Major Catholic Church Development Regarding Annulments and Adultery


Big News Reported On CNN: 

Pope Francis makes annulment of marriages cheaper and easier

by Delia Gallagher and Daniel Burke (click on article title above for link)

I am not Catholic. My understanding of marriage is more in line with Protestantism, of course. I am an evangelical and a Lutheran minister, after all.

In my tradition and theology, marriages can end in divorce and need not be annulled. They were real marriages. Marriages are not indissolvable unions. I see no sacrament crisis when it comes to divorce.

That said, I respect my Catholic brothers and sisters in their own convictions. And I am very happy to see this change of course taking place in the Catholic Church with Pope Francis leading the charge. This is a very good thing.

Protestants could learn something from this:

They could learn how to take marriage seriously in their ordained ministers without being unmerciful to them, especially the faithful spouses.

Besides making this process more accessible financially, I really appreciate how Pope Francis gives bishops the power to fast track annulments for faithful spouses. This is excellent. It is Biblical. Finally, some sanity regarding caring for the victims of adultery and abuse in the church!

Also, I will note that this process is supposed to be completed in less than two months’ time! Forty-five days is the mark to be precise. This is excellent as well.

I wish my ecclesiastical trial to retain my minister’s license had been that prompt!

When ecclesiastical trials drag on, they slow the healing and grieving process. Old wounds are reopened as they are required to be so for examination in order to get a certain verdict. In this case, the verdict sought is a proper sacramental annulment of the marriage. For me, I needed an exception to a denominational policy that stated no divorced person could be credentialed by my (now former) denomination.

I applaud Pope Francis for demonstrating a truly compassionate and pastoral heart to His flock by making sure this process is not dragged out unnecessarily. It is a good thing that he eliminated the second review. Protestant church leaders could learn from that example as well in their own processes regarding divorced pastors.

This is truly good news to faithful spouses and Catholics. I am so glad to be able to share this with my readership. It is step in the right direction, and I hope the example Pope Francis is setting by it has a positive ripple effect beyond the Catholic Church.



5 thoughts on “Major Catholic Church Development Regarding Annulments and Adultery”

  1. From what I’ve read about him so far, I believe this is a very open-minded and progressive pope. This is good.

  2. David,

    Thanks for the comments on the annulment process. Yesterday, I reflected with my priest on the changes in that process. There were elements of going through the annulment that were very helpful and very healing. I struggled with other elements of it. After two years mine was completed. Hopefully the new process will focus on the pastoral/healing elements and less on the judicial.

    Ultimately, I believe it is the healing the broken which is important. When I look at the changes that Francis have been putting forward, I see the healing mercy of Christ. I hope in years to come that we can see the annulment process as a healing practice and not legal hoops to jump through.


    1. Agreed, Mike. I do truly hope this is truly a focus change where the focus is healing as opposed to meeting rules or ecclesiastical, judicial necessities. It strikes me as a good step in that right direction for sure.

  3. Thank you SOOO much, DM! I’m a devout Catholic, and my priest walked this horrible journey – and even cried with me – when we discussed how, although I’m the loyal spouse, I am still spiritually tethered to that betraying, abandoning XH even after the civil divorce. We talked anullment, since the XH is a serial cheater, and never upholded his “vows,” but this news is fantastic!

    I told my priest that it feels like yet another betrayal to me as the loyal spouse who was forced into divorce, to be bound by my church to someone who is obviously a non-believer, and who merely went through the human visual motions of making many covenents through our church, but who has a hard heart, and zero remorse for his actions.

    I intend to set an appointment with my priest again for this week to discuss what this might mean for me. The prospect of finally being free in a much bigger sense than the civil divorce is such a powerful point of hope for me! Thanks for all you do to encourage us, DM. I appreciate all of your insight and words of encouragement both here, and on CL’s site. =)

    God bless!!

  4. I’m also protestant. I grew up as a Lutheran. Even though I’m not Catholic, I have to say, I love Pope Francis. I heard a long time ago that he instructed the church officials to prioritize helping the poor and the sick. He also ordered church officials to create vatican law against sexual abuse of children and to create a committee to obliterate those abuses. He really seems to get that he is the hands and feet of Christ.

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