By Devin Watkins
Notaries perform varying functions in different legal systems.
In countries that use English common law, notaries public verify signatures and oaths on legal documents. In Latin-tradition law systems, by contrast, notaries more nearly resemble lawyers and guarantee the validity and authenticity of contracts.
Seal of justice
In his speech to the National Notary Fund, Pope Francis made note of the greater responsibility bestowed on Italy’s notaries.
“Your presence in the dialectic of contract negotiation is the seal not only of legality – of which you are the guardians – but of balance and evaluation and therefore, in the final analysis, of justice.”
The Pope urged notaries public to be rigorous “mediators between the law and the socio-economic needs” of their clients.
A notary public, said Pope Francis, should “strive to nurture a sincere awareness of the dignity and rights of the people who turn to him. He will not fail to defend all that is right and true, without forgetting charity”.
The Pope said that final concept – charity – is the “main virtue required for interpersonal relationships.”
The National Notary Fund helps supplement the incomes of notaries whose annual revenue falls short of a set amount, as well as those whose pension leaves their families in financial difficulty.
“Both aspects,” said Pope Francis, “are inspired by the principle of solidarity, fostering a sense of communion within the profession.”
He praised this mutual support among Italy’s notaries public, saying it makes their work more credible.