motu proprio April 30
Title: Cardinals and bishops to lose special legal privileges under new papal decree
Pope Francis has introduced a significant change to the law of the Vatican City State by granting jurisdiction to its ordinary tribunals to judge cardinals and bishops, like all the other faithful, in civil and penal matters. These tribunals, however, will have to obtain the prior assent of the pope.
He issued this decree on his own initiative—in a new motu proprio—on April 30. It establishes that all the faithful, including cardinals and bishops, are to be considered equal in dignity before the law and that no one is to enjoy special privileges in matters of law.
Francis had hinted that this change was coming when he addressed the inauguration of the judicial year in the Vatican City State on March 27. In today’s decree, he recalled what he said then, when he emphasized “the overriding need for the current procedural system—also by means of appropriate changes in the law—to ensure the equality of all members of the Church and their equal dignity and position, without privileges that date back to earlier times and are no longer in keeping with the responsibilities that each person has in building up the Church.”