International

Pope expedites, eases process for marriage annulments

Pope Francis radically reformed the Catholic Church’s process for annulling marriages on Tuesday, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.

Pope Francis radically reformed the Catholic Church’s process for annulling marriages on Tuesday, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.  

Allows for fast-track decisions and removes automatic appeals.

Pope Francis radically reformed the Catholic Church’s process for annulling marriages on Tuesday, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.

The Pope has issued a new law regulating how bishops around the world determine when a fundamental flaw has made a marriage invalid. Catholics must get this church annulment if they want to remarry in the church.

Hitherto, a complicated process

But the process has long been criticised for being complicated, costly and out of reach for many Catholics, especially in poor countries where dioceses don’t have marriage tribunals.

In the document, the Pope insisted that marriage remained an indissoluble union and that the new regulations were not meant to help to end them. Rather, he said, the reform was aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process so that the faithful could find justice.

“Aim: salvation of souls”

The overall aim of the reform, he said, “is the salvation of souls.”

The biggest reform involves a new fast-track procedure, handled by a bishop, that can be used when both spouses request an annulment or don’t oppose it. It can also be used when other proof makes a more drawn-out investigation unnecessary. It calls for the process to be completed within 45 days.

Appeals no longer automatic

Another reform is the removal of the automatic appeal after the first decision is made. Appeals are still possible, but they are no longer automatic a simplification that has been used in the United States for many years.

The reform also allows the local bishop, in places where a three-judge tribunal isn’t available, to be the judge himself or to delegate the handling of the cases to a single priest-judge with two assistants.

That measure is aimed at providing Catholic couples with recourse to annulments in poorer parts of the world, or places where the Catholic Church doesn’t have the resources or manpower to have fully functioning tribunals.

Waiver of fees

The Pope also called for the fees to be waived, except for the “just” payment of tribunal personnel.

Catholics have long complained that it can take years to get an annulment, if they can get one at all. Costs can reach into hundreds or thousands of dollars for legal and tribunal fees.

Without the annulment, divorced Catholics who remarry outside the church are considered to be adulterers living in sin and are forbidden from receiving Communion a dilemma at the core of a current debate roiling the church.

Justice for all

The Pope had already called for annulments to be free, saying all Catholics have the right to justice from the church. He has also said the church should take into account that ignorance of the faith could be a reason to declare a marriage invalid.

The Pope has previously quoted his predecessor as Buenos Aires archbishop as saying half of the marriages that are celebrated are essentially invalid because people enter into them not realising that matrimony is a lifelong commitment.

Norms attached to the new law say that the “lack of faith” can be a cause for an annulment.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 1:12:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pope-expedites-eases-process-for-marriage-annulments/article7629538.ece

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