Catholic World News News Feature
Pope, In Address To US Bishops, Blasts Number Of Annulments October 19, 1998
VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II, meeting with a delegation of US bishops on Saturday, expressed his dissatisfaction with the number of annulments being granted to Catholics. US Catholics receives a disproportionately greater number of annulments each year.
In audience with bishops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, the Holy Father said that annulments should be a last resort. "The indissolubility of marriage is a teaching that comes from Christ himself," he said, "and the first duty of pastors and pastoral workers is therefore to help couples overcome whatever difficulties arise. The referral of matrimonial cases to the tribunal should be a last resort."
The Pontiff also warned that easy availability of annulments could cause the faithful to misunderstand a declaration of nullity as "divorce under a different name." He also affirmed that the tribunal judge must be convinced of the "moral certainty" of the existence of the nullity, and not just the probability that it exists.
He also said that, when determining if a psychological problem rendered a person incapable of contracting a valid marriage, the tribunal must make use of a psychiatrist or psychologist "who shares a Christian anthropology in accordance with the Church's understanding of the human person."