Pope Francis has sped up the process by which Catholics can obtain marriage annulments, reducing the number of courts and judges, dropping automatic appeals, and making the process free.
The pope’s major overhaul of the Church’s system for granting annulments, announced Tuesday, is designed to streamline the process out of “concern for the salvation of souls” while maintaining Catholicism’s traditional ban on divorce.
An annulment is a finding by a Church court that a union between a man and a woman, even if it was ratified with a Church wedding, was not a real marriage because it didn’t meet one of the traditional tests for validity, such as informed consent.
Under the rules, Catholics whose relationships break down and who wish to marry someone else in the Church must first obtain an annulment. Critics have complained that the process is overly lengthy and complicated, and in some places, too expensive.
The pontiff decreed that the annulment process will be free of charge, and that every diocese in the world has the responsibility of naming a judge or a church tribunal to process requests, with the possibility of the bishops acting as judges.
The changes were presented in Rome this Tuesday, in the form of two motu proprio. The documents were signed by Francis Aug. 15. They will take effect Dec. 8, the first day of the Holy Year of Mercy. The new process was suggested to the pope by an 11-member commission he created to work on a simplification of annulment procedures. It was led by Italian Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, the main canon law court in Rome dealing with marriage cases.
At a Vatican news conference Tuesday, Pinto said the Church’s “sacramental theology” of marriage remains unchanged, but that the reform responds to the pope’s desire to have a more collegial Church, with bishops helping in Church governance as called for by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
Pinto said Francis is “putting great trust and confidence in the diocesan bishops,” adding that the new process won’t be an easy one, and referred to the “solemn responsibility of the bishops” to prevent abuses. (Read more.)
Via A Conservative Blog for Peace. Share