08 September, 2015
Pope Francis has announced measures to reform the Roman Catholic Church's rules for annulling marriages.
Under the new rules, the annulment process will be faster. Pope Francis says the process should be completed within 45 days.
A Catholic bishop can act on an annulment request if a couple requests one or when neither side opposes it. Another reform removes automatic appeals after the first decision is made. Appeals, however, are still permitted.
The announcement comes after years of criticism of the annulment process. Critics have long said the process can be complex, costly and often unfair.
Critics say the current system is out of reach for many Roman Catholics, especially in poor countries. They note that such countries often lack marriage tribunals -- religious courts with the power to rule on marriage cases.
Roman Catholic teachings do not recognize divorce. The church has long criticized divorced Catholics. It says they have no right to end their marriage and later re-marry outside the church. Such individuals are barred from taking part in communion and other Christian ceremonies.
In the new document, the pope stated that marriage remains an indissoluble union. He also says the new rules are not meant to help end marriages, but to speed up the process so that Catholics can find justice.
There will be no cost for an annulment, except for the payment of the tribunal personnel.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Marsha James adapted this story for Learning English based on AP and VOA news reports. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
annulment – n. the act of cancelling something
divorce – n. the ending of a marriage
indissoluble – adj. impossible to destroy, break up or get rid of
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