Homily for the Mass concluding the 3-day training session for lawyers

By: Pierbattista Pizzaballa - Published: November 30 Wed, 2022

Homily for the Mass concluding the 3-day training session for lawyers Available in the following languages:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I’m very pleased to see this many lawyers attending this Sunday Mass, which concludes your three-day session of study. You had five lectures, important ones, to deepen your education in Canon Law, particularly focused on laws serving family cases, legal procedures in our courts, and building Canonical culture - all to better understand your role in serving Justice and promoting Family values of forgiveness and love.

All of us are necessary and important, all of us have vital roles to play, everyone according to his own obligations and duties. But we are all united and collaborating in serving justice and equity, in the search of Truth, and in respect of our faith, Catholic Catechism, and teachings regarding the dignity of marriage as Sacrament. Your work, as judges, lawyers and employees of ecclesiastical courts, is part and parcel of the Church's pastoral mission. And your final goal, as the Canon Law itself says, in each file you deal with, is "The salvation of the soul" of the believers. This is an extremely serious task and mission. Pope Francis call you "The ministers of the peace of conscience." 

As you are about to end your training session and go back to your offices and files, after rich reflections and deliberations, I feel it is of great importance that you bear in mind few points, essential to your mission as judges and lawyers mostly, but also as people working in the Lord's field. His Holiness Pope Francis, in his annual address to the Sacra Rota this year, said: "In fact, your service is also expressed as a ministry of the peace of consciences and requires that it be exercised in full conscience, as is well expressed by the formula with which your Sentences are issued: ad consulendum conscientiae or ut consulatur conscientiae."

Meditating the speech of His Holiness, I would like to summarize my concerns in the following points.

First of all, Conscience. Justice and equity go together, for without a living conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit, we are all tempted in every single moment, to switch our conscience according to our goals and conditions. Only under the guidance of faith, prayer and the Holy Spirit may we reject all kind of temptation and circumstances, and accomplish our mission with conscience. Only with living conscience your profession becomes real mission.

Second, Truth. Our Lord said: "I’m the way, the truth and the life". And to remind you, the Slogan of our Conference was: "Justice is the fruit of Truth". I therefore urge you to always seek the truth, as it is also mentioned in your prayer, the prayer of the lawyers prepared by our court, and given to you: "Lord.. make me accurate in analyzing, correct in my conclusions, and honest with everyone". A true Christian life, a life of faith and prayer, is the only guarantee that would lead us to discover the truth, to act and say the truth, to realize in our lives the true freedom, the inner one that comes from the truth, as Our Lord said: "And truth shall set you free."

Third, Knowledge. Technical knowledge reinforce our faith and conscience. For you lawyers, to study and learn more about theology, the Teachings of the Fathers, and of the Church, as well as deepening your knowledge and education regarding Canon Law is vital to arm you with theological and legal background that will assist you in your work in our courts. In this regards, even this conference is not enough; you need to continue deepening your knowledge and education to better understand the sanctity of the Sacrament of marriage, and deal with the marriage cases with dignity, not as lawyers looking to please their clients.

Fourth, Finance. Our Lord said to us, “Be merciful, as your Father is full of Mercy”. I urge you to be merciful in dealing with broken families, who refer to you seeking professional assistance; to accept cases even for those in financial difficulties, to never let people with no financial means without technical help, and to charge with fairness and justice those who can afford it.

As pastors, we know our families are facing all kind of new challenges, side effects of this new digital age and social media era; this is a great concern for us pastors. In front of this serious reality, we call upon you to be good lawyers and judges; it is not enough for you to know the laws and the rules to be good. You need to believe in these laws, which are the legal translation of the teachings of the Holy Gospel. This is how you become partner in the Church's mission. We must ensure that the conscience of the faithful experiencing marital difficulties is not to be removed from a path of Grace. This aim is achieved through pastoral accompaniment, with discernment of consciences (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 242) and the work of our tribunals. This work must be undertaken with wisdom and in the search for truth.

Allow me on your behalf to thank our Ecclesiastical Courts in Jerusalem and Amman, in particular Fr. Jihad Shweihat and the organizing committee for their vision and hard work. If we are all here, it is thanks to their dedication and non stop work to make it happen.

+ Pierbattista