What does the pope know about the process? A lot, and much of it is personal:
A good anecdote to help us understand Pope Francis’ interest in swiftly resolving cases of matrimonial nullity is the case of his niece María Inés Narvaja.
In an interview previously published on Aleteia, she explains how Pope Francis, when he was still just Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took an interest in her marital situation. “I married my husband in a civil marriage first, and then in the Church four years later,” she admits. She explains that her uncle “had submitted the paperwork for an annulment and the decision took a long time to arrive, so I had to wait for those four years… All that time he was like a great father to me, and I am very grateful to him for that.”
The interview with María Inés Navaja shows two aspects of Pope Francis’ personality that help us to understand the changes he is implementing. “My uncle has two characteristics: The first is an impressive memory, and the second is that he listens a lot, but doesn’t judge, and never tells you what you have to do. I remember when I told him that I couldn’t wait to until getting married in the Church, that I was a grownup now and I was going to get married in a civil marriage; he answered that ‘it’s the best news you’ve given me.’”
Pope Francis has always had a special sensitivity concerning marriage processes and annulments. In November of 2014, before a general audience at St. Peter’s, the Pope greeted participants in a course organized by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
There, Pope Francis surprised everyone once again with two new anecdotes. The first spoke about the work of the inter-diocesan Tribunal of Buenos Aires: “I don’t recall, but I think that on the level of first instance it has 15 dioceses; I think the furthest is 240 km [150 miles] away… One cannot, it’s impossible to imagine simple, common people going to the Tribunal: they have to travel, they have to lose work days, many things… They say, ‘God understands me, and so I go ahead, with this weight on my soul.”
Pope Francis concluded: “And Mother Church must do justice and say, ‘Yes, it’s true, your marriage is annulled – no, your marriage is valid.’ It is a matter of justice to say it. This way they can move forward without this doubt, this darkness in their spirit.”