Welcome to the website of the Scottish Catholic Interdiocesan Tribunal [SCI Tribunal] which operates under the authority and direction of the Catholic Bishops of Scotland. We went online on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, to coincide with the coming into force of innovations introduced by Pope Francis into the Church's marriage law.
So, why a website? It is mainly aimed at giving those who want to petition the Church for a marriage annulment some idea of what that involves. It is intended, firstly, to help people better understand what the Catholic Church teaches to be the beautiful and solemn reality of marriage as willed by God. Secondly, it endeavours to clarify the reasons why marriages can be invalid, or null.
Here we explain what a Church Tribunal is and does with regard to these most difficult matters in people's lives. For it is the Tribunal which processes and judges marriage nullity cases, except those reserved by law to the diocesan Bishop himself.
All constructive suggestions on how to improve the website are welcome [click here], especially since the legal jargon associated with Church Law can be a bit technical and arcane. Our aim is to educate both the party who petitions a nullity [called "the petitioner"] and the other party to the marriage [called "the respondent"] to understand this process while helping them through it. This means that a balance has to be struck between using everyday language, on the one hand, and more technical terms and concepts necessary to our work, on the other.
We recognize that someone enquiring about an annulment can often feel deep distress and perhaps even guilt or shame for doing so. If you are one of those people we would encourage you to contact us. We also hope that the explanations offered on this website will help you understand that the search for the truth of your married status is no cause for shame. Indeed, irrespective of the outcome, challenging the validity of your marriage can be the right thing to do as it will bring clarity to a painful situation whose roots may well lie among the grounds of nullity.
God willing, clergy, religious and laity alike may find the website useful in their own ministry and relationships. We invite everyone who has read thus far to pray for the renewal of the divine plan for marriage and the family in our contemporary world. Please pray for the Tribunal staff, too, who try to discharge the duties associated with annulments with as much care and professionalism as possible. May the Lord Jesus, the "Gentle Judge" himself, bless all who seek his truth, justice and freedom with the help of our humble ministry.
Mgr. Peter Magee, Officialis