Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Response Concerning a Request for Competence, 1995.

What follows is correspondence concerning canon 1673, §3, between a diocese in the United States (whose “request for competence” was apparently a little different than the standard form) and the Apostolic Signatura. The reply of the Signatura is in English. First is the letter from the Adjutant Judicial Vicar of the Diocese in question:

April 25, 1995

His Emimence Gilberto Cardinal Agustoni

Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Piazza della Cancelleria 1

00186 Rome, Italy

Your Eminence:

Enclosed please find a copy of a recent letter from the “Director’’ of the Tribunal in the Diocese of ____________ in response to my request for consent prior to declaring Reno the competent Tribunal (1673, 3°).

I forward the copy for your information, but also with some questions.

First: While questions four and five may well be relevant to competence based on the forum of proofs (1673, 4°), what is their relevance to canon 1673, 3°? Second: Is there any relevance of questions two or three to either canon 1673, 3°, or 1673, 4°?

This is the first request for such information that I have received from any Tribunal from which I sought consent. I do not dispute the right of the Tribunal from which consent is sought to make a thorough investigation in accord with canon 1673. But I wonder about its scope. The law only requests contact with the Respondent. If other Tribunals follow the practices ____________, how many more words and conditions will be added to the requirements of canon 1673?

pg. 1212

pg. 1213
This request comes from the “Director’’ of the Tribunal not the Judicial Vicar. What is the position of the Director of the Tribunal in issuing competence?

Thanking you in advance for your time and kind assistance, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Father ____________

Adjutant Judicial Vicar

The Signatura’s response:

May 18, 1995

Prot. N. ____________

Quaesita quoad can. 1673, 3°

Reverend Father,

This Apostolic Signatura has received your letter of April 25, 1995.

There can be no doubt that the Judicial Vicar of the domicile of the respondent may request appropriate information before deciding whether or not to consent for the hearing of the case at the tribunal of the domicile of the petitioner (cfr. Apostolic Signatura, “Declaration on the Forum of Most of the Proofs,’’ April 27, 1989, n. 4: the argument proposed in the first paragraph of said n. 4 also applies to canon 1673, 3°; for the Latin text of said declaration: AAS 81 [1989] 892-894; for the English version: The Jurist 50 [1990] 307-309).

The Judicial Vicar can of course, request such information through another official of his tribunal.

It belongs to the same Judicial Vicar of the domicile of the respondent to see which information might be required in a concrete case.

pg. 1213

pg. 1214
In any event, this Dicastery does not intend to enter into a discussion about whether some concrete questions proposed by the Tribunal of ____________ are relevant or not.

Taking this occasion, I remain

Devotedly yours in Christ,

G. Card. Agustoni


Zenon Grocholewski


RRAO (1996): 45-47.