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Conscience Magazine

Pope Clarifies Church Policy on Annulment, Not Divorce

By Catholics for Choice April 25, 2016

Pope Francis made some clarifications about the marriage annulment process, which went into effect on December 8. The day before, Francis submitted written instructions about the Roman Rota’s jurisdic­tion as the ordinary court of appeals for annulments. Catholic News Agency reported that the new, more flexible formula instituted by Francis allows the court to grant an annulment on grounds that are different than the ones originally used—a process disallowed by St. John Paul II. Only a small fraction of annulment cases are appealed to the Vatican court.

John L. Allen, Jr., of Crux analyzed the import of the pope’s speech on marriage, delivered in his January address to the Rota. Pope Francis used the phrase, “The family, founded on indissoluble marriage, unitive and procreative,” and stated that a marriage entered into with little understanding of church teaching was not necessarily invalid—both indications that a new view of divorce will not be forthcoming.

Catholics for Choice

was founded in 1973 to serve as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.