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Comments on The Tribunal

Claire Beaton, CND, J.C.L.

The movie, The Tribunal, is compelling, very moving and well executed. The choice of characters who fill the various roles, the display of human emotion, the music and drama provide the ingredients of a good show.

The movie is basically about Joseph who is petitioning the Marriage Tribunal for a declaration of nullity following his separation and divorce from Jessie. At the trial before the Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Church, Joseph appears to be overwhelmed. Not only is he facing five men, three of whom are priests, two laymen, one of whom is Defender of the Bond, whatever that means, he wonders. Not only is Joseph not a Catholic; he was never baptized. In this formal and obviously legalistic setting, he is reminded that he must respond truthfully to all questions asked – under pain of serious sin. Is he sufficiently intimidated? Two witnesses are required. None are present until his best friend, Tony appears, carrying a sheet of paper in his hand. It is only for friendship’s sake that he appears, all the while feeling embittered, angry and woefully robbed of Emily, with whom he is in love.

The respondent, Jessie, had penned a few lines for presentation at the trial. Tony, as witness, was helpful in that he responded to queries which were not intended to be respectful of him as a person.

In the final analysis, Joseph received an affirmative decision.

Important to note the following impressions:

1. Persons who appear before the Marriage Tribunal deserve understanding, warmth, compassion.

2. The Church has changed very little since Vatican II, particularly with respect to making it easier for persons who have erred to return to full communion.

3. Women are eminently capable of serving as (Deacons) and especially to be Judges in Marriage Tribunals.

4. In the movie, “The Tribunal,” the prospective father-in-law to the petitioner was ill chosen. There was evidence of bias both in his remarks and in his actions.

5. Although permitted by the panel to be present at the trial, Emily should not have been present.

In conclusion, it is my hope that we continue to listen to the voice of Pope Francis and be willing to accept the changes of transformation he hopes to achieve.

Claire Beaton, CND, J.C.L.

(Former worker for the Matrimonial Tribunal)

Diocese of Antigonish, N.S.

July 23, 2017


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