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Vatican official says annulment reform needed

A canon lawyer at the Vatican has called for a standardisation of procedures to annul marriage, pointing out that marriage tribunals in some countries (such as the United States) are quick to provide annulments on uncertain grounds, while those in other countries make it difficult for the faithful to pursue even clear-cut cases of nullity.

Joaquin Llobel, canon law instructor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and member of the tribunal for the Apostolic Signatura, expressed this view on Vatican Radio on Friday.

"Some poor countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, do not even have ecclesiastical courts," Llobel observed. In these countries, Catholics "do not have the opportunity to obtain a declaration of nullity - which is their right."

The first step toward reform, therefore, would be to ensure that every diocese gives the faithful a chance to present their cases before a tribunal.

"In other countries, the situation is quite the contrary," Llobel continued. The Vatican tribunal judge cited the "tribunals whose mode of operation has often been criticized by John Paul II, which equate the failure of a marriage with its nullity." Whenever a marriage breaks down, he said, these tribunals take that failure as evidence that a true Christian marriage never existed.

Although Llobel did not point to any particular country as he made this criticism, tribunal officials confirm that the Vatican is particularly concerned about American marriage courts, which frequently provide a finding of nullity on questionable grounds, such as evidence of "immaturity" of one or both partners in the union.

Annulment Reform Needed, Vatican Official Says (Catholic Exchange/Catholic World News 17/9/04)

Annulment reform needed, Vatican official says (Catholic World News 17/9/04)
Marriage Annulment ( - Getting Married)

20 Sep 2004