Reflections on the changes to the annulment process

“The concern of Pope Francis is in first place for the good of all the faithful, especially those whose situations have been a cause of difficulty in living the Christian life as fully as possible”.

Catholic annulments look to many to be a simple Catholic divorce. Divorce says that the reality of marriage was there in the beginning and that now the reality is broken.

“Annulment” means a ruling by a Church court that a union between a man and a woman, even if it began with a Church wedding, is not a valid marriage because it fails one of the traditional tests, such as a lack of genuine consent or a psychological incapacity to undertake the obligations, or unwillingness of one of the spouses to have children.

Prior to this point, the procedure required annulments to be issued by one court and confirmed by another. Many have rightly said that this process was fraught with unnecessary delays and difficulties and added to the pain and suffering of those involved in separation, divorce and re-marriage outside the Church community.

At this morning’s press conference at the Vatican, Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters motu proprio (on his own authority) by which he introduced reforms to the legal structures of the Church dealing with questions of marital nullity.

Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et misericors Iesus are the names in Latin of the two decrees respectively. The first one translates to “The Gentle Judge, The Lord Jesus.” The second is translated “The Meek and Merciful Jesus.”

These new rulings make it faster, easier, and less expensive to obtain a marriage annulment. Both documents were signed by Pope Francis on August 15, 2015. They will take effect December 8, 2015, the first day of the Holy Year of Mercy. Continue reading


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