Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Austin Priest Appointed To Vatican Post

Fr. David Jaeger has an amazing story:
Rev. David-Maria A. Jaeger, who grew up in Israel and converted from Judaism to Christianity as an adult, has deep Austin connections. In the 1990s, he headed the Diocese of Austin’s court, which decides church legal matters and rules on marriage annulments. He helped negotiate a ground-breaking treaty between the Vatican and Israel related to the fundamentals of church-state relations in 1993. He served as judicial vicar for the Austin Diocese and pastor at St. John Neumann Church in West Lake Hills for more than six years.

On Friday, he’ll be installed as prelate auditor of the papal law court of the Roman Rota, which is the central appellate court for the Catholic Church. We corresponded by email last week about his new position, what it will mean and how he’s taking the news.

Can you explain your new role in layman’s terms? What does the the prelate auditor do, and how is that different from the other roles that you’ve had over the years?

My new role is a justice of the Papal Law Court of the Roman Rota. This is the highest judicial court of the worldwide Catholic Church, and in this sense is akin to the U.S. Supreme Court, although the actual words “Supreme Court” belongs to another Papal court, the Signatura, which is the highest administrative court , namely the one exercising “judicial review” over acts of the administration. The justices of the Rota are Prelates, in that they are invested ex officio with high ecclesiastical dignity. The justices are called also Auditors, because in the Middle Ages their task was simply to “hear” the cases (from “audire” = hear) in Latin, and refer them to the Pope for judgment. Later Papal legislation has invested the Auditors also with the authority to judge cases themselves. We sit in panels of three, and in cases where the law allows for further appeal, the appeal is heard by another panel of the justices of the same court of the Rota. The name “Rota” derives from the round, or semi-circular construction of the original seat of the Court.
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