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Pope's reforms of annulment process are now in effect

December 11, 2015

The reforms to the annulment process that Pope Francis announced in September have taken effect with the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

On December 7, on the eve of the formal opening of the Jubilee, the Pontiff signed a canonical document—as rescriptum ex audientia-- to implement and order compliance with the new rules on granting annulments. In a December 11 statement, the Vatican announced:

The entry into force-– which happily coincides with the Jubilee of Mercy-– of the apostolic letters in the form of motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus of 15 August 2015, given to bring justice and mercy on the truth of the bond to those who have experienced the failure of their marriage, necessitates among other things the need to harmonize the renewed procedures for marriage annulment with the regulations of the Roman Rota, awaiting their reform.

The Vatican statement went on to say that the reformed annulment procedures “are intended precisely to show the Church's closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many who experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ's healing work through ecclesiastical structures, in the hope that they may again discover themselves to be God's missionaries to their brethren, for the good of the institution of the family.”

Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, the dean of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, explained the new papal document in an article that appeared in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Remarking on the number of Catholics who find themselves in difficulty because of marital irregularities, he wrote: “If the community can prove itself to be welcoming to these people, in various situations of life, and clearly present the truth about marriage, it will help these faithful to come to a decision in favor of sacramental marriage.”


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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Dec. 13, 2015 10:05 AM ET USA

    "[H]elp[ing] these faithful to come to a decision in favor of sacramental marriage” is a lovely ideal, but I'm afraid that the reality will more likely be the rubber-stamping of Declarations of Nullity and of the convalidation of second marriages.