Pope Francis announces revisions to process by which Catholics may annul marriages
“Some procedures are so long and so burdensome,” Pope said in 2014, “and people give up”
In the U.S., 28% of Catholic marriages end in divorce, according to General Social Survey
The three main changes are:
• Eliminating a second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.
• Giving bishops the ability to fast-track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances — for example, when spousal abuse or an extramarital affair has occurred.
• The process should be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days.
The Pope’s reforms came Tuesday in the form of two “motu proprio” documents, Latin for “by (the Pope’s) own initiative.” They become part of Catholic canon law on December 8, the beginning of Francis’ declared “Year of Mercy.”
While Francis reaffirmed the “indissolubility of the marriage bond,” he also said in Tuesday’s documents that “charity and mercy demand that the Church, as mother, be close to her children who consider themselves separated.”
In the end, the church’s many laws and institutions must be aimed at one chief purpose, the Pope said — “the salvation of souls.”
One prominent Catholic priest called Tuesday’s announcement “an act of mercy from a pastoral Pope who listens carefully to the concerns of the people.”
‘People give up’
Francis has said that obtaining annulments can be too onerous, dragging on for years and costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
“Some procedures are so long and so burdensome,” the pontiff said in 2014, “and people give up.”
Here’s what one former Catholic had to say: “25 years ago this would have changed my life. They wanted $8000 to process my husband’s annulment! I’m a Jew now,” Desirée O’Clair tweeted.
That sentiment is supported by statistics.
Just 61% of African Catholics seeking annulments in 2012 completed the process, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. In the more wealthy Western world, where Catholics can afford to hire canon lawyers, 86% received annulments.
“This is not because tribunals in Africa were more likely than those in the Americas to rule contrary to nullity,” the center said in its analysis. “It is more a reflection of more people seeking annulments in Africa than in the Americas not completing the annulment process.”
In the United States, 28% …Read More