Reporting Abuse

The Office of Child and Youth Protection serves persons who bring forward allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or by lay employees or volunteers of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  To make a report of current or past sexual abuse please contact:
Sandra Price, Executive Director    

Office of Child and Youth Protection


In addition the Archdiocese of Saint Louis encourages all victims of abuse to contact the appropriate civil authorities.



Theology of the Body

 Piloted in 2003, this program is available to area High Schools for thier senior students. The program provides five sessions in a one day format that cover fertility care, church documents on life, concepts of Theology of the Body, a young couple speaking and witnessing on chastity, video, factual information regarding the consequences of not following Church teaching, secondary virginity and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A Tea for Mother and Daughters

The pleasure of your company is requested by The St. John's Mercy Department of Fertility Care Services (formerly the Department of Natural Famly Planning) at their bi-annual event that provides an atmosphere of love and learning to discuss fertility and to promote communication between mother and daughter. The programs emphasize respect, understanding and appreciation for God's gift of sexuality as well as age-appropriate information on the function of the female reproductive system.

The 10 to 12 year old program will focus on: changes in girls' bodies as they enter puberty; modesty; values; plans of action; and the sacredness of human life.

The 13 to 17 year old program will focus on: dating; marriage; sexually transmitted diseases; protection of fertility through chastity; and the sacredness of human life.

Presenters include registered nurses, a physician and other teens who will participate on the panel. There is also a confidential question and answer session. For more information please call 314.991.0327 or see our calendar page.

Father/Son Facts and Fun

This event focuses on growing up and the importance of communication betweeen father and son. The program consists of a physician, fathers and a teen panel. The panel members will answer questions and discuss the importance of respect, understandng and appreciating God's gift of sexuality.

For boys 11 to 13 years old, the program explores God's special gift of human fertility and of growing up and becoming a man. Topics include: the changes in a young man's body as they enter puberty; modest; values; plans of action; and the sacredness of human life.

For 13 to 17 year old program will focus on dating; marriage; sexually transmitted diseases; protection of fertility through chastity; blessings of fatherhood and the sacredness of human life. For more information call 314.991.0327 or see our calendar page.

The Different Methods

Billings Ovulation Method

Women observe the external mucus that is produced when estrogen is alerting them to approaching ovulation. When progesterone is high, cervical crypts produce a thick mucus that is very difficult for sperm to penetrate and usually not visible externally.  Group classes are offered monthly by volunteer women at St. Anthony’s Medical Center and private follow up is available on request.

Additional links: 

World Organization of the Ovulation Method:

Fertility Care Creighton Model Services   

 Women observe the external mucus that is produced when estrogen alerts them to approaching ovulation. When progesterone is high, cervical crypts produce a thick mucus that is very difficult for sperm to penetrate and usually is not visible externally.  The standardization of this model has expanded its use to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of many gynecologic conditions, including PMS, endometriosis, infertility, poly-cystic ovary disease, etc.  Learning takes place, primarily in hospitals, through a series of private follow ups by a Fertility Care Practitioner after a group Introductory Session is attended.

Additional links: 

American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals:

Creighton Model Fertility Care Services:

Pope Paul VI Institute:

Department of Fertility Care Services, Mercy Hospital St. Louis:

Fertility Care Centers of America:

Fertility Care Centers of Europe:


S.P.I.C.E.  - SPICE.pdf


Marquette Model

The Marquette Model (MM) system of NFP brings 21st century technology to NFP by using the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor, a device used at home which measures hormone levels in urine to estimate the beginning and end of the time of fertility in a women's menstrual cycle. The information from the monitor can be used in conjunction with observations of cervical mucus, basal body temperature, or other biological indicators of fertility. The MM was developed by professional nurses and physicians at Marquette University in the late 1990s. A recent (2007) study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing demonstrated a 97-98% efficacy of the MM in avoiding pregnancy when taught by a qualified teacher and correctly applied.


Couple to Couple (CCL)

Couples are taught to observe mucus and cervix signs, which signal the approach of ovulation, and the temperature sign and other signs which typically accompanies ovulation.  Group sessions are presented usually in parishes by a volunteer teaching couple.


SymptoPro Fertility Education

Couples are taught to observe mucus and cervix signs, which signal the approach of ovulation, and the temperature sign and other signs which typically accompanies ovulation.  Sessions are presented in parishes by a certified instructor.

Safe Environment News

Employees, Volunteers to Update Safe-Environment Training New Youth Ministry Policy Seeks to Create Safe Environment For Teens, Youth Ministers Celebrating a Decade of Keeping Children Safe
Child Safety Program 'Opens Eyes' to Signs of Abuse  Archdiocese Takes Great Measures To Protect Our Children  Archdiocese Continues Work to 'Keep Kids Safe'
 Archdiocesan Review Board Reaches Out to Victims  ‘Protecting Children’ Priority of Child Safety Committee  Program Aims To Ensure Protection for Children

Click the article that you would like to read.

Marriage Nullity Process

The processes for proving the nullity of marriage and for requesting the dissolution of marriage in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are outlined below.

I. Marriage

The theology of the Roman Catholic Church as well as Canon Law describe marriage as a "covenant by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life which, by its very nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and toward the procreation and education of offspring, and which, between the baptized, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament" (canon 1055, Gaudiam et Spes, 48).

For this reason, the Catholic Church views the reality of divorce with great seriousness and considers it only to be a last resort taken at times to safeguard the rights or well-being of a spouse or children under secular law. As such, the Catholic Church recognizes civil divorce only as indication of the discontinuance of the lived experience of a couple’s marital relationship. Civil divorce has no power to sever the marital bond itself, the bond which is created between the two parties on the day of their wedding through their mutual exchange of consent. Rather, the Catholic Church presumes that once consent is exchanged every marriage is valid and binding until the contrary is proven.

II. Decree of Nullity

A Tribunal Process in pursuit of a decree of marital nullity (annulment) has the sole purpose of determining whether or not a valid and binding bond was created when the parties exchanged consent. It does not seek to attribute blame to one or the other party for the breakdown of the relationship. A decree of nullity, therefore, is a judgment by an ecclesiastical tribunal which states that on the basis of evidentiary proof a given relationship was not a binding marriage in the way the Catholic Church understands marriage to have been created by Almighty God. Here it has been proven either that one of the essential elements of marriage or the necessary personal capacity for competent consent was lacking at the time the parties wed. The decree of nullity does not deny that a wedding ceremony took place, nor does it imply that the husband and wife never had a relationship (c. 1061 §3). Moreover, any children born of a relationship which was presumed by at least one of the parents to be a valid and binding marriage at the time are considered to be legitimate, even if at a later time the marital bond is proven to have been invalid and null (cc. 1137 & 1138).

III. Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of a marital bond is a different reality than proving marital nullity. The Catholic Church believes that a marriage between two baptized persons is permanently indissoluble once consent is validly exchange and the relationship is consummated. Hence, the parties are obliged by that marital bond until one or the other is deceased. However, on the basis of the teachings of St. Paul (cf. I Corinthians 7:12-15), the Catholic Church believes that marital bonds between two non-baptized persons or between a baptized person and a non-baptized person can — under certain circumstances — be dissolved in favor of a subsequent bond in which baptismal faith can thrive and be nourished. Such dissolutions of marriage between two non-baptized persons are referred to as Pauline Privilege cases and dissolutions of marriage between a baptized person and a non-baptized person are referred to as Privilege of the Faith cases.

IV. Concerning Tribunal Processes

The Catholic Church has three basic processes which are used to assess the binding nature of a person’s prior marital bond and to determine that person’s freedom or lack thereof for any subsequent marital bond. The processes are called documentary cases, privilege cases and formal cases.

1. Documentary Cases

There are two basic types of documentary cases. The first is for circumstances in which a baptized Catholic, without obtaining dispensation from the Church to do so, exchanged marital consent in a setting outside of that which is required for Catholics by canon law (the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon, and two witnesses). These are called Lack of Form cases.

The second type of documentary case deals with situations in which one or both parties are considered not to have been free to enter marriage at the time of the wedding because he/she was still bound by a prior marital bond which had never been proven null. These are called Ligamen cases.

2. Privilege Cases

As mentioned above in the section concerning Dissolution of Marriage, privilege cases concern circumstances in which at least one of the parties to a marriage was not baptized. The granting of these dissolutions require proof of the lack of baptism on the part of one or both parties and proof that the person requesting the dissolution was not the culpable cause of the breakdown of the relationship.

3. The Formal Process

The focus of a formal investigation is centered on the period of time leading up to the wedding and seeks to discern the truth concerning the state of mind, intentions and capacity for consent which each party possessed at the time of the wedding. Later developments in the couple’s relationship may or may not shed light on these issues. The mere fact that a couple’s marital relationship broke down is not proof that incapacitating or invalidating factors existed at the time of the wedding. In other words, there is no guarantee that nullity will be proven simply because a relationship broke down.

The formal process has four basic stages:

a. Application Stage

The person who makes the application is called the Petitioner. He or she speaks with the Parish Priest or Pastoral Minister and completes an initial application form. This form is sent by the Priest or Pastoral Minister to the Tribunal on behalf of the Petitioner.

The staff of the Metropolitan Tribunal assesses the application to determine which type of process is required and forwards an appropriate questionnaire to the Petitioner. Special instructions accompany the questionnaire and explain how it is to be completed. At this time, the Petitioner is assigned an Advocate to assist in formulating responses to the questionnaire. A request is also made at this time for the names and addresses of knowledgeable and credible Witnesses. The best Witnesses are persons who knew the parties well prior to the wedding and during the early years of the couple’s marital life.

b. Investigative Stage

When the Petitioner returns the questionnaire and his or her responses, the investigation begins. The investigation is assigned to the oversight of a presiding Judge. After an initial assessment of the Petitioner’s testimony, the presiding Judge may either ask for additional information or may move directly to the point of contacting the former spouse (the Respondent), who is then given the opportunity to participate in the investigation. Witnesses are contacted next. There is no need for any of the parties to have direct contact with each other during the investigation.

c. Publication Stage

The parties are informed by the presiding Judge that the taking of all available testimony has been completed. This testimony (the acts of the case) is made available for the parties to review and make comment. Afterward, another staff member of the Tribunal (the Defender of the Bond) examines the testimony. This Defender of the Bond has the responsibility to defend the particular marital bond in question and to defend the dignity of the institution of marriage in general. Hence, the Defender presents an argument from the evidence which gives reasons why the marital bond should continue to be considered valid and binding. This stage of the process is governed, as is the entire process, by the policy of confidentiality articulated below.

d. Decision-Making Stage

The presiding Judge and any associate Judges consider the pertinent law regarding the case as well as the facts which have been submitted in evidence and a judgment is rendered. Just as every marital relationship is unique, so also is every formal case. Therefore, it is not possible to give any estimate regarding how long a formal investigation will take to complete. There are too many variables from one case to another. Moreover, there is never a guarantee of an affirmative decision. Please be advised that NO NEW MARRIAGE DATE MAY BE SCHEDULED IN ANY CATHOLIC PARISH UNTIL THE ENTIRE PROCESS IS COMPLETE AND A DECLARATION OF NULLITY HAS BEEN GIVEN AND RATIFIED.

Rights and Responsibilities of the Petitioner and Respondent

The Petitioner and Respondent are equal before the law. The Tribunal maintains communication with each party by mail as the investigation proceeds. Both parties have a right to the assistance of an Advocate, should they desire, as well as other rights and responsibilities for which Canon Law provides and which the Metropolitan Tribunal defends.


The Metropolitan Tribunal is the judicial branch of government in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Tribunal processes are governed by Canon Law. The Tribunal is obliged to uphold that law in protecting and promoting justice and the pastoral welfare of the Christian Faithful. In the United States, tribunal processes are purely ecclesiastical in nature and are conducted in accordance with the procedural norms of Canon Law. Hence, the Petitioner and Respondent are afforded access to the acts of the case with certain restrictions which may not be germane to the processes for civil divorce. It is the policy of the Metropolitan Tribunal to disclose the acts of a marriage case to duly authorized persons or to other ecclesiastical tribunals only to the degree necessary for the just and expedient resolution of the case. Confidentiality regarding the acts of a case is essential in order for the Metropolitan Tribunal to fulfill its obligation to the parties involved. Any materials received by the Metropolitan Tribunal become the property of the Metropolitan Tribunal.


In the Archdiocese of St. Louis a fee of $750 is assessed to the
Petitioner for a formal case.  This is
only a fraction of the actual costs to conduct the investigation necessary; the
remainder is subsidized by the Archdiocese. At no time is anyone denied a
Tribunal process because of financial hardship. All billing is handled by the
Archdiocesan Finance Office, not the Tribunal.

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