The announcement by Pope Francis of an extensive revision of the marriage annulment process within the Catholic Church has the support of the director of Family Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
The reforms become part of Catholic canon law on December 8, the beginning of the pope-declared Year of Mercy.
The Catholic Church does not recognize divorce, as one of its main doctrines is the lifelong commitment of a marriage.
Prior to Francis’ reform, people seeking annulments were required to go before a three-judge panel, unless a regional bishops’ conference gave a bishop permission to hear the case himself. He said the pope is simply reaching out to people.
The Washington Post, citing Vatican experts, states that the changes “appear to be the most far-reaching made to the church’s annulment process in centuries”.
As for how many people in the USA might be affected by the changes, Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter tells NPR’s Morning Edition that there were recently as many as 80,000 annulment cases annually in America – but that the number has fallen sharply.
Aymond said he felt the changes were “absolutely necessary”. And lastly, the process will be free of charge, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs and would be completed within 45 days.
Hinkle applied for an annulment eight years ago, to be able to marry her current husband through the church. However, the Church encourages annulment to those who would like to remarry, since the teachings say remarrying without annulling a first marriage is adultery.
The church doesn’t have to accept a court’s finding when determining whether to allow a couple to get an annulment.
Among the changes the major highlights include the elimination that annulment decisions require a second judgment and local Church Bishops will be permitted to expedite the process in certain instances.