Faith/Spirituality Forum: annullment

annullment QUESTION from Joe on November 10, 2002 Dear Brother John Paul:
Recently you wrote on the topic of annullment that the diocesan tribunal is the only one that knows the full facts of a marriage. Acutally, this is not correct. The petitioner also has all of the facts, not just the tribunal On ocassion, the petitioner may even have more facts than the tribunal. There could be situations in which the petitioner may be embarrassed to reveal all of the facts to the tribunal and yet those facts that are provided to the tribunal may be in or themselves sufficient for the tribunal through the Bishop to decide the nullity of the marriage.
Regardless, whether the tribunal rules on the nullity of the marriage or not, the conditions that they would have ruled on had they been presented a case are already present. In those cases in which the tribunal rules that a marriage is null and void, the conditions that led to the nullity existed whether the tribunal rules as such anyway. All the tribunal is doing is making a declaration that that the condition which already existed is acknowledged by the church in a formal procedure.
thank you
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on November 19, 2002 Dear Dr. Joe:
Sorry, but you are have misinterpreted my words. I did not mean that the Tribunal is the only one with the facts of the marriage, rather the Tribunal is the only one who has all the facts offered in evidence.
Each party is privy ONLY to their own statements. The rest is secret. Only the Tribunal knows what the other spouse provided as evidence or the witnesses provide as evidence.
The individual petitioner knows only what they themselves has offered in affidavit or physical evidence.
In addition, only the Tribunal knows the arguements and discussions that took place during the Tribunal proceedings. The petitioner NEVER knows that information.
Thus, we CANNOT judge and second guess a Tribunal's decision and we CERTAINLY cannot make such judgement based upon the remarks of the petitioner. That petitioner comes from a biased point-of-view and from a position of NOT knowing the full context of the investigation of the Church.
Bottomline: it is an act of profound arrogance, and in some cases maybe even sin, to second-guess the decisions made by Tribunals. It is the sin of rash judgment.
Secondly, to make the point that conditions that constitute nullity certainly exist prior to the Tribunal's decision is like saying the Judge in a Court of Law makes a ruling on a crime that already existed. DAH! A ruling cannot be made unless the crime has been done.
As for your statement: the conditions that led to the nullity existed whether the tribunal rules as such anyway, well no sir it doesn't.
This implies that the marriage can be null even if the Tribunal rules that it isn't. NOPE.
The Church has the keys, not you, the petitioner, or the next door neighbor. The Holy Spirit speaks to the Tribunal on these cases and not to the rest of us. If the Church rules that the marriage is intact, it is intact.
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