Pope says money is the basis of opposition to annulment reform

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Vatican City – The potential loss of money and authority is often at the heart of opposition to reforming the Catholic Church’s cancellation process, Pope Francis said.

Departing from his prepared remarks at a Jan. 29 meeting with members of the Roman Rota, a tribunal dealing primarily with marriage matters, the pope said that after implementing reforms that streamlined cancellations in 2015 he “received many letters” and met “so much resistance.”

“They were almost all lawyers losing clients. And that’s where the problem with the money lies,” he said. “In Spain there is a saying, ‘Por la plata baila el mono’ – ‘The monkeys will dance for money.’ It’s a saying that is clear. “

The Pope also said he was saddened to see “resistance in certain dioceses of certain judicial vicars who with this reform would lose, I don’t know, a certain form of power because it has become clear that he is not the judge. , but the bishop is. “

In September 2015, the Pope released two documents – “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (“The Lord Jesus, the gentle judge”) for the Latin rite church and “Mitis et misericors Iesus” (“The meek and merciful Jesus” ) for the Eastern Catholic Churches – which have reformed sections of canon law dealing with requests for declaration of nullity of a marriage.

The documents also stressed that the cancellation procedure should be free or as close as possible to free.

The reforms – which do away with an automatic appeal of all decisions, make diocesan bishops responsible for handling certain cases, and institute an abbreviated process for cases where the evidence is particularly clear and unchallenged – aimed to streamline the process and help couples in need. healing.

Continuing to speak out of the blue, the Pope recalled receiving a call from a bishop shortly after the reformed cancellation process was enacted.

“He said to me, ‘I have this problem. There is a woman who wants to get married in church; she was already married several years ago at church, but was forced to marry because she was pregnant. I did everything: I asked a priest to act as judicial vicar, another who served as defender of the bond. And the witnesses, the parents said yes, she was forced, and the marriage was void. Tell me, Holy Father, what should I do? “recalled the Pope.

“I asked him, ‘Tell me, do you have a pen in your hand?’ – ‘Yes.’ – ‘Sign it. You are the judge, without the fuss. ‘”

In his prepared remarks, the Pope told judges that declaring a marriage void should not be a cold decision that neglects the well-being of family members, especially children.

“The declaration of marital nullity is often considered as the cold act of a purely legal decision,” he said. “But it is not and cannot be so. The judgment of the ecclesiastical judge cannot ignore the memories – made of light and shade – which marked the life, not only of the two spouses, but also of the children. “

Pope Francis reminded members of the Roman Rota that their “ecclesial ministry” is “difficult but not impossible pastoral work” which involves caring for children who are “the innocent victims of so many situations of rupture, divorce and new civil unions. “

He also underlined the important role of judicial vicars, priests and people involved in the pastoral care of families to care for and support families, in particular spouses and children “who are subject to the decisions, although just and legitimate, of a marital annulment “.

“The creativity of charity will promote an evangelical sensitivity in the face of family tragedies, the protagonists of which cannot be forgotten”, declared the Pope.


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