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Office of Canonical Services and Tribunal

About the Office of Canonical Services

The Office of Canonical Services is the forum in which the bishop, assisted by his judicial vicar and canonical staff, conducts the legal governance of the Diocese, in accordance with Church teaching, legislation, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This office promotes and protects the obligations, rights and privileges of constituents throughout the Diocese, advises the bishop on matters associated with the various aspects of Church law, provides assistance, research and consultation on all areas of Church law for clergy and laity, processes and regulates permissions and dispensations relative to marriage, supervises the alienation and suppression of temporal goods of the Diocese, and represents the Diocese in matters of hierarchical recourse to the Holy See.

See also: Vicar for Canonical Affairs

Diocesan Tribunal

The Tribunal is, first and foremost, a court of law. The law we adjudicate is the canon law of the Catholic Church, which has as its foundation and its heart the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. The fundamental law of the Church is the commandment of Jesus to love God above all else and to love one another as ourselves. The procedural laws which govern Tribunals exist primarily to protect the rights of all persons connected with a Tribunal case by providing a structured process of examining the issues and questions surrounding marriage and divorce.

Church law calls for the existence of a Tribunal in every diocese of the world. The Tribunal of the Diocese of Manchester is under the direction of the Bishop of Manchester and is supervised by his delegate, the judicial vicar. He, together with his judges and a staff of specially trained and experienced priests, religious and lay persons, offers assistance to those who request that the Church study a marriage in order to determine whether or not there is any possibility of a declaration of invalidity. The Tribunal then investigates the marriage, and on completion of their investigation, declares whether or not invalidity has been proved.

See also: Judicial Vicar

Marriage Invalidity Process (Annulments)

Few things cause more misunderstandings, generate more confusion, or give rise to more questions, than the work of the Catholic Tribunals in marriage invalidity cases, or "marriage annulments." The booklet below gives answers to the most commonly-asked questions.

DOWNLOAD: Document version - Select this one if you want a copy and will not make a booklet.

DOWNLOAD: Booklet version  - Select this one if you want to reproduce the plan in booklet form, double-sided and folded in half.

Related Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Information for the Petitioner

Information for the Respondent

Information for Witnesses

Marriage After an Annulment

Ecclesiastical Court