BY SCO Admin | September 8 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pope simplifies annulment process

Local bishops given power to decide the nullity of marriage for Catholics, costs of annulments eliminated

Pope Francis has simplified the process for those seeking annulments of Catholic marriages and empowered local bishops to make judgments on their own in ‘particularly evident’ cases.

The reforms announced at the Vatican this morning with release of two formal Papal Motu Proprios represent a devolution of power from the Vatican to local bishops and the elimination of the costs of an annulment.

In a short introduction to the new changes, the Pope explains that he wanted to balance the need to provide for the salvation of souls with ‘the enormous number of faithful that … too often are detached from the juridical structures of the Church at the cause of physical or moral distance.’

“In total harmony with these desires, I have decided to give with this Motu Proprio arrangements that do not favour the nullifying of marriages but the promptness of the processes,” the Pope said. “The heart of the faithful that wait for the clarification of their state may not be oppressed for a long time by the darkness of doubt.”

An annulment in the Catholic Church is a decree from a Church tribunal that a marriage between two persons was invalidly contracted.

The changes announced by the Holy Father modify the procedures for obtaining annulments in two key ways: Eliminating a sometimes lengthy process requiring a second judgment on all annulment decisions and allowing local bishops a so-called ‘shorter’ process to personally judge on cases considered particularly straightforward.

They also allow any first appeals of annulment decisions to be made at the local level instead of to the Vatican.

The Vatican announced the changes today by releasing the two official documents, given the Latin names of Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, Lord Jesus the Clement Judge, and Mitis et misericors Iesus, The Clement and Merciful Jesus.

The changes, signed by the Pope on August 15, are to go into effect December 8, the opening day of the upcoming Jubilee Holy Year for Mercy and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

—For the unofficial English translation of the Moto Proprios, click here.


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