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Carol Bridges wrote:

Hi, guys —

Please allow me to ask you five important questions so I can better understand the changes which were introduced by Pope Francis regarding annulments.

Is that true that according to the last reform:

  1. [A second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.] was eliminated?
  2. The bishops are given the ability to fast track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances?
  3. The process will be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days?
  4. If the annulment is granted, the Catholic can re-marry in the Church and this marriage will be considered valid?
  5. The divorced Catholic will not lose an opportunity to participate in Church life and will not be refused Communion and other blessings?

We would be extremely grateful for your reply.

With much respect and I will keep your team in my prayers,

Carol

  { Can you please address these important issues related to the annulment changes by Pope Francis? }

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi Carol,

I am happy to answer:

You said:

Is that true that according to the last reform:

  1. [A second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.] was eliminated?

    Prior to the new law there was always an automatic review by a different court. This automatic appeal was eliminated but the case can still be appealed by one of the parties involved.

  2. The bishops are given the ability to fast track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances?

    In limited circumstances for very obvious cases the bishops can use a different process. They can instruct this themselves but most bishops will use their own Tribunals to instruct the briefer cases.

  3. The process will be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days?

    The new document hopes that it will be free of charge but it leaves the door open to Bishops still charging. However, the law itself allows for someone who cannot afford whatever is being charged to ask to have the fee waived.

    The 45 days refers to the two major time pieces in the new document:

    • one of which allows for the hearings to be heard in a month and
    • the other that allows the Defender of the Bond to give his/her opinion in 15 days.

Since these are the only time periods in the new process, people are saying it only takes 45 days. This is not therefore technically true. It doesn't account for all of the work that needs to be done prior to the case being accepted for example. On the other hand, the 30 day and the 15 days steps could easily be accomplished much quicker than that.

That being all said, I would say the process will probably average about
2 months but they vary a lot
.

  1. If the annulment is granted, the Catholic can re-marry in the Church and this marriage will be considered valid?

    An annulment says that the marriage in question has been declared invalid. Therefore it does not impede the person from marrying again in a valid ceremony because the Church no longer considers them tied to a previous marriage.

    A more simple answer to your question = yes.


  2. The divorced Catholic will not lose an opportunity to participate in Church life and will not be refused Communion and other blessings?

    What keeps a divorced person from Holy Communion is not the divorce.

    One who is merely divorced is not hindered from Eucharist and Confession in any way. However, if they have remarried outside of the Church then they are committing the sin of adultery with no intention of reforming their lives. This is what keeps them form Confession and therefore Holy Communion.

    Once one obtains an annulment, the person is free to have their marriage made valid in the Church and once they do that they can return to Confession and Holy Communion.

I hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

Carol replied:

Dear Fr. Jonathan,

Thank-you so cordially for your help.

With much respect as I keep you in today's prayers.

Carol

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