Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
August 19, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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August 19, 1990

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PAGE 9 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC AUGUST 19, 1990 experience in ministr, As people have become more aware of the work of marriage tribunals, requests for marriage investigations have often doubled and triple. The preparation of marriage cases takes a great deal of time, and many pastors are finding it impossible to keep up with the demands of the process. More and more dioceses are turning to "field advocates," many of whom are trained lay persons, to assist the local parishes and deaneries. Not only do these advocates help streamline the paper- Work required they also have more concentrated time to Spend working individually with the parties. This indi- Vidual, one-to-one contact is crucial to the healing side of the annulment process. Of all the positions in a marriage tribunal, the role of the advocate is probably the most demanding. An advo- rate has to be versed in Canon Law and Catholic theology of marriage. While we represent either a petitioner or respondent, we also represent the marriage and the pursuit of truth in this investigation - and everything has to be in balance. Most of the time the people we work With are cooperative. Some are hostile. The advocate has to be compassionate with both. Marriage tribunal work to many is depressing - it is often considered the "pits" of ministries. A failed marriage Can be the most traumatic period in anyone's life. The advocates are there to help the parties deal with a wide range of emotions - guilt, hostility, bitterness. Having to describe in detail what went wrong in a relationship makes the person relive the events in their mind. For many, there is no greater suffering. Tribunal work can also appear to be paper work at its Worst. There is a lot of paperwork - much of it is repetitive, and all of it is technical. The system is cumbersome and ember of the staff. If there is no in- cation of possible nullity, the Petition avb^r - _ . tai/" = tormally rejected. If more de- a.'ed information or a clarificat, on of facts may be required of the peti- b- er, a personal interview at the Tri- " al dee a Vath one of the officials may be he" ed necessary. The setting would aaformal and private. is an advocate? 1.. advocate a erson " p , who is a between the Tribunal and the l', ff' The advocate is trained by the t 'r:unal, and approved by the bishop Present either the petitioner or the .Ondent, to assist the oerson in nre- he~ the case, to act on his or her % to guard or her rights I- '-Ughout the orocess The advocate clltls a - r h,,, personal dimension to the Canonical procedure and by his er pastoral support shows the W"r lataal's desire to assi'st in the ministry Cnciliation. I r eetf:2:t the former spouse? r spouse, referred to as the eUtadent, has the right to be in- [ M,tl led about the case, and presented I