The Pope has appointed a commission to look into the annulment process, with a view to its simplification. They may come up with some good ideas: training, funding, dealing with delays and backlogs, and better marriage preparation. As a way of solving the 'Communion for the Divorced' issue, however, it is fraught with difficulties. I've mentioned them before on this blog (and here), here is an aide memoir.
1. Quicker and easier annulments are not what the progressives are asking for.
Readers will probably have encountered this attitude: 'I'm divorced and remarried and I don't want an annulment'. They don't want to say that the first marriage was not a real marriage. A famous example of the genre is journalist and former editor of the Catholic Herald, Cristina Odone. Basil Loftus has expressed the same idea. It comes down to the idea that the concept of 'putative marriage' is regarded as derogatory. It is a bit like convert Anglican clergy wanting their Anglican ministry to be acknowledged in some way. I can't help feeling, in the case of marriage, that there may be a fear of asking and being told not that the first marriage was never valid, but that it was...
2. Quicker and easier annulments undermine the certainty that the subsequent marriage is valid.
If the confidence of the Faithful in the annulment process is undermined, we will end up in a situation in which those who have been through the process and remarried are regarded, explicitly or not, as in a dubious or second-class situation. They won't get what they actually want, a publicly recognised valid new marriage, unless the process of annulment is seen by everyone as serious.
Did I say 'we could end up...?' Sorry, in places where the annulment process has been speeded up successfully, we've already arrived.
3. Quicker and easier annulments undermine Catholic marriages.
Since annulments are not considered until after a civil divorce, the prospect of an easy annulment will encourage people in rocky marriages to split up. They may also be influenced by the idea that, since apparently so few marriages are valid, theirs might not have been.
Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.