Pope Francis wants to make it easier for Catholics to have their marriages annulled under reforms regarded with suspicion by conservatives wary of the de facto introduction of Church-approved divorce.
Details of significant reforms of a system that critics including Francis himself have attacked as needlessly bureaucratic, expensive and unfair were due to be unveiled Tuesday with the publication of letters on the issue from the pope to Catholic churches across the world.
Vatican experts in canon, or religious, law have spent the last year studying how the system could be streamlined without undermining the principle that marriage is for life.
That is one of the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith, albeit one at odds with the reality that, across much of the industrialised world, divorce is commonplace even amongst believers.
Church doctrine does make allowance for unions to be effectively cancelled, subject to certain conditions.
Essentially a church tribunal must rule that the marriage was fundamentally flawed from the outset and that ruling must then be upheld by a second tribunal.
Possible justifications for reaching this conclusion include the marriage having never been consumated, one or both partners having entered into it without the intention of staying in the relationship, or one of the partners having no desire to have children.
Alcohol and drug dependency can also be taken into consideration when a tribunal decides whether a marriage can be annulled.
In practice, the process of securing an annulment is frequently extremely lengthy.
In many parts of the developing world, dioceses simply do not have annulment tribunals.
And where they do exist, many ordinary Catholics cannot afford to employ the expert help needed to guide them through the arcane procedures required to secure the necessary approval.
– Living in sin –
Francis has repeatedly expressed the wish that the system should be free and made equally accessible for rich and poor believers.
Ideas under discussion include abolishing the need for a second church court to review and uphold an annulment.
The experts have also discussed making it easier for Catholics married to non-believers to obtain annulments on the grounds of their partner’s lack of faith.
For centuries there has been a perception throughout the Catholic community that annulments are more easily obtained by the wealthy and powerful.
In one of the most controversial cases of recent decades, Princess Caroline of Monaco obtained the annulment of her first marriage, to Frenchman Philippe Junot, in 1992, leaving her free to remarry in the Church.
The Church justified that decision on the grounds that one of the two parties had not fully accepted the responsibilities of marriage and that therefore the union had not been properly constituted.
Without an annulment, a Catholic who divorces and remarries is deemed to be living in sin and is unable to take communion.
Critics say this exclusion of the divorced from the Church’s holiest sacrement is cruel and unfair given that murderers can take communion but a woman who seeks a divorce to escape a violent relationship cannot.
The status of divorcees — along with the Church’s attitude to homosexual believers — is one of the difficult issues being considered as part of an ongoing review of Catholic teaching on the family.
Bishops from around the world are due to congregate in Rome in October for a synod that will seek to reach a consensus on these issues before Francis decides what, if any, reforms will be made.
BREAKING: ASUU meeting with FG end in deadlock, strike to continue
The meeting between the federal government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Tuesday ended without an agreement.
As a result of this, the six-month-old strike embarked on by public university lecturers is set to continue.
The lecturers met with the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee at the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja with high hopes of resolving the impasse.
A senior member of ASUU said that members of the Briggs renegotiation committee didn’t come with any new offer on the table.
According to him, the committee pleaded with the lecturers to suspend the ongoing strike, with promises that their concerns will be included in the 2023 budget.
The meeting started at about 12pm and lasted for about three hours.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14.
Suspected thugs destroy Tinubu’s Emilokan billboard in Lagos (PHOTO)
Some persons suspected to be political thugs have vandalized a billboard of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, in Lagos.
The billboard located on the close to the third mainland bridge was destroyed on Tuesday morning.
The action sparked tension online as some APC members have accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
EFCC recovers another 1.4bn naira for NHIS
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered an additional sum of one billion, four hundred million naira (N1.4 Billion) for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
In a statement via its official Twitter handle, the money, according to the commission, was part of the funds which some commercial banks ‘fraudulently’ refused to transmit to the Treasury Single Account, TSA, since 2015.
The statement further said the money had been released to the NHIS since August 5, 2022.
It also revealed that the Commission had in similar fashion on February 10, 2022, released a sum of N1.5bn to the scheme.
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