NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s being called another radial announcement from Vatican City. Pope Francis is making it easier for marriage annulments, a move impacting the world’s one billion Catholics.
Here in Nashville, more than two dozen parishioners attended weekday Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on West End Avenue.
In the back of some of their minds were the proposed changes for annulling marriages in the Catholic Church.
“My opinion is the Lord’s word never changes, and who are we to change it,” said parishioner Maureen Boyd.
Boyd said she believes marriage should be forever.
“I believe under God’s law, it’s one marriage,” Boyd said. “This is one nation under God, not one nation under America.”
Tuesday morning, Pope Francis released new streamlined procedures making nullifying marriages easier.
Many in the Catholic Church, including the pope, believe the current system is costly, cumbersome and unfair.
“Every Bishop in every Dioceses will certainly, I think, embrace what Pope Francis seeks to accomplish,” said Bishop David Choby with the Catholic Dioceses of Nashville. “There will be somewhat of a learning curve for us.”
The Catholic Church’s position has been if you were married and didn’t have it nullified, that marriage is still valid, and you couldn’t enter into a second marriage.
Bishop Choby said when folks say I do they promise to do so until “death do us part.”
“Sometimes people perhaps don’t mean those words but general we presume when people making that kind of commitment they enter into marriage for life,” Choby said. “However circumstances might present themselves where we presume to be true may not be true.”
A Vatican-appointed commission has spent the past year looking at ways to simplify the process.
The changes include eliminating a second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified, giving Bishops the ability to fast-track and grant the annulments themselves.
The process should be free, except for a fee for administrative costs and it should be completed within 45 days.
The new procedures go into effect December 8.
“So, he’s linking this year for mercy and his desire to have people experience God’s mercy and the life and ministry of the church. He’s linking that desire on his part with this new procedure,” Choby said.
As part of his year for mercy, which includes topics like annulment of marriage in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will be coming to the United States making stops in three cities including New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
The pope’s visit to the U.S. will be September 22 to 27, ending with a Papal Mass for World Meeting of Families on Sunday before the Holy Father departs for Rome.