Tribunal News

First ever inauguration of the Judicial Year of the Ecclesiastical Tribunals of the Maltese Province

Archbishop’s Palace, Archbishop Street, Valletta VLT 1448

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 6.00 p.m.

The Church Tribunals of the Maltese Ecclesiastical Province have welcomed Pope Francis’ invitation to be more open to a great number of Christian faithful who seek to assuage their consciences, but are often kept back from the juridical structures of the Church because of physical or moral distance. Therefore, mindful of this, the Church Tribunals in Malta and Gozo would like to highlight that charity and mercy demand that the Church, like a good mother, be near to her children who feel themselves estranged from her.

This spirit is what motivated the Ecclesiastical Tribunals of the Maltese Province to hold their first ever Inauguration of the Judicial Year on Wednesday, 17 January 2018, at 6.00 p.m. at the Archbishop’s Palace, Archbishop Street, Valletta.

This custom is not widespread among Church tribunals throughout the world. Indeed, only a handful of ecclesiastical tribunals in Italy, for example, celebrate their own formal inauguration around the time when the Pope traditionally inaugurates the judicial year of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota towards the beginning of the calendar year.

His Grace Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and President of the Maltese Episcopal Conference, delivered the Lectio Magistralis with the theme “The Briefer Process for the Declaration of Marriage Nullity before the Bishop: The Maltese Experience.”

The Briefer Process was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015, following widespread consultation with the universal Church, in order to simplify the ordinary process for handling marriage nullity cases; it is applied in those cases where the alleged nullity of marriage is supported by particularly clear arguments and requested by both parties. Nevertheless, in order to avoid endangering the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, the bishop himself is established as the judge in this process.

In the same spirit of openness and accountability to the People of God and society at large encouraged by Pope Francis, the Church Tribunals of the Maltese Province also gave an overview of the work accomplished during the last calendar year, while also providing projections for the year ahead.