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Philippines’ Bishops Welcome Annulment Reforms

Affirm They Uphold Church Teaching, While Opening Doors

Pope Francis has reformed the marriage annulment process and the bishops of the Philippines are welcoming the changes.

According to CBCP News, the president of the nation’s bishops, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan stressed how the Asians nation’s bishops have agreed with Pope Francis about the need to reform Church law in marital nullity trials.

During a press conference held yesterday in the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Press Office Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, along with a panel, discussed the changes, noting that the Motu Proprio is shortening the process while maintaining the indissolubility of marriage. 

The Philippine Catholic bishops have expressed their approval of the streamlining of the Church’s procedure for marital nullity which still affirms the longstanding Catholic teaching on marriage indissolubility.

With this reform that has simplified and dramatically shortened the annulment procedure, Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, Francis wants to “reach out tenderly” to those who suffer from these circumstances.

Saying matrimonial tribunals must be brought “closer” to the people, Archbishop Villegas stressed,  “The services of the Church must be more accessible to the people; the process to receive those blessings of new peace for those who have suffered long, must be simplified,” he said.

The leader of the Filipino bishops said Francis’ recent move manifests the Pontiff’s mercy and compassion. “There is a lot of fresh air entering the windows of the Church,” he said. “More doors are being opened in welcome.”

“The teaching about the indissolubility and unity of marriage remains,” he also noted.  “The declaration of nullity of marriages is not divorce.”

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz who chairs the CBCP National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal expressed his belief that, with the reforms, the number of people seeking annulments will increase.

“I agree with the Holy Father that the process for marriage nullity declaration can be shortened because as of now it’s quite complicated. From beginning to end, it takes a lot of time, people, expenses, paper work and so on and so forth,” Archbishop Cruz said.

He also noted how Pope Francis said trials will be free of charge except for the “fair compensation of the court workers,” but that if the petitioner cannot pay, the parish priest who knows the petitioner, writes the judge so that the stipend is brought down to zero. (D.C.L.)

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Yesterday’s Article about Announced Annulment Reforms: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/vatican-pope-francis-reforms-marriage-annulment-process

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