Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, On the senior suffragan of the new Mitis Iudex canon 1687 §3, Prot. No. 15155/2015, 13 October 2015.
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR LEGISLATIVE TEXTS
Prot. N. 15155/2015
Vatican City, 13 October 2015
In your letter of the 17 September last which arrived at our offices on 12 October, your Eminence asked this Pontifical Council for its opinion regarding the new formulation of can. 1687 §3, contained in the m.p. Mitis Iudex on the reform of the process for the declaration of nullity of marriage. In particular, you asked whether an appeal against the judgement of the Metropolitan Bishop, which — according to the same canon — “datur ad antiquiorem suffraganeum,” is to be made to the Bishop who is the oldest in age in the ecclesiastical province or to the Bishop who is senior by promotion to the episcopacy.
The CIC also makes mention of the suffraganeus antiquior in canons 421 §2, 425 §3 and 501 §3, with reference to the supplementary duties which they have to exercise in specific and rather rare cases, adding each time that it concerns the Bishop promotione antiquior. This reference to promotion, that is to the Bishop's nomination, does not appear in the motu proprio of 8 September.
On the other hand, given that an appeal against the judgement of the Metropolitan according to can. 1687 §3 could occur with some regularity, legal certainty in the conduct of a trial demands that the recipient of the appeal be stable and not subject to continual change. The stability of the judge in second instance is, in fact, a principle required by the general norms of procedural law (cf. can. 1438 CIC, in particular §2). It thus appears one must conclude that the suffragan Bishop to whom one makes appeal is neither the oldest in age nor the oldest by nomination, but is instead the Bishop of the oldest see in the ecclesiastical province.
In the hope of having provided a reply which may be useful for the correct application of the m.p. Mitis Iudex, I take this occasion to express my most sincere regards to your Eminence, yours sincerely in Domino,
+ Card. Francesco Coccopalmerio
+ Juan Ignacio Arrieta
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, On the senior suffragan of the new MIDI canon 1687 §3, Prot. No. 15155/2015, 13 October 2015. Translation by Alan McCormack. Italian original accessed 4 November 2018 at: http://www.delegumtextibus.va/content/dam/testilegislativi/risposte-particolari/Procedure%20per%20la%20Dichiarazione%20della%20Nullit%C3%A0%20matrimoniale/Circa%20il%20suffraganeus%20antiquior%20nel%20nuovo%20can.%201687%20%C2%A73%20Mitis%20Iudex.pdf