The Pope has streamlined the annulment process with reforms that make it easier and more affordable to void a Catholic marriage.

Pope_Francis_3Pope Francis made significant reforms to the annulment process on Tuesday, making it simpler and more affordable for Catholics to render their marriages null and void. The Pope’s changes came in the form of two Motu Proprio documents, which means “by (the Pope’s) own initiative” in Latin, earlier this week. However, the reforms will not be recognized as part of Catholic canon law until December 8th – at the beginning of Pope Francis’ “Year of Mercy.”

What the Reforms Mean for Separating Catholics

The changes outlined by Pope Francis are designed to streamline the annulment process while reducing the associated financial cost. The reforms give bishops permission to expedite and grant annulments themselves in extreme circumstances, such as those involving infidelity or domestic abuse. The reforms also eliminate the need for a second review by a cleric before granting an annulment.  Another major change is that Pope Francis wants the annulment process to cost nothing to the parties involved, aside from a nominal fee to cover administrative costs. Furthermore, he hopes all annulments can be completed within a time frame of 45 days.

Changing the Way Separated Catholics Are Treated by the Church

Catholics who are divorced or separated but have not received an annulment have historically been banned from receiving Holy Communion. Although Pope Francis recently spoke out against such marginalizing treatment of members of the church, the new simplified process for obtaining an annulment will allow more remarried Catholics to avoid the sting of being denied participation in a holy sacrament that is integral to their religion.