VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI is studying the possibility of slightly modifying the responsibilities of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments so that very technical marriage annulment cases would be handled by a church court.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters Feb. 9 that "it is true" that Vatican officials were studying a document that would "transfer technical-juridical competency -- for example that of the dispensation of a marriage that is valid but not consummated -- from the Congregation for Divine Worship to the tribunal of the Sacred Rota."
A well-respected Italian journalist, Andrea Tornielli, wrote on his blog Feb. 9 that Pope Benedict had decided to "reorganize the competencies of the Congregation for Divine Worship, entrusting it with the task of promoting a liturgy that is more faithful to the original intentions of the Second Vatican Council with less space for arbitrary changes and with the recovery of a dimension of greater sacredness."
However, Father Lombardi said the proposed change aims only at giving the Roman Rota responsibility for technical administrative procedures such as those involved in releasing a couple from the obligations of marriage when they have not consummated their bond.
"There are no grounds or reasons to see in this an intention to promote a 'restrictive' control by the congregation over promoting the liturgical renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council," the Jesuit said.