, provides assistance to lower tribunals.

"2. An office shall be established in this Tribunal with the task of examining the fact of non-consummation in a marriage and the existence of a just cause for granting a dispensation. It receives all the acts together with the 'votum' of the bishop and the remarks of the defender of the bond, weighs them according to its own special procedure, and, if the case warrants it, submits a petition to the Supreme Pontiff requesting the

"3. The same office is also competent to examine cases concerning the nullity of sacred ordination, in accordance with universal and specific law, 'congrua congruis referendo'".

Article 3

"The office dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of sacred ordination shall be moderated by the dean of the Roman Rota, with the assistance of officials, commissioners and consultors".