Offices & Departments
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The mission of the Tribunal is to minister to people regarding their rights and duties under the laws of the Roman Catholic Church (Canon Law). Canon law is intended to protect the essential truths of our faith through norms designed to preserve and promote community. Canon law addresses issues related to church governance, administration of the sacraments, relationships among communities of the faithful, financial management of church assets, various offenses and penalties, and procedures for the exercise of one’s rights under church law.
The majority of cases presented to the Tribunal involves petitions for declarations of matrimonial invalidity (Church annulments). Prior to marriage, tribunal officials issue dispensations or permissions which may be needed for Catholic weddings. Apart from marriage, the Tribunal assists priests and deacons who apply for a dispensation from the obligations of Holy Orders.
In all of its work, the Tribunal endeavors to be helpful yet just, kindly yet truthful, and always conscious that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls (Canon 1752).
Ecclesiastical judges are appointed by the diocesan bishop to hear and decide cases brought before the tribunal. They must be clerics, or in cases of necessity, lay persons, of unimpaired reputation who possess doctorates or at least licentiates, in canon law. The judicial vicar assigns the judges to the individual cases. A collegiate tribunal (of three judges) will generally be established in a contentious case, but a single clerical judge may decide a non-contentious matter. (Canon 1421, 1425)
Very Reverend Joseph L. Waters J.C.L.
Rev. Robert Dziedziak J.C.L.
Rev. Jaroslaw (Jarek) Sniosek, J.C.L.
Rev. Robert R. Cannon, J.C.L.
Defenders of the Bond:
A defender of the bond is to be appointed in a diocese for cases concerning the nullity of sacred ordination and the nullity or dissolution of marriage. Assigned by the judicial vicar to a particular case, the defender is obligated to propose and clarify everything which can be reasonably adduced against nullity or dissolution of the marriage/ordination in question. (Canon 1432)
Rev. Anthony R. Hewitt, J.C.L.
Rev. Robert Garrity, J.C.L.
Rev. David Szatkowski, J.C.D.
Promoter of Justice:
A cleric appointed for contentious cases and/or penal cases which affect the public good.
A cleric or lay person of good character, prudence and learning who is approved by the bishop and selected by the judge to “instruct” a case, i.e. to gather the proofs and present them to the judge. (Canon 1428)
An adult Catholic of good reputation who has a doctorate in canon law or is otherwise truly expert, who is approved by the diocesan bishop and appointed by a party to safeguard the rights of that party by arguments regarding the law and the facts. The appointment is effective upon the signing of the “mandate” commissioning a specific person to serve as the party’s advocate. (Canon 1481-1490)
Persons of good character and reputation, appointed by the bishop, whose writing or signature establishes the authenticity of any judicial acts. (Canon 483 & 484)
Lily Mendez & Susan Menges
A cleric or lay person of upright life who serves as a consultor or advisor to a single judge.
Dispensations/ Permissions are required for Catholic marriages in which one of the spouses is not a member of the Catholic Church. Couples intending to marry request these through the parish priest where the marriage will be performed. For inquiries, contact the Office of Tribunal.
Presently, at the Tribunal of the Diocese of Venice there are no processing fees. However, one should note that Appealed cases forwarded to the Second or Third Instance Tribunals are not free of charge. The appealing party will be responsible for the Appellate Tribunal’s processing fee: $500.00 (Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Miami), $800.00 (Cases appealed to Rome).