What is a Marriage Tribunal?
There is a Marriage Tribunal or Diocesan Court in every Catholic Diocese of the world. The Tribunal in the Diocese of Laredo is supervised by the delegate of the Bishop, the Judicial Vicar. He together with a staff of trained priests, deacons and lay persons, offers assistance to individuals who formally request that the Church study their marriage in order to determine if there is any possibility of a Declaration of Nullity. Having received such a declaration an individual then has the possibility to contract another marital union under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Mission of the Tribunal can be found in these words of Isaias 61:1 "He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners." Who are these captives? Who are the brokenhearted? Who are the prisoners? They are those who have had the searing experience of divorce and who either have entered in a second marriage or desire to do so. Persons in second marriages are not permitted to receive the sacrament of the Church. The Tribunal endeavors through its legal system to bring these persons back into the sacramental life of the Church. While the work is a legal one, those who do this ministry make sure that the arm of the law touches with the healing hand of Christ.