- Ministerium Justitiae: Jurisprudence of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Official Latin with English Translation
The decisions of any legal system's supreme judicial organ constitute a significant aspect of that legal system's procedural and substantive law. The jurisprudence of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura counts as no exception. Although the decisions of ecclesiastical tribunals do not hold strict precedential value in the system of canon law, such decisions nonetheless often exert a formative influence in shaping future tribunal decisions and in the development of canon law itself. For this reason, canonists pay close attention to the decrees of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. William L. Daniel's collection of the Signatura's decrees represents an important contribution to a better understanding of the supreme tribunal's jurisprudence and its influence on the life of the Roman Catholic Church. The collection of some 58 decrees of the Apostolic Signatura, spanning the years 1983 to 2007, has been organized into three major sections in accord with the three principal competencies of the Signatura. Based upon Canon 1445 (CIC-1983), the 1988 Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus recognized three sections of the Signatura.
The First Section of the Signatura exercises a judicial function, and as a major portion of this function, it hears appeals from the decisions of the Roman Rota. Part I of MINISTERIUM JUSTITIAE contains three decrees of the Signatura. The first of the decrees concerns a petition for restitutio in integrum, [End Page 314] and the decree explains how restitutio differs from an ordinary appeal. The second decree, contained in Part I, discusses the critical function that the right of defense plays in marriage nullity cases. A third relatively brief decree entails the convalidation of marriage. Part II of MINISTERIUM JUSTITIAE culls 25 decrees of the Apostolic Signatura that pertain to the contentious-administrative process in canon law. The so-called "Second Section" of the Signatura hears petitions against the decrees of certain of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The Signatura decisions offered in Part II focus on the dismissal of religious, the transfer and removal of parish priests, and the suppression of parishes. Part II also includes Signatura decrees concerning a conflict of competence between two Dicasteries, the dismissal of a professor from an ecclesiastical university, a conflict between a bishop's decree and pontifical privilege, a penalty imposed on a layperson, and the suppression of an association of the Christian faithful. In Part III, MINISTERIUM JUSTITIAE presents 19 decrees which flow from the disciplinary-administrative function of the Apostolic Signatura. Many of these decrees treat special competencies granted to appellate and local tribunals.
The decrees contained in MINISTERIUM JUSTITIAE appear in original Latin versions with accurate English translations. The scholarly appendages of the book prove helpful in locating particular topics and specific decisions. Both the Foreword by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke and the Introduction by William Daniel afford insight about the crucial ministry of the Signatura. This book promises to serve as a treasured resource for all those interested in justice in the Church.