Pope Francis is making it easier and faster for couples to get their marriages annulled in the Roman Catholic Church.
A new law, issued by the Vatican on Tuesday, involves a fast-track process that can render a marriage invalid within 45 days, the Associated Press reports.
The church does not recognize divorce, so Catholics who want to legally separate or remarry must obtain an annulment, otherwise they’re living in sin and barred from receiving sacraments, like communion.
Until now, annulments have been reviewed by a series of tribunals and sent to a Vatican court if there’s a disagreement – a process that’s lengthy and expensive, sometimes spanning years and costing thousands of dollars. The process is also out of reach for many in poor countries, particularly those where tribunals don’t exist.
The Pope detailed the changes in a document called Motu Proprio, which is Latin for “by his own initiative.”
Pope Francis said the new rules aren’t meant to end marriages. They’re intended to speed up the process so that the faithful can find justice. The main goal of the reform is “the salvation of souls,” Francis wrote.
The new procedure follows the Pope’s appointment of a commission of lawyers and theologians to propose a reform, NBC News reports. Last year the Vatican said he wanted to “simplify and streamline” marriage annulment while still “safeguarding the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.”
It’s been a busy month, full of changes, for the church.
Last week, the Pope announced he’s temporarily allowing Roman Catholic priests to absolve women who’ve had abortions and those who have helped them, as long as they admit their wrongdoing, are truly sorry for what they’ve done, and seek forgiveness during the Holy Year of Mercy.
On Sunday, the Pope said the Vatican is taking in two families of refugees and called upon Catholic convents, monasteries, parishes and sanctuaries in Europe to do the same, NBC reported.