In a decree dated April 10, Bishop Richard F. Stika announced his intent to establish a marriage tribunal for the Diocese of Knoxville by July 2020.
Bishop Stika has said the diocese is now large enough to handle its own marriage cases and should form its own tribunal to review them. Since its founding in 1988, the diocese has been considered too small to form and maintain its own tribunal and has taken its marriage cases to the Diocese of Nashville Marriage Tribunal for review and adjudication.
Father David Carter, who is rector of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga and is a canon lawyer for the diocese, has been asked to work with Bishop Stika in forming the tribunal.
According to Bishop Stika’s decree:
“Whereas, a Tribunal interprets and applies the laws of the Church in the protection and vindication of rights as well as the determination of the status of persons in the Church; and
“Whereas, the Diocese of Knoxville since 1988 has enjoyed the favor of an indult from the Apostolic Signatura that all of our marriage cases be tried in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Nashville; and
“Whereas, the aforementioned arrangement has proven appropriate and suitable over the many years and has allowed us as a smaller diocese to benefit from the resources of our mother diocese; and
“Whereas, the Diocese of Knoxville has grown, and in light of the expectations of Canon Law, especially considering the Holy Father’s recent legislation concerning marriage law, I desire to establish my own tribunal for all causes in the first instance in accordance with universal law and with the direction of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; and
“Whereas, it is my intention to establish a Tribunal by July of 2020:
“Through this decree, I hereby entrust Rev. J. David Carter, JCL, vice chancellor of canonical affairs, with the task of coordination with the Signatura and myself as the future Bishop Moderator of the Tribunal, in preparing all the preliminary requirements for the Tribunal’s establishment. This assignment includes: identifying and mentoring judges, advocates, defenders of the bond, and office support personnel; providing operation budget and other administrative duties as appropriate to the Tribunal establishment.”