From a reader…
Is the process for the Petrine privilege quicker than the annulment process? Is it easier to get? Thanks.
Again with the “getting.”
Let’s get those annulments and let’s get them fast! Right? After all, my friend Ellen’s best friend’s cousin’s hairdresser knew a guy who had a third cousin who “got an annulment” in four months because she paid a deacon on the sly. But my other friend Matt’s father’s neighbor had a plantar’s wart burned off by this guy named Lou who was treated really badly by the receptionist at the local tribunal and so he left the Church because his annulment was taking 37 years! When is the Church finally going to be merciful? We have to get annulments!
Let’s avoid the language of consumerism when we talk about canonical processes.
Let’s remain sober.
Marriage is brought about by an act of consent between a man and a woman capable of doing so.
A declaration of nullity (often called, imprecisely, an “annulment”) is sometimes the conclusion of a thorough, careful, just and timely review of the facts presented to an ecclesiastical court (tribunal) about a putative marriage.
A declaration of nullity states that, after prudently assessing the facts, the Judges (usually one to three at the first grade of trial and three at the second grade of trial (four judges minimum) arrived at the moral certitude needed to declare that the act of consent which appeared to initiate this putative marriage was invalidly placed, and the marriage did not truly exist in the first place.
It has nothing to do with sacramentality. It has nothing to do with the legitimacy of children. It has nothing to do with divorce. It has nothing to do with whether one party or the other is a nice person or a real [___].
A “lack of form” case is often the solution to a situation where at least one of the parties in the putative marriage was Catholic, and the marriage took place outside of the Catholic Church, without a priest or deacon (a witness authorized by the Church) present, and without a dispensation. It is a simple declaration: Caia was Catholic, Caia attempted marriage to Sempronius without observing the Catholic form of marriage, Caia wasn’t really married to Sempronius. Easy peasy.
On the other hand, a Pauline Privilege case is based on 1 Corinthians 7:10-15. It allows the local bishop to dissolve the bond of a natural marriage. It’s not an “annulment”. Nothing is declared null. The Church dissolves a valid marriage bond between two unbaptized persons, one of whom is now baptized or seeking to be baptized, and wishes to enter into a new marriage in the Church.
A Petrine Privilege (Privilege of the Faith) case can only be invoked by the Pope himself.
In these Petrine Privilege cases, the Pope dissolves the bond of a natural marriage. Again, it’s not a declaration of nullity, but a dissolution between a baptized person and an unbaptized person, in order to permit a subsequent marriage in the Church.
Both Petrine Privilege and Pauline Privilege cases have specific set parameters. They are privileges, not rights.
The bishop or pope is not under any obligation to grant the privilege.
The person requesting the privilege cannot have been the main reason that the marriage has broken up. They both take time. They both require evidence. Neither are “shortcut annulments”.
Everyone must understand some important things about tribunals.
All the processes require educated and trained canonists. They can be either clergy or lay. They require administrative support and other staff. There are mailings, supplies, programs, ongoing education, not to mention salaries, healthcare, office space, heat, lights, etc. Nearly every diocese in the world – even those which charge a fee for the process – looses money on their tribunals. But the benefit of a good tribunal by far outweighs the loss of money. It is worth the economic loss because of the value of protecting the sacredness of the marriage bond. It is worth the loss to stand strong on and with the Gospel, with the Lord Himself, in favor the permanence of marriage. The cost of the tribunal is worth it to protect the rights of the parties involved.