Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Private letter on the meaning of "diocesan bishop" in Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, 1 September 2017, Prot. N. 15983/2017.


Pontificia Consilium de Legum Textibus

Prot. N. 15983/2017

Vatican City, September 1, 2017

Your Excellency,

I refer to your letter of this past June 28, in which you requested canonical clarifications from this Pontifical Council for some questions on the briefer process before the diocesan bishop according to the m.p. Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (MIDI).

Having carefully examined the questions you presented, I am happy to offer the following indications:

By the term "diocesan bishop,” employed by the m.p. MIDI, are also understood all those who are made equivalent to the diocesan bishop. According to canons 134 §3, 381§2 and 368 CIC, those who preside over territorial prelatures, territorial abbacies, apostolic vicariates, apostolic prefectures and apostolic administrations erected in a stable manner are equivalent to the diocesan bishop.

The term “diocesan bishop” does not include those who enjoy ordinary executive power, such as vicars general, episcopal vicars and major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and of clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right (cf. c. 134 §§1and 3 CIC). By this term are understood only those who are equivalent to the diocesan bishop mentioned above.

In the first part of the m.p. MIDI which concerns the fundamental criteria, at number IV regarding the briefer process, it reads: "... we desire that the bishop himself be established as the judge in this process, who, due to his duty as pastor, has the greatest care for catholic unity with Peter in faith and discipline." From this statement, it seems clear that it is only for the diocesan bishop and his equivalents to judge in the briefer process.

The apostolic administrator, nominated by the Holy See in the case of "sede vacante" of a diocese, can judge cases of matrimonial nullity with the briefer process if he has received specifically such a faculty in the decree of nomination.

In the case of "sede vacante" of a diocese, the auxiliary bishop, the diocesan administrator and the judicial vicar cannot judge the briefer process because they possess only those powers that the law attributes to them and not those specifically attributed to the diocesan bishop ( cf. cc. 134 §3 and 427 §1CIC).

In the case of a diocese with a large territory, the diocesan bishop cannot delegate to the auxiliary bishop his power to judge the briefer process (cf. c. 135 §3 CIC and III of m.p. MIDI).

At the present state of canonical discipline, these are the proper readings of the norms that concern the matters in question.

Hoping that the above clarifications will be helpful to you, I take this opportunity to express my fraternal greetings and best prayerful wishes to you and your brothers bishops.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Francesco Card. Coccopalmerio

President

+Juan Ignacio Arrieta

Secretary




Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Private letter on the meaning of "diocesan bishop" in Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, 1 September 2017, Prot. N. 15983/2017.