The ministry of the Inter-eparchial Marriage Tribunal is to assist the People of God, and all people of good will, in journeying through the process of a Declaration of Nullity (commonly called an annulment) in order that, by coming to the knowledge of the truth of a previous marriage, that truth might set you free (John 8:32).
The practical reality of this ministry is two-fold: healing and coming to the knowledge of the truth. As part of the healing process, we value your desire to share the hurts and disappointments of a previous union. While the civil divorce process is cold and calculating in its information-gathering, the ministry of the Tribunal is meant to instead reflect the immense mercy of our God. To experience that great merciful healing of the Father, one is invited to make the journey through this process with patience and understanding, even perhaps with a little trepidation.
The ministry of the Tribunal, while always keeping before its eyes that great mercy of our God, also balances this mercy with justice. Part of the healing process is also to evaluate the facts of the previous union both prior to and following the wedding day. One of the reasons why this process is called a Declaration of Nullity, and not an annulment, is that the Church can only declare a marriage null when the facts of the case support that conclusion. In other words, was there something at the time of the marital consent on the wedding day that rendered the marriage, from that moment, null. The Church does not have the power to annul what is otherwise considered to be a valid marriage. We can only declare it null if the facts support that conclusion, hence the need for this process. The Judge of the Tribunal, when evaluating the evidence, is tasked with having moral certainty that a marriage was null at the time marriage consent was exchanged before rendering a decision. The gathering of information by way of interviews helps the Judge reach that threshold.
We know that it can be painful and difficult to delve back into these memories, most often, of the distant past. We thank you for taking this brave step in entrusting the study of your marriage to the Tribunal. We will walk with you along the way, accompanying you on the road to healing and to the final declaration of the Tribunal regarding the status of the marriage under study.
This website may not answer all your questions, so please feel free to reach out to us directly whether by phone or email! We are here to assist, we are here to serve, we are here to accompany. During this difficult time, we pray that you will stay close to the Lord and His Church knowing that you can draw strength from our prayers and support.
We are praying for you!
Sincerely in Christ, the Merciful Lord,
Article written by John Vizza, our Case Instructor at the Eparchy of Edmonton.