Since the Holy Father, Pope Francis, promulgated Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, the new procedural norms for marriage nullity cases on September 8, 2015 and their implementation on December 8, 2015, there has been some misunderstanding by the secular press and other publications that there should be no fee.
In the norms there is a very clear reference to a fee but it is a little more nuanced than what has been published. The Introduction to the Motu Proprio states “Together with the Judges who are more directly involved, the Conference of Bishops is to strive as much as possible, without prejudice to a just and honest payment to the tribunal personnel, that the procedure be conducted without fees, and the Church, showing herself to the faithful to being a generous mother, in such matters which are so closely united to the salvation of souls, also to others Christ’s gratuitous love by which we have all been saved.”
In our diocese, we are very fortunate that, Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of Wilmington, has increased the staff of our Tribunal and provides substantial more resources so that the services of the Tribunal are more accessible and less time consuming. The tribunal fee provides to contribution to compensation of the staff and the other regular expenses such as postage, photocopying and the telephone.
While the fee helps us meet our legitimate expenses, there is also the possibility of a reduction or waiver in cases of genuine need. One’s inability to pay has no impact on the progress of a case or the final decision. There is also the option of paying in small installments of twenty-five dollars over the months of the process.