Synod on the Family 48-49: Issues of Validity, Nullity

window from insideYou can read the full synod document here. Today, let’s cover two paragraphs that garnered significant dissent, then resume after Christmas Day. First, a summary of fact–what the bishops were talking about during and before the synod on declarations of nullity:

48. A great number of synod fathers emphasized the need to make the procedure in cases of nullity more accessible and less time-consuming. They proposed, among others, the dispensation of the requirement of second instance for confirming sentences; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop; and a simple process to be used in cases where nullity is clearly evident. Some synod fathers, however, were opposed to this proposal, because they felt that it would not guarantee a reliable judgment. In all these cases, the synod fathers emphasized the primary character of ascertaining the truth about the validity of the marriage bond. Among other proposals, the role which faith plays in persons who marry could possibly be examined in ascertaining the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage, all the while maintaining that the marriage of two baptized Christians is always a sacrament.

143 approved, 35 did not, and 5 abstained on this.

What would a better situation look like? Streamlining–mainly through the addition of more personnel:

49. In streamlining the procedure of marriage cases, many synod fathers requested the preparation of a sufficient number of persons  —  clerics and lay people  —  entirely dedicated to this work, which will require the increased responsibility of the diocesan bishop, who could designate in his diocese specially trained counselors who would be able to offer free advice to the concerned parties on the validity of their marriage. This work could be done in an office or by qualified persons (cf. Dignitas Connubii, art. 113, 1).

154 bishops said yes to this. Twenty-three wondered about it. What troubled them, do you think? Free advice? More people? More lay people? Increased responsibility for bishops? Delegation of authority? Some or all of the above?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in evangelization, Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Synod on the Family 48-49: Issues of Validity, Nullity

  1. FrMichael says:

    Merry Christmas!

    There are so many subtleties to canon law with respect to marriage. I’m guessing that the “no” votes are those who are afraid that “specially trained counselors” would be undertrained counselors. Quite frankly, having dealt with people who have been given horrible canonical advice from well-meaning RCIA teams, parish secretaries, parochial school principals, etc., I’m of the opinion that poor canonical advice is worse than none at all. I personally only offer canonical advice if it is a clear-cut case, else I always call a canonist.

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