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Pope acknowledges plight of divorcees


Pope Benedict XVI had a message of empathy on Saturday for the divorced and remarried, as he appealed to a Vatican tribunal to issue 'rapid' rulings on annulment requests.

The London Observer reports that it was the second time in a week that the Holy Father offered new hope to those on the margins of the Church. On Wednesday, he issued his first encyclical - Deus Caritas Est - which the paper described as a "warm meditation on the power of love".

In Rome on Saturday, he directly addressed a central tenet of Catholic doctrine that has caused distress to many followers of the church, which states that remarried divorcees are regarded as being in a permanent state of sin and cannot receive communion.

The Holy Father, in a speech to the Roman Rota - the tribunal that decides annulments - acknowledged that there was 'pastoral concern' about the predicament of these Catholics.

He told the panel that its decisions should come quickly for the sake of the faithful. An annulment means that a marriage was invalid, leaving the faithful free to remarry and receive communion.

In his speech to the tribunal, the Pope said it was very important that annulment rulings emerge in a reasonable amount of time. Some couples who apply for annulments have to wait four or five years for a decision, meaning their lives as Catholics are essentially on hold.

The Pope said, however, that it was also important that couples were helped to try to work out their problems and 'to find the path of reconciliation'.

The pontiff's comments came after it was revealed in the Italian press this week that Vatican granted nine out of every 10 annulments requested. In 2004, the last year for which figures are available, 46,060 annulments were requested, of which, 42,920 were granted.

SOURCE
Pope's olive branch to divorcees (The Observer 29/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Roman Rota | Text of address

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30 Jan 2006