‘Annulment is not divorce’
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday reminded the faithful that the Church’s stand on the indissolubility and unity of marriage will not change despite the simplified and shortened process of annulling marriages.
“The doctrine about the sacredness of marriage and family life is unchanged. The declaration of nullity of a marriage is not divorce,” said Socrates Villegas, CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop, on Wednesday.
Villegas’ statement was posted on the CBCP’s official news website, CBCP News, on Sept. 8, the day Pope Francis changed the rules on the annulment of Catholic marriages by simplifying procedures and abolishing the automatic appeal that usually delayed the process.
The new rules on annulment will take effect on Dec. 8, the start of the Pope’s Holy Year of Mercy.
In his statement, Villegas said Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” act simplifying the annulment process reflected a papacy that was merciful and compassionate.
“It is mercy and compassion that explains his action and work. Pope Francis—in his words, gestures and teachings—shows us the face of the clement judge who is Jesus Christ Himself,” said the senior prelate.
The new rules, Villegas added, are meant for Catholics who have been suffering quietly from the bond and obligations of what may not be a real marriage, where the requirements for a valid matrimony are not present from the start.
“The Pope reaches out tenderly to those who suffer from invalid marriages,” said Villegas, noting that there was “a lot of fresh air entering the windows” of the Church.
“More doors are being opened in welcome,” he added.
Supporting the Pope’s decision, Villegas further said that matrimonial tribunals must be brought closer to the people.—Jocelyn R. Uy
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