Faculty of Canon Law
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Graduate Diploma in Marriage Law and Procedures

For the Winter and Spring 2023 academic terms (January - May 2023), the Faculty of Canon Law announces a Graduate Diploma in Canonical Practice (GDCP) with a specialization in Marriage Law and Procedures. To accommodate participants who retain their regular employment, the diploma offers courses both at a distance and on campus.

Typically, persons interested in acquiring university education in canon law over a short period of time already hold a position of responsibility and cannot be excused from their professional obligations for several years or months at a time. 

This diploma is intended for those who serve in tribunal ministry, or are preparing for such ministry – particularly as auditors, procurators, advocates, notaries, tribunal directors.  The courses study the Church’s substantive and procedural marriage law.  The diploma culminates in a seminar on tribunal practice which integrates and complements the preceding courses.

In keeping with the focus of the Faculty of Canon Law, the courses intend to convey both a complete understanding of the canons and their practical application.

Admission applications should be submitted online here. For more information, schedule a meeting with one of our professors or email canonlaw@ustpaul.ca.


Admission Requirements*

Prospective participants must hold an honours baccalaureate, or provide evidence of an equivalent program, with an average grade of at least “B”. Typically, participants must have 18 unitsin theology or religious studies. A basic understanding of canon law is required. The Faculty of Canon Law reserves the right to assess individual applications and stipulate specific prerequisites for a concentration or a course, or to waive one or more prerequisites in view of the candidate’s proven pastoral or professional experience.

*To see the official admission requirements for the Graduate Diploma in Canonical Practice, please visit our program pages. The requirements listed above are subject to change, while the program structure offered below is proposed for the sake of this specialization. 


Structure of the Program

The program consists of 15 units of university course work.

7.5 units offered at a distance during Winter term 2023 (January-April) 7.5 units offered during the Spring term, including a two-week session on campus (April-May)
DCA 5130 Matrimonial Law (3 u.)
Canonical notion of marriage. Marriage preparation.  Impediments: in general and specific. Matrimonial consent.  Canonical form.  Mixed marriages. Marriages celebrated secretly. Effects of marriage. (cc. 1055-1140)
DCA 5135 Matrimonial Jurisprudence (3 u.)
A study of jurisprudence focusing on the grounds of nullity of matrimonial consent, with special focus on the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota.

DCA 5138 Special Matrimonial
Cases and Procedures (1.5 u.)
Separation of the spouses with the dissolution of the marriage bond (dissolution of ratified and non-consummated marriages, dissolution in virtue of the Pauline privilege, dissolution in favour of the faith).  Separation of the spouses with the bond remaining. Convalidation of marriage. Procedure in presumed death of a spouse. (cc. 1141-1165, 1692-1707)
DCA 6321 Seminar on Tribunal Practice (3 u.)
Jurisprudence. Practical application: introduction of a marriage nullity case, instruction, conclusion, decision, appeal. Drafting of decrees, advocate’s pleas, remarks of the defender of the bond, sentences.
DCA 6114 Procedures II (3 u.)
Introduction of a case: the libellus, citation and notification of judicial acts.  Joinder of the issue.
Trial of litigation. Proofs. Incidental cases. Publication of the acts.  Conclusion of the case.  Discussion of the case.  Pronouncements of the judge. Challenge of the sentence: complaint of nullity, appeal. Res iudicata and Restitutio in integrum.  Judicial expenses and gratuitous legal assistance. Execution of the sentence. The documentary process for marriage cases. (cc. 1501-1655, 1678-1691)

 DCA 6363 Special Problems: Psychology and Matrimonial Consent (1.5 u.)
This course is especially designed for canonists and tribunal practitioners. From the standpoint of a Christian anthropology, it considers the psychological aspects of the human person, especially one’s capacity to discern the choice of life-long marriage, and to assume its essential obligations.


Diploma Completion Requirements

To receive the diploma participants must have successfully completed all six courses. Adult educational methods will be used to assess knowledge.


Unit Transfers

The 15 unitsof the Graduate Diploma in Canonical Practice are graduate units in canon law. They can later be applied to degrees offered at Saint Paul University: Masters in Canon Law (M.C.L.) and Licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.).

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