The Rev. Msgr. Peter Paul Buchignani, P.A., J.C.L.


The staff of the tribunal mourn the death of our founding judicial vicar, Msgr. Peter Buchignani. Sent by the first Bishop of Memphis to study canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University, he returned to Memphis to establish the first tribunal for the young Diocese of Memphis. He was tirelessly committed to the pastoral service of the people of God who approached the tribunal. After his service as judicial vicar, he continued to serve as a judge and, until his death on October 17, 2023, he served as promoter of justice.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.


The tribunal is an extension of the Bishop’s judicial governance of the Diocese of Memphis.  Though the bishop himself is the primary judge in the Diocese, he usually entrusts this part of his ministry to the tribunal.  Our tribunal is staffed and assisted by priests, deacons, and lay persons trained in canon law together with their support staff.  All tribunal procedures are carried out in accordance with the 1983 Code of Canon Law and relevant Instructions from the Holy See.

Though the tribunal is competent in many legal matters, the primary work of our tribunal pertains to matrimonial matters, especially declarations of nullity (annulments).  The ministry of the tribunal is one part of the Church’s effort to offer healing and hope to those whose marriage has failed.  The tribunal investigates these situations to determine whether, in certain instances, the parties may be free to remarry in the Catholic Church.

Faithful to Catholic doctrine, we maintain the innate dignity of marriage and the inviolability of the bond of marriage.  At the same time, we live in an imperfect society in which divorce is a common reality.  In accord with Canon Law, all previously married individuals (Catholic or not) have the right to seek clarification of the canonical status of their previous marriage(s).

By decree of the Apostolic Signatura, the tribunal also serves as a Court of Second Instance (Appeal) for matrimonial cases from the tribunal of the Diocese of Knoxville.

We hope that the following information will help you to become acquainted with our ministry on behalf of the Church. 

To apply for a formal case or a prior bond case, please click on the “Applications” tab below.

Applications for the Pauline Privilege and Lack of Form are not, strictly speaking, tribunal matters.  To apply for Pauline Privilege or Lack of Form, please go to the Chancellor page and click on the “Applications for Matrimonial Processes” tab.

For Prenuptial Investigation Forms, Dispensation Requests, Sanations, etc., go to the Chancellor page.

Diocesan Bishop
Most Rev. David P. Talley, M.S.W., J.C.D.

Judicial Vicar
Very Rev. James M. Clark, J.C.L.

Rev. Msgr. James J. Ramacciotti, J.C.L.
Very Rev. James M. Clark, J.C.L., J.V.
Rev. Timothy Ferguson, J.C.L.
Mrs. Anna Lynn, J.C.L.
Prof. Michael-Andreas Nobel, J.C.L., Ph.D.

Defender of the Bond
Mrs. Ashley Subler, J.C.L.

Promoter of Justice
Rev. Carlos Donato da Silva, J.C.L.

Rev. Charles A. Bauer
Mrs. Cindy Ettingoff, J.D.

Rev. Carlos Donato da Silva, J.C.L.
Rev. J. Antonio Romo Romo, S.V.D.
Rev. Dennis Schenkel
Rev. Robert J. Stellini
Deacon Ernie Albonetti
Deacon Michael Blome
Deacon Mick Hovanec
Deacon William Lifsey
Deacon Frank Williams
Ms. Nilda Barea
Mr. James Brewster
Prof. Chris Brown, Ph.D.
Mrs. Angela “Po” Canale, J.D.
Mrs. Charmiane Claxton, J.D.
Mr. Paul Dooley
Mr. Joaquin Espadas
Mrs. Cindy Ettingoff, J.D.
Mrs. Laurie Lewandowski
Mr. Derek Rotty
Mr. David Woods
Ms. Colombia Ydrovo

Moderator of the Tribunal Chancery
Ms. Lynn Cozart


Phone: (901) 373-1200

Fax: (901) 373-1268

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