Following Pope Francis' lead, the bishop calls for a synod as 'a promising pathway' to focus on the church's daunting challenges.
Faith and Justice: The papal apostolic exhortation in response to the Synod of Bishops on the family is expected to have some reference to the “internal forum” as a solution to the pastoral problems of divorced and remarried Catholics.
Just Catholic: I think it is a serious misstep on the part of the powers-that-be to assume that a) everybody knows what went on at the synod; b) anybody cares.
German bishops welcome the fact that Pope Francis has simplified annulment procedures, but it shouldn't be seen as a step in anticipation of the coming synod, said Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
Changes ordered by Pope Francis often reflect reforms that American dioceses have done or have been advocating for years. U.S. bishops are also starting to waive fees, which Francis wants.
Faith and Justice: How might the annulment process be simplified? I asked Fr. John Beal, a professor of canon law.
The number of Catholic marriages in the United States is at its lowest point since 1965.
Just Catholic: The New York Times paints a cold, hard picture of the church. But the church can fairly easily end a marriage for substantial or administrative reasons.
Pope Francis on Friday warned the Vatican's top marriage judges that they should not "lock the salvation of persons within the straits of legalism" and indicated he wants the church to no longer charge for the sometimes onerous and expensive annulment process.
"This is a point I want to emphasize: the sacraments are free," Francis told jurists of the Roman Rota, the church's final court of appeals for annulments.
"The sacraments give us grace," he said. "And a marriage proceeding" -- like an annulment -- "touches on the sacrament of marriage."
Pope Francis said the church's marriage annulment process should be more efficient and perhaps even free of charge, and he decried any attempts to exploit it for profit.
"Some procedures are so long and so burdensome, they don't favor [justice], and people give up," the pope said. "Mother church should do justice and say: 'Yes, it's true, your marriage is null. No, your marriage is valid.' But justice means saying so. That way, they can move on without this doubt, this darkness in their soul."