ASK FATHER: “Favor of the Faith” case approved

From a reader…


Dear Father,

I am marrying a previously married woman who two weeks ago recieved a dissolution of her previous marriage in “favor of the faith” from the Holy Father.

Today she recieved the official decree from the CDF.

I’m curious how did this process work? Did the Pope actually read the case (it’s not signed by him, but stated he granted his “affirmative? Or does the CDF conditionally approve such decrees and they bring a stack to him and he approves them all at once?

With your background Vatican, I’d be curious about what exactly happened the last 4 months we were waiting on this privlidge of the faith case.

Finally, the decree has a notation in the upper lefthand corner (Prot. N . 39/17M). I assume that’s some archival notation but was just curious whatit actually means.

Anyway, I am a big fan of your blog. If you have the time to respond at all it would be most appreciated!

Since that kind of process was well outside my activity when I was there, I’ve asked help from one of my experienced, tame canonists.


Four months seems like a very fast turnaound time. This woman was fortunate (if one can be permitted to believe in fortune under such circumstances!).

I do not know how things are done under this pontificate, but the Holy Father would not personally read the cases, any more than a local bishop would personally read a formal nullity case or a Pauline Privilege case. These things are instead prepared by those who have the expertise to do so.

I assume, but do not know, that such cases are presented to the Holy Father in the course of the CDF’s routine (weekly? — in this pontificate I don’t know) meetings with him, and he simply gives a “yes” — much like when I present a formal nullity case to the Judicial Vicar or the Presiding Judge/Praeses and he knows I’ve done all the work correctly: he just says, “write the Sentence” — usually without even looking at it.

The Protocol Number is that this was the 39th Matrimonial case they received in 2017.

These are the norms: HERE

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  1. Animadversor says:

    I’ve asked help from one of my experienced, tame canonists.

    How does one tame a canonist? Is it hard? What works better: threats or enticements? Are lay or clerical canonists easier to tame? Religious or non-religious? Do they stay tamed?

  2. Animadversor:

    It’s not all that mysterious, once you know the ways of canonists. I’ve made a study of them in their habitats. Food and alcohol usually do the trick. And, if they are good, faithful canonists, fun and a sense of humor.

  3. “Four months seems like a very fast turnaound time”

    Indeed it does. I waited over two years for my annulment, and I was told that it was done in a shorter amount of time than many others. It took me a while to “write my story” of 13 years, but that wasn’t included in the two year wait. The process didn’t begin until I turned in all the paperwork.

  4. Dear Semper Fi Catholic, the process in this case is not a declaration of nullity (an “annulment”). This is a dissolution of a non-sacramental matrimonial bond “in favor of the faith” — an entirely different process. However, regarding “annulments”, even with the new nullity procedures promulgated by Pope Francis a year and a half ago, formal nullity cases are still running about a year (at least in my part of the world) and I can see how some cases could still stretch to two years and beyond (as before, with the previous procedures, the timeline does not so much depend upon the tribunal but upon the cooperation of other people — the parties, witnesses, experts, etc.). But again — we’re not talking about an “annulment” in this post.

  5. LeeF says:

    The tame canonist said: The Protocol Number is that this was the 39th Matrimonial case they received in 2017.

    So I wonder if you complain to Rome about your bishop or something in the diocese, whether a protocol number would indicate the nth complaint that year for same?

  6. @ Magdalen Ross, thanks for the clarification. I have never heard of dissolution of a non-sacramental matrimonial bond “in favor of the faith”. Guess I better look that up.

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