• Annulment now simpler


    Pope makes it easier for Catholics to end marriages

     Pope Francis AFP PHOTO

    Pope Francis AFP PHOTO

    VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis wants to make it easier for Catholics to have their marriages annulled under reforms regarded with suspicion by conservatives wary of the de facto introduction of Church-approved divorce.

    Details of significant reforms of a system that critics including Francis himself have attacked as needlessly bureaucratic, expensive and unfair were due to be unveiled Tuesday with the publication of letters on the issue from the pope to Catholic churches across the world.

    According to a Catholic Herald report the reforms, which could potentially affect thousands of Catholics worldwide, aim to simplify and speed up annulment procedures.

    The reforms are contained in two documents known as motu proprios, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (“The Meek Judge, The Lord Jesus”) and Mitis et misericors Iesus (“The Meek and Merciful Jesus”).

    They remove the requirement for an automatic review of all annulment cases and permit local bishops to declare the nullity of marriage under certain conditions.

    The new streamlined proposal will come into effect on December 8, the start of Year of Mercy and the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II.

    Vatican experts in canon, or religious, law have spent the last year studying how the system could be streamlined without undermining the principle that marriage is for life.

    That is one of the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith, albeit one at odds with the reality that, across much of the industrialized world, divorce is commonplace even amongst believers.

    Church doctrine does make allowance for unions to be effectively cancelled, subject to certain conditions.

    Essentially a church tribunal must rule that the marriage was fundamentally flawed from the outset and that ruling must then be upheld by a second tribunal.

    Possible justifications for reaching this conclusion include the marriage having never been consumated, one or both partners having entered into it without the intention of staying in the relationship, or one of the partners having no desire to have children.

    Alcohol and drug dependency can also be taken into consideration when a tribunal decides whether a marriage can be annulled.

    In practice, the process of securing an annulment is frequently extremely lengthy.

    In many parts of the developing world, dioceses simply do not have annulment tribunals.

    And where they do exist, many ordinary Catholics cannot afford to employ the expert help needed to guide them through the arcane procedures required to secure the necessary approval.

    Living in sin
    Francis has repeatedly expressed the wish that the system should be free and made equally accessible for rich and poor believers.

    Ideas under discussion include abolishing the need for a second church court to review and uphold an annulment.

    The experts have also discussed making it easier for Catholics married to non-believers to obtain annulments on the grounds of their partner’s lack of faith.

    For centuries there has been a perception throughout the Catholic community that annulments are more easily obtained by the wealthy and powerful.

    In one of the most controversial cases of recent decades, Princess Caroline of Monaco obtained the annulment of her first marriage, to Frenchman Philippe Junot, in 1992, leaving her free to remarry in the Church.

    The Church justified that decision on the grounds that one of the two parties had not fully accepted the responsibilities of marriage and that therefore the union had not been properly constituted.

    Without an annulment, a Catholic who divorces and remarries is deemed to be living in sin and is unable to take communion.

    Critics say this exclusion of the divorced from the Church’s holiest sacrement is cruel and unfair given that murderers can take communion but a woman who seeks a divorce to escape a violent relationship cannot.

    The status of divorcees — along with the Church’s attitude to homosexual believers — is one of the difficult issues being considered as part of an ongoing review of Catholic teaching on the family.

    Bishops from around the world are due to congregate in Rome in October for a synod that will seek to reach a consensus on these issues before Francis decides what, if any, reforms will be made.



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    1. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      09 September 2015

      Pope Francis indeed is proving to be a breath of refreshing air as far as many of the benighted rules and even dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church are concerned.

      Now he is for reforming the church’s rules on the annulment of marriages to make it easier, under certain conditions, for a couple to secure an annulment, than has been the case for “ages.”

      Where right now the rules make it very difficult if not virtually impossible for poor couples to get an annulment, Pope Francis seeks to give those poor couples the “break” they need, but which the Church has denied them.


    2. “Critics say this exclusion of the divorced from the Church’s holiest sacrement is cruel and unfair given that murderers can take communion but a woman who seeks a divorce to escape a violent relationship cannot.”

      THIS IS INCORRECT, a divorced person whether man or woman is not ipso facto prohibited to receive communion simply because they opted out of marriage. The prohibition applies only when they remarry, without having been annulled first if ever that is possible.

      The Church acknowledges that it may be better for some people to opt out of marriage, however, should they divorce they cannot remarry and must remain single otherwise they will be considered as living in constant state of sin.

      As to reception of communion by a repentant murderer is in no way comparable to a re-married divorced person for the latter is committing a continuing sin, By contracting a second marriage.

      To love and being compassionate does not mean accepting and tolerating a sin,. “This is the law since the beginning, it was because of the hardheadedness of man that Moses allowed it, said Jesus…

      • DIVORCE LAW should be passed for Plipinas. It is not the CBCP that is preventing Pinoys and Pinays from getting the marriages ended, it is the civil courts. And Moros of Pilipinas have divorce. Gobyerno-Pilipinas not passing the divorce law is nuts! Gobyerno-PIlipinas should pass the divorce law.

    3. Introducing new ruling like divorce to the supposed to be Devine law of Catholic Christianity only justifies that the new Bible is man made.. No longer Devine.. Like the Quran. No single letter is/was never introduced or deleted.. Justified it’s holiness…. No man including the Pope has no right to alter the bible or any Devine revelation…

      • Man of NoFaith on

        ” . . .Like the Quran” ?. . . You may question its divinity but Islam has divorce . . .

      • Bonifacio Claudio on

        In the Holy Scriptures, they talk about Monarchies, Kingdoms, Kings… Now almost all of us talk of Democracy, Nations, Presidents/PMs… If all the high priests of all religions could come together to elect a President or its equivalent, then that might bring about the brotherhood of all mankind… What say you…

      • Bonifacio Claudio on

        Legalize divorce — With the blessings of the Church, the Legislators will have no more fear to — Legalize divorce… No more excuses… The eunuch Legislators got their balls now — Diosdado (God-given)…

      • There is no point of comparison for annulment and divorce. It is not hypocrisy simply they are not the same. Divorce acknowledges a valid marriage, while annulment acknowledges the incompleteness of a marriage thereby making it void ab initio. A valid marriage cannot be annulled under the canon law.