Pope Francis Announces New, Streamlined Annulments for Catholics
For some people, divorce isn’t just an emotional and financial hardship, it’s a spiritual one. In the Catholic community, divorce is a sin and those who end their marriage are barred from sacraments and often considered adulterers. Just this week, however, Pope Francis announced new church initiatives to make marriage annulments—which invalidate a marriage in the eyes of a church—cheaper and easier to obtain for Catholics who want to dissolve their marriage and still remain observant.
As CNN reports, the new announcement is yet another reform from Pope Francis, who has made listening to the needs of modern Catholics a priority. Under his new “motu propio” initiatives, church annulments can now be fast-tracked with a bishop’s approval, are no longer subject to a second clerical review, and only require nominal administrative costs. The new policies will go into effect December 8, 2015.
Previously, annulments could cost upwards of thousands of dollars and required approval from a tribunal of clergy. Outside the U.S., the church is not only having trouble populating these tribunals, but has also been seeing an alarming rate of followers give up on the annulment process—and their faith—in favor of a divorce.
Annulments in the U.S.
According to the latest figures from 2012, a majority of Catholic annulments occur in the U.S. That year, 27,533 Catholic annulments occurred in the U.S., with only 40,811 occurring worldwide. American annulments also had a higher completion rate, 86%, compared to other nations like Europe (75%) and Africa (61%).
While the Vatican’s announcement this week pertains to church doctrine and not New York divorce laws, it is still encouraging news. The church’s new perspective on annulments means that countless individuals who may have delayed ending their marriage due to church consequences will now have the opportunity to move on with their lives and still participate in their faith.
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You do not have to approach this new stage of your life without a dedicated advocate by your side. Start the process today by contacting our team.