Roman rota

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Basic data
Surname: Roman Rota
(Latin Apostolicum Rotae Romanae Tribunal )
Supreme civil and criminal court of the Church
Protection of the rights of the Church
Uniformity of justice
Seat: Piazza della Cancelleria, 1
00186 Roma
Dean: Pio Vito Pinto
(since 2012)
Pro-Dean: Maurice Monier
(since 2016)

The Roman Rota ( Latin: Tribunal Rotae Romanae , "Court of the Roman Rota") is the ordinary court of appeal and, after the Apostolic Signature, the second highest court of the Roman Catholic Church . The Rota exercises ordinary jurisdiction for the Pope and is organizationally a dicastery of the Roman Curia ; since 1967 it has been based in the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome.


The Holy See had its own jurisdiction early on. The judicial functions were originally in the hands of the Pope and his advisors, the cardinals. Around 1000 AD, the Cappellani Papae (" chaplains of the Pope") were also found as judges , whom the Pope instructed to hear the trials that he did not intend to chair personally or to assign to the cardinals. These chaplains were initially interrogation judges (hence the term " auditor " which is still used today ); of Innocent III. (1198–1216) they were then given the authority to make judgments. It was not until the 14th century that the papal court was given a clearly defined shape through the Apostolic Constitution Ratio iuris Johannes' XXII. (1316-1334).

The name Rota can be detected for the first time in 1336. What the name comes from cannot be determined with certainty. Perhaps it stems from the fact that the floor of the meeting room was decorated with a round plate ("rota"); perhaps also from the wheeled frame on which the codes of law were located and which stood in front of the judges' table during the sessions. But the circular arrangement of the judges' chairs or the fact that the processes were assigned to the various colleges by three or five auditors according to a certain cycle - so to speak "rotated" - could have led to the naming.

Pope Martin V (1417–1431) laid down on September 1, 1418 the apostolic constitution In apostolicae dignitatis which characteristics were required of the judges of the Rota. In order to be appointed as auditor, it was necessary that the person concerned be a Doctor iuris famosus . He had to have at least three years of public teaching experience at a university. However, proof of teaching activity was soon dispensed with, and instead the degree of doctor of secular and ecclesiastical law was required, without any exception or dispensation. The candidate should also have certain possessions so that he is not suspected of being commercially viable. For centuries, the Lex Martiniana was one of the basic laws of the Rota, to which auditors had to swear allegiance every year at the opening of the judicial year.

In the 15th century, the tribunal gained great influence through the work of important men. The heyday of the court fell in the 16th and 17th centuries. Five auditors from this era were later elected popes. The reputation of the incorruptible justice of the Rota was legendary - also documented in Henry VIII's marriage nullity trial . The popes granted the judges a large number of privileges and honors. Alexander VII (1655–1667) appointed the auditors as apostolic sub-deacons and guardians of the pallia ; the Pope also allowed them violet instead of black robes.

The heyday of the court was followed by the period of decline, which began in the 18th century with precedent disputes with the Roman noble courts and, towards the end of the century, found its visible expression in the fact that not a few European courts refused or prevented the execution of the Rota judgments. After the French Revolution , the Rota only had a miserable existence. In 1831 the equestrian procession, celebrated every year with great pomp, had to be omitted to open the judicial year because it had become an object of ridicule for the Romans. Three years later, Gregory XVI. (1831–1846) the competence of the Rota on the territory of the papal states, so that after the provisional end of the secular rule of the popes in 1870 the court sank to complete insignificance.

In 1908, the Rota was revived by Pope Pius X (1903–1914) by virtue of the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti consilio . The Pope gave the Rota its own law, the Lex propria SR Rotae et Signaturae Apostolica (1908), and decreed the Regulae servandae apud SR Rotae Tribunal (1910), which was later replaced by the Normae SR Rotae Tribunalis (1934). Until 1983 the court was called Sacra Romana Rota , then Romanae Rotae Tribunal . Pope John Paul II issued the currently valid norms on February 7, 1994.


In the first instance, the Rota judges the disputes of the bishops , of the abbot primate or abbot praeses of a monastic congregation , the supreme heads of religious institutes under papal law, as well as the dioceses and other physical or legal persons in the church who do not have any superior other than the pope himself are subject to. Unless otherwise stipulated, the Rota also deals with these cases in the second or higher instance. Furthermore, she makes her judgments in the procedures that were specially assigned to her by the Pope.

In practice, however, the Rota is mainly concerned with appeals in nullity proceedings ; The Rota can also take over a request for the annulment of a marriage directly bypassing diocesan courts. The Rota is responsible for assessing the validity of church marriages and is i. d. R. Appeal body of the courts of the individual dioceses. Since the sacramental marriage between two Christians is indissoluble according to the Catholic understanding, the Rota can only state that a marriage has never been valid from the beginning and is therefore null and void. If a proceeding involves the marriage of a head of state or a member of a ruling dynasty, the process is generally negotiated in Rome, as there is a risk of influencing the local court.

In 2014, Rota received 326 new items. In 2015 there were 359 cases (one in the first, 145 in the second, 210 in the third and one in the fourth instance as well as 2 revivals ); most of them came from Italy (136), the USA (51), Brazil (48) and Poland (44). At the end of 2015, 689 (2014: 733) cases were pending; Of these, 679 (2014: 715) were invalid proceedings ( nullitatis matrimonii ; 98.5%), 4 (2014: 7) other status matters ( separationis, pensionis alimentariae, custodiae filiorum ; 0.6%), 5 (2014: 8) litigation ( iurium ; 0.7%) and one (2014: 3) criminal proceedings ( poenalis ; 0.1%).

One of the longest proceedings was a litigation from Innsbruck; it lasted from 1956 to 1991 and employed 28 Rota judges.


All Rota judges are appointed directly by the Pope and come from all parts of the universal Church. They must have received ordination , have extensive legal experience, and have personal wisdom. The tradition that has grown out of history to consider certain nations when appointing judges is still observed today. All auditors are equal in rank; the only distinction is seniority. A dean presides over the board of auditors as primus inter pares . The judges of the Roman Rota are prelates and the apostolic protonotaries on an equal footing. As a rule, the judges of the Rota are not cardinals ; however, the deans often receive episcopal ordination during their term of office .

Current auditors (as of 2019):

The court makes all judgments collegially, there are no single judges. As a rule, he handles the procedures brought before him by a committee of three auditors, the so-called "rotation". The longest-serving judge presides over the respective three-person college. However, in special cases the Rota can also act with all of its auditors (videntibus omnibus) . As with every diocesan or metropolitan court, the Rota court staff consists of a church attorney ( Promotor Iustitiae ), several defenders of marriage bonds and a number of notaries .

Legal representation

A lawyer is required at the Roman Rota ; that is, disputing parties can only conduct their proceedings before this court through licensed attorneys. The Rota lawyers are all specialists in canon law and have received special training, but are usually laypeople.

The Rota has its own degree, the “Studium rotale”, which aims to train advocates at the Rota as well as future judges, church attorneys and marriage defenders for church courts. The course takes place under the supervision of the dean of Rota and is led by an auditor. The training is open to clergy and laypeople who have at least the academic degree of a licentiate in canon law; Proof of doctorate is required for admission to the final examination . The course required to earn the title of Rota Attorney is three years.

List of deans (incomplete)

Judgments from 2008 to 2011

Judgments from 2008 to 2011 in nullity cases from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as in other status, general disputes and criminal cases worldwide:

date Rapporteur origin object
2011-10-18 Arellano Cedillo (MX) Mexicana Iurium : supply
2011-10-13 Erlebach (DE) Rottenburgen.-Stutgardien. Nullitatis matrimonii : inability to marry ( can. 1095 n.3 )
2011-06-20 McKay (closely) Poenalis (cann. 1394, 1391, 1389 § 1 )
2011-05-27 Sciacca (closely) Poenalis (appeal against the judgment of May 14, 2009)
2011-05-16 De Angelis (LB) Tire. Maronitarum Jurium : Waqf (Lebanese Personal Statute )
2010-07-23 McKay (spa) Poenalis (can. 1389 § 2); Iurium et refectionis damnorum ( can. 1729 )
2010-06-22 Huber (AT) Sancti Hippolyti Nullitatis matrimonii : poor judgment ( can. 1095 n. 2 ); Inability to marry
2010-05-28 Huber (DE) Eystetten. Nullitatis matrimonii : Inability to lead a marriage
2010-04-28 Huber (DE) Rottenburgen.-Stutgardien. Nullitatis matrimonii : malicious deception ( can. 1098 )
2010-04-22 Huber (AT) Sideropolitana Nullitatis matrimonii : poor judgment
2010-02-26 Erlebach (DE) Moguntina Nullitatis matrimonii : Exclusion of the offspring ( can. 1101 § 2 )
2010-02-26 Huber (?) Poenalis
2010-02-05 Huber (DE) Rottenburgen.-Stutgardien. Nullitatis matrimonii : Inability to lead a marriage
2009-05-14 McKay (closely) Poenalis ( can. 1395 § 1 )
2008-12-19 Pinto (DE) Colonies. Nullitatis matrimonii : exclusion of offspring; poor judgment
2008-11-21 Monier (US) Peorien. Jurium : Damage to reputation and compensation
2008-06-17 Alvan (CH) Lausannen., Geneven. et Friburgen. Nullitatis matrimonii : poor judgment
2008-03-14 Sciacca (IT) Calatayerones. Jurium : privilege in the context of an Easter procession
2008-02-21 De Angelis (LB) Beryten. Separationis including custody and maintenance ( personal status )
2008-01-17 De Angelis (IT) Romana Iurium : Sale of a plot of land near the Church of Santa Caterina della Rota


  • Stefan Killermann: The Rota Romana. Nature and work of the papal court through the ages. (= Adnotationes in Ius Canonicum. Volume 46, edited by Elmar Güthoff and Karl-Heinz Selge). Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main-Berlin-Bern-Bruxelles-New York-Oxford-Wien 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-59334-9 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Knut Wolfgang Nörr : About the medieval Rota Romana. A foray from the perspective of the history of curial jurisdiction, Roman canonical procedural law and canonical science . In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . 124 Vol., Canonical Department, 2007, pp. 220–245. doi: 10.7767 / zrgka.2007.93.1.220 .
  • Collection of judgments: Decisiones seu sententiae (RRDec; 1.1909 / 41.1949–; ZDB -ID 219983-x )
  • Collection of decrees: Decreta selecta inter ea quae anno ... prodierunt (RRDecr; 1.1983–; ZDB -ID 1381829-6 )
  • Grzegorz Erlebach: Decisioni "extravagantes" della Rota Romana . In: Quaderni dello studio rotale 11.2001, pp. 129–168 (lists judgments and decrees from 1940 to 1999 outside the two collections of decisions)
  • Kirsi Salonen: Papal Justice in the Late Middle Ages: The Sacra Romana Rota , Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West, Routledge 2016

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nomina del Pro-Decano del Tribunale della Rota Romana. In: Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office , December 12, 2016, accessed December 12, 2016 (Italian).
  2. AAS 1 (1909) 20 -35
  3. AAS 2 (1910) 783 -850
  4. AAS 26 (1934) 449 -491
  5. AAS 86 (1994) 508 -540
  6. Attività della Santa Sede nel 2014 , p. 823
  7. Attività della Santa Sede nel 2015 , p. 820
  8. Attività della Santa Sede nel 2015 , p. 822; for the years 2012/13 see also Johannes Klösges: Marriage nullity proceedings in the case of mentally conditioned lack of consensus (2015), p. 13, fn. 1
  9. ^ Oenipontana, final judgment: coram Palestro, October 23, 1991, RRDec 1991 (1994), pp. 622-669
  10. Attività della Santa Sede nel 1992 , pp. 1186-1194
  11. Officials ; Photo gallery of the Roman Rota ; Judge 1983–2012
  12. AAS 37 (1945) 193 -196
  13. Decisiones seu sententiae 100.2008 (2016) –103.2011 (2018)
  14. cf. Marcus Nelles: Cases on Catholic Church Law (2019), Case 9 ( p. 54 )

Web links