By Anne Kurian
By a rescript signed on April 1, 2020, Pope Francis defers the suspension of all the processes underway in the Vatican’s judicial organs until May 4, 2020, given the health situation linked to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The preceding rescript had suspended the judicial activity until April 3.
The new rescript, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, explains that it has to do with “extraordinary and urgent measures” to “combat the epidemiological crisis” and to “contain its negative effects.”
The trials, deadlines, and prescriptions of the March 18 rescript are suspended. The hearings and different procedures are deferred. However, this decision does not apply to investigations underway and to dossiers that must be addressed for ”urgent reasons,” in the case where a deferment could cause “grave prejudice to the parties.”
The small State has three Tribunals: The Apostolic Penitentiary (Court dealing with questions of the internal forum), the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (higher jurisdiction) and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (Court of Appeal).
In his rescript, the Pope also states that these Tribunals can limit access to offices, opening hours, decide on closed hearings and organize the rotation of personnel.
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