About a year after submitting my case to the Tribunal, I received this letter:
"With this letter I wish to inform you the Tribunal formed to judge the marriage case of (names deleted) reached a final affirmative decision on (date deleted), and now issues a decree of invalidity regarding that marriage.
Should you ever wish to remarry in the Catholic Church, however, there is a concern that factors which caused difficulties in your prior marriage not be repeated in another union. Thus the Tribunal directs that another marriage in the Catholic Church on your part be prohibited or postponed until it is determined that such factors are no longer present.
If at any time you wish to marry in the Catholic Church, please consult the parish minister who is assisting you in the preparations about resolution of this matter."
This is the sum and total of the letter. Immediately after receiving it I called my Parish Priest (who submitted the original paperwork and is very knowledgeable in the case) and asked for clarification about the “factors which caused difficulty in your prior marriage”. He had no idea what the factors were, and said he would find out. Some time later, he called and said he had some answers, and requested that we meet.
He told me that the Tribunal was, as the letter said, concerned that “factors which caused difficulties in your prior marriage not be repeated in another union”, and outlined some very vague factors, all of which were peculiar to the marriage that was declared invalid. He further explained that to be free to marry in the Church, I must undergo individual counseling for six months to one year, but he was not at all certain what the counseling would entail or where I could go to begin.
Though I have no plans for marriage I would like the door to be open, and I’m very disheartened by the lackadaisical manner in which this is being handled. I thought that if the marriage was declared invalid, that was that. Now I’m facing perhaps another year before this matter is truly settled, and I’m not young.
Is this valid procedure? Can a Tribunal impose vague “prohibitions” to future marriage?