Big News Reported On CNN:
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.