Figure of justice holding scales and a sword

National Tribunal Service launched in England and Wales

Thursday 9th November 2023

This week, the Catholic Church in England and Wales launched its National Tribunal Service, with three members of our diocesan team being appointed to vital roles.

The NTS was launched on Saturday 4 November at a Mass at Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

The purpose of the National Tribunal is the 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.

Taking on one of two Judicial Vicar roles for the NTS is Fr Christopher Dawson, parish priest at the Sacred Heart in Westhoughton and Chancellor and Judge for our diocesan Chancery and Tribunal.

He is also joined by colleagues Canon Michael Job, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Salford, and Margaret Koterba, Defender of the Bond and Promoter of Justice, who are taking on the roles of Advocates for the NTS.

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.

Speaking in his homily on Saturday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “Today is a most significant day in the life of the Church in England and Wales, and indeed for the Church more widely. This National Tribunal, established specifically for the application of penal law in the Church, is a focus of practical love and service. It is established to ensure that the rights and obligations of all the Christian faithful are upheld, robustly and impartially, and that justice and equality must prevail. This is love in action.

“By setting up this National Tribunal the Church in England and Wales is recommitting itself to this pursuit of justice for all those who find themselves involved in the Church’s penal system, from complainants and the accused, to witnesses and others involved in giving evidence, to victims and those found guilty of an offence, always and in every case reflecting the dignity of each person.”

Read more about the NTS here.

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Tagged | Bishops Conference | Cardinal Vincent Nichols | Catholic Church

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