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​Pope Francis reforms
the canonical process
for annulments

· ​With two motu proprios 'Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus' and 'Mitis et misericors Iesus' ·

With these new motu proprios, Pope Francis is not only reforming but in a sense re-establishing the canonical process for annulments. Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et misericors Iesus were presented in the Holy See Press Office on Tuesday morning, 8 September.

The new norms – which address general issues that emerged during the extraordinary synod on the family and the recommendations of the special commission created by the Pope on 27 August 2014 – are meant to make the annulment process more expedient and efficient.

For instance, double conformity has been abolished and the discussed shortened process has been instituted, once again centralizing the role of the diocesan bishop (or the eparchial bishop, in the case of the Eastern Churches). The new norms must be examined in the light of the historical evolution of the procedure for annulments, especially regarding what was determined by Benedict XIV, who in 1741 established the process of the two conforming decisions in response to the abuses in said procedure committed by bishops and tribunals, and likewise what was given by Pius X, who recognized the need for limiting recourse to the Apostolic See by legitimizing the processes conducted in the individual dioceses.

Among the other notable aspects of the two motu proprios, which regulate the norms of the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rite respectively, is the organizational structure of tribunals, the limits to abusing the right to appeal,an emphasis on episcopal collegiality and the invitation to assure to the extent possible that the process is free of charge.

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