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Canon Law and Tribunal

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Canon Law and Tribunal

Canon law mandates that every diocese has a Department of Canon Law to assist the Bishop in the administration of justice to diocesan subjects in a timely manner.  Accordingly, the Diocese of Oakland has had a Canon Law department since its creation in 1962. This office functions as the local church's legal department of religious affairs. Our purpose is two-fold: the first is to safeguard the rights of all Catholics in the diocese, from Bishop to catechumen.  The second is to act as a trial court for contentious cases referred to it by the Bishop. Most of these cases are concerning marriage annulments; however, the Department of Canon Law is also competent to hear penal cases involving the diocesan bishop and his subjects. Because it is a duly constituted court, it also has the ability to have cases referred to it by the Holy See.

The department head of Canon Law is called the Judicial Vicar and is usually assisted by an Adjutant Judicial Vicar, judges, defenders of the bond, and notaries.  The department is proud to have currently five judges and five notaries to assist the nearly 500 marriage cases a year that are processed. In addition to processing marriage annulments - and keeping the fees as low as possible - the Canon Law department is always available to answer questions from the public regarding church law (and speak to parish and other groups) as well as be a resource to the Bishop and other diocesan officials. It grants certain dispensations in the name of the Bishop and faculties to visiting clergy. It also processes documentary and "young marriage cases."

The Diocese of Oakland was established as a Court of Second Instance, which, while a part of the structure of the present tribunal, is competent to hear and confirm at appellate level the work of three local diocesan tribunals.

Department of Canon Law/Diocesan Tribunal

2121 Harrison St., Suite 100
Oakland, CA  94612
Phone: 510-267-8330
Fax: 510-836-0611
[email protected]


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