Volunteers are sought to help those seeking an annulment

By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor

The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Metropolitan Tribunal, which handles annulment cases, recently made drastic revisions to the paperwork used in these cases. The revision was made to make the process more pastoral for those seeking annulments.

There is one more area in which the Tribunal hopes to improve the process, according to Deacon Stephan Phelps, who led the revision process.

He hopes to find more people in parishes to serve as “auditors” and “advocates” for people seeking an annulment.

An auditor is someone who has been trained — during a one-day training session — to help people begin the process. They are there to help explain the process and provide pastoral support, Deacon Phelps said.

An advocate is someone who has been similarly trained to accompany the former couple throughout the process when there is a particularly complex case. Advocates also can help to ensure the rights of a former spouse when he or she chooses not to participate in the process, said Deacon Phelps.

“As good as the process is, there’s still that need to have someone explain it to you,” he said, noting that he sometimes serves as an advocate.

He and Dr. Patricia Norris, associate director of the Tribunal, “are recruiting in a very proactive way,” he said. “We need additional auditors and advocates with the aim of having at least one trained advocate or auditor in every parish within a year. That would be wonderful for our archdiocese.”

Deacon Phelps said he is training the 2012 class of deacons to serve in these roles. He is also hoping directors of religious education, pastors or other lay people in parishes will become involved.

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