Tribunal Administrator Sharon Ellis, said: “Lay auditors are people who have been specially trained to take statements from witnesses in marriage nullity cases. This work is quite sporadic, and there may be times when there is no work for many months, however, there can be times when an auditor is called upon once or twice a month. Due to Covid-19 we have found ourselves quite short in several areas of the diocese.
“If there are a few auditors in any particular area, then of course, the work can be spread out. We always try to keep the interviews local to the auditor, but if they are willing to travel, up to, say 20 or 30 miles, that would be really helpful. Travel and other expenses will be reimbursed by the Diocese.
“The ideal lay auditor will have ‘good conduct, prudence and a basic knowledge of Christian marriage; its nature and its properties, etc. and of the procedural rules involved in the trial, for which training is given, and preserve complete confidentiality concerning the facts learnt in their work.’ We would be looking for people with a background supporting these qualities,” said Sharon.
The Marriage Tribunal is staffed by the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese, Fr Simon Blakesley (a Parish Priest within the Diocese) working one day a week in the Marriage Tribunal Office, supported by Tribunal Administrator Sharon, who works Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm.
The Marriage Tribunal’s role is to process marriage annulment applications. The granting of a declaration of nullity allows a divorced Catholic to re-marry in the Catholic Church, or for a Catholic to marry a divorced non-Catholic. In some circumstances, it allows for someone to seek reception into the Catholic Church. Over the years, the work of the lay auditors has contributed immensely in enabling many individuals to take a full part in the life of the church.
Training is provided and there is usually an annual auditors’ training/refresher day in the Diocese. If you express an interest in becoming an auditor, you will be teamed up with an experienced auditor who will guide you through what is involved and take you along as an observer to see what happens when they interview a witness.
The Tribunal provides an Auditors’ handbook as well as sample documents and information about the nullity process for your reference. When you feel confident, the Tribunal Administrator will send you the necessary information so that you can interview a witness yourself.
There is more information about the Marriage Tribunal on the Diocesan website here, including more detailed information about “The Nomination and Interviewing of Witnesses” in the section “Guide to Nullity”.
If you might be interested in finding out more about the role of lay auditor please contact Sharon Ellis, the Tribunal Administrator at The White House, 21 Upgate, Poringland, Norwich, NR14 7SH, Telephone 01508 495168 between 9am and 1pm Monday to Friday, or email email@example.com.
Pictured above is Marriage Tribunal Administrator Sharon Ellis.