Pope Francis attends a special audience with members of the Parish Evangelisation Cell System in Paul VI hall at the Vatican September 5, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile Pope Francis has made the annulment process faster, simpler and cost-free for Catholic married couples looking to invalidate their marriage. The letters from the Vatican detailing the new rules were sent to Catholic churches around the world yesterday.
Previously, annulment approval required two church tribunals. This process usually took years to finish and included huge legal and tribunal fees. The new law changes this to only requiring the judgment of a bishop especially for more obvious cases like those with medical certificate proofs. The Pope has also ordered that, as much as possible, the entire annulment process be free of charge. The Church can annul a marriage on these grounds among others: a spouse’s lack of faith, a spouse’s lack of psychological maturity, a forced marriage by means of violence, a lack of a desire to have children, hiding infidelities or a grave contagious disease, and a medical proof of an abortion. The Pope reiterates that the new regulations aren’t meant to help dissolve marriages or support divorce. The reform is aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process so that the faithful can find justice, he said. According to Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Vatican appeals court, the changes are the biggest reform to annulment rules in 300 years since the papacy of Benedict XIV in the 1740s and 50s. “With this fundamental law, Francis has now launched the true start of his reform,” said Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Vatican appeals court. “He is putting the poor at the center — that is the divorced, remarried who have been held at arms’ length — and asking for bishops to have a true change of heart.” The changes are the biggest reform to annulment rules in 300 years since the papacy of Benedict XIV in the 1740s and 50s, he said. Last week, the Pope has also changed the rules regarding the granting of absolution for women who have had abortions. He had also garnered attention for his less judgmental attitude toward homosexuality. The Pope has spoken repeatedly of the need to show mercy and understanding towards fellow Catholics struggling to live by the Church’s rules.
Sources: Sept. 9, 2015. "Pope makes it easier for Catholics to annul marriages". rappler.com Sept. 9, 2015. "Pope speeds up, simplifies process for marriage annulments". inquirer.net Sept. 9, 2015. "Pope radically simplifies Catholic marriage annulment procedures". yahoo.com