Faculties, indults, dispensations, and other favours, the granting of which is reserved to the Holy See, must be asked by means of a petition in writing presented to the sovereign pontiff, regularly through the medium of one of the Sacred Congregations of the Roman Curia. Under the new constitution of the Roman Curia by Pius X, any private person may personally approach and petition the Holy See. But it is always well, and often necessary, to present commendatory letters of the petitioner's ordinary, as in the case of faculties, dispensations, and such like. It is also frequently advisable to make use of an agent in Rome, who can attend to the matter personally. For this purpose any trustworthy man may be chosen, provided he be acceptable to the Sacred Congregation with which he has to treat. (Cf. Const., "Sapienti Consilio", Normæ communes, c. ix.)
The petition should be written on a double sheet of white paper of the foolscap or large quarto size; and the text should pass, if its length renders this necessary, from the first to the second page, and so on, as in a printed book, no intermediate page being left blank. The official languages of the Curia are still Latin, Italian, and French; but documents in English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese are now authorized (cf. Const. "Sapienti Consilio", Normæ peculiares, c. vi., n. 5.). It is fitting, however, that petitions sent by episcopal curiae and by ecclesiastics in general, and those that have reference to the sacraments, should be written in the Church's official language, Latin. The petition should be addressed to the pope himself, and should therefore begin with the words "Beatissime Pater" (Most Holy Father). The petitioner should then give his full name, place of residence, and diocese. (These are omitted in petitions to the Sacred Penitentiary.) Next should follow a clear and concise statement of the favour desired, the reasons for the petition, and all the information necessary to enable the Holy See to arrive at its decision. The omission of material facts or the commission of substantial errors in the petition may invalidate the dispensation or indult granted. Thus, petitions for matrimonial dispensations must express: (1) the Christian names and surnames of the petitioners; (2) the diocese of origin or actual domicile ; (3) the exact nature of the impediment ; (4) the degree of consanguinity, affinity, etc.; (5) the number of the impediments ; (6) various circumstances (Instruction of S. Congr. Of Propaganda May, 1877). The petition should not be concluded in the form of a letter, but with the abbreviated formula "Et Deus, etc." or "Quare, etc." At the foot of the petition the address of the person to whom the reply is to be sent (if it is not to be transmitted through an agent) should be written.
All petitions in matrimonial cases are dealt with by the Congr. de disciplina Sacramentorum, except those that have to do with the internal forum (i.e., confessional and occult cases), which go to the Sacred Penitentiary, and those into which the impediment mixtæ religionis or disparitatis cultus enters, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Holy Office. The Congr. de disciplina Sacramentorum has charge, too, of all else connected with the sacraments and the Mass, with the exception of their rites and ceremonies, the regulation of which belongs to the Congregation of Rites. Hence petitions for the solution of liturgical difficulties should be sent to the latter Congregation; petitions, e.g., for a private oratory, reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, non-fasting communion, etc., to the former. The Congregation of the Council deals with petitions relating to the commandments of the Church, ecclesiastical discipline, confraternities, and the administration of church property . All matters concerning religious, whether individuals or communities, with one or two Exceptions, are in the hands of the Congr. de Religiosis. Finally, all the business of those countries which still remain subject to the Congr. of Propaganda, is transacted through that Congregation, with the exception of the affairs of religious as such.
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