During his time as Pope, Pope Francis has championed the cause for mercy. He has highlighted the necessity of caring for immigrants and refugees, families and the most vulnerable in society no matter who they are. In April, Pope Francis announced that a Jubilee Year of Mercy would begin on December 8, 2015 and continue throughout 2016. With this mindset Pope Francis has attempted to make it easier for Catholics to practice their faith.
This past week, on Tuesday, Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters by which it will make it easier for Catholics and others to obtain marriage annulments. By reforming some of the legal structures associated with the annulment process, those seeking annulments will experience a more streamlined process. The Pope’s motives are out of “concern for the salvation of souls.”
These documents called: “The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge” and “Clement and Merciful Jesus” arises out of the desire of bishops worldwide who last October during the Synod of Bishops on the family requested a simplification of the annulment process. Pope Francis decided to issue provisions “that favor not marriage annulments, but the speed of the processes.”
Two notable changes in the process is that one sentence of nullity will be sufficient where as in the past two sentences of nullity were required. The other major change is that annulments should be free of charge so as not to be a hindrance to those desiring to participate in the annulment process.
The Church’s sacramental theology of marriage has not changed. The Catholic Church still teaches that marriage is a permanent, exclusive union, open to the possibility of children between a man and a woman.