National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Cleveland diocese ends fees for marriage annulments, dispensations

Couples seeking a marriage annulment in the Cleveland diocese no longer have to pay a fee for the service.

Under a plan announced June 4 by Bishop Richard Lennon, all fees in annulment cases were eliminated. Cases already filed as well as marriage dispensations and marriage permissions also are covered by the policy change.

Lennon said in a press release that he hoped the change will encourage men and women in irregular marriages, especially those who have been divorced and remarried, to undertake greater participation in the life of the church.

The diocese's judicial vicar said the announcement was welcomed by the diocesan marriage tribunal staff.

"It is important because the process is difficult to begin with and to put another stumbling block in the way of individuals, who especially in this time are experiencing financial difficulties, seems to be rather unfair," Fr. Gary Yanus told Catholic News Service.

Christmas-in-content-block.jpg Give a Christmas gift that lasts all year. Give the gift of NCR!

"People who want to address their right as Catholics to the sacramental life of the church, it seems the fee discourages a number of people from presenting a case which has merit. This is a good way of encouraging people to come forward and see where they stand with the church and reflect on their life with the Lord and the church as well," Yanus said.

Cleveland is the most recent diocese to waive fees for annulments. Cardinal Edmund Szoka, as archbishop of Detroit, eliminated fees for tribunal services in the 1980s. The diocese of Columbus, Ohio, ended its fees in 2000.

The decision comes at no small cost to the Cleveland diocese. In 2013, with 512 annulment cases filed and the diocese's estimated average cost of $450, the diocese is forfeiting more than $230,000 in fees.

Yanus said the diocese is on pace to receive 500 to 600 annulment applications in 2014. He said he was unsure whether the number would rise in the future because of the change.

The waiver includes all fees related to any psychological assessments that must be undertaken as a case winds its way through the marriage tribunal.

"People (at the marriage tribunal) think of their jobs as ministry and are very pleased that hopefully we'll be able to reach more people," Yanus said. "We see this as a reconciling ministry as well and to take a significant obstacle out of the way is really a great thing."

Lennon cited Pope Francis' oft-repeated called for mercy within the church in making the announcement.

"This is an effort to promote the common good for the faithful of Cleveland," the bishop said.

The status of divorced and remarried Catholics in the church is expected to be among the topics discussed during this fall's world Synod of Bishops on the family.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Christmas-Feature-Flag-275x60.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

November 21-December 5, 2014

11-21-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.