Pope to announce changes for divorced Catholics

Vatican City, Sep 8 (IANS) Pope Francis is expected to announce revisions to the process by which Catholics may annul their marriages, a media report said on Tuesday.

A statement from the Vatican does not detail the proposed reforms, but Francis has said that obtaining annulments can be too cumbersome and costly, dragging on for years and can be quite expensive, CNN reported.

The Catholic Church does not recognise civil divorces. Instead, its theology holds that marital unions sanctified by God are indissoluble.

Annulments, available only through church tribunals, state that the marriage contract was fundamentally flawed from the start, and hence invalid in the eyes of the church. In the 1980s, the church added another step to the process, requiring a second review before an annulment can be granted.

Without an annulment, a divorced Catholic who remarries is considered an adulterer and may not participate in some sacraments, including Holy Communion.

Led by Pope Francis, the church is holding high-level meetings, called synods, to debate that teaching. The next synod is to be held in October.

The announcement is expected to be yet another step in Pope Francis’ efforts to reform the church.

Last week, he announced that during an upcoming “Year of Mercy,” Catholic priests around the world will be able to forgive the “sin” of abortion. Under canon law, absolution of certain serious sins, including abortion, is usually reserved only to bishops.

Pope Francis says all priests can forgive women who have had abortions

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