August 15, 2015


Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus by which the canons of the Code of Canon Law pertaining to cases regarding the nullity of marriage are reformed (15 August 2015)

The changes imposed by Pope Francis for the Latin Church include the following:

• One sentence of nullity is enough.

• One judge, under the responsibility of the bishop, is enough to oversee the process.

• Under certain circumstances, each bishop can himself serve as the judge.

• In case of the annulment being “evident,” there will be an even shorter process.

• The local bishops’ conferences are called to help individual bishops through the reform process, and are called to help guarantee, save for the “just and decent remuneration of workers of the courts,” that the process be free of charge.

• Appeal of a sentence, in case it’s required, can be dealt with locally (on the level of the nearest archdiocese), instead of taking it to the Vatican.

• A second appeal can be made to the Apostolic See, meaning the Vatican.









THE Gentle Judge, our Lord Jesus, the Shepherd of our Souls, entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his successors the power of the keys to carry out the work of truth and justice in the Church; this supreme and universal power of binding and loosing here on earth asserts, strengthens and protects the power of Pastors of particular Churches, by virtue of which they have the sacred right and duty before the Lord to enact judgment toward those entrusted to their care.[1]

Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, Pastor animarum nostrarum, Petro Apostolo eiusque Successoribus potestatem clavium concredidit ad opus iustitiae et veritatis in Ecclesia absolvendum; quae suprema et universalis potestas, ligandi nempe ac solvendi his in terris, illam Ecclesiarum particularium Pastorum asserit, roborat et vindicat, cuius vi iidem sacrum ius et coram Domino officium habent in suos subditos iudicium faciendi.[1]

Through the centuries, the Church, having attained a clearer awareness of the words of Christ, came to and set forth a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the indissolubility of the sacred bond of marriage, developed a system of nullities of matrimonial consent, and put together a judicial process more fitting to the matter so that ecclesiastical discipline might conform more and more to the truth of the faith she was professing.

Labentibus saeculis Ecclesia in re matrimoniali, nitidiorem adepta Christi verborum conscientiam, doctrinam sacri connubii vinculi indissolubilitatis profundius intellexit exposuitque, nullitatum matrimonialis consensus systema concinnavit atque processum iudicialem ad rem aptius ordinavit, ita ut ecclesiastica disciplina magis magisque cum veritate fidei, quam profitebatur, cohaereret.

All these things were done following the supreme law of the salvation of souls[2] insofar as the Church, as Blessed Paul VI wisely taught, is the divine plan of the Trinity, and therefore all her institutions, constantly subject to improvement, work, each according to its respective duty and mission, toward the goal of transmitting divine grace and constantly promoting the good of the Christian faithful as the Church’s essential end.[3]

Quae omnia facta semper sunt duce salutis animarum suprema lege,[2] quoniam Ecclesia, ut sapienter docuit Beatus Paulus PP. VI, divinum Trinitatis consilium est, ideoque omnes eius institutiones, utique semper perfectibiles, eo tendere debent ut divinam gratiam transmittant, atque christifidelium bono, utpote ipsius Ecclesiae fini essentiali, pro cuiusque munere ac missione, continenter faveant.[3]

It is with this awareness that we decided to undertake a reform of the processes regarding the nullity of marriage, and we accordingly assembled a Committee for this purpose comprised of men renowned for their knowledge of the law, their pastoral prudence, and their practical experience. This Committee, under the guidance of the Dean of the Roman Rota, drew up a plan for reform with due regard for the need to protect the principle of the indissolubility of the marital bound. Working quickly, this Committee devised within a short period of time a framework for the new procedural law that, after careful examination with the help of other experts, is now presented in this motu proprio.

Cuius rei conscii decrevimus reformationem processuum de matrimonii nullitate suscipere, huncque in finem Coetum congregavimus Virorum, iuris doctrina, pastorali prudentia et forensi usu insignium, qui, sub moderamine Exc.mi Rotae Romanae Decani, rationem reformationis delinearent, in tuto utique posito principio vinculi matrimonialis indissolubilitatis. Alacriter operans, brevi tempore Coetus huiusmodi novae legis processualis adumbrationem concepit, quae ponderatae considerationi subiecta, vel cum aliorum peritorum auxilio, nunc in praesentibus Litteris transfunditur.

Therefore, the zeal for the salvation of souls that, today like yesterday, always remains the supreme end of the Church’s institutions, rules, and law, compels the Bishop of Rome to promulgate this reform to all bishops who share in his ecclesial duty of safeguarding the unity of the faith and teaching regarding marriage, the source and center of the Christian family. The desire for this reform is fed by the great number of Christian faithful who, as they seek to assuage their consciences, are often kept back from the juridical structures of the Church because of physical or moral distance. Thus charity and mercy demand that the Church, like a good mother, be near her children who feel themselves estranged from her.

Salutis ergo animarum studium, quae – hodie sicut heri – institutionum, legum, iuris supremus finis manet, Romanum impellit Antistitem ad Episcopis hasce reformationis tabulas praebendas, quippe qui secum sint muneris Ecclesiae participes, unitatis nempe tutandae in fide ac disciplina de matrimonio, familiae christianae cardine et scaturigine. Alit reformationis studium ingens christifidelium numerus, qui conscientiae suae consulere cupientes ab Ecclesiae structuris iuridicis ob physicam vel moralem longinquitatem saepius arcentur; postulant igitur caritas et misericordia ut ipsa Ecclesia tamquam mater proximam se faciat filiis qui semet segregatos sentiunt.

All of this also reflects the wishes of the majority of our brother bishops gathered at the recent extraordinary synod who were asking for a more streamlined and readily accessible judicial process.[4] Agreeing wholeheartedly with their wishes, we have decided to publish these provisions that favor not the nullity of marriages, but the speed of processes as well as the simplicity due them, lest the clouds of doubt overshadow the hearts of the faithful awaiting a decision regarding their state because of a delayed sentence.

Hunc in sensum evaserunt optata quoque maioris partis Fratrum Nostrorum in Episcopatu, in recenti extraordinaria Synodo adunatorum, iudicia agiliora ac faciliora accessu flagitantis.[4] Quibus optatis omnino consonantes, statuimus hisce Litteris dispositiones edere quibus non matrimoniorum nullitati, sed processuum celeritati faveatur non minus quam iustae simplicitati, ne, propter elongatam iudicii definitionem, fidelium sui status declarationem exspectantium dubii tenebrae diutine opprimant praecordia.

We have done this following in the footsteps of our predecessors who wished cases of nullity to be handled in a judicial rather than an administrative way, not because the nature of the matter demands it, but rather due to the unparalleled need to safeguard the truth of the sacred bond: something ensured by the judicial order.

Quod fecimus vestigia utique prementes Decessorum Nostrorum, volentium causas nullitatis matrimonii via iudiciali pertractari, haud vero administrativa, non eo quod rei natura id imponat, sed potius postulatio urgeat veritatis sacri vinculi quammaxime tuendae: quod sane praestant ordinis iudiciarii cautiones.

A few fundamental criteria stand out that have guided the work of reform.

Quaedam enitent fundamentalia criteria quae opus reformationis rexerunt.

I. – A single executive sentence in favor of nullity is effective. – First of all, it seemed that a double conforming decision in favor of the nullity of a marriage was no longer necessary to enable the parties to enter into a new canonical marriage. Rather, moral certainty on the part of the first judge in accord with the norm of law is sufficient.

I. – Una sententia pro nullitate exsecutiva. – Visum est, imprimis, non amplius requiri duplicem decisionem conformem pro matrimonii nullitate ut partes ad novas canonicas nuptias admittantur, sed sufficere certitudinem moralem a primo iudice ad normam iuris adeptam.

II. – A sole judge under the responsibility of the bishop. – In the first instance, the responsibility of appointing a sole judge, who must be a cleric, is entrusted to the bishop, who in the pastoral exercise of his judicial power must guard against all laxism.

II. – Iudex unicus sub Episcopi responsabilitate. – Constitutio iudicis unici, clerici utique, in prima instantia Episcopi responsabilitati committitur, qui in pastorali exercitio suae iudicialis potestatis caveat ne cuilibet laxismo indulgeatur.

III. – The bishop himself as judge. – In order that a teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding a certain area of great importance finally be put into practice, it has been decided to declare openly that the bishop himself, in the church over which he has been appointed shepherd and head, is by that very fact the judge of those faithful entrusted to his care. It is thus hoped that the bishop himself, be it of a large or small diocese, stand as a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures,[5] and that he does not delegate completely the duty of deciding marriage cases to the offices of his curia. This is especially true in the streamlined process for handling cases of clear nullity being established in the present document.

III. – Ipse Episcopus iudex. – Ut sane Concilii Vaticani II in quodam magni ponderis ambitu documentum ad effectum tandem ducatur, decretum est palam proferri ipsum Episcopum in sua Ecclesia, cuius pastor et caput constituitur, eo ipso esse inter christifideles sibi commissos iudicem. Exoptatur ergo ut in magnis sicut in parvis dioecesibus ipse Episcopus signum offeratconversionis ecclesiasticarum structurarum,[5] neque munus iudiciarium in re matrimoniali curiae officiis prorsus delegatum relinquat. Idque speciatim valeat in processu breviori, qui ad dirimendos casus manifestioris nullitatis stabilitur.

IV. – Briefer process. – For indeed, in simplifying the ordinary process for handling marriage cases, a sort of briefer process was devised – besides the current documentary procedure – to be applied in those cases where the alleged nullity of marriage is supported by particularly clear arguments.

IV. – Processus brevior. – Namque, ordinario processu matrimoniali expeditiore reddito, efficta est quaedam processus brevioris species – praeter documentalem prout in praesentiarum vigentem –, in iis applicanda casibus in quibus accusata matrimonii nullitas pro se habet argumentorum peculiariter evidentium fulcimen.

Nevertheless, we are not unaware of the extent to which the principle of the indissolubility of marriage might be endangered by the briefer process; for this very reason we desire that the bishop himself be established as the judge in this process, who, due to his duty as pastor, has the greatest care for catholic unity with Peter in faith and discipline.

Nos tamen non latuit, in quantum discrimen ex breviato iudicio principium indissolubilitatis matrimonialis adduci possit; eum nimirum in finem voluimus ipsum Episcopum in tali processu iudicem constitui, qui in fide et disciplina unitati catholicae cum Petro ob suum pastoris munus quam qui maxime cavet.

V. – Appeal to the metropolitan see. – It is necessary that the appeal process be restored to the metropolitan see, especially since that duty, insofar as the metropolitan see is the head of the ecclesiastical province, stands out through time as a stable and distinctive sign of synodality in the Church.

V. – Appellatio ad Sedem Metropolitanam. – Appellatio ad Sedem Metropolitae restituatur oportet, quippe quod munus per saecula stabile, tamquam provinciae ecclesiasticae capitis, insigne perstat synodalitatis in Ecclesia.

VI. The duty proper to episcopal conferences. – Conferences of bishops, which above all should be driven by apostolic zeal to reach out to the dispersed faithful, should especially feel the duty of participating in the aforementioned “conversion” and they should respect the restored and defended right of organizing judicial power in their own particular churches.

VI. – Episcoporum Conferentiarum officium proprium. – Episcoporum Conferentiae, quas potissimum urgere debet apostolicus zelus in fidelibus pertingendis dispersis, officium praefatae conversionis participandae persentiant, et sartum tectumque servent Episcoporum ius potestatem iudicialem in sua particulari Ecclesia ordinandi.

The restoration of the proximity between the judge and the faithful will never reach its desired result unless episcopal conferences offer encouragement and assistance to individual bishops so that they may carry out the reform of the matrimonial process.

Proximitatis inter iudicem et christifideles restauratio secundum enim exitum non sortietur, nisi ex Conferentiis singulis Episcopis stimulus una simul cum auxilio veniat ad reformationem matrimonialis processus adimplendam.

Episcopal conferences, in close collaboration with judges, should ensure, to the best of their ability and with due regard for the just compensation of tribunal employees, that processes remain free of charge, and that the Church, showing herself a generous mother to the faithful, manifest, in a matter so intimately tied to the salvation of souls, the gratuitous love of Christ by which we have all been saved.

Una cum iudicis proximitate curent pro posse Episcoporum Conferentiae, salva iusta et honesta tribunalium operatorum mercede, ut processuum gratuitati caveatur et Ecclesia, generosam matrem se ostendens fidelibus, in re tam arcte animarum saluti cohaerente manifestet Christi gratuitum amorem quo salvi omnes facti sumus.

VII. – Appeal to the Apostolic See. – In accord with a revered and ancient right, it is still necessary to retain the appeal to the ordinary tribunal of the Holy See, namely the Roman Rota, so as to strengthen the bond between the See of Peter and the particular churches, with due care, however, to keep in check any abuse of the practice of this appeal, lest the salvation of souls should be jeopardized.

VII. – Appellatio ad Sedem Apostolicam. – Appellationem ad Apostolicae Sedis Tribunal ordinarium, seu Rotam Romanam, utique servari oportet, antiquissimo spectato iure, ita ut vinculum inter Petri Sedem et Ecclesias particulares confirmetur, cauto tamen in eiusdem appellationis disciplina ut quilibet cohibeatur iuris abusus, neque quid salus animarum detrimenti capiat.

Nevertheless, insofar as necessary, the respective law of the Roman Rota will be adapted as soon as possible to the rules of the reformed process.

Rotae Romanae, autem, lex propria quam primum regulis reformati processus, quatenus opus sit, adaequabitur.

VIII. – Provisions for Eastern Churches. – Finally, given the particular ecclesial and disciplinary arrangement of Eastern Churches, we have decided to publish, separately and on this very day, revised norms for updating the handling of matrimonial processes as presented in the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches.

VIII. – Provisiones pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus. – Rationem demum habentes peculiaris Ecclesiarum Orientalium ecclesialis et disciplinaris ordinationis, statuimus accommodatas normas separatim hoc ipso die edere ad disciplinam matrimonialium processuum in Codice Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium innovandam.

Therefore, having taken all of this into consideration, we have determined and established the following changes to the Code of Canon Law, Book VII, Part III, Title I, Chapter I, “Cases to Declare the Nullity of Marriage” (cann. 1671-1691), which will take effect beginning December 8th, 2015:

Quibus omnibus mature consideratis, decernimus ac statuimus Libri VII Codicis Iuris Canonici, Partis III, Tituli I, Caput I De causis ad matrimonii nullitatem declarandam (cann. 1671-1691), inde a die VIII mensis Decembris anni MMXV, integre substitui prout sequitur:

Art. 1 – The Competent Forum and Tribunals

Art. 1 - De foro competenti et de tribunalibus

The Competent Forum


Can. 1671 § 1. Marriage cases of the baptized belong to the ecclesiastical judge by proper right.

Can. 1671 § 1. Causae matrimoniales baptizatorum iure proprio ad iudicem ecclesiasticum spectant.

§ 2. Cases regarding merely the civil effects of marriage belong to a civil magistrate, unless the particular law establishes that such cases, if carried out in an incidental or accessory manner, can be recognized by and determined by an ecclesiastical judge.

§ 2. Causae de effectibus matrimonii mere civilibus pertinent ad civilem magistratum, nisi ius particulare statuat easdem causas, si incidenter et accessorie agantur, posse a iudice ecclesiastico cognosci ac definiri.

Can. 1672. In cases regarding the nullity of marriage not reserved to the Apostolic See, the competencies are: 1° the tribunal of the place in which the marriage was celebrated; 2° the tribunal of the place in which either or both parties have a domicile or a quasi-domicile; 3° the tribunal of the place in which in fact most of the proofs must be collected.

Can. 1672. In causis de matrimonii nullitate, quae non sint Sedi Apostolicae reservatae, competentia sunt: 1° tribunal loci in quo matrimonium celebratum est; 2° tribunal loci in quo alterutra vel utraque pars domicilium vel quasi-domicilium habet; 3° tribunal loci in quo de facto colligendae sunt pleraeque probationes.

Can. 1673 § 1. In each diocese, the judge in first instance for cases of nullity or marriage for which the law does not expressly make an exception is the diocesan bishop, who can exercise judicial power personally or through others, according to the norm of law.

Can. 1673 § 1. In unaquaque dioecesi iudex primae instantiae pro causis nullitatis matrimonii iure expresse non exceptis est Episcopus dioecesanus, qui iudicialem potestatem exercere potest per se ipse vel per alios, ad normam iuris.

§ 2. The bishop is to establish a diocesan tribunal for his diocese to handle cases of nullity of marriage without prejudice to the faculty of the same bishop to approach another nearby diocesan or interdiocesan tribunal.

§ 2. Episcopus pro sua dioecesi tribunal dioecesanum constituat pro causis nullitatis matrimonii, salva facultate ipsius Episcopi accedendi ad aliud dioecesanum vel interdioecesanum vicinius tribunal.

§ 3. Cases of nullity of marriage are reserved to a college of three judges. A judge who is a cleric must preside over the college, but the other judges may be laypersons.

§ 3. Causae de matrimonii nullitate collegio trium iudicum reservantur. Eidem praeesse debet iudex clericus, reliqui iudices etiam laici esse possunt.

§ 4. The bishop moderator, if a collegial tribunal cannot be constituted in the diocese or in a nearby tribunal chosen according to the norm of § 2, is to entrust cases to a sole clerical judge who, where possible, is to employ two assessors of upright life, experts in juridical or human sciences, approved by the bishop for this task; unless it is otherwise evident, the same single judge has competency for those things attributed to the college, the praeses, or the ponens.

§ 4. Episcopus Moderator, si tribunal collegiale constitui nequeat in dioecesi vel in viciniore tribunali ad normam § 2 electo, causas unico iudici clerico committat qui, ubi fieri possit, duos assessores probatae vitae, peritos in scientiis iuridicis vel humanis, ab Episcopo ad hoc munus approbatos, sibi asciscat; eidem iudici unico, nisi aliud constet, ea competunt quae collegio, praesidi vel ponenti tribuuntur.

§ 5. The tribunal of second instance must always be collegiate for validity, according to the prescript of the preceding § 3.

§ 5. Tribunal secundae instantiae ad validitatem semper collegiale esse debet, iuxta praescriptum praecedentis § 3.

§ 6. The tribunal of first instance appeals to the metropolitan tribunal of second instance without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 1438-1439 and 1444.

§ 6. A tribunali primae instantiae appellatur ad tribunal metropolitanum secundae instantiae, salvis praescriptis cann. 1438-1439 et 1444.

Art. 2 – The Right to Challenge a Marriage

Art. 2 - De iure impugnandi matrimonium

Can. 1674 § 1. The following are qualified to challenge a marriage: 1° the spouses; 2° the promoter of justice when nullity has already become public, if the convalidation of the marriage is not possible or expedient.

Can. 1674 § 1. Habiles sunt ad matrimonium impugnandum: 1° coniuges; 2° promotor iustitiae, cum nullitas iam divulgata est, si matrimonium convalidari nequeat aut non expediat.

§ 2. A marriage which was not accused while both spouses were living cannot be accused after the death of either one or both of the spouses unless the question of validity is prejudicial to the resolution of another controversy either in the canonical forum or in the civil forum.

§ 2. Matrimonium quod, utroque coniuge vivente, non fuit accusatum, post mortem alterutrius vel utriusque coniugis accusari non potest, nisi quaestio de validitate sit praeiudicialis ad aliam solvendam controversiam sive in foro canonico sive in foro civili.

§ 3. If a spouse dies while the case is pending, however, can. 1518 is to be observed.

§ 3. Si autem coniux moriatur pendente causa, servetur can. 1518.

Art. 3 – The Introduction and Instruction of the Case

Art. 3 - De causae introductione et instructione

Can. 1675. The judge, before he accepts a case, must be informed that the marriage has irreparably failed, such that conjugal living cannot be restored.

Can. 1675. Iudex, antequam causam acceptet, certior fieri debet matrimonium irreparabiliter pessum ivisse, ita ut coniugalis convictus restitui nequeat.

Can. 1676 § 1. After receiving the libellus, the judicial vicar, if he considers that it has some basis, admits it and, by a decree appended to the bottom of the libellus itself, is to order that a copy be communicated to the defender of the bond and, unless thelibellus was signed by both parties, to the respondent, giving them a period of fifteen days to express their views on the petition.

Can. 1676 § 1. Recepto libello, Vicarius iudicialis si aestimet eum aliquo fundamento niti, eum admittat et, decreto ad calcem ipsius libelli apposito, praecipiat ut exemplar notificetur defensori vinculi et, nisi libellus ab utraque parte subscriptus fuerit, parti conventae, eidem dato termino quindecim dierum ad suam mentem de petitione aperiendam.

§ 2. After the above-mentioned deadline has passed, and after the other party has been admonished to express his or her views if and insofar as necessary, and after the defender of the bond has been heard, the judicial vicar is to determine by his decree the formula of the doubt and is to decide whether the case is to be treated with the ordinary process or with the briefer process according to cann. 1683-1687. This decree is to be communicated immediately to the parties and the defender of the bond.

§ 2. Praefato termino transacto, altera parte, si et quatenus, iterum monita ad suam mentem ostendendam, audito vinculi defensore, Vicarius iudicialis suo decreto dubii formulam determinet et decernat utrum causa processu ordinario an processu breviore ad mentem cann. 1683-1687 pertractanda sit. Quod decretum partibus et vinculi defensori statim notificetur.

§ 3. If the case is to be handled through the ordinary process, the judicial vicar, by the same decree, is to arrange the constitution of a college of judges or of a single judge with two assessors according to can. 1673, § 4.

§ 3. Si causa ordinario processu tractanda est, Vicarius iudicialis, eodem decreto, constitutionem iudicum collegii vel iudicis unici cum duobus assessoribus iuxta can. 1673, § 4 disponat.

§ 4. However, if the briefer process is decided upon, the judicial vicar proceeds according to the norm of can. 1685.

§ 4. Si autem processus brevior statutus est, Vicarius iudicialis agat ad normam can. 1685.

§ 5. The formula of doubt must determine by which ground or grounds the validity of the marriage is challenged.

§ 5. Formula dubii determinare debet quo capite vel quibus capitibus nuptiarum validitas impugnetur.

Can. 1677 § 1. The defender of the bond, the legal representatives of the parties, as well as the promoter of justice, if involved in the trial, have the following rights: 1° to be present at the examination of the parties, the witnesses, and the experts, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1559; 2° to inspect the judicial acts, even those not yet published, and to review the documents presented by the parties.

Can. 1677 § 1. Defensori vinculi, partium patronis et, si in iudicio sit, etiam promotori iustitiae ius est: 1° examini partium, testium et peritorum adesse, salvo praescripto can. 1559; 2° acta iudicialia, etsi nondum publicata, invisere et documenta a partibus producta recognoscere.

§ 2. The parties cannot be present at the examination mentioned in §1, n. 1.

§ 2. Examini, de quo in § 1, n. 1, partes assistere nequeunt.

Can. 1678 § 1. In cases of the nullity of marriage, a judicial confession and the declarations of the parties, possibly supported by witnesses to the credibility of the parties, can have the force of full proof, to be evaluated by the judge after he has considered all the indications and supporting factors, unless other elements are present which weaken them.

Can. 1678 § 1. In causis de matrimonii nullitate, confessio iudicialis et partium declarationes, testibus forte de ipsarum partium credibilitate sustentae, vim plenae probationis habere possunt, a iudice aestimandam perpensis omnibus indiciis et adminiculis, nisi alia accedant elementa quae eas infirment.

§ 2. In the same cases, the testimony of one witness can produce full proof if it concerns a qualified witness making a deposition concerning matters done ex officio, or unless the circumstances of things and persons suggest it.

§ 2. In iisdem causis, depositio unius testis plenam fidem facere potest, si agatur de teste qualificato qui deponat de rebus ex officio gestis, aut rerum et personarum adiuncta id suadeant.

§ 3. In cases of impotence or defect of consent because of mental illness or an anomaly of a psychic nature, the judge is to use the services of one or more experts unless it is clear from the circumstances that it would be useless to do so; in other cases the prescript of can. 1574 is to be observed.

§ 3. In causis de impotentia vel de consensus defectu propter mentis morbum vel anomaliam naturae psychicae iudex unius periti vel plurium opera utatur, nisi ex adiunctis inutilis evidenter appareat; in ceteris causis servetur praescriptum can. 1574.

§ 4. Whenever, during the instruction of a case, a very probable doubt arises as to whether the marriage was ever consummated, the tribunal, having heard both parties, can suspend the case of nullity, complete the instruction for a dispensation super rato, and then transmit the acts to the Apostolic See together with a petition for a dispensation from either one or both of the spouses and the votum of the tribunal and the bishop.

§ 4. Quoties in instructione causae dubium valde probabile emerserit de non secuta matrimonii consummatione, tribunal potest, auditis partibus, causam nullitatis suspendere, instructionem complere pro dispensatione super rato, ac tandem acta transmittere ad Sedem Apostolicam una cum petitione dispensationis ab alterutro vel utroque coniuge et cum voto tribunalis et Episcopi.

Art. 4 - The Judgment, its Appeals and its Effects

Art. 4 - De sententia, de eiusdem impugnationibus et exsecutione

Can. 1679. The sentence that first declared the nullity of the marriage, once the terms as determined by cann. 1630-1633 have passed, becomes executive.

Can. 1679. Sententia, quae matrimonii nullitatem primum declaravit, elapsis terminis a cann. 1630-1633 ordinatis, fit exsecutiva.

Can. 1680 § 1. The party who considers himself or herself aggrieved, as well as the promoter of justice and the defender of the bond, have the right to introduce a complaint of nullity of the judgment or appeal against the sentence, according to cann. 1619-1640.

Can. 1680 § 1. Integrum manet parti, quae se gravatam putet, itemque promotori iustitiae et defensori vinculi querelam nullitatis sententiae vel appellationem contra eandem sententiam interponere ad mentem cann. 1619-1640.

§ 2. After the time limits established by law for the appeal and its prosecution have passed, and after the judicial acts have been received by the tribunal of higher instance, a college of judges is established, the defender of the bond is designated, and the parties are admonished to put forth their observations within the prescribed time limit; after this time period has passed, if the appeal clearly appears merely dilatory, the collegiate tribunal confirms the sentence of the prior instance by decree.

§ 2. Terminis iure statutis ad appellationem eiusque prosecutionem elapsis atque actis iudicialibus a tribunali superioris instantiae receptis, constituatur collegium iudicum, designetur vinculi defensor et partes moneantur ut animadversiones, intra terminum praestitutum, proponant; quo termino transacto, si appellatio mere dilatoria evidenter appareat, tribunal collegiale, suo decreto, sententiam prioris instantiae confirmet.

§ 3. If an appeal is admitted, the tribunal must proceed in the same manner as the first instance with the appropriate adjustments.

§ 3. Si appellatio admissa est, eodem modo quo in prima instantia, congrua congruis referendo, procedendum est.

§ 4. If a new ground of nullity of the marriage is alleged at the appellate level, the tribunal can admit it and judge it as if in first instance.

§ 4. Si in gradu appellationis novum nullitatis matrimonii caput afferatur, tribunal potest, tamquam in prima instantia, illud admittere et de eo iudicare.

Can. 1681. If a sentence has become effective, one can go at any time to a tribunal of the third level for a new proposition of the case according to the norm of can. 1644, provided new and grave proofs or arguments are brought forward within the peremptory time limit of thirty days from the proposed challenge.

Can. 1681. Si sententia exsecutiva prolata sit, potest quovis tempore ad tribunal tertii gradus pro nova causae propositione ad normam can. 1644 provocari, novis iisque gravibus probationibus vel argumentis intra peremptorium terminum triginta dierum a proposita impugnatione allatis.

Can. 1682 § 1. After the sentence declaring the nullity of the marriage has become effective, the parties whose marriage has been declared null can contract a new marriage unless a prohibition attached to the sentence itself or established by the local ordinary forbids this.

Can. 1682 § 1. Postquam sententia, quae matrimonii nullitatem declaraverit, facta est exsecutiva, partes quarum matrimonium declaratum est nullum, possunt novas nuptias contrahere, nisi vetito ipsi sententiae apposito vel ab Ordinario loci statuto id prohibeatur.

§ 2. As soon as the sentence becomes effective, the judicial vicar must notify the local ordinary of the place in which the marriage took place. The local ordinary must take care that the declaration of the nullity of the marriage and any possible prohibitions are noted as soon as possible in the marriage and baptismal registers.

§ 2. Statim ac sententia facta est exsecutiva, Vicarius iudicialis debet eandem notificare Ordinario loci in quo matrimonium celebratum est. Is autem curare debet ut quam primum de decreta nullitate matrimonii et de vetitis forte statutis in matrimoniorum et baptizatorum libris mentio fiat.

Art. 5 - The Briefer Matrimonial Process before the Bishop

Art. 5 - De processu matrimoniali breviore coram Episcopo

Can. 1683. The diocesan bishop himself is competent to judge cases of the nullity of marriage with the briefer process whenever:

Can. 1683. Ipsi Episcopo dioecesano competit iudicare causas de matrimonii nullitate processu breviore quoties:

 the petition is proposed by both spouses or by one of them, with the consent of the other;

 petitio ab utroque coniuge vel ab alterutro, altero consentiente, proponatur;

 circumstance of things and persons recur, with substantiating testimonies and records, which do not demand a more accurate inquiry or investigation, and which render the nullity manifest.

 recurrant rerum personarumque adiuncta, testimoniis vel instrumentis suffulta, quae accuratiorem disquisitionem aut investigationem non exigant, et nullitatem manifestam reddant.

Can. 1684. The libellus introducing the briefer process, in addition to those things enumerated in can. 1504, must: 1° set forth briefly, fully, and clearly the facts on which the petition is based; 2° indicate the proofs, which can be immediately collected by the judge; 3° exhibit the documents, in an attachment, upon which the petition is based.

Can. 1684. Libellus quo processus brevior introducitur, praeter ea quae in can. 1504 recensentur, debet: 1° facta quibus petitio innititur breviter, integre et perspicue exponere; 2° probationes, quae statim a iudice colligi possint, indicare; 3° documenta quibus petitio innititur in adnexo exhibere.

Can. 1685. The judicial vicar, by the same decree which determines the formula of the doubt, having named an instructor and an assessor, cites all who must take part to a session, which in turn must be held within thirty days according to can. 1686.

Can. 1685. Vicarius iudicialis, eodem decreto quo dubii formulam determinat, instructore et assessore nominatis, ad sessionem non ultra triginta dies iuxta can. 1686 celebrandam omnes citet qui in ea interesse debent.

Can. 1686. The instructor, insofar as possible, collects the proofs in a single session and establishes a time limit of fifteen days to present the observations in favor of the bond and the defense briefs of the parties, if there are any.

Can. 1686. Instructor una sessione, quatenus fieri possit, probationes colligat et terminum quindecim dierum statuat ad animadversiones pro vinculo et defensiones pro partibus, si quae habeantur, exhibendas.

Can. 1687 § 1. After he has received the acts, the diocesan bishop, having consulted with the instructor and the assessor, and having considered the observations of the defender of the bond and, if there are any, the defense briefs of the parties, is to issue the sentence if moral certitude about the nullity of marriage is reached. Otherwise, he refers the case to the ordinary method.

Can. 1687 § 1. Actis receptis, Episcopus dioecesanus, collatis consiliis cum instructore et assessore, perpensisque animadversionibus defensoris vinculi et, si quae habeantur, defensionibus partium, si moralem certitudinem de matrimonii nullitate adipiscitur, sententiam ferat. Secus causam ad ordinarium tramitem remittat.

§ 2. The full text of the sentence, with the reasons expressed, is to be communicated to the parties as swiftly as possible.

§ 2. Integer sententiae textus, motivis expressis, quam citius partibus notificetur.

§ 3. An appeal against the sentence of the bishop is made to the metropolitan or to the Roman Rota; if, however, the sentence was rendered by the metropolitan, the appeal is made to the senior suffragan; if against the sentence of another bishop who does not have a superior authority below the Roman Pontiff, appeal is made to the bishop selected by him in a stable manner.

§ 3. Adversus sententiam Episcopi appellatio datur ad Metropolitam vel ad Rotam Romanam; si autem sententia ab ipso Metropolita lata sit, appellatio datur ad antiquiorem suffraganeum; et adversus sententiam alius Episcopi qui auctoritatem superiorem infra Romanum Pontificem non habet, appellatio datur ad Episcopum ab eodem stabiliter selectum.

§ 4. If the appeal clearly appears merely dilatory, the metropolitan or the bishop mentioned in § 3, or the dean of the Roman Rota, is to reject it by his decree at the outset; if the appeal is admitted, however, the case is remitted to the ordinary method at the second level.

§ 4. Si appellatio mere dilatoria evidenter appareat, Metropolita vel Episcopus de quo in § 3, vel Decanus Rotae Romanae, eam a limine decreto suo reiciat; si autem admissa fuerit, causa ad ordinarium tramitem in altero gradu remittatur.

Art. 6 - The Documentary Process

Art. 6 - De processu documentali

Can. 1688. After receiving a petition proposed according to the norm of can. 1677, the diocesan bishop or the judicial vicar or a judge designated by him can declare the nullity of a marriage by sentence if a document subject to no contradiction or exception clearly establishes the existence of a diriment impediment or a defect of legitimate form, provided that it is equally certain that no dispensation was given, or establishes the lack of a valid mandate of a proxy. In these cases, the formalities of the ordinary process are omitted except for the citation of the parties and the intervention of the defender of the bond.

Can. 1688. Recepta petitione ad normam can. 1676 proposita, Episcopus dioecesanus vel Vicarius iudicialis vel Iudex designatus potest, praetermissis sollemnitatibus ordinarii processus sed citatis partibus et cum interventu defensoris vinculi, matrimonii nullitatem sententia declarare, si ex documento, quod nulli contradictioni vel exceptioni sit obnoxium, certo constet de exsistentia impedimenti dirimentis vel de defectu legitimae formae, dummodo pari certitudine pateat dispensationem datam non esse, aut de defectu validi mandati procuratoris.

Can. 1689 § 1. If the defender of the bond prudently thinks that either the flaws mentioned in can. 1688 or the lack of a dispensation are not certain, the defender of the bond must appeal against the declaration of nullity to the judge of second instance; the acts must be sent to the appellate judge who must be advised in writing that a documentary process is involved.

Can. 1689 § 1. Adversus hanc declarationem defensor vinculi, si prudenter existimaverit vel vitia de quibus in can. 1688 vel dispensationis defectum non esse certa, appellare debet ad iudicem secundae instantiae, ad quem acta sunt transmittenda quique scripto monendus est agi de processu documentali.

§ 2. The party who considers himself or herself aggrieved retains the right of appeal.

§ 2. Integrum manet parti, quae se gravatam putet, ius appellandi.

Can. 1690. The judge of second instance, with the intervention of the defender of the bond and after having heard the parties, will decide in the same manner as that mentioned in can. 1688 whether the sentence must be confirmed or whether the case must rather proceed according to the ordinary method of law; in the latter event the judge remands the case to the tribunal of first instance.

Can. 1690. Iudex alterius instantiae, cum interventu defensoris vinculi et auditis partibus, decernet eodem modo, de quo in can. 1688, utrum sententia sit confirmanda, an potius procedendum in causa sit iuxta ordinarium tramitem iuris; quo in casu eam remittit ad tribunal primae instantiae.

Art. 7 – General Norms

Art. 7 - Normae generales

Can. 1691 § 1. In the sentence the parties are to be reminded of the moral and even civil obligations binding them toward one another and toward their children to furnish support and education.

Can. 1691 § 1. In sententia partes moneantur de obligationibus moralibus vel etiam civilibus, quibus forte teneantur, altera erga alteram et erga prolem, ad sustentationem et educationem praestandam.

§ 2. Cases for the declaration of the nullity of a marriage cannot be treated in the oral contentious process mentioned in cann. 1656-1670.

§ 2. Causae ad matrimonii nullitatem declarandam, processu contentioso orali, de quo in cann. 1656-1670, tractari nequeunt.

§ 3. In other procedural matters, the canons on trials in general and on the ordinary contentious trial must be applied unless the nature of the matter precludes it; the special norms for cases concerning the status of persons and cases pertaining to the public good are to be observed.

§ 3. In ceteris quae ad rationem procedendi attinent, applicandi sunt, nisi rei natura obstet, canones de iudiciis in genere et de iudicio contentioso ordinario, servatis specialibus normis circa causas de statu personarum et causas ad bonum publicum spectantes.

* * *

* * *

The provision of can. 1679 will apply to sentences declaring the nullity of marriage published starting from the day this motu proprio comes into force.

Dispositio can. 1679 applicabitur sententiis matrimonii nullitatem declarantibus publicatis inde a die quo hae Litterae vim obligandi sortientur.

Attached and made part hereof are the procedural rules that we considered necessary for the proper and accurate implementation of this new law, which must be observed diligently to foster the good of the faithful.

Praesentibus adnectitur ratio procedendi, quam duximus ad rectam accuratamque renovatae legis applicationem necessariam, studiose ad fovendum bonum fidelium servanda.

What we have established by means of this motu proprio, we deem valid and lasting, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, even those worthy of meriting most special mention.

Quae igitur a Nobis his Litteris decreta sunt, ea omnia rata ac firma esse iubemus, contrariis quibusvis, etiam specialissima mentione dignis, non obstantibus.

We confidently entrust to the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the active implementation of this new matrimonial process.

Gloriosae et benedictae semper Virginis Mariae, Matris misericordiae, et beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli intercessioni actuosam exsecutionem novi matrimonialis processus fidenter committimus.

Given in Rome, near the tomb of Saint Peter, on the 15th day of August, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the year 2015, the third of our pontificate.

Datum Romae, apud S. Petrum, die XV mensis Augusti, in Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, anno MMXV, Pontificatus Nostri tertio.





The way of proceeding in cases regarding the declaration of the nullity of a marriage

Ratio procedendi in causis ad matrimonii nullitatem declarandam

The Third General Assembly of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, held in October of 2014, looked into the difficulty the faithful have in approaching church tribunals. Since the bishop, as a good shepherd, must attend to his poor faithful who need particular pastoral care, and given the sure collaboration of the successor of Peter with the bishops in spreading familiarity with the law, it has seemed opportune to offer, together with the detailed norms for the application to the matrimonial process, some tools for the work of the tribunals to respond to the needs of the faithful who seek that the truth about the existence or non-existence of the bond of their failed marriage be declared.

III Coetus Generalis Extraordinarius Synodi Episcoporum mense octobri anni 2014 habitus difficultatem fidelium adeundi Ecclesiae tribunalia perspexit. Quoniam vero Episcopus, sicut bonus Pastor, subditos suos speciali cura pastorali egentes obire tenetur, una cum definitis normis ad processus matrimonialis applicationem, visum est, pro comperta habita Petri Successoris Episcoporumque conspiratione in legis notitia propaganda, instrumenta quaedam praebere ut tribunalium opus respondere valeat fidelibus veritatem declarari postulantibus de exsistentia annon vinculi sui collapsi matrimonii.

Art. 1. The bishop, under can. 383, §1 is obliged, with an apostolic spirit, to attend to separated or divorced spouses who perhaps, by the conditions of their lives, have abandoned religious practice. He thus shares, together with the parochis (cf. can. 529, §1), the pastoral solicitude for these faithful in difficulties.

Art. 1. Episcopus vi can. 383 § 1 animo apostolico prosequi tenetur coniuges separatos vel divortio digressos, qui propter suam vitae condicionem forte a praxi religionis defecerint. Ipse igitur cum parochis (cfr. can. 529 § 1) sollicitudinem pastoralem comparticipatur erga hos christifideles in angustiis constitutos.

Art. 2. The pre-judicial or pastoral inquiry, which in the context of diocesan and parish structures receives those separated or divorced faithful who have doubts regarding the validity of their marriage or are convinced of its nullity, is, in the end, directed toward understanding their situation and to gathering the material useful for the eventual judicial process, be it the ordinary or the briefer one. This inquiry will be developed within the unified diocesan pastoral care of marriage.

Art. 2. Investigatio praeiudicialis seu pastoralis, quae in structuris paroecialibus vel dioecesanis recipit christifideles separatos vel divortio digressos de validitate sui matrimonii dubitantes vel de nullitate eiusdem persuasos, in eum finem vergit ut eorum condicio cognoscatur et colligantur elementa utilia ad processum iudicialem, ordinarium an breviorem, forte celebrandum. Quae investigatio intra pastorale opus dioecesanum de matrimonio unitarium evolvetur.

Art. 3. This same inquiry is entrusted to persons deemed suitable by the local ordinary, with the appropriate expertise, though not exclusively juridical-canonical. Among them in the first place is the parochus or the one who prepared the spouses for the wedding celebration. This function of counseling can also be entrusted to other clerics, religious or lay people approved by the local ordinary.

Art. 3. Eadem investigatio personis concredetur ab Ordinario loci idoneis habitis, competentiis licet non exclusive iuridico-canonicis pollentibus. Inter eas habentur in primis parochus proprius vel is qui coniuges ad nuptiarum celebrationem praeparavit. Munus hoc consulendi committi potest etiam aliis clericis, consecratis vel laicis ab Ordinario loci probatis.

One diocese, or several together, according to the present groupings, can form a stable structure through which to provide this service and, if appropriate, a handbook (vademecum) containing the elements essential to the most appropriate way of conducting the inquiry.

Dioecesis, vel plures dioeceses simul, iuxta praesentes adunationes, stabilem structuram constituere possunt per quam servitium hoc praebeatur et componere, si casus ferat, quoddam Vademecum elementa essentialia ad aptiorem indaginis evolutionem referens.

Art. 4. The pastoral inquiry will collect elements useful for the introduction of the case before the competent tribunal either by the spouses or perhaps by their advocates. It is necessary to discover whether the parties are in agreement about petitioning nullity.

Art. 4. Investigatio pastoralis elementa utilia colligit ad causae introductionem coram tribunali competenti a coniugibus vel eorum patrono forte faciendam. Requiratur an partes consentiant ad nullitatem petendam.

Art. 5. Once all the elements have been collected, the inquiry culminates in the libellus, which, if appropriate, is presented to the competent tribunal.

Art. 5. Omnibus elementis collectis, investigatio perficitur libello, si casus ferat, tribunali competenti exhibendo.

Art. 6. Since the code of canon law must be applied in all matters, without prejudice to special norms, even the matrimonial processes in accord with can.1691, § 3, the present ratio does not intend to explain in detail a summary of the whole process, but more specifically to illustrate the main legislative changes and, where appropriate, to complete it.

Art. 6. Cum Codex iuris canonici undique applicandus sit, salvis specialibus normis, etiam in matrimonialibus processibus, ad mentem can. 1691 § 3, praesens ratio non intendit summam totius processus minute exponere, sed praecipuas legis innovationes potissimum illustrare et ubi oporteat complere.

Title I - The Competent Forums and the Tribunals

Titulus I - De foro competenti et de tribunalibus

Art. 7 § 1. The titles of competence in can. 1672 are the same, observing in as much as possible the principle of proximity between the judges and the parties.

Art. 7 § 1. Tituli competentiae de quibus in can. 1672 aequipollentes sunt, servato pro posse principio proximitatis inter iudicem et partes.

§ 2. Through the cooperation between tribunals mentioned in can. 1418, care is to be taken that everyone, parties or witnesses, can participate in the process at a minimum of cost.

§ 2. Per cooperationem autem inter tribunalia ad mentem can. 1418 caveatur ut quivis, pars vel testis, processui interesse possit minimo cum impendio.

Art. 8 § 1. In dioceses which lack their own tribunals, the bishop should take care that, as soon as possible, persons are formed who can zealously assist in setting up marriage tribunals, even by means of courses in well-established and continuous institutions sponsored by the diocese or in cooperation with groupings of dioceses and with the assistance of the Apostolic See.

Art. 8 § 1. In dioecesibus quae proprio tribunali carent, curet Episcopus ut quam primum, etiam per cursus institutionis permanentis et continuae, a dioecesibus earumdemve coetibus et a Sede Apostolica in propositorum communione promotos, personae formentur quae in constituendo tribunali pro causis matrimonialibus operam navare valeant.

§ 2. The bishop can withdraw from an interdiocesan tribunal constituted in accordance with can. 1423.

§ 2. Episcopus a tribunali interdioecesano ad normam can. 1423 constituto recedere valet.

Title II - The Right to Challenge a Marriage

Titulus II - De iure impugnandi matrimonium

Art. 9. If a spouse dies during the process with the case not yet concluded, the instance is suspended until the other spouse or another person, who is interested, insists upon its continuation; in this case, a legitimate interest must be proven.

Art. 9. Si coniux moriatur durante processu, causa nondum conclusa, instantia suspenditur donec alter coniux vel alius, cuius intersit, instet pro prosecutione; quo in casu legitimum interesse probandum est.

Title III - The Introduction and Instruction of Cases

Titulus III - De causae introductione et instructione

Art. 10. The judge can admit an oral petition whenever a party is prevented from presenting a libellus: however, the judge himself orders the notary to draw up the act in writing that must be read to the party and approved, which takes the place of the libelluswritten by the party for all effects of law.

Art. 10. Iudex petitionem oralem admittere potest, quoties pars libellum exhibere impediatur: ipse tamen notarium iubeat scriptis actum redigere qui parti legendus est et ab ea probandus, quique locum tenet libelli a parte scripti ad omnes iuris effectus.

Art. 11 § 1. The libellus is presented to the diocesan or interdiocesan tribunal which has been chosen according to the norm of can. 1673 § 2.

Art. 11 § 1. Libellus tribunali dioecesano vel interdioecesano ad normam can. 1673, § 2 electo exhibeatur.

§ 2. A respondent who remits himself or herself to the justice of the tribunal, or, when properly cited, once more, makes no response, is deemed not to object to the petition.

§ 2. Petitioni non refragari censetur pars conventa quae sese iustitiae tribunalis remittit vel, iterum rite citata, nullam praebet responsionem.

Title IV - The Sentence, Its Appeals and Effect

Titulus IV - De sententia, de eiusdem impugnationibus et exsecutione

Art. 12. To achieve the moral certainty required by law, a preponderance of proofs and indications is not sufficient, but it is required that any prudent doubt of making an error, in law or in fact, is excluded, even if the mere possibility of the contrary is not removed.

Art. 12. Ad certitudinem moralem iure necessariam, non sufficit praevalens probationum indiciorumque momentum, sed requiritur ut quodlibet quidem prudens dubium positivum errandi, in iure et in facto, excludatur, etsi mera contrarii possibilitas non tollatur.

Art. 13. If a party expressly declares that he or she objects to receiving any notices about the case, that party is held to have renounced of the faculty of receiving a copy of the sentence. In this case, that party may be notified of the dispositive part of the sentence.

Art. 13. Si pars expresse declaraverit se quaslibet notitias circa causam recusare, censetur se facultati obtinendi exemplar sententiae renuntiasse. Quo in casu, eidem notificari potest dispositiva sententiae pars.

Title V - The Briefer Matrimonial Process before the Bishop

Titulus V - De processu matrimoniali breviore coram Episcopo

Art. 14 § 1. Among the circumstances of things and persons that can allow a case for nullity of marriage to be handled by means of the briefer process according to cann. 1683-1687, are included, for example: the defect of faith which can generate simulation of consent or error that determines the will; a brief conjugal cohabitation; an abortion procured to avoid procreation; an obstinate persistence in an extraconjugal relationship at the time of the wedding or immediately following it; the deceitful concealment of sterility, or grave contagious illness, or children from a previous relationship, or incarcerations; a cause of marriage completely extraneous to married life, or consisting of the unexpected pregnancy of the woman, physical violence inflicted to extort consent, the defect of the use of reason which is proved by medical documents, etc.

Art. 14 § 1. Inter rerum et personarum adiuncta quae sinunt causam nullitatis matrimonii ad tramitem processus brevioris iuxta cann. 1683-1687 pertractari, recensentur exempli gratia: is fidei defectus qui gignere potest simulationem consensus vel errorem voluntatem determinantem, brevitas convictus coniugalis, abortus procuratus ad vitandam procreationem, permanentia pervicax in relatione extraconiugali tempore nuptiarum vel immediate subsequenti, celatio dolosa sterilitatis vel gravis infirmitatis contagiosae vel filiorum ex relatione praecedenti vel detrusionis in carcerem, causa contrahendi vitae coniugali omnino extranea vel haud praevisa praegnantia mulieris, violentia physica ad extorquendum consensum illata, defectus usus rationis documentis medicis comprobatus, etc.

§ 2. Among the documents supporting this petition are included all medical records that can clearly render useless the requirement of an ex officio expert.

§ 2. Inter instrumenta quae petitionem suffulciunt habentur omnia documenta medica quae evidenter inutilem reddere possunt peritiam ex officio exquirendam.

Art. 15. If the libellus was presented to introduce the ordinary process, but the judicial vicar believes the case may be treated with the briefer process, he is, in the notification of the libellus according to can. 1676, §1, to invite the respondent who has not signed the libellus to make known to the tribunal whether he or she intends to enter and take an interest in the process. As often as is necessary, he invites the party or parties who have signed the libellus to complete it as soon as possible according to the norm of can. 1684.

Art. 15. Si libellus ad processum ordinarium introducendum exhibitus sit, at Vicarius iudicialis censuerit causam processu breviore pertractari posse, in notificando libello ad normam can. 1676 § 1, idem partem conventam quae eum non subscripserit invitet, ut tribunali notum faciat num ad petitionem exhibitam accedere et processui interesse intendat. Idem, quoties oporteat, partem vel partes quae libellum subscripserint invitet ad libellum quam primum complendum ad normam can. 1684.

Art. 16. The judicial vicar can designate himself as an instructor; but to the extent possible, he is to name an instructor from the diocese where the case originated.

Art. 16. Vicarius iudicialis semetipsum tamquam instructorem designare potest; quatenus autem fieri potest, nominet instructorem ex dioecesi originis causae.

Art. 17. In issuing the citation in accordance with can. 1685, the parties are informed that, if possible, they are to make available, at least three days prior to the session for the instruction of the case, those specific points of the matter upon which the parties or the witnesses are to be questioned, unless they are attached to the libellus.

Art. 17. In citatione ad mentem can. 1685 expedienda, partes certiores fiant se posse, tribus saltem ante sessionem instructoriam diebus, articulos argumentorum, nisi libello adnexi sint, exhibere, super quibus interrogatio partium vel testium petitur.

Art. 18. § 1. The parties and their advocates can be present for the examination of other parties and witnesses unless the instructor, on account of circumstances of things and persons, decides to proceed otherwise.

Art. 18. § 1. Partes earumque advocati assistere possunt excussioni ceterarum partium et testium, nisi instructor, propter rerum et personarum adiuncta, censuerit aliter esse procedendum.

§ 2. The responses of the parties and witnesses are to be rendered in writing by the notary, but in a summary way and only that which refers to the substance of the disputed marriage.

§ 2. Responsiones partium et testium redigendae sunt scripto a notario, sed summatim et in iis tantummodo quae pertinent ad matrimonii controversi substantiam.

Art. 19. If the case is instructed at an interdiocesan tribunal, the bishop who is to pronounce the sentence is the one of that place according to the competence established in accordance with can. 1672. If there are several, the principle of proximity between the parties and the judge is observed as far as possible.

Art. 19. Si causa instruitur penes tribunal interdioecesanum, Episcopus qui sententiam pronuntiare debet est ille loci, iuxta quem competentia ad mentem can. 1672 stabilitur. Si vero plures sint, servetur pro posse principium proximitatis inter partes et iudicem.

Art. 20 § 1. The diocesan bishop determines according to his own prudence the way in which to pronounce the sentence.

Art. 20 § 1. Episcopus dioecesanus pro sua prudentia statuat modum pronuntiationis sententiae.

§ 2. The sentence which is signed by the bishop and certified by the notary, briefly and concisely explains the reasons for the decision and ordinarily the parties are notified within one month of the day of the decision.

§ 2. Sententia, ab Episcopo utique una cum notario subscripta, breviter et concinne motiva decisionis exponat et ordinarie intra terminum unius mensis a die decisionis partibus notificetur.

Title VI - The Documentary Process

Titulus VI - De processu documentali

Art. 21. The competent diocesan bishop and the judicial vicar are determined in accordance with can. 1672.

Art. 21. Episcopus dioecesanus et Vicarius iudicialis competentes determinantur ad normam can. 1672.



[1] Cf. Second Vatican Council, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 27.

[1] Cf. Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, Const. dogm. Lumen Gentium, n. 27.

[2] Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1752.

[2] Cf. CIC, can. 1752.

[3] Cf. Paulus VI, Allocutio iis qui II Conventui Internationali Iuris Canonici interfuerunt, September 17th, 1973.

[3] Cf. Paulus VI, Allocutio iis qui II Conventui Internationali Iuris Canonici interfuerunt, diei 17 septembris 1973.

[4] Cf. Relatio Synodi, n. 48.

[4] Cf. Relatio Synodi, n. 48.

[5] Cf. Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 27, in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis 105 (2013), p. 1031.

[5] Cf. Franciscus, Adhort. apost. Evangelii gaudium, n. 27, in AAS 105 (2013), p. 1031.




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