Pope Francis Annulments: Reform To End Marriages Seen As Invalid By Church Now Simplified

A new marriage reform is given on Pope Francis’ take on annulments for Catholics.

USA Today reports that on Tuesday, the pope revealed a law that simplifies and speeds up the Catholic Church’s procedure for marriages getting an annulment. The new process will involve bishops handling everything quickly.

The annulment rules that a marriage isn’t valid because certain conditions aren’t being met by the partners, “such as free choice, psychological maturity, and willingness to have children.” Pope Francis’ annulments ruling is based on finding that a marriage was flawed in every way from the beginning and isn’t considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

Unless an annulment is processed, a Catholic who goes on to remarry is considered an adulterer and may not be allowed to participate in certain “sacraments,” such as Holy Communion.

As per the document on Pope Francis’ annulments decision, he still insists that a marriage “remains an indissoluble union and that the new regulations aren’t meant to help to end them. Rather, he said, the reform is aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process, especially for poorer people who cannot afford lawyers, so that the faithful can find justice.”

The pope’s overall objective in this reform “is the salvation of souls.” The process must be completed within 45 days. As it currently stands, annulments are reviewed by a series of so-called Church tribunals in the event of disagreement to a Vatican court, according to the report.

This has been criticized as being outdated and often takes too long for poorer couples to annul marriages. It’s especially hard for poor countries where dioceses don’t have marriage tribunals. Only 6 percent of the world’s Catholics are in the United Sates, but that’s where annulments rank the highest — at 60-percent.

Another provision in the new annulments law states that “lack of faith” can be a cause for ending a marriage that wasn’t valid to the Catholic Church.

New regulations in Pope Francis’ annulments law will be on the Catholic canon law on December 8. This is the beginning of the Pope’s declared “Year of Mercy.”

Another segment of the reform is the removal of an automatic appeal after the initial decision is made. Although appeals are still an option, they aren’t “automatic” as they’ve been in the U.S. for a number of years.

CNN interviewed Andrew Chesnut, an expert on religion in Latin America and a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He surmises that the pope’s annulment ruling is part of an overhaul strategy to establish a more “inclusive church and reach out to lapsed Catholics who might have left the fold over issues such as divorce, abortion and homosexuality.”

Perhaps the pope is trying to reach out to Latin America and Europe, Chestnut suggests.

“The church has been in sharp decline in both Latin America and Europe, and Pope Francis sees such reforms as key to reversing the long-term slide.”

What do you think of Pope Francis’ annulments ruling?

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