For a long time, divorce has caused some divide between the Roman Catholic Church and devout Catholics all over the world. This is because Catholicism doesn’t recognize divorce as a legal dissolution of marriage. According to the church, the only way to dissolve a marriage is to get an annulment, which declares that the marriage didn’t exist in the first place. If a Catholic remarries after a divorce, it’s considered adultery.
Devout Catholics have long desired a change in this policy. Getting an annulment is a complicated, time consuming, and exhaustive process. The separating couple always feels that there’s an invasion of their privacy during the annulment process. The cost is also very prohibitive.
Now, Pope Francis has taken a major step to ease the annulment process. He has essentially fast-tracked it. The rules will be implemented on December 8th. According to these changes, annulment cases might be heard in 30 to 45 days of the application if neither party contests it.
Instead of going through two different Church trials and paying the subsequent fees, the separating couple would only have to go through one trial. According to officials, the details are still not finalized over the matter, but most Catholics are enthusiastic over the change.
Pope Francis did claim that the annulment process would be free and the Vatican officials did confirm this. The Church will only be charging fees for the tribunal process and nothing else.
The Current Process
At present, getting an annulment is a very discouraging process. A spouse needs to petition for the annulment with the assistance of a lawyer. A clergyman from the tribunal would contact the responding spouse. At this stage, the responder might cooperate or contest.
Each party is allowed to present evidence. They also need to call witnesses to testify. After the case is presented, the defender of the bond, who’s an advocate from the Church, would try to argue that the marriage shouldn’t be annulled after examining all the evidence.
The tribunal will consider all the evidence before passing their judgment. Unfortunately, this doesn’t end here. This judgment must be confirmed by another tribunal. The separating couple would have to go through the entire process once again before the judgment is confirmed. Pope Francis has removed this confirmation from the annulment process. This would save considerable time and money and ease the way to a successful annulment.