1st Instance

"The Gentle Judge, our Lord Jesus, the Shepherd of our Souls, entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his successors the power of the keys to carry out the work of truth and justice in the Church; this supreme and universal power of binding and loosing here on earth asserts, strengthens and protects the power of Pastors of particular Churches, by virtue of which they have the sacred right and duty before the Lord to enact judgment toward those entrusted to their care. (Cf. Second Vatican Council, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 27.)

"Through the centuries, the Church, having attained a clearer awareness of the words of Christ, came to and set forth a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the indissolubility of the sacred bond of marriage, developed a system of nullities of matrimonial consent, and put together a judicial process more fitting to the matter so that ecclesiastical discipline might conform more and more to the truth of the faith she was professing. 

"All these things were done following the supreme law of the salvation of souls (Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1752.) insofar as the Church, as Blessed Paul VI wisely taught, is the divine plan of the Trinity, and therefore all her institutions, constantly subject to improvement, work, each according to its respective duty and mission, toward the goal of transmitting divine grace and constantly promoting the good of the Christian faithful as the Church’s essential end. (Cf. Paulus VI, Allocutio iis qui II Conventui Internationali Iuris Canonici interfuerunt, September 17th, 1973.)"

[Pope Francis; Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus]


The Tribunal of First Instance serves the people of God by examining those failed marriages which are brought to its attention (through a Petition), with a view to possibly declaring them null (i.e. invalid, inexistent) on the basis of the doctrine and jurisprudence of the Catholic Church. In this endeavour to find the truth, we are aided - where necessary - by professionals from the legal, psychological, psychiatric and medical fields.

Although the situations which lead to marital breakdown are invariably traumatic for all those involved, it is the wish and intention of those tasked with examining such relationships on behalf of the Church to minimise - as far as possible - the discomfort which often accompanies the relative legal proceedings. We constantly strive to process such cases in as timely and compassionate a manner as possible.