Canon Law and Civil Law expert, Sr. Eloisa C. Inocentes, RVM, Rev. Fr.
Danilo Flores, J.U.D., and tribunal judge of the Diocese of Rome, Rev. Fr.
Arnold Semilla, J.C.D, delivered lectures on innovations and updates in the light of the Reform Law on the declaration of nullity of marriage at the UST Martyrs’ Hall on August 16, 2018.
Faculty of Canon Law Dean, Rev. Fr. Isaias Tiongco, O.P., welcomed the
participants who were comprised of both clergy and laity from various dioceses not only in the Philippines, but in Asia and the Pacific. Different religious institutions and theological schools were also represented.
In response to the Roman Pontiff’s call for renewal in ecclesiastical structures and pastoral care, particularly in relation to the Sacrament of Marriage, Fr. Flores lectured on the necessity of establishing pre-judicial and pastoral counseling processes in every diocese.
The three level process would involve and empower parish priests, ordained ministers and qualified laity in collaboration with canonical advocates and lawyers in every stage of receiving the sacrament.
The process is “geared towards the safeguarding of the dignity of the Sacrament of Matrimony” and synergizes efforts to offer extrajudicial, judicial and post-judicial assistance towards a more holistic pastoral care for couples and families.
Just as relevant and closely related was Fr. Semilla’s lecture on “Essential
Innovative Tribunal Practices of the Reform Law on the Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.” Echoing the spirit of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio, he challenged the participants to keep in mind that “we arenot a civil tribunal but an ecclesiastical tribunal.” Thus, we ought to “be mercifuland compassionate.” He proposed some concrete strategies that dioceses and
parishes could adopt to complement the “processus brevior” or shortened process in matrimonial cases, making it more economical for both the faithful and the diocese and significantly increasing the availability of assistance offered to Catholic couples in need.