Pope Francis has made the annulment of marriage simpler and easier with a call for bishops to be more welcoming to divorced couples. It is one of the biggest changes around guidance regarding divorce in the Catholic church for over 250 years. Yet, all is not what it seems and the Catholic Church’s position is one where there are specific clauses to what may constitute a quicker annulment of the marriage.
Previously, couples looking for an annulment of their marriage would have to wait years and the frustration for some couples meant that they were unable to marry again and were left having to live in limbo until an annulment was granted some years down the line. With the new procedure highlighted in a document called Motu Proprio (meaning ‘by his own initiative’), the Pope re-affirms the Church’s commitment to marriage though it will be easier for separated couples to receive an annulment within 45 days based on whether the Church decides that a marriage was not valid in the first place because of issues of psychological immaturity, co-ercion etc.
Previously annulments of marriages carried heavy fees, and delays due to a second tribunal which mandatorily reviewed the initial annulment decision. However, this ‘speeding up’ of the process may only be relevant for clear cut cases.