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Ecclesiastical tribunals are established in the Church for judging cases regarding spiritual matters.
This means they are established for the purpose of allowing the pursuit or vindication of ecclesial rights of persons, for the declaration of juridic facts or for the determination of culpability in ecclesiastical crimes and the imposition or declaration of penalties for such crimes.
Marriage nullity cases are in the category of declaration of a juridic fact (i.e., was the marriage invalid or not?).
Sometimes controversies arise concerning acts of administration such as is the case with employment issues. These cases can only be brought before the superior of the one involved in the controverted act of administration.
Tribunals are involved in causes of beatification or canonization according to special pontifical laws regulating those causes.
In these causes, tribunals interview witnesses concerning the reputation of holiness as well as obtain the testimony of those whose task it is to read all of the writings of the person whose cause is being pursued. Likewise, if a miracle is alleged, the tribunal, usually with a medical doctor present, interviews all those who can give information about the miracle including the one who was allegedly healed.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Tribunal has been involved in investigating a miracle for canonization attributed to Blessed Mother Theodore Guèrin.
Further, on September 12, 2005, the Tribunal became involved in the archdiocesan phase in the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, Bishop Simon Bruté, the first bishop of the Diocese of Vincennes, the predecessor diocese of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.