POPE FRANCIS ANNULMENT PROCESS

POPE FRANCIS ANNULMENT PROCESS

by MARGO SNYDER

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Overview

What changes did Pope Francis make to the process?
This is a complicated subject, because he replaced the sections in the two codes of canon law that deal with annulments. In the case of the Western code, that means he had twenty-one canons rewritten (canons 1671-1691).
Some of the changes were slight, but there are too many to go into here.
Among the major changes, as listed in the introduction to Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, are:
Only a single judgment of nullity is required. Until now, in most cases, if one tribunal determined that a marriage was null, the decision was automatically appealed to a court of second instance, and only if the second tribunal agreed was an annulment granted. Now the morally certain decision of the first court will be sufficient in uncontested cases.
The bishop himself is a judge. Although the bishop has always been the principal judge in his diocese, previously, the section on annulments did not establish that the bishop himself was a judge in marriage cases. Now, in keeping with his role as shepherd of the faithful, it does. In fact, he is the principal judge in his diocese, to be assisted by others whom he chooses. The new law thus puts the responsibility squarely on the bishop as a pastor.
A new, briefer process involving the bishop has been created. Up to now, there have been two processes for handling annulments: the formal process (which is the lengthier one involving gathering and weighing testimony) and the documentary process (which deals with situations where a marriage can be proved invalid simply by presenting certain documents,
such as showing that a Catholic got married outside the Church without the required permission).
Now there is a middle process involving the bishop. If the evidences for nullity are especially clear, they can be presented to the bishop in a process intended to take less time than a formal process case. However, if the evidences require more examination, the case is to be referred to the formal process.
Appeals can be made against the judgment of the bishop to the metropolitan. As a check on the judgment of the bishop, parties can appeal his decision to the metropolitan bishop (i.e., the bishop who heads the local ecclesiastical province, composed of several neighboring dioceses). Or, if it was the metropolitan himself who heard the original case, appeal can be made to the senior suffragan bishop (i.e., the bishop in the province with the most seniority, apart from the metropolitan).
7) In what kind of situations can the new, shorter process be used?
According to the procedural norms attached to Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (see Art. 14 § 1), these cases include the following:
lack of faith resulting in the simulation of consent to be married or an error that determines the will regarding one of the requirements of marriage
the brevity of married life (i.e., the couple divorced very quickly after being married)
procured abortion to prevent procreation (presumably during the marriage itself, prior to bearing other children and thus showing an unwillingness to procreate)
the stubborn persistence in a extramarital affair at the time of the wedding or at a time immediately following
the malicious concealment of:
infertility
a serious contagious disease
children born from a previous relationship
an incarceration
a reason for getting married that is completely foreign to married life (presumably something like entering a legal fiction of a marriage to be able to immigrate or gain an inheritance)
or consisting of the unplanned pregnancy of the woman

the physical violence inflicted to extort the consent to marry
the lack of use of reason proved by medical documents
Adultery
8) When does all this take effect?
Not immediately. According to Vatican Information Service, the effective date is December 8, 2015.
9) Is there more to say about all this?
Lots. However, this will do for an initial look at the subject.


Jimmy Akin is an internationally known author and speaker. As the senior apologist at Catholic Answers, he has more than twenty years of experiencing defending and explaining the Faith.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940151209939
Publisher: M.M.Snyder
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 10 KB

About the Author

Jimmy Akin is an internationally known author and speaker. As the senior apologist at Catholic Answers, he has more than twenty years of experiencing defending and explaining the Faith.

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