Sacra Rota Romana

The Tribunal of the Rota Romana or the Sacred Roman Rota is the highest appellate tribunal of the Latin Rite [Codex Iuris Canonici [CIC] canons 1443, 1444.] and several of the Eastern Catholic Churches [Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium [CCEO] canon 1065.] and is the second highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See. ["See" John Paul II, ap. con. "Pastor Bonus" art. 121, 80 Acta Apostolicae Sedis 841 (1988) (noting that the Apostolic Signatura is the supreme tribunal).] The Catholic Church has a complete legal system, which is the oldest and one of the most advanced legal systems still in use today. The court is named "Rota" (wheel) because the judges, called "auditors", originally met in a round room to hear cases. [Edward Peters, "Canon Law—Canonistics—Rota Background", http://www.canonlaw.info/personal_rotademo.htm (updated Oct. 21, 2006).]

The Rota adjudicates cases in a panel (called a "turnus") of three auditors assigned by the dean of the tribunal, though sometimes a larger number of auditors are assigned to a particular case. [Canon L. Socy. Gr. Brit. & Ir., "The Canon Law Letter and Spirit: A Practical Guide to the Code of Canon Law" ¶ 2907, at 837 (Gerard Sheehy et al. eds., Liturgical Press 1995).] The Pope appoints the Rota's auditors, ["Pastor Bonus" art. 127.] whose decisions are written in Latin, ["See" "id." art. 16 (noting that Latin is the official language of the curia).] and also designates the tribunal's dean. ["Id." art. 127.] The current Dean of the Roman Rota is Most Rev. Antoni Stankiewicz, who has served in this capacity since January 31, 2004.

The Rota's main function is that of a third instance appellate tribunal, reviewing decisions of lower courts if the original court and the first appeal court do not agree on the outcome of a case, though it can also at the option of the appellant hear the first appeal. Dominating its case load are marriage annulment cases due to the increased civil divorce rates among Catholics, but it hears non-administrative cases in any area of canon law. In certain instances, the Rota has exclusive original jurisdiction, such as any contentious case in which a bishop is a defendant. If the case can still be appealed after reaching the Rota, the appeal goes to a different "turnus" of the Rota.

The Rota is the highest appeals court, but it is not the highest court. If the Rota issues an invalid judgment, the judgment can be vacated before the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court of the Roman Catholic Church outside of the Pope himself. However, the legal powers of the Rota, not the merits of the case, are on trial before the Signatura: all the Signatura does is grant the petitioner a new trial in the Rota if the Rota was found to have erred in procedure.

The Rota, like any other court, has to interpret and apply the law, but unlike common law courts its interpretations do not have the force of law for lower courts. [CIC canon 16 § 3; CCEO canon 1498 § 3.] That role in Canon law is taken up by the legislator of the appropriate law. [CIC canon 16 § 2; CCEO canon 1498 § 2.] In the case of universal laws (such as the Code of Canon Law), the authentic interpreter is the Pope, who has delegated this power to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts of the Roman Curia. ["Pastor Bonus" art. 155.] All courts, including the Rota, are bound to apply the interpretations thus given.

Auditors of the Rota

The active auditors of the Rota, with their dates of appointment by the Roman Pontiff, are the following:
* Most Rev. Antoni Stankiewicz (Dean) (14 Feb 1978)
* Rev. Msgr. Jose Maria Serrano Ruiz (25 Mar 1970)
* Rev. Msgr. Kenneth Boccafola (3 Apr 1986)
* Rev. Msgr. Josef Huber (5 Dec 1992)
* Rev. Msgr. Giovanni Battista DeFilippi (20 Dec 1993)
* Rev. Msgr. Robert M. Sable (6 June 1993)
* Rev. Msgr. Egidio Turnaturi (9 June 1994)
* Rev. Msgr. Maurice Monier (9 Jan 1995)
* Rev. Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto (25 Mar 1995)
* Rev. Msgr. Hanna Alwan (4 Mar 1996)
* Rev. Msgr. Giordano Caberletti (12 Nov 1996)
* Rev. Msgr. Angelo Bruno Bottone (4 Nov 1997)
* Rev. Msgr. Grzegorz Erlebach (4 Nov 1997)
* Rev. Msgr. Americo Ciani (8 Feb 1999)
* Rev. Msgr. Jair Ferreira Pena (8 Feb 1999)
* Rev. Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca (25 Mar 1999)
* Rev. Msgr. Giovanni Verginelli (28 Mar 2000)
* Rev. Msgr. Agostino De Angelis (23 Apr 2001)
* Rev. Msgr. Gerard McKay (8 June 2004)
* Rev. Msgr. Abdou Yaacoub (15 Nov 2004)

Officers of the Rota

* Rev. Sebastiano M. Paciolla, O. Cist. (Promotor of Justice)
* Rev. Msgr. Nabih Moawad (Promotor of Justice)
* Rev. Msgr. Giovanni Vaccarotto (Defender of the Bond)
* Rev. Msgr. Pius Eheobu Okpaloka (Defender of the Bond)
* Rev. Alessandro Perego (Defender of the Bond)
* Rev. Vito Angelo Todisco (Defender of the Bond)
* Rev. Msgr. Michael Xavier Leo Arokiaraj (Head of the Chancery)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/roman_rota Tribunal of the Roman Rota]
* [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts]
* [http://www.gcatholic.com/dioceses/romancuria/d14.htm Giga-Catholic Information]
*CathEncy|wstitle=Sacra Romana Rota


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