| Year 1998 Canonical Studies
TOWARDS AN INDIAN MATRIMONIAL JURISPRUDENCE: FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TRIBAL MARRIAGES
(Fr. Jos de Cuyper)
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HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

If today the Canon Law Society of India can with genuine pride look back at ten years of steady growth, resulting in a membership of 160 canonists, the merits go no doubt to the vision and inspiring leadership of Oswald Cardinal Gracias, and his team of close collaborators. To this can be added that the way had been prepared ten years earlier, when the Bombay Archdiocese hosted two courses in Canon law in 1977 at the same venue where today the 10th General Conference of the Canon Law Society of India has been held, St. Pius X Seminary, Goregaon.

The idea of these courses was conceived by the writer of this note, when he attended the annual course on Marriage Jurisprudence at the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1975. Father Gerald Taylor WF, professor at the Regional Seminary of Tabora, Tanzania, was a participant, already known for this wide experience of Marriage Tribunals in mission lands. Hence Rev. Eustace D’Lima, the then secretary of Valerian Cardinal Gracias, invited Fr. G. Taylor to conduct a course from January 30 till February 25, 1977. There were sixty participants hailing form 29 dioceses in India. Fr. G. Taylor was ably assisted by Mgr. W. Nazareth, Vicar General of Bombay and the undersigned. Fr. Bernard Rodricks saw to all other needs. The success of this course prompted the organization of a second course from 11 to 20 July the same year, with 49 participants from 28 dioceses. Two eminent canonists Fr. Peter Huizing s.j., relator of the subcommission on marriage preparing the new code, and Mgr. Jose M. Serrano Ruiz, Rotal judge, lectured respectively on the draft of the new code and on ‘Values in the Formation of Christian Marriage’ (Vidyajyoti, 1978, pp. 150).

During these courses reports of 43 dioceses gave some idea of the functioning of marriage tribunals in India at that time. Only 19 were functioning, having 43 qualified personnel and handling an average of 37 nullity and 27 non-consummation cases per year. It dawned on all how inadequate was the functioning of the tribunals; care and concern for numerous irregular situations, in which for many relief could be offered in accordance with law, was actually inexistent. Consequently the participants made the following recommendations to the CBCI.

- The need of training adequate qualified personnel;

- The setting up of Interdiocesan/Regional Tribunals, which would serve dioceses without personnel;

- The organizing of similar training sessions on an all-India or regional level.

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