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Editor's Introduction

We certainly live in interesting times, also from a canonical point of view. Various bishops in the United States and elsewhere have experienced canonical difficulties when their decisions to relegate a church to profane use were found to be in violation of the law by the Congregation for the Clergy because of a lack of a grave reason, as required by canon 1222 §2. His Eminence, Péter Cardinal Erdo looks into another matter, at the opposite end of canon 1222: the construction of churches, and more in particular the need to obtain the consent of the bishop for such construction, as required by canon 1215.

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013 and the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, sparked great interest in the canonical issues of a papal transition. In his contribution, Kurt Martens makes an analysis of the current legislation on the vacancy of the Apostolic See and the election of the Roman Pontiff. The latest legislative changes, promulgated by Benedict XVI days before his resignation took effect, are incorporated into this article.

In 2011, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the instruction Universae Ecclesiae on the application of Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. In his article, John Foster briefly examines the organization of the instruction and its juridic weight before studying the document in more detail. [End Page 1]

Sean Doyle looks at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The Commission has developed from a body only focused on reconciling members of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church to a more permanent office overseeing the implementation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in addition to its continuing concern for reconciliation. The author looks at the legislation concerning the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and illustrates the purpose of the Commission and the difficulties which its functioning involves.

A year after Benedict XVI approved the revised norms on more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this dicastery forwarded a circular letter to episcopal conferences asking them to draw up guidelines to assist bishops in addressing responsibly the delict of sexual abuse of minors. Thomas Green examines in his article some of the aspects of the circular letter, and explores some issues in relationship to Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela and the norms, and the USCCB Essential Norms.

The last article of this issue is the text of the Ninth Annual James H. Provost Memorial Lecture given at the School of Canon Law of The Catholic University of America on March 22, 2012 by Anne Asselin, Dean and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Canon Law of Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. The author looks into the situation of lay ecclesial ministers and their removal from office.

The modification of parishes and the relegation of churches to profane use or even their simple closure have given rise to various difficulties, despite the efforts of bishops to give these issues significant care and show pastoral solicitude. The Congregation for the Clergy has therefore sent a letter to all ordinaries with procedural guidelines for the modification of parishes, the closure or relegation of churches to profane but not sordid use, and the alienation of formerly sacred edifices. With the permission of the Congregation for the Clergy, The Jurist publishes this letter and the procedural guidelines. It is our hope that this publication may assist canonists in the USA and elsewhere when preparing for these modifications. We extend a word of gratitude to His Eminence, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and to the entire Congregation for granting us the permission to print the letter and the guidelines. [End Page 2]

The current issue contains a novelty for our readership: we are happy and honored to publish some of the jurisprudence of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. On behalf of the editorial board and in my own name, I would like to thank His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and His Excellency, Most Reverend Frans Daneels, O.Praem., Archbishop-Secretary of the...