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Pope Francis Makes Marriage Annulments Easier to Obtain

In Catholicism, divorce is a significant sin that bars congregants from certain church traditions and, in some cases, even labels them an adulterer. The only way to end a marriage within the faith is through church annulments, which, in years past, have been notoriously difficult and expensive to obtain. This week, however, Pope Francis announced new initiatives that will now make securing an annulment easier and less burdensome.

As CNN reports, the Vatican's new announcement is yet another reform aimed at the needs of modern Catholics. As described in the two released "motu proprio" papal documents, the initiatives will reduce annulments costs to a mere administrative fee, allow bishops to streamline annulments in certain cases, and remove a secondary cleric review for final approval. These new policies will go into effect December 8, 2015.

Many believe that the new annulment initiatives are an effort by the Vatican to retain some of their dwindling numbers. Annulments are particularly hard to complete, especially outside the U.S., and many faced with the red tape give up on the process and eventually leave the church.

Fighting the Divorce Stigma

A majority of Catholic annulments occur in the Americas. In 2012, more than 27,000 annulments were granted in North and South America, with only 40,811 total granted worldwide. The Americas also have the highest rate of annulment completion at 86%. Other regions of the world have much lower completion rates, such as Africa (61%), Oceania (77%), and Europe (75%).

It is important to note that the church's new initiatives do not affect New York divorce law—but the Vatican's announcement is still important. For many in our own local Catholic parishes, divorce carries both a spiritual and community stigma. With church annulments made more accessible, many individuals will finally have the resources and support to end their marriage and enter new stage of their life with their faith intact.

Are you ready for a divorce? At The Meyers Law Group, P.C. our compassionate and award-winning Long Island divorce attorneys understand how uncertain this time can be and how urgent your post-marriage goals can often feel. We pride ourselves on thorough, staunch representation that will not only protect your best interests, but allow you to move on to a new chapter of your life with confidence.

Don't just hire a lawyer—retain a proven advocate. Contact our team today.