FUNCTIONS OF THE CURIA 441
question, but when it is made public there is appended a reason. In this respect the Rota deviates from the Congregations, which add noth- ing to the laconic formula in which their decision is rendered. It is possible to appeal again to the Rota itself, which will try a case under different aditore if new arguments are introduced. Or one may ap- peal to the Signatura Apostolica, the highest ecclesiastical court from whose decision there is no appeal. Accordingly the eleven judges of the Signatura are all Cardinals. The causes majores, which are expressly placed outside the jurisdiction of the Rota, are either decided by the Pope in person or are turned over to the Signatura. Occasion- ally, it is true, they may be referred to a Congregation.
Thus a very modest role is assigned to the canonical courts when one compares their work with that done by the extensive offices of administration. Before the reform of Pope Pius, the courts had almost nothing to do. Today their competencies are still not always clearly defined, and there is a tendency to dispose of quarrels and penalties in the regular administrational routine. The first decision here rests with the bishop, who will prevent as long as he can a dispute from being brought to court. But if something is once introduced as a problem to be settled in the way of administrational routine, it cannot be turned over to the court until a decision has been reached one way or the other. Whenever a matter is referred to the Curia, whether it concerns a congregation or a court, knowledge of the right way to proceed and of die authorities in question is of the greatest importance. If one congregation has handed down a verdict, no other can render an opinion in the same case. Even if the first verdict were kept secret and the matter were then referred to a second congregation which would render another decision, the procedure would be invalid in canon law. A great number of lawyers and agents are credited to the Curia as councillors to the petitioners and as representatives of the parties to the suit. Success depends to no little extent as it does every- where in the world upon the choice of a good attorney. Patience is always required. The Curia goes along at an even pace, not pretending to be at all in a hurry. The weight of responsibility and of work to be done grows heavier the higher the station of those in authority, and finally becomes oppressively burdensome. But the lower officials have as a rule only three hours of work a day; and they