Reforming rules for an invalid marriage,the Holy Father moved to quicken the processes of annulment cases as well as make the procedures faster so that Catholic couples are not “oppressed by the shadow of doubt” for prolonged periods.
Referring to the proposal to allow the reception of the Holy Eucharist for divorced or remarried Catholics a dead topic, the Holy Father reaffirmed that despite the reformation for the annulment processes, the communion proposal is still not an option as far as God and the Church are concerned.
Pope Francis said the new norms are to be adhered to in order to help bring healing to failed marriages.
Those conditions include: when it is clear one or both parties lacked the faith to give full consent to a Catholic marriage; when the woman had an abortion to prevent procreation; remaining in an extramarital relationship at the time of the wedding or immediately afterward; one partner hiding knowledge of infertility, a serious contagious disease, children from a previous union or a history of incarceration; and when physical violence was used to extort consent for the marriage
“The laws that now go into effect aim precisely to show the Church’s closeness to wounded families, desiring that the large number of those who experience the drama of a failed marriage be touched by the healing work of Christ” through the Church in order to then go on to be “new missionaries of God’s mercy towards other brothers and sisters for the benefit of the institution of the family,” the Pope wrote.
An official Papal Order known as “Rescript” was issued on 7th December by the Holy Father. The Rescript is meant to serve as a reminder for observing and practicing the new norms and to guide clearly the details of the norm. The text of the Rescript was released on December 11th.
The Pope said the new norms were given to “carry out justice and mercy concerning the truth of the bond of those who experienced the failure of marriage” as well as to “harmonise” the updated procedures with the proper norms of the Roman Rota — a Vatican tribunal that mainly deals with marriage annulment cases.
The new rules replace canons 1671-1691 of the Code of Canon Law and canons 1357-1377 of the Eastern code. The changes made by Pope Francis, particularly the responsibility and trust placed in local bishops, are the most substantial changes.
The norms include a set of “procedural regulations” outlining how the papal reforms are to take place, encouraging bishops in small dioceses to train personnel who can handle marriage cases and spelling out specific conditions when a bishop can issue a declaration of nullity after an abbreviated process.
An annulment is a declaration by a Church tribunal (a Catholic church court) that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union.