Request for Revocation or Amendment; Hierarchical Recourse to the CDF; Recourse to the Feria IV of the CDF
– Msgr. Charles J Scicluna
The general structure of Administrative Justice in the Church Preliminary Definitions
The Exercise of Authority by the Diocesan Bishop
Norms applicable to singular or particular administrative acts Gravament: The title for challenging a particular administrative act
Attempts at reconciliation and local Due Process Procedures
Request for Revocation or Amendment
Hierarchical Recourse to the CDF
Recourse to the Feria IV of the CDF
Singular or particular administrative act (actus administrativus singularis)
can. 35: ‘Within the limits of the person’s competence, one who has executive power can issue a singular administrative act, either by decree or precept, or by rescript, without prejudice to Can. 76 § 1” (that is, the case of a privilege which is granted by the legislator or an executive authority specifically empowered by the legislator).
Cfr cann. 35-93
can. 134, § 3: ‘whatever in the canons, in the context of executive power, is attributed to the diocesan Bishop, is understood to belong only to the diocesan Bishop and to those others in can. 381, § 2 who are equivalent to him, to the exclusion of the vicar general and the Episcopal vicar except by special mandate.”
can. 381, § 2; “Those who are at the head of the other communities of the faithful mentioned in can. 368, are equivalent in law to the diocesan Bishop, unless the contrary is clear from the nature of things or from a provision of the law”.
The 1986 Apostolic Constitution Spirituali militum curae adds the Military Ordinary to the list.
The Exercise of Authority by the Diocesan Bishop
§ 1 “By Divine Institution Bishops succeed the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who is given to them. They are constituted Pastors in the Church, to be the teachers of doctrine, the priests of sacred worship and the ministers of governance (“gubernationis ministry”)
§ 2 By their Episcopal consecration, Bishops receive, together with the office of sanctifying, the offices also of teaching and of ruling [munus]…regendi”), which however, by their nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its members”.
§ 1 “In the diocese entrusted to his care, the diocesan Bishop has all the ordinary, proper and immediate power (potestas ofdinaria, propria et immediata’) required for the exercise of his pastoral office, except in those matters which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme or to some other ecclesiastical authority”.
Can. 135 distinguishes the three main type of the power of governance: § 1 ‘The power of governance (“potestas regiminis”) is divided into legislative, executive and judicial power”.
Singular administrative acts are an expression of executive power (“postestas, exsecutiva”)
In the Church there is a distinction of power but not necessarily a separation of powers.
Members of the Hierarchy are in fact endowed with all the three types of power which come under the general heading of potestas regiminis or ministerium gubernationis.
Principles which should govern the exercise or authority in the Church
(The 1967 Synod of Bishops: Ten Principles intended as guidelines for the post-conciliar revision of the Code: Principles n. 6 [De tutela iurium personarum (On the protection of the rights of person)]
1. Authority is one and rests with the Superior, whether this be the Supreme Pontiff or the Diocesan Bishops within his jurisdiction.
2. Such authority is full (compkta), extends over the whole community entrusted to the incumbent and is an essential part of the pastoral care of the respective community.
3. The use of authority or power in the Church cannot be arbitrary. Arbitrary use of authority is against natural law, divine positive law and ecclesiastical law.
4. The rights of Christian faithful should be recognized and protected. These rights include those contained in natural and divine positive law and those that are derived from the status that the Christian faithful enjoy in the Church.
5. Church law should recognize the fundamental common status of the Christian faithful which is an expression of their radical equality (radicalis aequalitas) based on human dignity and baptism. The recognition of this radical equality should precede considerations of office and diversity of roles in the Church.
6. The recognition from radical equality is not enough to ensure the protection of right in the Church, Subjective rights (iura subjective) have to be acknowledged and protected.
7. The principle of juridical or legal protection is to be equally applicable to both superiors and subjects in Canon Law. In this way any suspicion of arbitrariness is dispelled.
8. In order to promote and ensure this equal legal protection, Canon Law provides for the legal right to hierarchical recourse by which a person who considers that his or her right has been violated by an authority on the lower level may seek redress before the authority at the higher level.
Norms applicable to singular/particular administrative acts
Decree and Precept
Can. 48 “decretum singulare”:
“A singular decree is an administrative act issued by a competent executive authority, whereby in accordance with the norms of law a decision is given or a provision made for a particular case; of its nature this decision or provision does not presuppose that a petition has been made by anyone”.
Can. 49 “praeceptum singular”:
“A singular precept is a decree by which an obligation is directly and lawfully imposed on a specific person or persons to do or to omit something, especially in order to urge the observance of a law”.
A Brief Check-list for appraising a particular administrative act
a. Did the author of the act enjoy canonical jurisdiction and executive power?
b. Is the act valid according to the general norms applicable to particular administrative acts (cann. 35-58) and to juridical acts (cann. 124- 126)?
c. Is the act valid according to the rules applicable for the specific subject-matter; have the requisites ad validitatem been respected?
d. Is the act lawful or licit according to both the general and the specific norms applicable to it; has the law been followed as to the merit of the decision (in decernendo); has the law been followed as to the procedure applicable to the case (in procedendo)?
e. Is the act prudent and expedient; does it promote the common good and respect the principles of natural justice and Church doctrine concerning liturgy, dogmatic and moral theology?
Gravamen: The title for challenging a particular administrative act
Gravamen or grievance is the legal basis for a challenge of a singular administrative act.
Can. 1733, § 1 and can. 1737, § 1 refer to “a person [who] believes or contends that he or she has been injured by a decree” [quis gravatum se decreto putens seu contendens].
The concept of gravamen as a legal basis for a request for redress is subject to differentiation:
• a person who seeks redress before the hierarchical Superior may do so for “for any jut reason”.
• a person who seeks redress before the apostolic signature must contend that the decision of the hierarchical Superior has violated a law either in decernendo or in procedendo.
a grievance presupposes
– a subjective right
– or at least a legitimate legal interest which the plaintiff has concerning the subject-matter of the singular administrative act.
This legitimate interest (interesse legitimum) has to be personal, direct, actual, and at least indirectly protected by law. It has to be proportionate to the reasons or motives which led the ecclesiastical authority to take the particular decision.
The simple curtailment of a convenience is not considered to be a relevant grievance or violation of a legitimate interest.
Who is entitled to act for redress?
– any individual who is aggrieved by the administrative act may do so.
– in the case of a juridical person (cf. cann. 114-118) redress is sought by its legitimate representatives.
(A parish is legally represented by its parish priest (can. 532). A parishioner, is only entitled to seek redress in matters which affect his or her parish as an individual member of the parish and not in representation of the whole parish).
– groups which are not recognized as juridical persons under can. 299, § 3 cannot make hierarchical recourse against a decision of their Diocesan Bishop as a group [qua coetus] but can seek redress before the hierarchical Superior as individual faithful, either acting on their own or together in a litis consortium [qua singuli christfideles, sive singillatim siv coniunctim agentes].
The right of the faithful to seek redress based on gravamen has to be distinguished from the right of the faithful to express their concerns to the Bishop and to his hierarchical Superiors. This right is to some extent recognized under can. 212, § 2: “Christ’s faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church”.
It is obvious that the right to express a concern about a particular situation does not per se give the right to seek redress concerning a given decision. This however does not preclude the hierarchical Superior from taking cognizance of the matter and indeed emanating provisions concerning the matter delated to it by the faithful.
Attempts at reconciliation and local Due Process Procedures
The Code generally enjoins the faithful to avoid contentions and to settle differences peacefully (cf. can. 1446, § 1)
Can. 1733 states: § 1 “When a person believes that he or she has been injured by a the decree be avoided, and that care be taken to reach an equitable solution by mutual consultation, possibly using the assistance of serious-minded persons to mediate and study the matter. In this way, the controversy may by some suitable method be avoided or brought to an end”.
§ 2 “The Bishop’s Conference can prescribe that in each diocese there be established a permanent office or council which would have the duty, in accordance with the norms laid down by the Conference, of seeking and suggesting equitable solutions. Even if the Conference has not demanded this, the Bishop may establish such an office or council”.
§ 3 “The office or council mentioned in § 2 is to be diligent in its work principally when the revocation of a decree is sought in accordance with can. 1743 and the time-limit for recourse has not elapsed. If recourse is proposed against a decree, the Superior who would have to decide the recourse is to encourage both the person having the recourse and the author of the decree to seek this type of solution, whenever the prospect of a satisfactory outcome is discerned”.
The legislator therefore suggests that attempts at reconciliation or an equitable solution be made at every stage:
a) by reference to the permanent office or council, immediately the decree is issued;
b) through the services of the same office or council, on occasion of the request for revocation;
c) by the hierarchical Superior, if and when hierarchical recourse is made;
d) the Apostolic Signatura also favours extra-judicial solutions to conflicts arising from administrative acts.
Local Due Process Procedures.
The purpose of such procedures is to settle issues and contentions in an expeditious way and offer opportunities for dialogue and co-responsibility on the local level.
While these local procedures are to be commended for putting into practice the principles of cann. 1446 and 1733, they should not however in any way curtail the right which individuals have under cann. 1734-1739, that is the right to have hierarchical recourse
Request for Revocation or Amendment
The first stage or phase of recourse against an administrative act is the request for revocation made by the individual or juridical person concerned to the Diocesan Bishop.
Can. 1734: § 1 “Before having recourse, the person must seek in writing from its author the revocation or amendment of the decree. Once this petition has been lodged, it is by that very fact understood that the suspension of the execution of the peremptory time-limit of ten canonical days from the time the decree was lawfully notified”.
This stage is not optional. The person aggrieved must petition the bishop to reconsider his decision.
There is nevertheless no need to ask for revocation or amendment when the bishop has decided not to answer a petition for a decision and a negative answer is presumed after three months under can. 57 (failure to answer a request for a decision to be made) or after thirty days in the case of can. 1735 (failure to answer the request for revocation) [can. 1734, § 3, n.
The request for revocation or amendment has to be made in writing and should be addressed to the bishop.
This implies that the petitioner or recurrent has to provide justification for his or her request. At this stage the concept of grievance or gravamen takes on a very wide connotation. Arguments of expediency or prudence are acceptable motivations for a request to revoke.
Whereas a request for revocation implies a total disagreement with the decision of the Bishop, a request for amendment may focus on some aspect of the decision which aggrieves the petitioner but saves other aspects of the decision.
Worthy of note is the rule of can. 1734, § 1 concerning request for suspension of the act: “Once this petition has been lodged, it is by that very fact understood that the suspension of the execution of the decree is also being sought”.
Time-limit for a Request for Revocation
The request for revocation or amendment has to be made within a very strict time-limit which must be respected. Can. 1734, § 2: “The petition must be made within the peremptory time-limit of ten canonical days from the time decree was lawfully notified”.
This time limit is peremptory: therefore a person who unjustifiably fails to respect it forfeits the right to make recourse again the decision of the Bishop.
The time allowed for the request I of “ten canonical days” or “ten available days”. The original Latin states “intra peremptorium terminum decem dierum utilium”: can. 201, § 2: “Canonical [or available] time is time which a person can so use to exercise or to pursue a right that it does not run when one is unaware, or when one is unable to act”. There are therefore two circumstances in which tempus utile does not run: ignorance and inability to act.
Regula luris XXV in VI”: mora sua cuilibet est nociva (one’s own delay is harmful to him or herself).
Can. 1734, § 2 refers to notification of the “decree”, and this implies a decision duly formalized according to the general norms. Cann. 54-56 gives specific rules concerning the notification of decrees and precepts.
The praxis of the Apostolic Signatura applies can. 1467 to administrative recourse so that if the last day of the terminus peremptorius utilis is a holiday, the term is considered to be postponed to the first subsequent day which is not a holiday.
What are the options available to the Bishop in the case of a request for revocation or amendment of his decision?
Can. 1735: the Bishop is expected to respond within thirty days of the receipt of the request for revocation.
He may decide to revoke his decision by a direct decree of revocation (cf. cann. 47 and 58). In this case there is no scope for further action on the part of the aggrieved petitioner. The Bishop may revoke his decree at any stage of the controversy. The hierarchical Superior or the Signatura Apostolica are obliged to take note of the decision to revoke and declare that the object of contention does not exist anymore. Whether the bishop would after such revocation still be accountable for damages caused by his action is at present very much a moot point.
The Bishop may decide to substitute his decision with a new one. To the extent that the new decree is contrary to the previous one the new decision may be considered as a form of indirect revocation (cf.can. 53). The petitioner may or may not be happy with the outcome and he will still opt to continue with his challenge of the decision to the extent that his grievance subsists. The same applies should the Bishop decide to amend his decision.
The Bishop may however decide to confirm his decision and therefore reject the request for revocation or amendment. In this case the petitioner who still feels aggrieved has the right to move on to the next stage of the proceedings: hierarchical recourse.
If the Bishop decides not to respond to the request for revocation, then hierarchical recourse is possible from the thirtieth day after receipt by the Bishop of the request for revocation (can. 1735).
The request for revocation is by law construed also as a request for the suspension of the administrative act (ca. 1734, § 1). The Bishop has to decide the question of suspension within ten days of the receipt of the request for revocation (can. 1736 § 2). If he does not take a decision concerning the suspension of the act within the first ten days an interim suspension can be sought from the hierarchical Superior. The hierarchical Superior can decree the uspension only for serious reason and must always take care that the salvation of souls suffers no harm (can. 1736, § 2).
In those matters in which hierarchical recourse suspends the execution of a decree, the request for revocation also has the same effect (can. 1736, § 1).
These cases include: dismissal of a religious, dismissal of a member of a secular institute and dismissal of a member of a society of apostolic life. (cann. 700; 746); in infliction or declaration of a penalty (can. 1453). The law also caters for a limited suspension of the effect of the decision to remove or transfer a parish priest (cann. 1747, § 3; 1752).
Hierarchical Recourse to the Holy See
• Having received an answer which still aggrieves him or her or
• having received no answer within days of the Bishop’s receipt of the request for revocation, the petitioner or recurrent has the right to make hierarchical recourse, that is he or she may, for any just reason [propter quodlibet iustum motivum] ask for the revocation or amendment of the administrative act of the Bishop by the competent hierarchical Superior (can. 1737,. § 1).
The competent hierarchical superior of a Bishop concerning administrative decisions in cases for matters dealing with graviom delicta is the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, by virtue of the reservation competentiae which is a reservation rations materiae.
Can. 1737, § 2: “The recourse may be proposed before the author of the decree, who must immediately forward it to the competent hierarchical Superior”.
Hierarchical recourse has to be proposed within the peremptory time-limit of fifteen canonical days of the notification of the new decree or response of the Bishop (can. 1737, § 2).
The petitioner has to present the arguments for his or her request together with a copy of all the necessary documentation.
At this stage the possible motivations for the request or petition are still very wide. Questions of prudence or expediency are therefore valid arguments. The question of damages should preferably be addressed at this stage and the recurrent should not only ask the hierarchical Superior to award damages but should also present all relevant documentation as to the basis and qualification of such damages.
The Dicastery subjects the recourse to a preliminary check-list:
a. Does the subject-matter fall under the competence of the Dicastery?;
b. Does the recurrent or petitioner have legal-standing?;
c. Has the request for revocation or amendment been previously made to the Bishop?;
d. Have the time-limits for the request for revocation and for hierarchical recourse been respected?
If the recourse fails one of these preliminary tests it may be rejected in limine by the Dicastery.
There have however been cases where a Dicastery entertained a recourse despite the fact that the time-limits had not been respected. In this case the Dicastery considers the recourse as a mere expression of concern or as a delation and any decision it takes is made motu proprio.
A recurrent part may also ask the Holy Father to grant the favour of a remissionof the legal time-limits (remissio in teminis).
The Procedure at the CDF
As to the procedure applicable, the Regolamento Generate della Curia Romana (art. 136 § 1) simply state that hierarchical recourses are to be examined by the competent Dicastery “according to law”. The corresponding footnote only refers to cann. 1732-1739, but cann. 50 and 51 also apply to this administrative procedure.
The hierarchical Superior should therefore ask for the comments of the Bishop on the merits of the recourse (can. 50).
The CDF may also ask the petitioner for further details or documents.
There is no provision for a debate or exchange of arguments and documents between the Bishop and the petitioner, as would be the case with a judicial procedure. Hence the petitioner may not be aware of the comments of the Bishop. It is therefore very important that the full arguments and all documents available are presented at this stage.
Can. 1738 envisages the right for legal representation:
“The person having recourse always has the right to the service of an advocate or procurator, but is to avoid futile delays. Indeed, an advocate is to be appointed ex officio if the person does not have one and the Superior considers it necessary. The Superior, however, can always order that the one having recourse appear in person to answer questions”.
It is an established practice of the Roman Dicasteries to ask for the written advice of one or more of their experts concerning certain difficult cases. These expert opinions are usually only for the internal use of the Dicastery.
The CDF as hierarchical Superior is entitled to uspend the administrative act of the Bishop if this has not been suspended Bishop or ad interim by the hierarchical Superior (can. 1736, § 2), the said hierarchical Superior has to decide whether to confirm or revoke the suspension (can. 1736, § 3). If the decision of the Bishop has not as yet been suspended, the Superior can for a serious reason order such a suspension, but is to take care that the salvation of souls suffers no harm (can. 1737, § 3).
The Dicastery should always consider an equitable resolution of the contention. Can. 1733, § 3 in fact states: “If recourse is proposed against a decree, the superior who would have to decide the recourse is to encourage both the person having the recourse and the author of the decree to seek [an equitable] solution, whenever the prospect of a satisfactory outcome is discerned”.
Art.136, § 2 of the 1999 Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana obliges Roman Dicasteries to issue a decision within the three-month period of can. 57, § 1, in cases originating from the Latin Church. However the same art. 136, § 2 provides for an extension of the three-month period which the Dicastery is free to apply if the case warrants. The recurrent party has to be advised of this extension. Art. 136, § 3 clearly states that the reasons have to be given for decisions taken, according to the rule of can. 51.
Can. 1739 gives the hierarchical Superior a wide spectrum of possibilities concerning the decision: “in so far as the case demands, it is lawful for the Superior who must decide the recourse, not only to confirm the decree or declare that it is invalid, but also to rescind or revoke it or, if it seems to the Superior to be more expedient, to amend it, to substitute for it, or to obrogate it”.
The CDF as hierarchical Superior therefore has the authority
* to substitute the discretion of the Bishop with its own;
* to declare the administrative act null and void;
* to annul or rescind the act;
* to change or modify the act of the Bishop.
** If the Dicastery simply confirms the decision of the Bishop, then the Dicastery has ruled against the petitioner’s recourse and so the petitioner’s grievance remains.
** If the hierarchical Superior decides in favour of the recurrent then the Bishop may find that he has a grievance which has to b redressed.
** But in the case of a totally new decision of the Dicastery which accepts the request of petitioner only in part, both the Bishop and the petitioner may feel aggrieved.
Administrative decisions are taken by the Superiors of the CDF, the Cardinal Prefect or the Archbishop Secretary as the case may be. The customary venue of these decisions is the Congresso Particolare or Feria VI [Feria Sexta].This Congresso is similar to an Executive Staff Meeting. It is presided over by the Cardinal Prefect, or in his absence by the Archbishop Secretary. The Under-Secretary and the Promoter of Justice are also present alongside the Head of the Disciplinary Section and the Official who has studied and reports on the case. This report is called the Relazione and usually ends with suggestions for a decision. The Cardinal Prefect asks those present to express their opinion and then ask the decision on behalf of the Dicastery.
Recourse to the Feria IV of the CDF
On the occasion of an audience granted to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on 14 February 2003, the Supreme Pontiff decided and ordained that in cases concerning gmviora delicta, administrative acts issued or confirmed by the Congresso Particolare of the CDF shall not be subject to recourse to the Apostolic Signatura under art. 123 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus but, to the extent that the party aggrieved may choose to challenge them under art. 135 of the Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana, they shall be subject to a final and definitive recourse to the Feria IV of the CDF.
The Feria IV [Feria Quarta] is the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinal and Bishops, members of the CDF. Traditionally it takes place on a Wednesday, hence the name Feria Quarta. It is presided over by the Cardinal Prefect who in this case is primus inter pares since every member, including the Archbishop Secretary, ahs a deliberative vote. The Undersecretary and the Promoter of Justice attend but do not have a vote.
The recurrent party [pars recurrens] before the Feria IV may be either the individual who started the proceedings with the request for revocation or the Bishop himself depending on which party feels aggrieved with the decision of the Congresso Particolare.
The Regolamento Generale dela Curia Romana, art 135 allows two types of recourse against administrative acts issued by a Roman Dicastry:
– Art. 135, § 1 provides for a request for revocation which has to be presented within ten days of notification of the act to the Roman Dicastery itself. This recourse concerns the merit of the case and basically requests the CDF to re-consider its decision.
– Art. 135, § 2 provides for a recourse to the Apostolic Signatura which has to be transmitted to the supreme Administrative Tribunal within thirty “canonical” days [terminusperemptorius triginta dierum utilium].This recourse may only concern alleged violations of the law in decernendo or in procedendo according to art. 123 of Pastor bonus.
The recent decision of the Holy Father implies that in the case of decisions of the CDF concerning graviora delicta these two recourses should be only directed to and exclusively decided by the Feria IV of the CDF, which is thus considered to constitute a higher instance albeit within the same Dicastery. Since the two types of recourses contemplated in art. 135 of the RGCR go to the same body, the longer time-limit is applicable for both: a peremptory time-limit of thirty “canonical” days from the date of notification.
Manner of recourse: The recourse has to be made in writing by the recurrent or his legitimate procurator. For the purpose of time-limit it is enough to be able to prove that the petition has been handed to the postal service or a courier before midnight on the last day of the thirty day legal term. Proof of such receipt by the postal authorities has to feature in the acts. Ex aecjuo et bono the CDF would accept notice of recourse transmitted via fax on condition that the original is sent immediately through the post. Oral notice of recourse duly attested in writing by a Notary of the CDF is also possible.
Enclosures: If the procurator signs the recourse, an authentic copy of the mandate has to be submitted. If a decision has indeed been taken and it has been notified to the petitioner, a copy of the decision being challenged is to be enclosed with the recourse. The recourse may be written in any of the major languages. Documentation proving the allegations of a violation of law should be either sent immediately or at least indicated.
Addressee: The recourse should be addressed to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 00120 Vatican City State. It is advisable to indicate clearly “Recursus ad Cogregationem Ordinarim sen Feriam IV”.
What may the recurrent seek before the Feria IV?
– This special procedure has the advantage of giving the complainant another/a chance to argue for a revision of the decision on grounds of expediency or opportuneness. The decision of the Feria IV does constitute an overriding exercise of discretion by a instance within the same Dicastery.
– The recurrent may seek redress before the Feria IV against alleged violations of the law. Such violations may concern the merits of the decision taken (violation/nes legis in decernendo) or the procedure used in taking it (vio/atio/nes legis in procedendo). On this level recurrent may content that use of discretion by the Congresso Particolare of the CDF was in ‘contravention of the law, be it natural, divine positive or purely ecclesiastical law.
The recurrent’s contention on this level would imply a request for a withdrawal, revocation, annulment, or declaration of nullity of the administrative act.
Damages: The recurrent mat ask the Feria IV to award damages, once the violation of the law has been established. The request has to be made explicitly and is not presumed.
Suspension of Act: Except where it obtains by force of the universal law, suspension of the administrative act of the Dicastery is not an automatic effect of recourse to the Feria IV. A specific request has therefore also to be made and it should include the reasons for the request o suspension.
Preliminary questions are addressed in limine and these include the question of the competence of the CDF over the matter; the legal standing of the recurrent party; respect of the legal time-limits for recourse; the existence of the subject-matter of the contention. The Secretary asks for a preliminary opinion or Votum of the Promoter of Justice and, if the recourse fails one or more of these preliminary questions, decides for the rejection of the recourse a limine by decree. A challenge or recourse against such a rejection would be directed to the Feria IV.
If the recourse passes this first legal hurdle of examination as to the preliminary questions, the Secretary ask the recurrent party to present documents and arguments for the recourse. The recurrent (the cleric or the Bishop, depending on who made recourse to the Feria IV) and the other party, are free to nominate advocates and procurators for purposes of representation.
The brief of the recurrent or of his advocate is notified to the other party or to his advocate who is invited to present his own brief on the matter of the recourse. It is possible for the other party to request amendment or revocation for the same or other reasons.
The Disciplinary Office prepares a Relazione d’Uffico which ends with a Dubium to be presented to the Feria IV for decision. All the acts of the case are handed over to the Promoter of Justice for his votum. Copies of the main documents, recourses, briefs, Relazione, and votum Promotoris lustitiae are distributed to the members of the congregation in preparation for their meeting or Feria IV.
The Feria IV will consider the recourse as to its merits as well as to the alleged violations of the law. A declaration by the Feria IV that a particular decision was indeed taken in violation of the law would entail the revocation of the Dicastery’s administrative act which had been challenged (cf. cann, 47, 53, 58). The Feria IV enjoys the same wide spectrum of possibilities concerning its decision which can. 1739 gives to the hierarchical Superior with respect to hierarchical recourse: “In so far as the case demands, it is lawful or the Superior who must decide the recourse, not only to confirm the decree or declare that it is invalid, but also to rescind or revoke it or, if it seems to the Superior to be more expedient, to amend it, to substitute for it, or to obrogate it”.
The decision of the Ordinary Congregation is not subject to any recourse and is therefore definitive. It is communicated to the parties concerned. The CDF itself oversees the execution of the decisions taken by the Feria IV.