Pope Benedict XVI has urged church tribunals to work harder to encourage couples to stay married and not resort to granting annulments “at all costs.”

An annulment is the process by which the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place. Many Catholics seek them so they can remarry in the church and receive Communion.

Pope Benedict told members of the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that decides marriage annulments, that they shouldn’t confuse “pastoral charity” in granting annulments with their need to uphold church law.

The Vatican’s concern largely is directed at the United States, which in 2006 had more annulment cases launched than the rest of the world combined.

More In: International | News