Myths and Truths
The Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Omaha adjudicates all petitions for marriage cases according to the norms established by the The Code of Canon Law and the Vatican Instruction Dignitas Connubii. This Tribunal is the First Instance Court of the archdiocese and it is the Second Instance Court for the Dioceses of Lincoln and Grand Island, Nebraska. The Tribunal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri is the Second Instance Court for the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Omaha. The Appeals Court for the Archdiocese of Omaha is the Tribunal of
Second Instance of the Province of St. Louis.
The presumption of the Church is that all marriages, both Catholic and non-Catholic, are valid unless canonically proven invalid. Furthermore, the Church teaches that every valid marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament (canon 1055 §2) and thus it is considered a permanently binding union until the death of one of the spouses. Although not every marriage is a sacrament, e.g., when at least one party is not baptized, the very fabric of society demands that every marriage be presumed valid unless proven otherwise.
Marriage Tribunals do not exist to undo marriages, but to promote and enhance them. The Church considers marriage according to God's plan more than a social institution, legal contract or personal commitment. As a sacrament, marriage structures God's action in the lives of the spouses. ". . . 'For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will cling to his wife, and the two shall become one body.' So they are no longer two, but one body. Therefore what God has joined man must not separate." (Matthew 19: 5-6) It is a false and unacceptable notion that marriages can become null over a period of time or as a result of some contrary action later in the marriage.
It is a sad reality that marriages do break down. When the facts show that a specific marriage is not valid and/or not a sacrament the basis may exist for a decree of nullity.