Pope Francis has reformed the Roman Catholic Church’s cumbersome procedures for marriage annulments, a decision keenly awaited by many couples around the world who have divorced and remarried outside the Church.
The Vatican said on Monday that the pope had written a document known as a Motu Proprio, Latin for “by his own initiative”, that changes the way Catholics get annulments.
The move is the latest in a series of reforms by Francis as he seeks to make the church more responsive to the real needs of lay Catholics, especially those who have long felt marginalized by the hierarchy. Without the annulments, Catholics who remarry are not allowed to receive Holy Communion, which many describe as a painful exclusion from the church’s chief sacrament.
The three main changes announced on Tuesday are are:
• Eliminating a second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.
• Giving bishops the ability to fast-track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances — for example, when spousal abuse or an extramarital affair has occurred.
• The process should be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days.
What is very good news for many, might be bad news for the priests and many lawyers in the Catholic tribunals.
We hope that the new laws about marriage annulments will be applied soon, to releive so many couples from the burden of a very expensive procedure, that most of the times is unfair, and leads to years of suffering for kids and parents.