Pope announces free and speedy marriage annulment

New moves announced by Pope Francis reform and simplify the process for getting a marriage annulment.

Except for the just payment of Marriage Tribunal staff, the reforms make the annulment process free and remove the need of a second review that the marriage was invalid.

Pope Francis has also sped up the process leading to annulment in situations where the evidence appears clear.

Announced, Wednesday, the changes came in two motu proprio (at the Pope’s own initiative), Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (“The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge”), and Mitis et Misericors Iesus (“Clement and Merciful Jesus”).

In the introduction Pope Francis stressed the adjustments “do not favour the nullifying of marriages, but the promptness of the processes.”

While the changes do not alter the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, they represent significant change; shifting delegated power from the Church’s centre to local bishops.

The Pope says he is motivated by the desire to help Catholics who “are too often separated from the legal structures of the Church due to physical or moral distance”.

For many years Catholics around the world have complained that it takes too long an annulment, if they can get one at all and that they are too costly; in some instances reaching into the hundreds or thousands of dollars for legal and tribunal fees.

Without the annulment, currently, divorced Catholics who remarry are forbidden from receiving Communion.

The two motu proprio are dated August 15 (Feast of the Assumption) were unveiled on September 8 (Birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary) and come into effect on December 8, 2015, (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and the beginning of the Year of Mercy.

They are available on the Vatican website. Currently they are only in Latin and Italian.

On May 29, 2015, the New Zealand Bishops’ Conference announced that the Marriage Tribunal will no longer charge fees.


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News category: World.

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