Pope Francis has changed canon law procedures for “annulments”

Today we received the texts of the two Letters Motu Proprio from His Holiness Pope Francis which change the Codes of Canon Law concerning the procedures for declarations of nullity for both the Latin and the Eastern Church.  The texts are in Latin and Italian only right now.

Remember, we put “annulments” in “…”, because the Church doesn’t annul.  The Church determines, with moral certainty (we hope and pray) that there wasn’t a marriage bond, that it was always null.  So, properly, we talk about declarations of nullity, not “annulments”, though in shorthand and common parlance we resort to the inaccurate term.

After reading through the new rules and after reading the interventions of the presenters at the presser this morning, and after talking with two trusted canonists by phone and after reading a few reactions online, I have to take seriously the summation point made by the canonist Kurt Martens, professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America. He was cited in today’s WaPo.

Martens said that essentially the Church is providing a path that looks like the Catholic version of no-fault divorce.

In a nutshell, it is now possible to reduce the number of full judges in a tribunal to one cleric with the assistance of some lay people, who can now be in the majority. Diocesan bishops are encouraged by the new procedures to look at cases themselves (which would mean that – in their copious free time – bishops who aren’t canonists may be in over their heads and will have to rely on experts anyway… like a judicial vicar). Fees will be reduced (what do you want to bet the Rota will find a way to charge). There will be a streamlined procedure for ex-couples who are in agreement and where the situation seems evident (which is rare, because though a case might seem evident on the surface, all sorts of things can come out in the process) to take 30-45 days (and how that will work in cases when expert testimony is needed as in claims of psychological incapacity I can only guess). And, most troubling, the requirement of a conforming opinion of another tribunal is eliminated. There can still be appeals, etc.  Some Metropolitan sees will have to appeal to senior suffragan sees.

The elimination of the necessity of a second conforming judgment from a different tribunal will probably result in almost no submission of opinions to different tribunals.

It looks a lot like a return to the norms that were in place in the 70’s in these USA, which were catastrophic, and “annulments” were being handed out like aspirin to brides with headaches on their wedding days.

One canonist suggested to me that this reflects the personal frustration of Papa Bergoglio who, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, had to cope with seriously flawed tribunals in his region. One of the men on the commission was, I believe, his former judicial vicar.

It strikes me that, with rumors of the changes and the reduction of fees, cases (some frivolous) will multiply, thus driving up costs to the tribunals… to be offset … how?  I suspect tribunals will need more personnel.

Time to digest this is needed, but this seems like another antinomian blow leveled at Roman centralism.  I’ll add that we learned by watching Protestant chaos what happens when there is no oversight from an authority.

Justice has a deliberative nature to thwart corruption and arrive at the truth of cases, rather than a predetermined result.  This is why the Church developed over the centuries certain procedures.

Back to Martens in WaPo for a moment:

The changes move the church away from a set of 18th-century safeguards meant to make sure that the annulment process wasn’t subject to abuse, Martens said. Those changes, set up by Pope Benedict XIV, included a provision that would require a mandatory appeal of the lower court’s decision.

“What guarantee do you have for a fair trial if you take away those guarantees that were put in the past?” Martens said. “Sometimes you want to go so quickly, you miss elements and make mistakes. Procedure law takes time to unfold.”

Martens said the way Francis changed the annulment process was unusual, because he did not go through the Synod on the Family, as expected, in October. [It takes some things off the table for the Synod, which explains something of the timing of this.]

“If I were a bishop, I would be upset,” Martens said. “It’s a bit strange and even a sign of contradiction that a pope who is big on consultation and collegiality seems to forget that on something like this. It’s highly unusual for legislation like this to get through that way.”

Not to mention that this will create horrific work and pressure for bishops.

This all goes into effect 8 December.   That probably means that cases which are in limbo between tribunals with different judgments will have to still be sorted.

It could be worse, I guess.  They could have eviscerated the Defender of the Bond.

BTW… in today’s L’Osservatore Romano, Msgr. Pinto (head of the commission who put this together) has argued that this is a reform of mercy for “the poor”, and the “the poor” are the divorced and remarried.

PS: I wonder if anyone will notice that this procedure will probably favor men who dump their wives and kids for a younger model.

There is a lot more to say, but I just can’t do it right now.

The moderation queue is ON.

 

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83 Responses to Pope Francis has changed canon law procedures for “annulments”

  1. Mojoron says:

    After going through a three-year annulment process in the late 90’s which was granted even though my ex did not participate in the application process and my now wife’s ex also did not participate after a year of trying to get them to participate, I cannot see how an annulment can happen in less than two months time and without some pecuniary outlay by the applicants. Money may have been an issue in some diocese’s, but we paid out only $300, which I believe, is very reasonable. The Kennedy’s and the Kerry’s may have paid out more, but their annulment turn-around was considerably quicker, but of course I’m making a joke, in many way’s I might add. The Catholic “no fault annulment” pretty much nails it.

  2. Traductora says:

    I found both the substance of this and the way it was done very disturbing. Essentially, the Pope acted like Obama with an Executive Order – changing something administratively because he knew he didn’t have much chance of succeeding any other way.

    It simply sets up a quickie no-fault divorce for Catholics (look at the examples of cases in which it can be applied….) and I think will probably be used retroactively to “annul” the first or second or third marriages of Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Problem solved.

    It has seemed to me in the last couple of months that the German bishops have shifted their focus towards “gay unions” and I wondered why they were keeping a low profile on the divorced and remarried. I guess they realized that the Pope was handling this for them and they were free to move on to their next objective.

  3. CatholicMD says:

    It is very hard in my mind to distinguish this new process from ecclesiastical divorce in the Orthodox Church. As a convert I feel this weakens the Catholic Church’s apologetics when it comes to faith and morals. I know many ex Episcopalians / Anglicans like myself who chose Rome over Constantinople despite the liturgical and other insanity because of the Catholic Church’s defense of the moral law. In many ways I feel like this is a concession saying the Orthodox were right all along.

  4. ChrisRawlings says:

    I confess that the timing stumps me, too. I am not quite sure what, if anything other than annulment reform itself, it really does take off the table for the synod. The actual reforms were pretty predictable, but why now?

  5. Latinmass1983 says:

    Interesting thoughts and views …

    But all of this begs the question: If there is such great concern for the poor and the humble, and the salvation of souls … why doesn’t the Holy Father tackle the German problem!? We all know that Bishops have souls too … and we have to assume that they want their souls to be saved as well!

    How in the world will the Bishops now (especially the Germans) will cope with this much responsibility when they are so busy collecting tax money!?

  6. DisturbedMary says:

    Papa issues an executive order on the eve of his trip to the World Meeting of Families. Reminds me of how things are done in DC these days. Who needs Congress? Who needs bishops? I have the pen and the cell phone.
    If I am correct, Papa can do the same thing after the Synod concludes in October no matter what the Synod fathers suggest or refuse to wobble on.
    Is anyone else worrying about a rupture coming in our Church?

  7. AdIesumPerMariam says:

    This is quite the awful development, and I shudder to think of how it will be abused, but is it bad that I was expecting a lot worse?

  8. Papabile says:

    This will present an interesting conundrum for the SSPX and any potential reconciliation.

  9. Bea says:

    What a slap in the face to the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    Ease of annulments announced on her Birthday.
    Goes in effect on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

    Heaven weeps as marriages lose the protection of the Church.

    What this will lead to is: “Why bother getting married?”

    “He” strikes at Her Heel but in the end She crushes his head.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. Genesis 3:15

  10. Frank H says:

    It seems to me the law of unintended consequences looms large. And I fear the main consequence will be the continued erosion of the idea that marriage is indissoluble. We know how well the relaxed Eucharistic fast has worked!

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    I’m not sure what to think about this. I think you hit on the big one Father- why before the Synod of the Family? Also, what major purpose does the Synod now take upon itself? That is a question that I almost don’t want answered.

  12. templariidvm says:

    Is this, basically, somewhat of an end-around to deal with communion for the divorced and remarried? It seems like it would at least make it easier, but lacking an actual translation, can only guess, given what has been said by “news” agencies.

  13. rwj says:

    Perhaps the speed of the process is slower outside of the U.S.A? In my own diocese, the process from beginning to end for the full proceeding to declare nullity is usually less than 8 months (even faster if all of the respondents are timely).

    The priests of our tribunal have also stated that the number of petitions for decrees of nullity has greatly decreased in the last 15 years– likely corresponding to much lower numbers of people seeking to be married in the church in the first place…and far lower for those attempting a marriage for a 2nd or 3rd time.

    Perhaps my view is simply local, but I wasn’t detecting that this was such a big problem for many of the faithful in the Church. I’m eager to hear from other places throughout the world– which is what I THOUGHT the Synod was seeking to provide. So much for collegiality!

    Given how very seldom (in my diocese) a marriage is found to be valid for those who petition under the current rules– my initial thought was its hasty to call these changes a “catholic version of no fault divorce.” To my understating- what constitutes a valid marriage is not changed, and it is certain that our far fewer people understand what marriage is today– we can’t even get the role of gender in marriage right anymore. (I think of gender confusion crisis and a relationship to 1096 §s 1, 2)

    Could it be the case that it is easier to determine a marriage is null today because they are, at least in greater numbers than the 18th century, null?

  14. anilwang says:

    Given the speed that the moto proprio was put together (less than one year to put together the committee, investigate the problems, come up with solutions, and write the moto proprio) and how slowly Rome moves, it’s very clear that the committee members already knew what they wanted and just codified it without much thought….very much like the “interim report”.

    I’ve yet to see a justification why annulments must be free but baptism and marriages don’t have to be, or that there is a pressing need to speed up annulments. Perhaps there was catechatical chaos after Vatican II and the Pope’s speculation that half of marriages are invalid is true. I fail to see why this requires a fundamental change in law rather than a change in pastoral practice for the pre-Catechism and pre-TOB generation. I fail to see how such a dramatic permanent “emergency measure” rather than ensuring that most marriages are valid to begin with, does not damn the Pope and all those who put together the moto proprio. Companies have been sued out of existence for such willful negligence (e.g. we know there’s a problem with our product but it’s cheaper to pay damages than fix the problem).

    Most of all, I’ve given up on the Pope though I wish him no ill. You know something is fundamentally wrong when you have to pray for protection *from* the Pope rather than protection *for* the Pope.

  15. vandalia says:

    A few thoughts:

    1) A good friend of mine is Defender of the Bond on a Second Instance Tribunal. He says that you can count the number of times a Second Instance tribunal in the western world has reversed a judgement on one finger. If you include the entire world, you can count them with both hands. If 99.9999% of the cases receive a confirmatory judgement at the Second Instance – and if the 0.0001% remaining receive the confirmatory judgement at the Rota – why bother with something that is a complete rubber stamp? If there is a problem, it is from the fact that there are a lot of bad putative wedding ceremonies.

    2) In the United States, as far as I am aware, all First Instance cases are heard by a single priest judge. I am fairly certain that is true in Europe, and pretty certain it is true in most of the rest of the world. So that fact that a majority of the three judge panel may now be lay is moot, since there are essentially no three judge panels in the first place.

    3) Trust me, if it is a “frivolous case” as soon as you hand them the requirements for documentation and the questions they have to answer and the number of times they have to meet with their priest, that is the barrier. If they make it through that, the presence or absence of a filing fee will not dissuade them. If there is any effect of a rush of “frivolous cases” it would be that the parish secretary has to make a couple more copies of the questionnaire packet.

    “Love and marriage” are arguably the most driving forces in the human psyche. Just watch some crime shows on TV to see that. No one starts a nullity petition for the heck of it – even if they are separated from their spouses or have a civil divorce. They wait until they have the immediate goal of getting married. When they get to that point, no one comes in and says, “That will be $200? Well skip it then, we will call off the relationship.”

  16. frival says:

    The very first thing I thought when I read his article was, “hagan lio!” Yep, this certainly is going to be a mess for a long time…

  17. A note posted yesterday (before the motu proprio was available) by a local canonist:

    “For those wondering about the new motu proprio: there will be lots of speculation and probably a fair amount of misreading out there in the media. As soon as it comes out, I will read it and make comment on it. Remember, God created marriage. It is not ours to define. The process of declaration of nullity is in place to protect the good of marriage and to be faithful to the very words of Jesus. There are some finer points of law that can be tweaked and modified so that the process better responds to justice. But remember, this process is not about mercy – it was never meant to forgive anything – only to get at the truth and binding force of one’s vows made to the respondent before the Lord. It is about Justice and upholding the stability of marriage vows.”

  18. JuliB says:

    This is a bit frustrating. My SO* and I have been working on his application (we’re on the last 10-12 questions of the 100 question section) and had planned on getting it submitted shortly. December is close, but I think we should get it in sooner rather than later. I think things will be chaotic once things start changing.

    The fees in our Diocese are low ($175). Someone needs to pay for salaries, time, etc. The Diocese underwrites a large portion of it, which ensures that I donate appropriately to the annual appeal.

    I’ve heard horror stories of money and favoritism. Not sure how much this will change things, but I hope it encourages more people to look into the option rather than just ignoring it. Souls are at risk.

    * Yes, I know that one shouldn’t date before an annulment is granted, but we had started dating while I had just come back to the Church (after 25 years of atheism). He had faltered in his commitment to the Church at times, was a bit more cafeteria than he would acknowledge, and had (has, to an extent) issues with recognizing the Church’s authority. As my faith and orthodoxy has grown, I believe his has started to become deeper as well. We do our best to follow the Church’s expectations of a non-marital relationship.

  19. george says:

    So in the hypothetical diocese of Washington, NE we can have Bp. Rock who keeps the process as it has been and assures his flock that any Declarations of Nullity are solid.

    Then over in the hypothetical diocese of San Bob, SoCal, we have Bp. Friendly who handles all the inquiries himself with his trusted staff of well-wishers who gives out Declarations of Nullity like candy.

    So clearly the two Declarations of Nullity are not equivalent. Many people will not trust them from the diocese of San Bob, and anyone who is orthodox who inquires as to the state of their marriage in San Bob can’t really trust that it was Null. So the entire process of inquiring into the validity of a civilly-failed marriage can be eviscerated with just a handful of heterodox bishops.

    While this would leave many people “in the Church” quite happy with the low cost annullments(sic), but the orthodox faithful will soon be in a state worse than we have now because if the system cannot be trusted, then there is no further recourse.

    Very sad, “a people without shepherd” as it were.

  20. TeamAubin says:

    Father Z…I just wanted to offer you my gratitude for your insights and thoughtful commentary on such things. You are a trusted resource to so many. Deo Gratias!

  21. Fr. Z, in my travels, I do not see men leaving their wives (& kids) to trade up to a newer model. The prevailing pattern is that the wife suffers from unhappiness of an indeterminate nature, decides her husband is the source, and then files for divorce (and more increasingly sole custody).

    Young women who are less than thrilled with the apparent under-achievers in their own age group go after these newly available and in most cases successful men. The men can hardly resist the interest. And why not? They never asked to be divorced.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s happening way more than the popular narrative would let us know.

  22. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    I have to confess that one thing I’m looking forward to in the “processus brevior” is the “Sentence, written by the bishop and notarized, [which] briefly and elegantly (concinne) lays out the motive for the decision and is ordinarily sent to the parties within one month of the day of the decision.” (Article 20, 2)

    It’s good to see another job being given to the bishops, since they all seem to have so much free time on their hands.

  23. vandalia says:

    It’s good to see another job being given to the bishops, since they all seem to have so much free time on their hands.

    Which tends to indicate that the processus brevior will be rarely used and restricted to the most extra-ordinary cases.

  24. dans0622 says:

    Yeah….not terribly enthused by the changes. But, looking on the bright side, it could have been worse and at least we got it out of the way. I am not surprised by much except the introduction of the “shorter process” at this stage in the Synodal process. The sections of the instrumentum laboris and lineamenta dealing with that possibility were included for what reason, exactly? It seems there is a bit of a disconnect between Vatican offices. I am most dumbfounded by the suggestion that cases involving “lack of faith” can somehow lead to obvious nullity and so are subject to the shorter process. That problem, and its effect on the validity of Christian marriage, is one of the most difficult to decipher. Besides that, I have never even seen a case where a lack of faith was proven to be connected to the alleged invalidity of the marriage. That part of the document is really odd. There is a problematic “etc” at the end of the listing of possible circumstances which may warrant the shorter process, too….
    Dan

  25. Phil_NL says:

    I’ll bet good money (but don’t expect any takers) that such an expedited process will make diocese hopping all the rage. Some bishops will be more strict/scrupulous/knowledgeable about the law than others, and the latter will see more cases come their way. Then there are two options: either those bishops will set a higher threshold, or they will set a lower one. The first eliminates the work, the second results in rubber-stamping.

    Apart from the effect on jurisprudence, it doesn’t sound like a good recipe for collegial relations among bishops either. Factional strife between those who care and those who don’t, anyone?

  26. Aquinas Gal says:

    I feel very concerned about this, that in effect it will be “Catholic divorce.” Back in the 70’s one of my mother’s good friends, a very devout Catholic woman, tried to fight the annullment process after her husband left her (for a younger model). She was very upset that the tribunal in her diocese had no one who effectively tried to sort it out and render an honest judgment. It was done very quickly, and the process was sped up that day because the judge wanted it to be all over by lunch time. If this decree is going to bring those things back it is worrisome.

  27. NBW says:

    Interesting timing.

  28. Geoffrey says:

    The marriage laws of the Church have always made me cross-eyed. I will try to entrust it all to the Lord, and to those whom He has entrusted the Power of the Keys.

  29. Fr. Andrew says:

    I have to wonder if the Defender of the Bond will remain in such an arrangement? I see references to it but couldn’t tell if it remains (shoddy Latinist…)

  30. Robbie says:

    It seems everyday we learn of something new and/or unusual coming from the Vatican. Certainly, these last 30 months have been hectic and have left many dazed and confused. As I read this post, in conjunction with the story in the Washington Post today about a conservative rebellion in the Vatican and the upcoming Synod on the Family, I’m reminded of a piece which appeared on Rorate Caeli this past June.

    Earlier this Summer, the site wrote about an interview Cardinal Caffarra gave in 2008 in which he described a letter he had received from Sister Lucia of Fatima. In the letter, she wrote, “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.”

    It seems the words of Sister Lucia and the prophecy of Akita provide a vivid reminder of just how important the times in which we live are and just how important the stakes are at the upcoming Synod.

  31. xylkatie says:

    Why is the new waiting period for annulments speedier than the waiting period for obtaining a civil divorce in many states?

  32. Bender says:

    What does this change say to couples who are engaged? Is it a mercy to them? “Hey, good news. If it doesn’t work out, annulments are now easier to get.” Does anyone who is engaged feel happier today?

    Or is it a mercy to those who are currently married? Do they feel safer now, more secure in their marriage? Or is it likely to cause at least some to lose hope that, no matter what, their marriage is forever.

    Is not the sacrament itself supposed to be the mercy, not the absence of it? That God gives us the grace in the sacrament to endure and persevere? That grace is not much use if sacramental marriage is so very difficult to achieve. That in itself goes against their very idea, the very purpose of Jesus giving us sacraments — He gives them to us to make things easier, not harder, and He makes it easy to get them, not nearly impossible, which would seem to be the case with so many decrees saying that “there never was a marriage.”

  33. Bender says:

    Meanwhile, who’d have ever thought that the CIVIL law, man’s law, would carry a higher standard for the validity of marriage than the Church??? Courts of law do not hand out civil annulments easily, they only rarely issue decrees of rescission of contracts, particularly when the parties to the agreement are questioned specifically about their intent. Instead, they issue decrees that the marriage is VALID, but dissolved, i.e. a divorce. In this way, a divorce decree seems to be the more honest approach.

  34. pannw says:

    “…this procedure will probably favor men who dump their wives and kids for a younger model.”

    Do I misunderstand that this expedited procedure only applies to those cases where both parties are in agreement?

    All I can say is God help the ones who lie to get their declaration of nullity and even more so the ones who declare it knowing it is all lies.

    “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

  35. jacobi says:

    The danger, as with so many things in the Church these days, in various attempts to accommodate the World, is that we will lurch from one extreme to another, for one where Marriage is Indissoluble, to one where Marriage is effectively impossible to contrive in the first place – which of course will be the same as Dissoluble.

  36. chris_R says:

    I am really bothered by this horrible step backward.

    I went through the nullity process after Benedict XVI revamped it and was impressed with the thoroughness of the process. I really wanted proper guidance and decision on my case, and approached the tribunal looking for the truth, not the answer that may have wanted to hear and felt that due attention was paid to my situation.

    I later found out, when approaching marriage in the Church again, that Benedict XVI seemed to have steered the pre-marital questioning by the priest to a more traditional and thorough level that I remembered long ago, not the ridiculously loose and “divorce inviting” short meeting with a few questions followed by so-called “pre-Cana” exercises of the 1980’s which, to me, allowed any engagement, to proceed without fail which, no wonder, caused a good number of people approaching the tribunal — though I must say that most people thought I was crazy for even considering the idea for, like many things today, the idea of trying to follow the laws and show good example will often leave one ridiculed. Yes, it was expensive but would one not pay the same fees to a good lawyer for matters much less critical than this?! This lead me to wonder just how many divorced and remarried civilly have been taking Communion for years.

    I am glad that I had my case heard when things appeared solid after the horrors of the 1970’s and 1980’s. I would not at all feel confident approaching the process today. I don’t know if I could trust it.

  37. Kathleen10 says:

    There will be many fewer declarations of nullity sought in the future. Guaranteed.

    How do I know? Because there are many fewer couples seeking to be married in the church. We were told by the priest at Mass a couple of weeks ago that in that church, there were 66 Catholic weddings in the year 1986.
    This year there were exactly two.

  38. Longinus says:

    Several years back a Juridical Vicar announced publicly that any petition for annulment that reached his desk would be granted. In short the condition for nullity in that diocese was the distance from the Tribunal’s post box to the Juridical Vicar’s desk. I assume the same may become the case for bishops already deluged with mountains of paper work.

  39. James C says:

    The same bishops who have neglected catechesis so badly that maybe half of Catholic marriages may be invalid (according to our last two Popes) will be in charge of the quickie annulment process.
    Oh, yes. I’m bringing with confidence.

  40. Benedict Joseph says:

    One need ask oneself why abandon a state of the art facility for a humble field hospital in a mud hole? Can the range of care be provided there to the mortally wounded, who need far more intervention than narcotics, sedatives, pity and placebos. A merciful gaze does not suffice when surgical expertise is required in a zone free of infectious agents.

  41. Papabile says:

    Data. Data. Data.

    I am not one to have intensely studied the issues surrounding annulments in general, but I would be interested in parsing data.

    It does seem that some data is available regarding annulments.

    I would love to know diocese by diocese (in the US for instance) the number of annulments in a given year.

    From this, using the Kennedy directory, it would be fairly easy to project average annulment rates by diocese and the potential impact of different demographic groups on annulments.

    Additionally, one could then cross-tab results to numbers of ordinations and baptisms. The results would be interesting.

    Is this information published anywhere? (It may be in the Kennedy Directory — though I haven’t looked at one in years. I simply have no idea.)

    I would truly enjoy sthe opportunity to track and analyze this.

  42. tcreek says:

    Pope John Paul II, Address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on February 5, 1987. — “… the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being practically destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties.”

    Pope Benedict in 2009 quoted these words of Pope John Paul to the same tribunal.

    Do bishops follow-up on 2nd marriage after an annulment. I know of 5 parishioners who entered marriage with a spouse who had had an annulment. All ended in divorce, one of them – mine, and not by my choice. I wonder if I could annul the annulment and be free to marry in the Church.

  43. Kathleen10 said: “We were told by the priest at Mass a couple of weeks ago that in that church, there were 66 Catholic weddings in the year 1986.
    This year there were exactly two.”

    That echoes what my pastor said about how many weddings our parish performed last year (out of 3500 families); it used to be (in the 70s and 80) that they would be scheduled Saturday morning and afternoon Nuptual Masses…Friday night for the simple ceremonies…; the bulletin listed 5 or 6 Banns each week. Now, you’re lucky to see one a month or even less frequently.

    Based on my experience (and this is solely applicable to me) with going through the Tribunal of the NY Archdiocese back when +O’Connor (may he rest in peace) led the flock, it was more than just a rubber stamp, thank you very much, that’ll be $400. There was the narrative, inverview with your advocate, witnesses, Defender of the Bond, etc. Took a year, but at the end, you did know with moral certainty (fwiw, our marriage prep was ‘facilitated’ by a Jesuit at Fordham…’nuff said? I remember him asking why we had not ummm “tested our physical compatibility”…(this is the late 70s, remember) during those sessions) that the Tribunal had arrived, soberly, at the right decision. Not everyone received a Declaration; that they publicly provided post-decision counseling for those who did not was an indication of true (under +O’Connor) pastoral concern.

    Anyway…is this a step backward and acquiescence to the shoddy catechesis most young’uns have received at the hands of their (frequently) unqualified religion or CCD teachers? Acquiescence to the shoddy morals of society? Lack of meaningful, intense, and faithful preparation in Pre Cana (which, I can tell you, even in the 90s when I was briefly engaged, was a bit more transactional interaction and focused on feelings than the theology of marriage and its lifelong nature)?

    Is it change for change’s sake? I’m wondering.

    Or is it an acknowledgement, at the highest levels, that the process itself (and there is the need, based on our fallen nature, to provide a mechanism of healing and justice) needs to be corrected.

    Or is it something more? Only time will tell. I keep saying that if you have low expectations, you will never be disappointed. Nothing in the last 30-odd months has happened to change that opinion.

  44. Lin says:

    As I have said repeatedly, most of what is wrong with the Church today is due to a lack of catechesis over the last 50 years! Whether this change is for the betterment of the process or not, the impression is that the Catholic Church is lowering its standards and permitting annulments in most, if not all, cases. We are caving in to the secular all in the name of “mercy.” GOD must be very angry with us to permit the current cast of leaders in this world today. May he have mercy on us and bring this nonsense to an end soon. Pray, pray, pray!

  45. acardnal says:

    Papabile, all you have to do is Google it. The facts are out there. There are too many links to add to this comment.

    My prediction: The number of decrees of nullity will increase throughout the world and divorced Catholics will relocate to dioceses where liberal bishops grant them expeditiously . . . and liberally.

  46. mysticalrose says:

    What is deeply troubling to me is that mistakes will surely be made. The bottomline is, if a marriage is valid, it is indissoluble and no statement from any Church authority can dissolve it. If annulments are granted in haste, it will most certainly mean that some people will end up in invalid second marriages unbeknownst to them (as frankly I am sure is already the case for many). And the responsibility for this objective state of sin will be at the feet of the Holy Father. I shudder to think of the Final Judgement.

  47. Giuseppe says:

    Can we at least limit annulments to one per person? Anyone who has a 2nd marriage annulled should be denied another marriage license and steered toward another direction.

    I think the procedures (no 2nd review, relatively speedy process, eliminate costs that can be prohibitive) are all fine in theory. The devil is in the details. I think we will see more of the following:

    He: I felt guilted into marrying her because we had sex prior to marriage. I never loved her, and I said all those things because I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t myself.
    She: I never loved him, and I went through the motions because I was worried I was pregnant. It was like I was on autopilot.
    Priest (or bishop): Clearly this was not a Catholic marriage! Go forth and re-marry!

    I think the standards could easily devolve to no-fault divorce in some dioceses (I’m talking ’bout you Chicago, NY, and D.C.)

  48. GAK says:

    Regarding the process where the Bishop alone can discern/decide, I fear the Holy Father has taken his own negative experience with a Latin bureaucracy (as in, Latin American) and universalized it as something plaguing the entire Church, something that must, in his mind, be rectified.

    Despite his good points, he is parochial, and naive, and that’s a bad combination.

  49. joan ellen says:

    Thank you Fr. Z, again, for keeping us up to date on the news in the Church.

    My reaction to this post is Beyond Sad…because I’m looking at it more legally…with more justice.
    A gentleman family member sees this as the Holy Father “cutting off the horses at the pass.” It seems he’s looks at it more mercifully.

    Yet…perhaps he also sees the prudence and wisdom in this ‘timely move’ while I do not.

  50. I would like to remind those who are concerned that the Pope exercised legislative authority instead of waiting for the synod to discuss this that Pope Paul VI essentially did the same thing with Humanae Vitae after the commission charged with investigating the issue arrived at an undesirable conclusion. The Church is not a democracy in the end; unlike what used to be the American system of three separate but equal branches of government until it was replaced by a judicial junta over the last forty years, the Pope is supreme executive, supreme legislator, and supreme judge. He is at liberty to exercise any or all of those roles as needed.

    I will also have to agree with Kathleen10 that in order to have declarations of nullity, one has to have marriages first. Cohabiting couples are making things easy for marriage tribunals. When no effort is made at even a putative marriage, no declaration of nullity is needed, and no work is involved. Over the next 20-30 years, the number of annulments will decrease because the number of marriages will have decreased.

  51. bourgja says:

    I am disturbed by the new language of canon 1675, which uses the phrase “irreparable damage” to the conjugal union that “cannot be restored.” This almost sounds like the equivalent of “irreconcilable differences,” and is not in accord with canonical traditions.

  52. comedyeye says:

    Can a diocese choose to continue to process declarations of nullity the same as now?
    Are all these changes mandatory or optional with the bishops’ permission? If a bishops starts giving out declarations “like candy”, are all still valid even when some should not have been granted? Why wasn’t Ed Peters consulted on all this?

  53. mddelala says:

    Two years ago I spent a few days on an ecclesiastical court in South America (Santiago-Chile), serving around 7 million catholics.

    – That year there were 69 or 70 causes for annulment presented to the tribunal. Usually they receive around 90 cases per year, but the amount is lower each year.
    – All cases were reviewed for the first instance by 3 judges. I was told that a few years before cases were sometimes reviewed by unipersonal judges, but that tjey were avoiding it now.
    – On average, cases took around 8 months counting from the moment the suing party (they really hate the word “sue” for this procedure. As a lawyer, I believe it’s the correct word) finished presenting its case (including the full questionary and the payment of, at least, the first fee of the tribunal). Second instance would take a little longer, but on average it should be below a year. So it would take between 1,5 to 2 years to complete.
    – Most (almost all) but not all cases were initiated by someone who wanted to marry in the church. Usually, people would have had a long time living together with a new partner before initiating the procedure.
    – Most (almost all) procedures terminated with an annulment sentence.
    – It was extremely strange for the second instance tribunal to revert a first instance sentence.
    – The diocese charges people around US$3.000 for the first instance part of the trial. Second instance was about US$1.300. That includes your lawyer (although if you decide to go with your own lawyer you wouldn’t receive any discount). If you had difficulties paying, you could opt to pay a monthly fee. If you couldn’t pay (over 80% of the cases), your fee would be reduced. The minimum was US$30.
    – The defendant didn’t have to pay a dime. And also had a right to an attorney if he/she decided to take a role in the procedure.

    I heard a few priests and bishops (even one who has dedicated himself to present cases from poor people) saying that this procedures were mostly a matter of rich people. At least statistically, they are right. Also it should be noted that in my country rich people receive excellent education, usually in catholics paid schools. Poor people go to state-sponsored schools or to free church schools both of which tend to have awful -if any- catholic education (unless they are sponsored by the Opus Dei, the legionaries of Christ or a few other institutions or families). Most parishes can’t afford to have a teacher (and those which can usually don’t), so they ask good-intentioned people (usually teenagers) to educate youngsters that want to receive a Sacrament (eucharist or confirmation). I’ve seen first hand that it’s very true that you just can’t give what you don’t have (actually I myself spent every Saturday afternoon for two years trying to educate a few teenagers who wanted to receive confirmation. I can promise that I did my best, I used the catechism and tried to do this as best as I could. But taking a look back, I still feel commiserate for those poor kids as I just didn’t have any pedagogical skills whatsoever).

  54. stephen c says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the fact remains that, if one has entered into what God views as a valid marriage, the Pastors of the Catholic church still require the wife or the husband to say something untrue and unkind (whether purposefully, or out of non-culpable ignorance) to get a decree of “nullification”. Not all Christians have that protection. Anyway, if the priests and bishops of the world have had their protective responsibilities increasingly lessened in this regard, it increasingly falls on fathers and mothers who wish to show mercy to their children to teach, including though example, those children to value, in a potential spouse, a truthful nature. What a blessing it must be to sincerely forgive those who have imposed such a burden, or to seek forgiveness for ourselves for our part in that burden, and what a blessing it must be to take up that burden and successfully carry it as Jesus promised us we could …

  55. mddelala says:

    Also it may be worth mentioning that I personally heard a man who went to present his case to that tribunal stating that he was told by at least 3 different priests that:
    1. He had the right to re-do his life with another woman because he had been separated for so many years.
    2. That the annulment process was something absolutely stupid to overtake, besides being unnecessary. God would understand.

    He disregarded the first priest because the Bible said another thing. He disregarded the second one, but started having doubts. When the third one came he decided to pray and, finally, decided to do whatever the next priest he saw told him to do. “Luckily” the next priest was orthodox.

    I’ve also heard people commenting from several priests that they have expressed disdain for the annulment procedure as a whole or that they have stated in mass that communion is for everyone so remarried people should approach anyway…

    I guess it’s not unusual that over 70% of kids in my country are born outside of wedlock and that most catholics just won’t marry…

  56. Cradle Catholic says:

    Anil Wang says: Most of all, I’ve given up on the Pope though I wish him no ill. You know something is fundamentally wrong when you have to pray for protection *from* the Pope rather than protection *for* the Pope.

    I too am praying for the Church to be protected from this pope. In my view, he is doing an amazing amount of damage. So! If a husband and wife agree that their marriage is over, and there is ‘evidence” – the local bishop can issue a declaration of nullity. Whatever happened to objective truth? I.e. the delving into the matter to see if there are objective grounds for such a declaration. And really, given the caliber of many of the local bishops, whether or not they have the time or expertise, I fear this process will easily degenerate into a “Catholic divorce”. Furthermore, there will be no uniform application of this process – which can lead to all sorts of abuse.

    The pope has set the church on the road where the practice will lead to an erosion of doctrine. Doctrine, {in my understanding} protects the revelation of God, through His Son Jesus Christ. When doctrine is eroded, in time, revelation (entrusted to the pope to protect) is eroded. In time, our understanding of God, and His Son will be eroded… Forgive me, but I honestly don’t see how this move of the pope is the work of the Holy Spirit.

  57. frjim4321 says:

    Tribunal procedures are very complex. Our system was developed over years. All of the work orders, all of the form letters, all of the procedures need to be redone. This is a huge, time consuming and expensive process. As much as I support the streamlining of the process the very idea that this can be put into place by 12/8 is absurd. 12/8/2016 would have been more realistic, and even that is pushing it. Modern Tribunals are similar to modern law offices with computer data bases and and entire schema for instructing cases. Reworking such a system in three months? Impossible! I am glad for the changes but the time frame is a joke.

  58. Jason Keener says:

    There is no doubt that many Catholics today are confused or unaware of the essential requirements of Holy Matrimony (permanence, openness to life, exclusivity, etc.) leading many to have a valid reason for seeking a declaration of nullity in the first place. For that reason, I believe that as a part of every parish marriage preparation program, the deacon or priest should videotape himself explaining the essential requirements of marriage with the prospective bride and groom who then have to agree on video that they fully understand all that marriage entails before the wedding ceremony would be allowed to take place. If either the husband or wife ever seeks an annulment down the road, this videotape could easily be brought to light as irrefutable proof that both husband and wife fully understood the basic requirements of marriage, which would quickly settle and simplify the question of the status of the marriage bond in a great number of cases. Moreover, if diocesan bishops required this videotape process, it would also ensure that priests were at least properly explaining the basic elements of marriage to prospective brides and grooms, which I am not sure is always the case.

  59. Giuseppe says:

    Kathleen10 and Andrew Saucci are onto something.

    Catechesis and therefore faith are generally weak in much of the next generation of US Catholics. Why not cohabitate and have a child or two? Why restrict your marriage prospects to a fellow Catholic? Or to someone who might convert? That’s very limiting. Anyone can become a ‘minister’ and there’s always a judge or civil official (Kim Davis excepted) who can do the paperwork for your marriage outside of the church.

    You are young, and your risk of facing God is small. You are the same group libertarians champion as being oppressed by the government’s mandatory health insurance policies. Young and healthy — why be rule-bound? Risk is small.

    Then, after time, if things seem to be working, marry in the church. The church will be thrilled to have 2 converts or reverts. You will be the talk of the town for week. And if your shacking up with kids doesn’t work, you never married, or if you did civilly marry, God wasn’t present, so you retain the option of marrying in the church in the future.

    I don’t think people consciously think this way, but it’s in the background, and anyone with a reasonably functioning cerebral cortex is thinking through some of these options.

    I think what the Pope did it to say — please marry in the church. But if it doesn’t work out, we might have a clearer/quicker exit strategy. And throughout the process, we will be here loving you.

    (Not sure it’s gonna work….)

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  61. Athelstan says:

    I wonder if anyone will notice that this procedure will probably favor men who dump their wives and kids for a younger model.

    In my experience, Catholics of a more liberal bent on the whole marriage issue really are nonplussed by such cases. “The husband was a cad, but so what? He ain’t coming back. Just move on. Find someone else to marry.” Never mind how hard that is in the first place for single mothers – there’s just no real sympathy for spouses, even women (like Bai McFarlane), now told that their marriage never existed in the first place as far as the Church was concerned. Even if the husband isn’t “coming back,” that’s a real spiritual and psychological blow to the spouse who has every good reason (including the initial assurance of the Church herself) to believe that that marriage was real.

    It’s a remarkable atomism that has completely absorbed the divorce culture, and managed to completely shrug off the plain words of Christ. It’s not Catholic.

  62. johnmann says:

    Ed Peters has some must-reads about this up now.

    At least for the US, most of the changes are don’t matter and Peters has long favored dropping the automatic appeal. But the fast-track option is the big earth-shattering change. In practice, it looks like it will act like a divorce. Perhaps on the synod’s agenda should be discussion of limiting the scope of the fast-track annulment.

  63. Gratias says:

    Civil divorce was blocked in Argentina by the clergy for a long time. Catholicism was the nation’s religion and civil divorce only was approved in the seventies. I think Pope Francis is fixed in a back to the future mode, in this case trying to atone for perceived sins that only affected Argentina. Same for the anti-Capitalist magisterium. We can all be Peronistas now and redistribute poverty to the entire World.

  64. Daniel W says:

    Ed Peters at it again… “In sum, this general lack of awareness of the inescapably complex legal nature of marriage consent shown in these new rules is disturbing.” Peters completely misunderstands the pope’s genius.

    Peter’s is concerned that the Bishop can act as judge without much training in canon law. The whole point of the pope’s actions are to bi-pass the legal process when it is impossibly complex. This is exactly the power already given to bishops to bipass legal niceties in the case of a person who has reason to presume their spouse has died, but can’t prove it (canon 1707) Here the bishop, without any necessary legal or other training, merely needs to achieve moral certainty, even if it is based on RUMOR!

    Worse still, Peters is “disturbed” by the importance given to the mutual agreement of the parties to a process seeking a declaration of nullity. This betrays a profound misunderstanding of the current crisis. The pope sees the suffering of people awaiting the Church’s declaration of nullity – and wants to allocate limited resources to help limit their suffering. The measure of allocating more resources to cases where one party is convinced of the validity of the marriage is simple field hospital TRIAGE.

    Peters brings up the real problem of collusion. However, couples happy to collude to achieve a declaration of nullity found it easy to find others to collude as witnesses under the previous system. Peters seems blissfully unaware of another problem too, that of parties who intentionally obstruct the process of declaration of nullity in order to inflict more hurt.
    This betrays a worrying “lack of awareness” of the complex nature of EVIDENCE on the part of someone trained as a canon lawyer and training future canon lawyers!

    The pope is more worried about those who collude to obstruct a declaration of nullity by obstructing evidence, thus maliciously inflicting pain on one party. By allocating more resources to cases where a party CLAIMS to be convinced of validity, he hopes to determine the truth.
    The pope is aware that colluders to escape a valid marriage are already colluding under the present rules, and is humble enough to leave these to the divine Judge and the Holy Spirit, recalling that ill-fated colluding couple in Acts!

  65. joan ellen says:

    “A gentleman family member sees this as the Holy Father “cutting off the horses at the pass.” It seems he’s looks at it more mercifully.”

    This is a do-over for the above. I should have written: A gentleman family member see this as the Holy Father “cutting off the cowboys at the pass.”

    It would be good for family members to register on this blog so that do-overs are unnecessary!

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  67. joan ellen says:

    mysticalrose: Thank you for your comment.

    “The bottomline is, if a marriage is valid, it is indissoluble and no statement from any Church authority can dissolve it. If annulments are granted in haste, it will most certainly mean that some people will end up in invalid second marriages unbeknownst to them (as frankly I am sure is already the case for many). And the responsibility for this objective state of sin will be at the feet of the Holy Father. I shudder to think of the Final Judgement.”

    I often thought that my marriage of 44 years was invalid. Now that my husband is gone almost 12 years…I can say that that marriage of ours was as valid as valid can be. In addition, when I tried to tell 2 priests that my marriage is a perpetual one…one of them was able to say: “The Sacrament has ended. The relationship continues.” However, the Sacrament almost seems indelible.

    I have heard men in a second marriage say their relationship with the first wife continues in their heart. A woman friend who divorced her husband says he would take her back anytime. She also says that the relationship continues in her heart.

    It sounds like some people just need to separate, not divorce. They are saying they still love their spouse, they just can’t live with him or her.

    As one who has known ‘lust in my heart’ a few times (for a time)…prayer…for oneself and from others…can do wonders…thanks be to God. We can remain faithful to a spouse…living or dead…through all kinds of situations and circumstances. The Sacrament grants graces and it is up to us to pay attention to them…as noted above to persevere and persist…until as one priest said recently: “Husbands love your wives. That means” (as he turned towards the Crucifix pointing) you must be willing to do that.” It seems we women must also.

    The Magisterium of the Church may go off the path with these annulments. It does not mean we have to divorce and annul. The law is written in our hearts. Romans 2:2-16. We know better. We know we are supposed to remain monogamous…even with sometimes polygamous hearts.

  68. Papabile says:

    acardnal:

    perhaps you could post the relevant google search, because I do not find a standard format for reporting the number of annulments by diocese anywhere.

    Without that, you can’t really do good analysis.

  69. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Well it does at least mention and assert the indissolubility of marriage which is going to be a bit of a problem for the KasperKampf at the Synod which is perhaps why Pope Francis issued this motu proprio now.

  70. HeatherPA says:

    So very sad.

    We are already praying so much for our children and their vocation, whether it be as a spouse & parent or to a religious life.

    Now upon reading this, it seems we have to double our prayers for their future spouses, if they choose the married life, so that the people they choose aren’t fickle, faint of heart, or decide to leave when the going gets tough, as it inevitably does. Praying for our children and their power of discernment. Sigh. You do us no favors, Pope Francis.

    No, I take that back. You have made us better, more thorough and orthodox Catechists to our children than we ever thought we would have to be. Thank you.

  71. DonL says:

    Another impediment for evangelization into the one true Church.
    Aren’t we getting ever closer to dissecting the very essence of the sacraments, reducing them to quasi-legalisms whereby “emanations from penumbras” will determine all truth?

  72. tcreek says:

    Annulment stats – CARA
    1912 – cases closed resulting in annulments, 83%
    http://nineteensixty-four.blogspot.com/2015/06/fewer-marriages-fewer-annulments-and.html

  73. LarryW2LJ says:

    Bea, that was hit my eye upon reading Fr. Z’s post – that this goes into effect on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I must confess, that had me scratching my head and asking (to myself) “What’s up with that?”

  74. CPT TOM says:

    I am really am disturbed by this. I went through the annulment process in 2002 in the Hartford Archdiocese. It took 13 months beginning to end. I really was skeptical, but my fiancée was adamant that no annulment no marriage. I had my opinion changed as I went through the thorough affidavit process and meeting with the defender of the bond. I think the process should be thorough and move along. 13 months isn’t all that long when you consider it was 6 months for the response from the first Tribunal. I also think it is a BAD idea to get rid of review, especially in those parts of the world were corruption and collusion are part of the culture. I would think the Pope, coming from Argentina, would understand that, but I guess so called Mercy is more important than acknowledging the fallen nature of man. I agree this will have unintended consequences. Though for some it way be EXACTLY what they want. Chaos in the marriage process. If they really were interesting in fixing the marriage process they would fix the HORRIBLE marriage prep that is prevalent in many dioceses. Holy Mary Pray for us!

  75. I don’t know what to think about all this, except that my first reaction is fear for marriage.

    For myself, I am enormously grateful to the process of our diocese for saving ME years ago. After a long wait, because the declaration of annulment was not granted to my then-Significant Other, I was saved from what would have been a disastrous marriage. My friends urged me to ‘marry’ civilly anyway, and thank God I didn’t, as I couldn’t bear to live without the Sacraments.

    Authority saves us if we but accept it in whatever form it comes. I was broken-hearted, incredulous at the time, but now I see. Deo Gratias.

    This repeated breakdown of authority occurs simply because so many of us ignore the Authority while we had it. God says, ‘Oh? You want to do it your way? Ignore Me? Fine. Let’s see how you do… “.
    How’s that chaos workin’ for you?

  76. Imrahil says:

    Some (three) points:

    1. it would be false to assume that was particularly what the party colloquially known as “the German bishops” wanted, or a halfway approach to meet their desires.

    The German bishops are, you know, Germans. They won’t consider it a solution to count a valid marriage as an invalid one just for the sake of remarriage – even if that solves the problem. They fairly well see that some people who have entered into a valid marriage will find themselves in the divorced-and-remarried situation; and if the marriage is valid, then annulment is no solution. It is as easy as that.

    Also, as I read just this morning, I think, in an interview with Cdl Marx, then obviously no second sacramental marriage is possible. No, he was not “backtracking”. This isn’t politics; and it happens to be what they have always said.

    What they think is that, in some situations, remaining in the remarriage after divorce and having sex within it is possible whether actual (subjective) mortal sin, and they want to lift can. 915 accordingly. That is the issue here. How easy annulments should be in annullable putative marriages is a horse of an entirely different color.

    (It may be added that a lot of Germans, don’t know about people elsewhere, don’t want an annulment even if they could perhaps claim lack of consent regarding indissolubility, or so, and get it. They think this means slapping their old marriage into the face. They don’t think, though, that leaving the spouse, if it just doesn’t work out any-more, is slapping their old marriage into the face – and though they still think marriage means something, almost noone thinks that once the spouse has left, or also unfortunatly been left by oneself, s/he is owed any abstinence.)

    2. It is impossible, in my view, that a college of three judges, whereof two laymen, can deal out a decision by majority, if the cleric is not part of the majority – unless we assume the cleric to “assent afterwards”, and say it is at least possible for him to forward the case to his bishop or judicial vicar.

    Jurisdiction in Church is entrusted to clergy, not laity.

    3. New canon 1675 does have an odd feeling to it, as has been noted. It may be said that the thing to do even in a putative marriage is to tell the spouses to stick together and sanitize it, but still, it does sound more like divorce than like annulment.

  77. Kathleen10 says:

    frjim, I have heard that the bishops can request a delay. Hopefully that will happen.

    This all came out on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. It goes into effect on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
    I would think that was odd timing, but I’m sure nobody at the Vatican noticed it.

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  79. Caritas says:

    I am not sure how all these changes will play out and I think it will depend on the diocese that you live in.
    I will say, that from personal experience, the current system, while well intentioned and rigorous, is cumbersome, slow, lacking in pastoral elements.
    I do think that 45-60 days is probably too quick in some cases, but there are obvious cases where nullify is fairly certain, for example, a catholic marrying a non-catholic in a courthouse, with no marriage prep, or because of a pregnancy….

    I see a bit of a disconnect between the commenters at this blog and the reality of every day Catholics in terms of the understanding and catechesis concerning the truth of catholic understanding of marriage. While the commenters and readers of this blog are well informed Catholics, I think there is a very large percentage of people being married in the church, and have been married in the Church, who lack a true understanding of this as a sacrament, and even of the meaning of a sacrament. The popular culture has overwhelmed the often silent view of we Catholics
    If you don’t believe this, simply ask those who are not daily and weekly mass goers some simple man-on-the -street questions about doctrine… There a lot more invalid marriages out there than valid ones if we looked closely… Sad, but true. The church, and we should look at this as a huge opportunity to help people, unclear on what marriage truly means, to pick up the pieces and move forward with Christ. Divorce is a true tragedy in so many ways, but the Church has a very real chance to bring people to Jesus, instead of alienating them

  80. DonL says:

    “I’ll bet good money (but don’t expect any takers) that such an expedited process will make diocese hopping all the rage…”

    I wonder how much of this goes on all the time now when the more traditional is rejected for the more liberal or vice versa?

  81. joan ellen says:

    Caritas:
    “Divorce is a true tragedy in so many ways, but the Church has a very real chance to bring people to Jesus, instead of alienating them”

    In a divorce there is always someone who is alienated. If the husband or wife divorce & remarry in a civil manner, they will not be able to receive our Blessed Lord nor enjoy the benefits of the other life saving Sacraments, and so feel alienated from our Blessed Lord and His Church;

    The victim husband or wife may feel alienated…even though he or she, if unmarried, have the life saving Sacraments available to them. If left to raise any children as a single parent they may feel alienated, angry, & etc.

    The children of a divorce may feel like illegitimate children, or worse, & therefore, may feel alienated.

    If the annulled father &/or mother remarry…and have children…the original children may feel alienated because the new children have their parent when they, the original children, need their parent.

    Indeed, divorce is a tragedy. We can pray for the victims. Catechize. Value the Sacrament of Matrimony. Avoid the near occasions that prompt polygamous feelings. Exercise self control in favor of monogamy thereby living that monogamy. For the sake of one’s soul. For the sake of one’s spouse’s soul. For the sake of one’s children’s souls. For the sake of family as an institution. For the sake of society.

    The Pope’s job is to bring God & His Church to the People of God. That includes mercy towards them. That includes being fair (just) towards them. The new motu proprio offers brevity of the annulment process. Is it also merciful ? Is it also just?

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  83. robtbrown says:

    I’m not opposed to streamlining the annulment procedures–just as I wouldn’t have been opposed to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.