From the desk of Archbishop Tobin:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Ph. 1, 2).
I am happy to announce to you a change in policy regarding fees associated with the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese. Effective July 1, 2015, all fees connected with the processing of petitions for the nullity of marriages have been eliminated. In the case of persons who have already introduced a petition, the balance of their fees are now forgiven. This waiver of fees applies also to the so-called “privilege of the faith” cases that must be sent to Rome for consideration.
Until now, the Tribunal requested a fee of $675 for a formal marriage cases, known popularly as an “annulment”. This fee was only a fraction of the actual expenses of the process; the remainder was assumed by the Archdiocese. What is more, it had always been possible to request a reduction, deferment or, in some cases, a waiver of the fee. According to the long-standing policy of the Archdiocese, a person’s ability to present a petition did not depend on his or her ability to pay a fee.
Still, there has been a stubborn misconception that a person could “buy” a decree of nullity. There have been equally erroneous ideas that paying more than the requested fee or paying it all “up front” would result in quicker process or a better chance for a successful outcome. None of these suspicions are true. In fact, petitions are examined and decided according to the date of their presentation. Furthermore, each case is considered on its own merits and according to the common norms of the Catholic community.
I am confident that this change in policy will eliminate some of these misunderstandings. I also hope that you will renew your efforts to reach out compassionately to the faithful whose marriages have failed. Please ensure that this change is known among the people entrusted to your pastoral care.
Finally, I ask all Catholics to pray for married couples, whom God has called to reflect in their own love the unconditionally faithful and self-sacrificing love that Christ has for the Church. The Archdiocese and its ministers are committed to be both “prophetic” (to teach what Jesus taught) and to be “pastoral” (to minister to those whose marriages, unfortunately, have ended in a civil divorce).
May the Lord, who shared the joy of the couple at Cana of Galilee and comforted the sorrowing and humiliated, bless and sustain your ministry.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop
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