Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura, Letter regarding the role of the defender of the bond, 24 June 2017, Private.


SUPREMUM SIGNATURAE APOSTOLICAE TRIBUNAL

PALAZZO DELLA CANCELLERIA

00120 CITTÁ DEL VATICANO

24 June 2017

Prot. n. 1075/17 SAT

Your Excellency,

The Annual Report on the State and Activity of the Diocesan Tribunal of ... for the year 2016 has reached the offices of the Apostolic Signatura. After a careful review of the report, the Apostolic Signatura makes the following observations:

According to the 2016 Report, the defenders of the bond did not once appeal against any of the sentences that declared the nullity of a marriage, either to the local appellate tribunal or to the Roman Rota.

It is the duty of the defender of the bond “to propose any kind of proofs, responses and exceptions that, without prejudice to the truth of the matter, contribute to the protection of the bond” (Dignitas connubii, art. 56, §3) and “to propose and explain everything which reasonably can be brought forth against nullity. ...” (can. 1432). This duty of office, however, does not end with the animadversiones of the defender of the bond, but includes the obligation to appeal against an “insufficiently founded” sentence of marriage nullity (DC, art. 279, §2).

The importance of the defender of the bond in marriage trials should not be underestimated or underappreciated: “His presence, and the faithful fulfillment of his duty, does not condition the judge. Rather, it allows for and fosters judicial impartiality, as then both the arguments for and against a declaration of nullity are set before the judge” — the arguments for nullity by the party and those against nullity by the defender of the bond (Pope Francis, 24 January 2015 address).

Expressing my thanks to Your Excellency and to all the ministers of the Tribunal, I offer my support and encouragement to all who are dedicated to the ministry of justice in the Church, and I remain

devotedly Yours in Our Lord,

Giuseppe Sciacca

Titular Bishop of Fondi

Secretary

His Excellency

Diocese of ...




Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura, Letter regarding the role of the defender of the bond, 24 June 2017, Private.