Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

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Released on September 8, 2015

“Today Pope Francis made public a document regarding a reform of the marriage nullity process of the Church, called 'Lord Jesus, Clement Judge.' At present, no official English translation has been issued but rather the document is currently found in Latin and Italian. Further detailed study will, of course, be necessary. At this stage, however, it can be said that the document makes procedural changes to the marriage nullity process, and seeks to complement the Church’s current norms, not eliminate or completely replace them. Pope Francis’ general emphasis is to ensure all those seeking such a declaration that they are provided a timely hearing and not subject to undue delays or financial burdens. It does not seek to relax the actual reasons for which marriages are declared invalid, and thus to make for “easy annulments.” In fact, it calls for ecclesiastical judges to be certain that reconciliation of the parties is impossible before entertaining a request for nullity. The changes thus generally aim to expedite the processing of these requests, simplify the legal demands, and ensure that the Church’s Tribunals are readily available for approach by interested parties. Pope Francis states in the Introduction, “In full harmony with this desire I have decided to introduce… provisions that favour not the nullity of marriage but rather the speed of processes, along with the appropriate simplicity, so that the heart of the faithful who await clarification of their status is not long oppressed by the darkness of doubt due to the lengthy wait for a conclusion.” It can be noted that some of these norms are already practiced in United States Tribunals.

In regard to the changes, one of the most significant is that the present need for two decisions by two separate Church courts in order for an annulment to be granted is no longer necessary; the decision of one diocesan Church court is now sufficient. A second significant change involves the introduction of a briefer procedure, in which a full judicial process is not necessary when certain conditions are present. In addition, Bishops of the Church are encouraged to be more involved in these cases, including serving as judges themselves. The development or enhancement of methods to assist persons in submitting such cases is also called for.” 

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.