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Vatican document on marriage tribunals due February 03, 2005

The Vatican will soon release a new teaching document on the norms that should govern the work of Church marriage tribunals.

Dignitas Connubii ("The Dignity of Marriage") will explain how ecclesiastical tribunals should handle marriage cases. The document has been prepared by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, the Vatican's top body for questions of canon law, in collaboration with other Vatican offices.

The new Vatican instruction, entitled Dignitas Connubii, will be released on February 8. It will be presented at a press conference chaired by Cardinal Julian Herranz, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Also participating in that press conference will be Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Bishop Valasio de Paolis, the secretary of the tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; and Msgr. Mgr Antoni Stankiewicz, the dean of the tribunal of the Roman Rota.

On several occasions in recent years, Pope John Paul II has decried the sharp increase in the number of couples seeking marriage annulments. Last January he cautioned the Roman Rota-- the tribunal that handles appeals of marriage cases-- against the presumption that a failed marriage was never a valid sacramental union.