Congregation for Clergy and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Correspondence Concerning Recourse Against a Decree Finding a Priest Irregular for the Exercise of Orders, 1994-1996.


The following set of entries also concerns canon 1044 and involves an archdiocese, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Apostolic Signatura. The submitting priest noted that “In these documents, the Signatura confirmed the decision of the Congregation for the Clergy, which had upheld Cardinal ___________’s decree declaring a priest psychologically impeded from the exercise of all ministry in accord with canon 1044.’’

The documents which follow first are those of the Congregation for the Clergy. First, to the Ordinary:




Rome, December 15, 1994

His Eminence ____________

Archbishop of

Somewhere, U.S.A.

Your Eminence,

This Congregation has studied the recourse presented by the Reverend Procurator, advocate, on behalf of the Reverend Petitioner, a priest of the Archdiocese of ____________, against the decree of March 1, 1994, imposed by Your Eminence declaring Father Petitioner “incapable of rightly exercising ministry, according to canon 1044, §2.”

Enclosed please find a copy of the response of the Dicastery in this matter.

pg. 943

pg. 944
As Your Eminence is aware, canon 1044, §2, 2°, may be applied donec Ordinarius, consulto perito, eiusdem ordinis exercitium permiserit. It is hoped that Father Petitioner will make use of Your offer to seek therapeutic counselling so that his status might be periodically reviewed toward his possible return to ministry according to the suggestions of his Advocate, namely, with one person responsible for the evaluation and for giving direction lest there be confusion about the directives, the process, or the outcome.

I take this opportunity to renew my sentiments of esteem and, with every best wish, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Jos. T. Card. Sanchez

Prefect

C. Sepe

Secretary




Next, to the Petitioner:




Rome, December 15, 1994

Reverend Father,

This Congregation has received the recourse presented on your behalf by the Reverend Procurator, advocate, against the decree of His Eminence the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of ____________, dated March 1, 1994, declaring you “incapable of rightly exercising priestly ministry.’’

It is certain that:

on March 1, 1994, the Ordinary decreed you impeded from exercising orders (c. 1044, §2, 2°);

on March 5, 1994, you sought the revocation of that decree (c. 1734);

on March 21, 1994, The Ordinary refused to revoke his decree dated March 1, 1994 (c. 1735);

pg. 944

pg. 945
on April 19, 1994, you petitioned hierarchic recourse through an advocate (c. 1737).

Having examined the documentation it is shown that:

in applying canon 1044, §2, 2°, the Ordinary sought the advice of experts, consulted with a committee of priests, afforded you canonical advocacy and the right to respond to the questions raised;

the Ordinary provided you with an assignment to afford you the opportunity, ad probandum, to exercise priestly ministry;

that this assignment was ended after a short time by the Pastor requesting for and receiving your resignation from that office;

and that the Ordinary has continued to provide you with financial sustenance and has encouraged you to seek therapeutic treatment;

therefore the decree of the Ordinary dated March 1, 1994, is confirmed.

Given at Rome, December 15, 1994.




A further round of questioning by the Petitioner and the Advocate followed, with these responses.

First to the Ordinary:




Rome, January 16, 1995

His Eminence

Archbishop of ____________

Somewhere, U.S.A.

Your Eminence,

This Congregation has received a fax transmission dated January 6, 1995, presented by the Reverend Procurator, advocate, acting on behalf of the Reverend Petitioner, a priest of the Archdiocese of ____________,

pg. 945

pg. 946
asking “Was the decree of the Ordinary dated 1 March 1994 warranted, given the fact that the experts who were consulted concluded that Father Petitioner was not incapable of rightly exercising ministry.’’

Enclosed please find a copy of the response of the Dicastery in this matter.

With renewed sentiments of esteem and every best wish, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

C. Sepe

Secretary




Now, to the Procurator for the Petitioner:




Rome, January 16, 1995

The Reverend Procurator

U.S.A.

Reverend Father,

This Congregation has received your fax transmission dated January 6, 1995, on behalf of the Reverend Petitioner, a priest of the Archdiocese of ____________, in the matter of his recourse against the action of his Ordinary declaring him incapable of rightly exercising priestly ministry.

In its decision confirming the decree of the Archbishop, as indicated in its letter, the Dicastery studied the question not only in procedendo by also in decernendo.

With every best wish, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

C. Sepe

Secretary

pg. 946

pg. 947
The Apostolic Signatura confirmed the decision of the Congregation for the Clergy with the following documents.

An unofficial English translation:




Prot. N.

Impediment from exercising orders

(Rev. Petitioner — Congregation for the Clergy)

In the above captioned case, the Cardinal Archbishop ____________ of ____________ on the 1st day of March 1994 declared the Reverend Petitioner impeded from exercising orders, which decision the Congregation for the Clergy confirmed on the 15th day of December 1994.

Disappointed, it seems, by the emendation of the decree petitioned from the same Congregation, the Rev. Procurator made recourse with perseverance on the 22nd day of March 1995 in the name of the Rev. Petitioner to this Supreme Tribunal.

THE UNDERSIGNED SECRETARY OF THE SUPREME TRIBUNAL OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE

The matter having been diligently subjected to examination;

It being seen that article 123, §1, of the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus,” according to which, recourse must be interposed before this Supreme Court within the peremptory period of thirty useful days;

It being observed that the Rev. Petitioner received the decision of the Congregation on the 31st day of December 1994 and on the 6th day of January 1995, through his advocate Rev. Procurator, petitioned emendation of the decision, and that by letter on the 16th day of January 1995, the same Congregation refused to change its own decision;

It being considered that the Rev. Procurator received this letter on the first day of February 1995 but only interposed recourse on behalf of the Petitioner on the 22nd day of March 1995;

pg. 947

pg. 948
The votum of the Rev. Substitute Promoter of Justice having been examined,

decrees:

The recourse is rejected at the outset because of the expiration of the peremptory period, as provided in article 123, §1, of the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus.”

To the party making recourse belongs the faculty of making recourse against this decree to the Congressus of this Supreme Tribunal within a peremptory period of 15 useful days of receipt of this decree, having been deposited within the same decreed period the sum of 1,000,000 Italian Lire for expenses.

Given at Rome, from the Seat of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on the 10th day of June 1995.

Zenon Grocholewski

Secretary




Another related decree from the Signatura in an unofficial English translation:




SUPREME TRIBUNAL OF THE APOSTOLIC SIGNATURA

Prot. N.

In the above-captioned case, the Cardinal Archbishop of ____________ on the first day of March 1994 declared the Reverend Petitioner impeded from exercising orders. Rev. Petitioner petitioned without effect the revocation of this decision on the 5th day of March 1994, because the Eminent ordinary rejected the petition on the 21st day of March 1994. Then the Rev. Petitioner made recourse on the 19th day of April 1994 through his Procurator, Rev. ____________, to the Congregation for the Clergy — which however — confirmed the challenged decision on the 15th day of December 1994. The Rev. Petitioner received the decree of the Congregation on the 31st day of December 1994 through regular mail.

pg. 948

pg. 949
Thereupon on the 6th day of January some further information has been requested from the Congregation for the Clergy by the Procurator of the Rev. Petitioner, which gave it on the 16th day of January 1995, and which reached the Rev. Procurator on the 7th day of February 1995. The Procurator of the Rev. Petitioner himself made recourse to this Supreme Tribunal on the 22nd day of March 1995, but the recourse was rejected by threshold decree of the Secretary on the 10th day of June 1995 “because of the expiration of the peremptory period [30 useful days], as provided in article 123, §1, of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus.’”

Against this rejection the Rev. Petitioner appealed on the 11th day of July 1995 to the Congressus of this Apostolic Signatura.

The matter having been rightly expounded by the distinguished Advocates of the parties and the deputed Rev. Promoter of Justice,

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

It being said first, that the very party making recourse had a mandate to effect everything in order to make recourse: “It was my understanding that as Procurator the Rev. Procurator could and would handle any and all matters pertaining to my Appeal if and when they were forthcoming’’ (cf. Letter of the party making recourse to his distinguished Advocate on the 24th day of October 1995);

It being noted that, whatever it may be concerning the juridic nature of the letter from the Rev. Procurator to the Congregation for the Clergy on the 6th day of January 1995 — and also that of the Congregation itself on the 16th day of January 1995 which the Rev. Procurator received on the 7th day of February 1995 — The Rev. Procurator himself, notwithstanding the absence of the party making recourse, enjoyed the possibility and the faculty of acting and making recourse in the name of the Rev. Petitioner;

It being observed that the Rev. Procurator, being detained by no impediment and excused by no lack of knowledge, nevertheless used this faculty in order to make recourse on the 22nd day of March 1995, that is, in whatever the case beyond the peremptory period [30 useful days], as provided in article 123, §1, of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus.’”

pg. 949

pg. 950
The matter having been diligently subjected to the examination in Congressus, held in the presence of the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on the 18th day of April 1996,

has decreed:

The case is dismissed, or the decree of the Secretary dated the 10th of June 1995 is confirmed.

The sum deposited by the Rev. Petitioner with the treasury of this Supreme Court is retained for expenses. Each party should pay the appropriate stipend to his distinguished Advocate.

Also the result of the legal judgement should be made known to all whom it concerns.

Given at Rome, from the seat of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on the 18th day of April 1996.

G. Card. Agustoni

Prefect

Zenon Grocholewski

Secretary




RRAO (1996): 25-34.