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Pope Francis reforms marriage annulment process

Streamlined process meant to be merciful, Aymond says. (Source:Adrian Rayfield via Flickr Commons) Streamlined process meant to be merciful, Aymond says. (Source:Adrian Rayfield via Flickr Commons)

Big changes are in store for the Catholic community, as Pope Francis reforms the marriage annulment process.

"[In] some dioceses, even here several years ago, [the process took] perhaps close to two years, which is too long," New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond said. 

Catholics won't have to wait that long anymore to have their marriage annulled.

"It's clearly a sign of Pope Francis wanting the church to reach out in a merciful way," Aymond said. "And people who have gone through divorce and have split families, it's usually a very, very painful process with a lot of brokenness, and I think it is his way of saying let's try to be there to bring healing and mercy as soon as possible. In the past there have been two separate courts that would hear every case, and he's saying there only needs to be one court and that decision holds, secondly, they had to have three judges on each court and he is saying one judge is enough." 

Many Catholics have long complained that it was too complicated and too expensive to get an annulment. But Aymond said now simple cases will be annulled within two months, while more complex cases won't take longer than a year.

"He is saying that in special cases, easier cases, if the marriage was very short or the people agree, both spouses agree, it should be nullified in those cases. That can be written up and that can be presented to the bishop, and he has the right and somewhat the obligation to grant a decision within two months," Aymond said. 

The changes must take effect within the Catholic Church by Dec 8. 

If you're a local parishioner and have questions about the new annulment process, Archbishop Aymond recommends giving the Archdiocese of New Orleans a call so they can help. 

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