Apostolic Penitentiary

Apostolic Penitentiary

Apostolic Penitentiary

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Description:
The Apostolic Penitentiary, formerly called the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, is one of the three tribunals of the Roman Curia. The Apostolic Penitentiary is chiefly a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church.

The Apostolic Penitentiary has jurisdiction only over matters in the internal forum. Its work falls mainly into these categories:
  • the absolution of excommunications latæ sententiæ reserved to the Holy See,
  • the dispensation of sacramental impediments reserved to the Holy See, and
  • the issuance and governance of indulgences.


The head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Major Penitentiary, is one of the few Vatican officials who retains his position sede vacante. The Major Penitentiary is a Titular Archbishop and is normally a Cardinal. Since 2009 the Major Penitentiary is Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, who reached the retirement age of 75 on 6 August 2010. The second-highest ranking official in the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Regent, is (since 16 February 2002) Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv..

Historical duties

Up until the 18th century, the Apostolic Penitentiary also considered cases of...
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