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Streamlined annulment process should allow bishop’s decision after one hearing, Pope says

November 27, 2017

In a November 25 address to participants in a course on annulment procedures, sponsored by the Roman Rota, Pope Francis said that the new streamlined procedure for annulments in special cases should “typically be concluded in one session.”

The Pope stressed that these cases can only be decided by a diocesan bishop. “The streamlined process is not an option that the diocesan bishop can choose,” he said, “but rather an obligation that derives from his consecration and from the missio received. In these cases, the Pontiff explained, the bishop himself should hear the “absolute evidence of the facts proving the alleged nullity of the marriage, as well as the consent of both spouses.”

Pope Francis introduced the streamlined annulment procedure in September 2015, to allow for quick handling of cases in which the argument for the nullity of a marriage is clear and convincing. Although he unveiled the change before the first of two meetings of the Synod of Bishops devoted to marriage, he said that the canonical changes that he instituted were the result of synodal government of the universal Church. “These two acts,” he said, referring to his September 2015 decrees, “have arisen from a synodal context, they are the expression of a synodal method, and they are the arrival point of a serious synodal path.”


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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Dec. 02, 2017 2:42 PM ET USA

    "missio" sounds strange to this Latin reader's ear. Does the Pope really want to "send forth" the successors to the apostles to declare sacraments null?

  • Posted by: filioque - Nov. 28, 2017 5:38 PM ET USA

    As it is unlikely that many bishops will take on this burden, perhaps this is the Holy Spirit's way of preventing the obvious abuse of two people who want out of a marriage practically judging their own case. And it borders on fatuity to claim that the changes resulted from synodality, as neither bishops, nor the synod, nor even the relevant Curial offices were consulted.

  • Posted by: phil L - Nov. 28, 2017 8:36 AM ET USA

    When this procedure is used, Pope Francis specifically stated that the bishop CANNOT delegate his authority.

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 28, 2017 8:09 AM ET USA

    I am afraid that in reality very few bishops would be willing to get personally involved in annulment cases. They are most likely to delegate someone else, especially in large dioceses.