Roman Catholics don’t allow for divorce, the dissolution of a marriage. They do, however, allow for annullments, which deny after the fact that a valid marriage ever took place (despite how long the couple has lived together, if they had children, etc.). After an annullment, the marriage is considered never to have existed.
The process to get one has been arduous, time-consuming, and expensive, given the tortuous logic that has to be engaged in, with couples having to provide evidence, for example, that they too young to know what they were getting into and so didn’t really have informed consent to the marriage, and similar rationalizations.
But now Pope Francis has issued the biggest changes to annulment proceedings in hundreds of years, making the whole process much easier. This will surely mean that more Catholics will end their marriages. But at least they won’t get a divorce!
Pope Francis on Tuesday announced sweeping revisions to the Catholic Church’s marriage annulment process, changes that are designed to speed up and simplify the often lengthy procedure. The revisions, according to Vatican experts, appear to be the most far-reaching made to the church’s annulment process in centuries.
The announcement, featuring changes that will make it easier for Catholics to remarry, comes about a month before a major meeting at the Vatican, where Catholic leadership will examine the church’s views on family issues, including divorce and remarriage.
The changes will eliminate a requirement that all annulment decisions get a second judgment and will allow local bishops to expedite the annulment process for some cases. The annulment process will be free of charge, though many dioceses had already eliminated the administrative fees for marriage annulments, according to a Vatican spokesman. The revisions also expand the role of local bishops in judging nullification proceedings.