Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 07:00 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis on Friday amended part of a law issued last year regulating Vatican City’s judicial system, now allowing the court of first instance to rule on criminal trials of bishops and cardinals.
The law previously said that cardinals and bishops could only be judged by the final court of cassation for the civil judicial system, which is the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
The prior law meant that criminal trials of cardinals and bishops were judged by other cardinals. With the April 30 update, Vatican City judges — typically lay people — will be competent to rule on the cases.
The amendments were issued by Pope Francis in an apostolic letter “amending the jurisdiction of the judicial bodies of Vatican City State,” issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”).
In the preamble, the pope referenced Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which says that “there is true equality among all with regard to the dignity and action common to all the faithful in building the Body of Christ.”