HIGH PROSPECTS — Canon law experts recently met at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome to discuss annulment — what it is and what it isn’t — and to talk about Pope Francis’ decision to streamline the process.
In 2015, the Holy Father issued two apostolic letters to change the annulment procedure, making it free in many cases and reducing the number of times a court must hold a trial. Prior to 2015, two trials were required. Following the decision of Pope Francis, only one trial is necessary.
Additionally, the Supreme Pontiff said the cancellation process, which prior to 2015 could take a year or more, should be streamlined so that it takes 90 days. Only the most complicated cases would take a year.
In the recent session, canon law experts also explained the difference between divorce and annulment. A divorce means that the marriage was valid at one time and has now been dissolved. But annulment is a declaration that the marriage has been rendered null and void as if it never took place.
“A divorce means that a reality exists and an act is performed by which it seemingly ceases to exist, a marriage that existed ceases to exist,” Ines Llorens, a teacher and scholar, told Rome Reports. “On the other hand, cancellation is not that. An annulment is that such a marriage was never formed.
While changes to the process are being discussed for the global church, Catholics discerning possible cancellation are advised to speak to their pastor.