The Tribunal of Second Instance for the Province of St. Louis is a court of the Catholic Church responsible for the application of Canon Law in adjudicating cases of Marital Nullity which are being appealed after a First Instance decision. This Appellate Tribunal hears cases on appeal from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Jefferson City, the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, the Diocese of Springfield – Cape Girardeau, and, by indult from the Holy See, cases from the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The Vatican website gives a thorough explanation of the role of Canon Law in the Church, which includes: Since the Church is organized as a social and visible structure, it must also have norms: in order that its hierarchical and organic structure be visible; in order that the exercise of the functions divinely entrusted to it, especially that of sacred power and of the administration of the sacraments, may be adequately organized; in order that the mutual relations of the faithful may be regulated according to justice based upon charity, with the rights of individuals guaranteed and well-defined; in order, finally, that common initiatives undertaken to live a Christian life ever more perfectly may be sustained, strengthened and fostered by canonical norms.
Our Pastoral Goal
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 when they consider that truth not to have been determined during the adjudication process at First Instance. The desire to appeal one’s case must be expressed in writing to the Judge who rendered the First Instance decision and the expressed desire to appeal must be accompanied by a written explanation of why the First Instance decision is to be considered unjust, under-informed, or wrongly reflective of the evidence contained in the acts of the case.
The ongoing pursuit and acceptance of the truth about one's life can surely facilitate a healing process. The Appellate Tribunal's responsibility to those suffering the pain of marital breakdown is primarily canonical and pertains to their state of life within the community of the Church. 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. Most dioceses provide various programs and services to assist a person in healing and recovering from loss.
Very Reverend John A. Brockland, JCL, JV
Monsignor John B. Shamleffer, JCL
Deacon J. Gerard Quinn, JCL
Defender of the Bond
Monsignor Jerome D. Billing, JCL
Promotor of Justice
Monsignor James J. Ramacciotti, JCL
Mrs. Patricia A. Lanasa