As I suspected over the weekend, wire service reports that Pope Benedict was calling for rapid annulments were flawed. In fact, he was saying that the Church’s institutions related to the annulment process should work more efficiently in order to resolve lingering problems. Contrary to the secular media’s insinuations, he was not loosening rules governing annulments, nor suggesting anything less than complete diligence toward the questions of validity.
Evidently he recognizes that canonical and sacramental matters related to marriage are among the most sensitive today and considering how many people are involved in tribunal cases today, the workload is very high. So the Holy Father wants those work within the Church’s judicial system to work to prevent the backlog from overwhelming them and dragging out what is often a painful process for the petitioners.
The Holy Father said that couples seeking annulments of their marriages have a right to a reasonable fast response from Church tribunals. However, he stressed that annulments should be granted only when the evidence indicates that a true marriage never took place. The Pope strongly denied that a “pastoral” approach could overlook the requirements of the Church’s legal process.
This reminds me of one of my rules: Whenever a secular media source reports something that sounds like the Church, the Pope, the bishop, etc. is denying a central tenet of the faith and/or watering down the faith, double-check with reliable Catholic news media.
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