- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On June 12, 2018
Hello Marriage Supporter,
For the next two weeks, at the School of Canon Law at Catholic University of America, clergy, religious, and laypersons who have not had any formal training on practices and procedures are participating in the “Institute on Matrimonial Tribunal Practice.” I’m asking if you would share my observations listed below with those in your diocese who might be attending, or simply interested.
With the non-profit organization Mary’s Advocates, I work to reduce unilateral no-fault divorce and support those who are unjustly abandoned. As a result, I’ve learned the perspective of separated faithful, who have no reason to believe their marriage is invalid, who participate as respondent/defendants in marriage nullity cases. I’m sharing with you some tribunal practices that disappoint the reluctantly-divorced who correspond with me.
Practices of Concern for Those with Whom I Correspond
- A petitioner is never required to sign a summary description of the facts and proofs, in a general way, which support the assertion that his marriage is invalid; he, instead, only answers a questionnaire, which is not permitted (see Dignitas Connubii: Norms and Commentary, pg. 209).
- A respondent is illegitimately cited and never sent a copy of the petitioner’s libellus containing the required general description of the facts and proofs supporting assertion that marriage is invalid.
- Party is told he must mandate a procurator and no distinction is made between a procurator and an advocate. Thereby, a procurator writes and signs a libellus and the party never knows that he’s accused himself of suffering from a grave psychic anomaly (to which he would have objected). Also, a procurator forfeits a party’s right to read the acts when the procurator makes record (on behalf of the party) that he voluntarily waives his rights to read the acts of the case.
- Parties (who believe marriage is valid) are instructed to sign a statement saying they have “entrusted themselves to the knowledge and conscience of the judge,” though the party is never informed that this means he’s waiving his right to have a brief submitted on his behalf prior to judgement (c. 1606).
- Notes made by a party when reading the acts of the case (for the purpose of emphasizing testimony supporting the validity of the marriage) are forbidden from being added to the record of the case; or notes made by a party when reading the acts are not allowed to be taken out of the tribunal office by the party.
- Party is forbidden from receiving his own copy of the definitive sentence, but instead in only allowed to read it at the tribunal office (not allowed according to Roman Rota judge Erlebach, see here).
- A party is sent only the dispositive part of the definitive sentence and told he can appeal. Thereby the party writes a very weak unsupported appeal brief because he doesn’t know that he had the right to receive his own copy of the definitive sentence prior to pursuing an appeal.
- Government courts are illicitly given competence to judge the obligations of parties toward each other and their children though canon law specifies the Church’s competence. In case of separation of spouses, the judicial sentence must “determine what obligations have arisen for the parties from the trial and how they must be fulfilled” (c. 1611 2o); and in case of nullity of marriage, the judicial sentence must decide “the moral and even civil obligations binding them toward one another and toward their children to furnish support and education” (c. DC Art. 252, 1983 CIC c. 1689, Mitis Iudex c. 1691 §1). Thereby, a party who has no intention of raising children Catholic, or protecting children from scandal, is routinely the parent with whom the children reside; the party who was innocent in the breakup, loses everyday access to his children, and is expected to pay the expenses of an abandoning spouse who may have never entered marriage with proper consent.
These patterns are described in more detail in section “Defense Against Charges of Nullity are Equated with Fighting the Church” (pg. 28-32) in my collection titled, “Mary’s Advocates Observations: Separation, Divorce, and Annulment: The Pastoral Care Described in the Catechism and The Canon Law and the Prevalent Pastoral Practice in the United States” shown as free PDF here, or available as paperback.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,