Programs

Programs

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

314-792-7704

sandraprice@archstl.org

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

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NFP Method Options

Billings Ovulation Method
http://www.boma-usa.com/

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: http://www.woomb.org


Creighton Model FertilityCare Services
http://www.fertilitycare.org/   

 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 FertilityCare Practitioner after a group Introductory Session is attended.

Additional links: 

American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals: http://www.aafcp.org

Creighton Model FertilityCare Services: http://www.creightonmodel.com

Pope Paul VI Institute: http://www.popepaulvi.com

Department of FertilityCare Services, Mercy Hospital St. Louis:

 http://mercy.net/practice/mercy-fertility-care-studt-avenue

FertilityCare Centers of America: http://www.fertilitycare.org

FertilityCare Centers of Europe: www.fertilitycare.net

NaProTECHNOLOGY: http://www.naprotechnology.com

S.P.I.C.E.  - SPICE.pdf


Marquette Model
http://marquettefertilityed.com

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)
http://ccli.org

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
https:// www.symptopro.org

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.

Confidentiality

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.

Fees

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.

Questions about Marriage, Divorce and Nullity

1. What is the Catholic Church's understanding of marriage?

Marriage is a covenant by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, which of its very nature is ordered to the well being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children.

2. When is a marriage a Sacrament?

A validly contracted marriage is raised to the level of a sacrament solely by virtue of the fact that both parties are validly baptized. This is true even between two baptized non-Catholics. Through the grace of baptismal status, Christ himself raises a marriage to sacramental dignity. Marriages between a baptized and an unbaptized person can be valid and binding even though not a sacrament.

3. What is a declaration of nullity?

A declaration of nullity, also called an annulment, is a judgment made by a Tribunal of the Catholic Church 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 established 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. Therefore, a relationship which may have approximated marriage according to civil or social standards is deemed not to have been a binding marriage in the way marriage was ordained by Almighty God.

4. What is the difference between divorce and an ecclesiastical decree of nullity?

Divorce indicates that the lived experience of a couple's partnership has been irremediably damaged. Divorce puts an end to the binding contractual relationship which exists between spouses relative to civil law. From the Church's point of view, divorce merely indicates that the lived experience of a couple's partnership has been severed. Divorce has no capacity to alter the binding nature of the marital contract or covenant a couple creates by their exchanged consent.

A decree of nullity issued by a Tribunal of the Catholic Church is a judgment based on proof that, because of some personal incapacity or because of the exclusion of some essential element of marriage, a valid and binding marital bond, as ordained by Almighty God, was never created between the two parties.

5. If the Church teaches that marriage is forever, how can annulments be granted?

The Catholic Church believes that a valid and consummated marital bond between two baptized persons cannot be severed by any entity, civil or religious. However, there are circumstances in which what may have appeared to have been a marriage between two persons was never in fact a binding covenant, either because of personal incapacity for consent or because one of the essential elements of marriage was excluded when the parties gave their consent.

6. Can I seek a decree of nullity if I've been married a long time or have children?

Yes. A Tribunal investigation examines the capacity of the parties for sufficient and proportionate marital consent at the time the consent was given. Whether a couple's partnership lasts a few months or for several years and whether or not a couple bore children are not always determinant issues.

7. Does a decree of nullity make children illegitimate?

NO! The law of the Catholic Church never denies the factual or historical existence of the parents' relationship, nor does it deny that it may have been a binding marriage by civil or social standards. Hence, the Catholic Church's law deems that 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 to be considered legitimate, even if at a later time the marital bond is proven to have been invalid and null.

8. Can a divorced Catholic receive the Sacraments?

YES! Divorce only indicates that the lived experience of a couple's partnership has ended. As long as a divorced person has not initiated any subsequent marital or similar relationship with another partner and as long as he or she is, according to one's conscience, in the state of grace, there is nothing preventing him or her from sacramental participation.

9. Can a divorced person remarry in the Catholic Church?

Only if, through a Tribunal process, that person's previous marriage has been proven to have been null can a divorced person be considered free to exchange marital consent with a new spouse.

10. Can I still be a part of the Church if I am remarried without a declaration of nullity?

The choice to remarry without having received a declaration of nullity concerning one's prior marital bond sets a person apart from the Church with regard to full sacramental participation. One cannot receive Holy Communion when one's lifestyle is not in communion with the teachings of the Catholic faith. Still, there is grace to be gained through participation in Sunday worship, particularly in the nourishment that comes from God's Word, the Homily, the Church's devotional piety, community fellowship and other aspects of Catholic life.

11. Why would a non-Catholic need a decree of nullity from the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church recognizes all marriages between non-Catholics to be valid and binding as long as they meet civil requirements about the way consent is to be exchanged. A divorced non-Catholic, in order to seek marriage with a Catholic in the Catholic Church, must be considered free to marry. This requires that the whole of his or her life and marital history be brought into harmony with the teaching of the Catholic faith to which the Catholic intended spouse adheres. Hence, if the non-Catholic has previously been married, that first marital bond must be proven null before he or she can be considered free to marry anew.

12. Do I have to contact my former spouse? What if he/she will not cooperate or cannot be contacted?

Ecclesiastical law requires that the rights of both spouses be protected. This demands that every legitimate effort be made to contact the former spouse and allow his/her participation in the Tribunal process. If a former spouse truly cannot be found or chooses not to participate, the Tribunal process continues. There is no need for the parties to have direct contact with one another.

13. Are witnesses necessary during a formal investigation?

Yes. The law of the Catholic Church requires that all allegations of marital nullity be substantiated and wholly corroborated by the testimony of witnesses who had knowledge of the parties prior to and at the time of their wedding. These witnesses can include family and friends, as well as counselors.

14. How do I begin?

It is best to begin with your parish Priest, who will assist you in formulating your initial application. Then the Tribunal will send you the appropriate questionnaire as well as assign you the assistance of an Advocate for the remainder of the process.

15. Does applying for an annulment assure me of getting one?

No. Every marriage is presumed to be valid and binding until proven otherwise. The process of proving nullity is not an effort to assess blame for marital breakdown, but to understand its root causes and to determine whether it resulted from an incapacity for competent consent or any other impediment to marriage. If the testimony provided during an investigation is inconclusive or insufficiently probative, a declaration of nullity cannot be issued.

16. How much does the Tribunal process cost?

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a formal Tribunal investigation is assessed a fee of $750, which is the responsibility of the Petitioner. Declarations of nullity cannot be purchased. This fee is payment for the Church's legal services and yet, does not cover the entire cost of the process. The remainder of the actual cost 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.

Our Pastoral Goal

The Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is a court of the Catholic Church charged with the responsibility of seeking and administering justice. With regard to marriage cases, our task is to assist people in arriving at a determination of the truth concerning the binding nature of their marital bond.

The pursuit and acceptance of the truth about one's life can surely facilitate the healing process. Yet, we believe that this is but one aspect within a broad spectrum of processes that accompany a person in his/her recovery from marital breakdown and return to wholeness.

The Tribunal's responsibility to those suffering the pain of marital breakdown is primarily canonical. Therefore, we encourage men and women who have suffered marital breakdown to establish and develop a professional relationship with a priest or pastoral minister. In that additional forum, a person can benefit more directly from pastoral assistance along the path of reconciliation and be provided appropriate pastoral counsel. These ministries lie outside the primary ministry of the Tribunal.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis provides various programs and services to assist a person in healing and recovering from loss. For more information, please contact the following:

Catholic Family Services (Catholic Charities of St. Louis)
9200 Watson Road
St. Louis, MO 63126
314.544.3800
Fax 314.843.0552
www.cfsstl.org

Office of Laity and Family Life
Ministry to the Separated or Divorced
314.792.7173 
Fax 314.792.7199
/laityandfamilylife/

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