The purpose of the National Tribunal Service is to enhance impartiality, transparency and consistency in the application of canon law across its jurisdiction in penal cases.
The National Tribunal Service of England and Wales was officially launched on 4 November 2023.
The purpose of the NTS is to enhance impartiality, transparency and consistency in the application of canon law across its jurisdiction in penal cases. Canon law is a code of ecclesiastical laws – laws relating to the Church – that govern its administration. It will be involved in many aspects of penal law affecting clergy, religious and lay people.
The Tribunal was proposed by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales at their November 2022 Plenary Assembly following the recommendations of the Elliott Review into Safeguarding Structures and Practice in the Church. The Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See’s Supreme Tribunal that ensures that justice in the Church is correctly administered, granted approval for this National Penal Tribunal on 4 May 2023.
In a letter to the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Nichols, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, described this news of the formal launch of the Tribunal’s work as a “momentous occasion in the life of the local Church” and assured everyone involved of his prayers.
He wrote: “May the ministry of justice undertaken by the newly instituted Tribunal faithfully reflect the Face of Christ, Justus Judex, as so exemplified by that immaculate Speculum Justitiae, the Virgin Mary.”
Father John Poland JCD, a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool who has been instrumental in the creation of the Tribunal said:
“Fairness and justice lie at the heart of our Christian life. The establishment of the NTS demonstrates the commitment of the Church in England and Wales to promote and encourage consistent and fair practice in the determination of penal cases in accordance with the law of the Church, and so to foster confidence in a just outcome for all those involved.”
This PDF contains background information on the National Tribunal Service.