VATICAN CITY (CNS): Vatican officials said new instructions for Church marriage tribunals are designed to ensure Church law is followed, to defend the sacrament of marriage and to ensure the efficiency that justice requires.
The new handbook for Latin-rite diocesan and interdiocesan tribunals, “Dignitas Connubii” (The Dignity of Marriage), provides step-by-step procedures for accepting, investigating, judging and appealing marriage cases.
The document was released on February 8 at a Vatican press conference.
Before accepting a request to begin an annulment procedure, the document says, a judge must “employ pastoral means” to try to convince the husband and wife to stay in their marriage and “re-establish conjugal life”.
“If this cannot be done,” it says, “the judge is to urge the spouses to work together sincerely, putting aside any personal desire and living the truth in charity, in order to arrive at the objective truth, as the very nature of a marriage cause demands.”
Approved by Pope John Paul II, the final draft was the responsibility of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.