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Marriage tribunals 'need upgrade'

Priests need to find out more about couples and give them more information

  • Sumon Corraya, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • May 11, 2011
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A meeting of two inter-diocesan matrimonial tribunals at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Center in Dhaka yesterday proposed a number of changes to the Catholic marriage process and tribunals.

Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka and Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, with 17 priests from all over the country, were among the participants.

“Banns of marriage need upgrade and it should require more information for the persons who are impending for a marriage,” said Father Kamal Corraya, Dhaka inter-diocesan marriage tribunal member.

Father Theotonius Proshanto Rebeiro, a canon law expert, agreed.

“The bann form we are using now was last upgraded in 2000. It needs to be up to date with demands of the times,” he said.

Father Gabriel Corraya, parish-priest of Bangladesh’s largest church, the Holy Rosary in Dhaka, said parish-priests should get more detailed information about marriage aspirants to reduce problems after marriage.

Tribunals receive more cases nowadays, said Father Mintu L. Palma, a marriage expert and judicial vicar of Dhaka inter-diocesan marriage tribunal.

“We suggest people go to the parish priest first for marriage cases and he will refer the case to a tribunal if it is deemed critical. But often people don’t rely on parish priests; they (priests) need to be more responsible,” Father Palma added.

Priests said people getting married sometimes do not know about health problems of their partner, or are in forced marriages that soon generate many problems,

The meeting proposed raising case fees to 35,000 taka (US$500) from 30,000 taka as it is expensive to handle a case.

“The relevant diocese will consider if the party or person involved is poor and can’t afford fees,” said Bishop Gervas Rozario.

Lack of canon law and marriage experts are also a great challenge for some dioceses.

“There is lack of knowledge among priests about canon law on marriage. More priests need to be sent abroad to study canon law,” said Father Marcus Murmu from Rajshahi.

To offer marriage counseling and tribunal services, a Canonist Forum was formed at the meeting. It will hold two meetings a year to discuss prevailing marriage problems.

A permanent office for the Dhaka tribunal is being set up to foster better marriage services to Catholics, the gathering was informed.

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