New Vatican panel aims to ensure marriages are forever, while simplifying annulment process

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has created a commission to study how to safeguard what the church calls the everlasting bonds of marriage while streamlining annulment procedures.

Vatican teaching, while forbidding divorce, allows Catholics to have marriages annulled if church tribunals rule that the unions for specific reasons weren’t valid in the first place and thus are void.

Francis decided last month to establish a special commission to draft proposals on reforming church marriage law, but the Vatican only announced it on Saturday.–REL-Vatican-Marriage

Gosh, it’s almost like the Synod of Bishops will not primarily be concerned with streamlining the annulment process, which is what everyone other than (omelette-faced) “conservative” Catholics on these fora have been saying for months now.

It should be a law of the universe that secular news outlets are not allowed to use the word “Vatican” because they get it wrong, either in substance or in tone, nearly 100% of the time.

“The Vatican,” which in my mind sounds like “Da Vatikan” when I read those two words at HuffPo or a similar site, is a piece of–sacred :)–dirt in Rome surrounded by walls.

There is no such thing as “Vatikan teaching,” but Catholic teaching.

I’m not aware of too many people who believe that annulments are the primary focus of the synod. The point of the synod seems to be pastoral care of the family and some discussion will revolve around pastoral care for the divorced and remarried, which is one issue of many that the Church faces in today’s world.

lol, I think the vast majority of the people who know anything about it believe it’s about annulments and Communion.

Read the instrumentum laboris. I don’t deny that the discussion about divorce and remarriage has sucked most of the oxygen out of the room. If you read the words of the Pope himself as well as those closest to him, it is clear that the purpose of the synod is to provide a cogent defense and support to the sacrament of Matrimony. I’m skeptical that anything like that can actually be accomplished with the media and certain prelates making a comprehensive push for doctrinal change. I suppose that is why so many cardinals and bishops have come out lately ruling out doctrinal change and encouraging a truly fruitful synodal process that defends marriage and the family. Will that work? Obviously I hope so. It would be a shame to spend so much time and energy on a synod that ends up reaffirming what is already known. That would be a serious blow to Francis’ pontificate and would cause a tremendous amount of discord and unrest in the Church. But, hey, I didn’t call the synod and it isn’t my pontificate. So I’ll offer my work and my prayers for the synod’s success.

Why would it be a tremendous blow to his pontificate? Isn’t that what happens at basically all Church meetings of any size, saying again what has already been said, except maybe in a different way? That’s a good thing! What else do you expect? If the Church doesn’t say something substantially new (which She is incapable of doing) and if the Church doesn’t say something substantially the same (which is all She is capable of doing) then what else is there to say?

Or do you believe Pope Francis is a “breath of fresh air?” I don’t, otherwise, his predecessors must be breaths of stank air. I think he’s the Pope, that’s all that really matters. That’s good enough. =]

Well this is very interesting, though I don’t know exactly what to make of it…

“Certain prelates” like the ones who have, of late, been vigorously promoted, and opposed, of late, by others who have been actively rooted out of respectable positions in the Vatican or even exiled to obscure chaplaincies? It’s getting kind of hard to take seriously the claim that Francis is totally ignorant of what’s going on and in no way, like, responsible or supportive of it.

Who’s talking about doctrinal change? What’s being countenanced is a change in praxis. You said it yourself just a post ago: “pastoral care.”

I think you’re missing my point. The pope can establish whatever commission he wants. He can send certain clerics to different places to do different things. What he cannot do is change doctrine, even in the name of pastoral care, so if you are reading into this move as somehow being a harbinger of Communion for the divorced and remarried, then you should stop yourself. It cannot happen.

I think you’re missing my point. “Communion for the divorced and remarried” is not a doctrinal issue, or at least it’s not being discussed as one. No one is taking seriously the idea of “changing” the Church’s teachings on marriage. What is being discussed is simply ignoring that teaching (and its logical consequences) for “pastoral” reasons – so that manifest adulterers and their concubines don’t feel bad about being excluded from communion. That is a very real possibility and not one of Christ’s promises to the Church protect us from it – as we should’ve learned by now from history, when we have had centuries of prelates and, yes, even Popes, systematically ignore and disregard the teachings of the Church for the sake of flattering worldly powers.

And that possibility seems even more real now given that the one likely alternative priority on the Synod’s agenda – reforming the annulment system (more likely automating the American annulment factory and exporting it to the entire world) – has just been preempted by the formation of this committee. And less likely still given that Card. Burke, the Church’s lead canonist, is not even on the committee and maybe won’t even be in the Synod if the rumors are true that he is about to shunted off into exile.

I am on record on these fora as strongly objecting to the notion that the faith is reducible to a laundry list of doctrinal propositions to be affirmed in a merely intellectual way. The faith is an entire lived reality, and what is being countenanced is a fundamental alteration to that reality. It is a very small comfort to say “at least doctrine didn’t change!” as if Catholics are incorporeal beings who live in some abstract and purely mental realm of doctrinal correctness. I am simply not concerned about the integrity of doctrine: I am concerned about whether or not the Church will be living its doctrines a year from now. At the moment it is in no way clear to me that it will.

Having read a little more about this, I think it sounds like good news. They seem to be moving away from the doctrinal issues of giving communion to the remarried, and towards refining the anullment process.

Hope thats right :slight_smile:

Fabulous paragraph.

Furthermore, this has nothing to do with having faith that the fundamental teachings and logical consequences of the Church will continue to exist. Of course they will! That’s objective reality.

However, nowhere are we commanded by God to believe that we will continue to believe and talk about them as if they were real (which they are and always will be).

Like sw85 says, people, we aren’t brains floating in containers of glucose dissolved in water… we are fleshy corporeal beings.

One of the things that should happen is better marriage preparation. Part of these classes or sessions needs to include frank discussions about domestic violence and if the couple in question have been victims of this kind of abuse via their own families. Both parties need to be sure they have dealt with these issues professionally and honestly.

If there is any sign of abusive behavior the engagement should be stopped. The ounce of prevention versus pound of cure.

I agree with everything you’re saying, but relatively speaking, this is still the lesser of two evils.

Don’t get me wrong, I think “streamlining” the anullment process is a very bad idea. I think it will basically be, “hey Catholics, if you want to get divorced that’s ok, just come to us and we’ll make sure to find a way to get you an anullment”, and yes, that definitely undermines marriage.

But that being said, the alternative proposal is changing the doctrine of the Church. In other words, I’d much rather have a misguided “policy”, than an attempt to literally change Church teaching.

IMO, the lead up to this Synod has been dangerous to the very existence of the Church, and if the worst that comes out of it is a bad anullment policy, I’ll thank God.

I agree but it’s got to be said right in several hundred vernaculars. That’s the challenge. :slight_smile:

I don’t understand your post.
A truly fruitful process that defends marriage and family would be an afirmation of what is already known.
Then you go on to say that this would be a waste of time and a blow to the pontificate.
I do not understand why.

You’re right–my post was a little unclear. Let me clarify.

If the synod becomes merely a reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching on Communion for the divorced and remarried, then the original intent of the synod–the family in the context of the New Evangelization–would seem to be generally unsatisfied. I mean, if you’re looking for fresh ways to approach and talk about the Gospel as it relates to the family and all you end up getting done is a reaffirmation of the Church teaching on , divorce, remarriage, and Communion, then it seems that you’ve fallen short of the goal, right?

I hope that the Church quickly disposes of the question of Communion for divorced and remarried and approaches the “fruitful” things I was referring to–better marriage preparation, how to actually teach the Church’s theology relating to marriage to young couples, etc.

It would be a blow to Francis’ pontificate because it would be a black eye for the Church if there was this huge synod that literally got nothing done other than reaffirm what can only be reaffirmed. The liberals would be stunned that the Church once again taught the truth and the rest of us would be amazed that it took two synods and a host of tough debate to simply say what the previous two popes very clearly already said.

Since I don’t believe that the Church can admit the divorced and remarried to Communion, I don’t want the synod to become a sideshow for controversy when it could actually be a great energizer for the New Evangelization and for the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel.

Perhaps it will merely confirm exactly that - sending the message out to the people - that divorced and remarried Catholics (whose first marriage was annulled - and yes, if you were mistaken in your first marriage, please come talk to our Catholic priests because it might be possible to help you - and were then married to their current spouse in the Church), can certainly receive communion and we want to make sure that door is open to them, the path is lit, and we are welcoming.

I have had over 80% of my family (large cradle catholic one) be alienated and leave the Church due to their understanding, misunderstanding, and experiences with the Church teachings and how it was conveyed by Church members regarding divorce. Result is not only their leaving and being either agnostic or joining other churches, but their children being raised (and now raising their own children) outside the church. And please, while I am more than willing to do the research and educate myself with the catechism, all the quoting of it I could do would never be able to pierce the wall of what they culturally absorbed and were taught as children. Divorce and you are “o-u-t” of the church. Faulty teaching - of course. But I can’t address the issue in a way they would hear - the Pope and popular media just might.

Whether they would be willing to return after so much pain and after so many years, I do not know. But having a clear statement proving they really are welcome to come back, that it would be possible (but not guaranteed) to have their marriage situation handled calmly, respectfully and without shame or guilt would be an incredibly awesome thing.

Worse, what I’m saying is that the very real risk now is not that we will get either either the American joke of an annulment “process” exported to the entire Church (effectively making the universal Church at least materially complicit in American-style concubinage) or the practical admission of adulterers and their concubines to communion, further denuding the practical understanding of marriage as an indissoluble union. It’s that we will get both: the worst of both worlds. And we can be sure that the suck-ups who are now saying that none of this can possibly happen will celebrate it five seconds after it does. Heck, a lot of them aren’t even waiting anymore, as this thread shows!

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