Pope Francis on Possible Changes to the Declaration of Nullity Process
On November 5, 2014 Pope Francis met with diocesan officials and canon lawyers enrolled in a course offered by the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal primarily responsible for hearing requests for marriage declarations of nullity (commonly called “annulments”).
He spoke about the need to make the Church’s declaration of nullity process more efficient and possibly free of charge. “Some procedures are so long and so burdensome, they don’t favor justice, and people give up,” the Pope said. He also stated that participants at the October 5-19 Synod on the Family expressed a desire to “streamline the process,” and he mentioned that he had recently established a special commission to do so.
Pope Francis then declared that the annulment process must not become part of the “framework of business.” There have been public scandals in the Church when this has occurred, and the Pope gave a few examples. He warned that “when the spiritual is attached to an economic interest, this is not from God.” In regards to the cost of the declaration of nullity process and the possibility of making it free of charge, he said, “we will have to see.” Several dioceses in the United States do not charge for the declaration of nullity process, including Dallas and Rochester.