Well, by drawing back in the lost sheep of course! Revising this process is going to appeal to these divorced and remarried Catholics. It will cause them to race to their local diocese on December 8th and be showered with annulment mercy, thus swelling Church membership to unheard of numbers. But wait.. what is this?
Researchers have found little evidence of a "Francis effect" in the United States. According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 89% of ex-Catholics say they cannot imagine ever returning to the church, even though they like Pope Francis.
Drat! No luck there. But hey, look on the bright side. We still have a shot at the remaining 11%!
From Washington Post: Pope Francis announces biggest changes to annulment process in centuries
“It’s a sweeping reform; it’s a dramatic reform,” said Chad Pecknold, a theologian at Catholic University. “It’s a reform which essentially takes away the whole judicial process for deciding whether a marriage was null or not.”
"Another change announced on Tuesday will allow bishops the ability to further expedite the annulment process for some particularly straightforward cases — a process that Pecknold said would allow the bishop to essentially “write a note.”
That process could be open to abuse, he added: “The moment that you put in an exception that makes everybody’s job easier, guess what everybody’s going to do?”
Hey, haven’t we seen a revised process like this before? Oh yes! Canonizations! Who needs the whole pesky “judicial process” anyway. One miracle? Two miracles? Does it really matter? Do we really need a devil’s advocate to get in the way and prolong this process? Why can’t the pope just “write a note” and canonize. Oh wait, he can! When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When you know what result you want, why prolong the process and provide safeguards, etc? This seriously impedes efficiency. Why have a process at all you ask? Quiet! There must be at least some façade of process there lest the Promethean Neopelagians will start bellyaching. We can only start slowly phasing it out. Soon we will implement the stage where the parish priest flips a null/ valid coin, with the option to re-flip should the coin land on valid, but this is still a few years away
Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University, said the expedited process would apply to Catholic couples facing certain conditions, including those who have an abortion, a grave contagious disease, children from a previous relationship or imprisonment. Essentially, Martens said, the church is providing a path that looks like the Catholic version of no-fault divorce."
"Recognizing that an “accelerated judgment might endanger the principle of the indissolubility of matrimony,” Pope Francis said all such fast-track trials will be judged by the local bishop as a safeguard against excessive leniency."
Whew! When the canon law prof said this looks like no-fault divorce I started to get really nervous. But then the Pope stepped in with the ultimate safeguard – the local bishop! I’m so relieved. As we all know, these bastions of orthodoxy will leave no stone unturned in protecting the sanctity of marriage by excruciatingly applying traditional Catholic principles to every single one of the “fast-track” trials. I mean, who wouldn’t be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing the validity of their marriage is in the hands of Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Wuerl, or Cardinal Marx? Of course these bishops won’t be able to dwell on these cases too long. This is a “fast-track” after all. Perhaps they will be able to skim the documents at Mass while waiting for the lay readers, balloon carriers, and liturgical dancers to finish their performances. Then they can leave a signed pile of annulments on their presider’s chair right before the exit processional. Talk about efficiency!
From USA Today: How will Pope Francis’ annulment changes impact U.S. Catholics?
The streamlined marriage annulment procedures unveiled by the Vatican are aimed at simplifying what is often a tedious gauntlet of red tape. But it’s not clear how much effect the reforms ordered by Pope Francis will have in the U.S., where about half of all annulments are granted even though American Catholics are just 6% of the global church.
So let me get this straight. HALF of the entire Catholic WORLD’s annulments are already granted to Americans who make up just 6% of worldwide Catholics? CLEARLY the American process is a tedious gauntlet of red tape. Once the reforms go through I’m optimistic we can increase that number to 60% maybe 70%. Americans will simply not settle for mediocrity.
That’s largely because in recent decades American dioceses have taken a number of steps to make the process less cumbersome and time-consuming, some of which were reflected in the new procedures announced Tuesday in Rome.
Oh, so American dioceses have already implemented the Pope’s reforms before he even issued them!? What foresight! Is this like the American dioceses that went ahead and started giving Communion in the Hand and using girl altar boys before they were even allowed by Rome? Wow. This used to be called disobedience and was punished. But when you think about it, why wait for Rome to act and catch up? After all, we may as well trailblaze and get the credit. Isn’t it always better to ask forgiveness than permission? Then again, there is no need to ask forgiveness when you are already dolling out superior mercy than the hats in Rome. In fact America is already light-years ahead of the poor backwards pope on both abortion forgiveness and quickie annulments. So much so that Pope Francis needs to listen to some American clergy tell him how it’s done during his upcoming trip.
In the U.S., 25% of Catholics have been divorced; 26% of them say they sought annulment, according to Pew Research.
Wow! 26% of divorced Catholics sought annulments! Obviously they are beating down the doors. Good thing this reform came in the nick of time.
He offered one scenario he thought would result in an easy annulment: A man lied on his marriage questionnaire by saying he wanted children but later changed his mind, prompting his wife to initiate a divorce. The church recognized that as a valid reason for a divorce, but the process dragged on.
“It was a slam dunk but it still took well over a year,” Klein said.
Huh? Wait a second, this is a slam dunk? An annulment is saying that certain necessary conditions were not present AT THE TIME OF THE MARRIAGE that made it invalid from the start, correct? At the time of this marriage the man stated he wanted to have children and then later changed his mind. So how do we know the man was lying on the original questionnaire about wanting children? Because he’s now telling us he lied 20 years ago? Now that he’s dating FiFi and wants to trade in his wife? This is a “slam dunk?” Then again, who am I to judge? And besides, I’m certain Dolan and Wuerl wouldn’t let this kind of funny business stand!
Francis has said that half of all marriages in the Buenos Aires archdiocese, which he headed before being elected pope in 2013, were invalid because the husband and wife did not view their vows as a lifelong commitment.
See, 50% odds! Thus the null/valid coin is the perfect efficient solution after all. If the pope knows 50% of marriages are invalid anyway, just use the coin to get a 50% result and trust the Holy Spirit will have it land on the correct side. This reduces even fast-track annulments from 40 days to about 5 seconds. Well, possibly up to 20 seconds if you need re-flipping. You never know when the Holy Spirit needs reminding that it is the “Year of Mercy” after all.
The Rev. John Beal, a leading canon lawyer who teaches at Catholic University of America, said recently that American church tribunals in each diocese have allowed applicants to submit written affidavits or use Skype instead of having to appear for every hearing in person.
“We chop off a lot of formalities like taking oaths and other things that give a rough juridical edge to the process,” Beal told the National Catholic Reporter, noting that many other countries have not taken those steps.
Well how nice! It looks like America is paving the way once again for….WHAT THE??? Did he just say that American Church tribunals have chopped off a lot of “formalities” like TAKING OATHS!!!?? Taking an oath that what you are saying is true gives “a rough juridical edge to the process?” And then he notes that many other countries have not taken those steps? Well no kidding!! Other countries might actually care at getting at the truth and not putting on a complete sham trial, which is precisely why America accounts for 50% of all annulments.
And this man teaches at the Catholic University of America? One could only imagine Rev. Beal conducting an annulment hearing:
Rev. Beal: So Mr. Playboy, I see here you say…
Mr. Playboy: Wait, shouldn’t I swear in first?
Rev. Beal: BAhaha! Mr. Playboy, please. Don’t be a moralistic quibbler. We here in the United States have done away with such “rough juridical edges.” Now you say here that you lied when you said you wanted to have children on that Pre-Cana questionnaire?
Mr. Playboy: Well, sort of. I just changed my mind later.
Rev. Beal: When did you change your mind?
Mr. Playboy: Right about the time I started dating FiF…..
Rev. Beal: NEVERMIND! That is quite enough. So when you say you changed your mind, what do you mean?
Mr. Playboy: I mean I changed my mind about wanting kids. I don’t want them now.
Rev. Beal: You mean you didn’t want them then, correct?
Mr. Playboy: No, I mean I don’t want them now.
Rev. Beal: I’m sorry, you mean you didn’t want them then and you also don’t want them now?
Mr. Playboy: I said I changed my mind. How could I have changed my mind if I didn’t want them then and I still don’t want them now?
Rev. Beal: I don’t know. What if you wanted them then and don’t want them now?
Mr. Playboy: Exact…
Rev. Beal: WAIT! Don’t answer that! Where’s my coin...