Vatican City, Nov 18, 2016 / 13:12 pm
On Friday Pope Francis stopped by a formation course for bishops on the new marriage nullity process, telling attendees that as bishops, and now as local judges in annulment cases, they must pursue the truth, but never exclude those whose marriages have failed.
The Church, “who is embodied in the sad stories and sufferings of the people,” bends down to the poor “and to those who are far away from the ecclesial community or consider themselves outside of it due to their marital failure,” the Pope said Nov. 18.
Despite whatever distance couples who find themselves in this situation might feel, “they are and remain incorporated in Christ in virtue of their baptism,” Francis said.
He stressed that the Church has always had the attitude of a mother “who welcomes and loves, following the example of Jesus the Good Samaritan.” Because of this, it is the responsibility of bishops to never “consider them strangers to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”
Pope Francis spoke to bishops currently in Rome to participate in a Nov. 17-19 formation course on the new, streamlined annulment process rolled out last year.
He reformed the process for the causes of marriage nullity in December 2015, giving the possibility of a stronger role to local bishops, among other things.
According to the new norms, the bishop may act as a judge in cases of nullity, and can use a swifter process than is typical when nullity is “sustained by particularly evident arguments.”
The reformed process was officially put into place by two documents, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (The Lord Jesus, a meek judge) and Mitis et misericors Iesus (Jesus, meek and merciful), which reformed the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, respectively.