Changes aimed at making process less cumbersome, but does not change doctrine in these matters.
Garden Grove, Calif., (Sep. 9, 2015) – In the anticipation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is to begin on December 8th of this year, the Holy Father has just announced changes in what can be termed the “procedural law” of the Code of Canon Law which is involved in the processing of what is termed a “declaration of nullity” of a marriage. That is, whether or not a marriage was celebrated validly according to the Church’s understanding of marriage.
This announcement follows a year’s work by a special commission of theologians and experts in Canon Law. The procedural part of canon law for these cases has been simplified. There are no changes on doctrine in these matters.
Actually, the Code of Canon Law has been adapted over the years to meet the pastoral needs and challenges of each age of Faith. For example: the first Code of Canon Law in 1917, the call for the revision of the Code of Canon Law by Pope John XXIII, the promulgation of the revised Code of Canon Law in 1983 by Pope John Paul II (which incorporates the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council and a number of procedural revisions suggested by the U.S. Bishops), and now these latest revisions by Pope Francis, many of which had been reflected on and studied for years.
We are very grateful to the Holy Father and the special commissions for these revisions, which are due to go into effect on December 8, 2015. After a study of this document, in concert with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we will publish a more exact list and understanding of the nature of these changes: which in this Year of Mercy and beyond, are aimed at making the processing of these petitions less cumbersome and reflective of the foundation of Canon Law which is the “salvation of souls.”