The Rotal Subsidium on “Mitis iudex”

A while back, we heard that the Roman Rota had prepared a lengthy guidance on Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus, intended for diocesan tribunals. In fact, we had heard about the document in the context of its general unavailability: it could be purchased at only the Vatican bookstore in Rome, or something like that. However, after a canonist of our acquaintance recently made some comments about it, we checked the Roman Rota website again. And the Subsidium for the Application of the Motu Proprio Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus is now freely available in PDF format. Much of it deals with some of the administrative reforms of Mitis iudex, including the expectation that diocesan bishops will constitute their own tribunals, ceasing to rely upon inter-diocesan tribunals, for example. However, it includes lengthy guidance on the processus brevior, especially article 14 § 1 of the Procedural Norms, which has been the subject of much concern and debate.

Of great interest: the Subsidium emphatically declares that article 14 § 1 does not articulate new grounds of nullity, and that the situations mentioned therein have long been “enucleated” by the jurisprudence “as symptomatic elements of the invalidity of matrimonial consent” (emphasis in original). That is not quite what we remember some eminent canonists saying, but we’ll take the Rota’s word for it.