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New papal commission appointed to streamline annulment process

September 22, 2014

Pope Francis has appointed a special commission to study a possible simplification of the process of obtaining marriage annulments.

The Vatican announced on September 22 that the Pope had asked the commission to “focus on the preparation of a proposal for the reform of the marriage annulment process, seeking to simplify and streamline the procedure, while safeguarding the principle of the indissoluble nature of marriage.”

The Vatican press office said that Pope Francis had made the decision to institute this special commission nearly a month ago. The announcement, however, came just two weeks before the opening of an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops. Questions about annulment and remarriage have dominated public discussions in the weeks leading up to the Synod meeting.

The special commission will be chaired by Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, the dean of the tribunal of the Roman Rota. The bishops on the commission are Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (which is the Vatican’s top body for canon-law issues); Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladario, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which handles doctrinal issues); and Bishop Dimitri Salachas of the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church. The remaining members of the commission are officials of Vatican canonical tribunals and experts on canon law.

The Vatican announcement indicated that the commission has been asked to begin its work as soon as possible.


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  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 24, 2014 10:30 AM ET USA

    The previous Popes have openly criticized the annulment process as being "streamlined" too much. On the other hand, it may be a good time to take a fresh look at it and possibly remove any unnecessary items. IMO, the mandatory appeal must stay, even though it is pure formality.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 23, 2014 9:23 AM ET USA

    It has already been streamlined, as seen in the explosion of annulments during the last few decades. In fact, it was so streamlined that Benedict had to speak to the Roman Rota about using more caution when invalidating marriages. I wish the commission well.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Sep. 22, 2014 9:35 PM ET USA

    Aren't they streamlined already?Weren't annulment mills a problem that the Rota was cracking down on and past Popes have criticized? The danger is "Catholic divorce" being called annulments.The other danger is to come up with some kind of internal forum process based on the subjective convictions of the individuals which has been rejected in the past by Rome. A judicial process requires judges, taking testimony, witnesses etc. This makes me very uneasy with the US still the annulment champion

  • Posted by: Dr. - Sep. 22, 2014 8:59 PM ET USA

    Posted by MAL A primary issue the Church should be considering at the Synod next month for Catholic families is how to prevent divorce in Catholic marriages rather than attempting to facilitate the process of ending the sacred sacrament of marriage by annulment, especially since most marital conflicts can be resolved.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Sep. 22, 2014 6:50 PM ET USA

    Respected canonist Edward Peters posted an analysis on his blog at It is helpful in that he identifies ways the annulment process can be streamlined, such as doing away with the mandatory appeal to another tribunal, while explaining the impossibilities of other suggestions.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Sep. 22, 2014 2:23 PM ET USA

    For some reason I suspect that streamlining the annulment process means cranking out annulments faster and more generously.