by Cindy Wooden on Catholic Herald
The reforms could affect thousands of Catholics worldwide
While a juridical process is necessary for making accurate judgments, the Catholic Church’s marriage annulment process must be quicker, cheaper and much more of a pastoral ministry, Pope Francis said.
Rewriting a section of the Latin-rite Code of Canon Law and of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Pope Francis said he was not “promoting the nullity of marriages, but the quickness of the processes, as well as a correct simplicity” of the procedures so that Catholic couples are not “oppressed by the shadow of doubt” for prolonged periods.
The Vatican released today the texts of two papal documents, “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (“The Lord Jesus, the Gentle Judge”) for the Latin-rite church and “Mitis et misericors Iesus,” (“The Meek and Merciful Jesus”) for the Eastern Catholic churches.
The changes, including the option of a brief process without the obligatory automatic appeal, go into effect on December 8, the opening day of the Year of Mercy. Continue reading…
There will be rejoicing at this news by many of those currently seeking annulments of their marriages, but others in the Church like this blogger are being more cautious, seeing this ‘reform’ as the gateway for The Catholic Divorce to be given its blessing! He reports…
“I have my initial first reactions, but first a few caveats. I am supportive of ‘streamlining the process’ so that undue wait and complexity could be removed as long as the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage was protected.
In the Motu Proprio, Pope Francis several times makes point that these reforms are in no way to mitigate against the indissolubility of marriage, which is good. But I think there is a real danger that these reforms will undermine marriage.
In advance of the issuance of this motu proprio, I said on social media “If the Pope does away with automatic appeals of declarations of nullity, it will do more damage to marriage than the gay marriage movement. Ending in Catholic Divorce.”
Well, the Pope did away with the automatic appeals process and all power is now placed in the Bishop and his appointees. This is so incredibly dangerous and the removal of the automatic appeal will predictably make for considerable mischief in many places, even as the Pope cautions against abuses.
Cautions aside, it is the predictability of what will happen in many places that is at issue. The Pope cautions against abuses, but we know they are inevitable, predictable, and in some places desired. This opens up the possibility of Catholic divorce in many locales.
I have a great deal of concern about this. A great deal. But I must admit that my first impression of the document is rushed and through a translator, so it will take more time to digest and even more time still to see how this is actually implemented. But I have fear that cautions aside, the barn door has just been propped wide open and the horses know it.”
RORATE CAELI has published the English summary of the two Apostolic Letters with the main changes reported by Vatican Radio, and comments below the text:
“Merely to illustrate how much things have changed in just three years: in 2012 the Vatican also had a project to reform some aspects of the canonical process for declarations of nullity. The major difference is that this project had as its aim to tighten, or make stricter, the grounds for granting these declarations — not make these easier to obtain. (Rorate posted about this in May 2012.) One of the driving forces behind this “Ratzingerian” version of annulment reform was Cardinal Burke, whose removal from the Apostolic Signatura in November 2014 was, at the very least, highly convenient for the partisans of annulment simplification.”
Comments and opinions from our readers would be welcome