Catholic World News

Pope Francis: annulment changes were intended to render speedier judgment

March 14, 2016

Recent changes in annulment procedures were designed to eliminate “difficulties in obtaining access to the ecclesial legal structures,” Pope Francis told 700 participants in a formation course held by the tribunal of the Roman Rota.

Following the end of a marriage, many of the faithful are “oppressed by the doubt whether it was valid or not,” Pope Francis said on March 12 in the Paul VI Audience Hall. “That is, they ask if there was also something in the intentions or facts that may have impeded the effective realization of the sacrament.”

“Charity and mercy, as well as reflection on experience, have led the Church to draw increasingly close to these children of hers, to meet their legitimate desire for justice,” he continued. The procedural changes—“ the double conforming judgment was abolished and the so-called streamlined process has been created, restoring the figure and the role of the diocesan bishop, or the eparch in the case of the oriental Churches, to the center as judge of the cases”—were thus designed to provide a “rapid verification of their marital situation.”

“What we have most at heart regarding separated couples who are in another union is their participation in the ecclesial community,” Pope Francis said. “However, while we care for the wounds of those who seek ascertainment of the truth on their failed marriage, we look with admiration also to those who, even in difficult conditions, remain faithful to the sacramental bond. These witnesses to matrimonial fidelity must be encouraged and held up as examples to emulate.”

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  • Posted by: Leopardi - Mar. 14, 2016 7:44 PM ET USA

    The Pope is valiant in his attempts through mercy, justice and kindness to change Church doctrine which is morally untenable and, in fact, inconsistent with the words of Jesus Christ when taken broadly. There is no sin that God won't forgive through a proper penitential process and there is no sinner that He will not welcome back. Current policy amounts to a reprehensible "shunning" of these distressed brethren. Shame on us and God bless Francis.