Pope upset with some bishops delaying marriage annulment reform

Some bishops’ failure to fully implement the Church’s revised marriage annulment procedures has drawn a rebuke from the pope.

“I am saddened to note that the reform, after more than four years, remains far from being applied in most Italian dioceses,” Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome, told other members of the Italian bishops’ conference on Monday.

Francis issued the streamlined annulment process in September 2015. It went into effect December that year to coincide with the launch of the Jubilee of Mercy.

The process was enacted with two legal documents issued under the pope’s own authority.

One is the Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (“The Lord Jesus, a meek judge”), which handles modifications in the Latin Rite’s Code of Canon Law.

The other is the Mitis et Misericors Iesus (“Jesus, meek and merciful”), which deals with changes for Eastern Catholic Churches.

The changes include strengthening the local bishop’s role, dropping automatic appeals in obvious cases of annulment, and ensuring the process is free of charge.

In his speech to Italian bishops on Monday, Francis called for the “full and immediate application” of the documents, saying the process should be fast, free and characterised by “closeness” to families in difficulty.

“Closeness to wounded families means that judgement, as much as possible, is in the local dioceses without delays and unnecessary prolongation,” which will require a “conversion of structures”.

“We cannot allow the economic interests of some lawyers or the interest in personal power of some judicial vicars (to slow down the process),” he said.

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