Faster, Cheaper, Easier: Pope Changes Policies for Marriage Annulment

Faster, Cheaper, Easier: Pope Changes Policies for Marriage Annulment

Pope Francis announced this week a change in the process for Catholics to annul their marriages.

The change will mean a faster, easier process for annulment, according to CNN.

Under the new process, there is no need for a second review by a cleric before the marriage can be nullified, bishops can fast-track and grant the annulments themselves in some circumstances, and finally, the process will be free, except for a small fee for administrative costs.

"This move is in accord with the Pope's oft-repeated image of the Church as a 'field hospital' that goes out to meet people where they are most in need, and then to treat their most serious wounds first -- rather than stay at home and wait for people to come to them," said the Rev. James Bretzke, an expert on papal affairs at Boston College.

Catholics who do not have an annulment and remarry are considered adulterers and are not allowed to receive Holy Communion. About half of the 50,000 annulments granted in 2012 were Americans.

The announcement comes just a few weeks before Francis makes his first visit to the United States.

The new change will become part of Catholic canon law on Dec. 8.

"Some procedures are so long and so burdensome," the pontiff said in 2014, "and people give up."

Publication date: September 8, 2015