244. A large number of Synod Fathers also “emphasized the need to make the procedure in cases of nullity more accessible and less time consuming, and, if possible, free of charge”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 48) The slowness of the process causes distress and strain on the parties. My two recent documents dealing with this issue* have simplified the procedures for the declarations of matrimonial nullity. With these, I wished “to make clear that the bishop himself, in the Church over which he has been appointed shepherd and head, is by that very fact the judge of those faithful entrusted to his care”.+
This, a good move, I think. Bishops are responsible in the most significant way in their sees to ensure a level of pastoral care that the larger institution cannot deliver to lay people.
It’s not always about hands-on work. Some of this ministry must be delegated, and might include that significant ministry mentioned in the previous paragraph, the ability to provide counseling and discernment and accompaniment for couples in crisis.
“The implementation of these documents is therefore a great responsibility for Ordinaries in dioceses, who are called upon to judge some cases themselves and, in every case, to ensure the faithful an easier access to justice. This involves preparing a sufficient staff, composed of clerics and lay persons who are primarily deputed to this ecclesial service. Information, counseling and mediation services associated with the family apostolate should also be made available to individuals who are separated or couples in crisis. These services could also include meeting with individuals in view of the preliminary inquiry of a matrimonial process (cf. Mitis Iudex, art. 2-3)”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 82)
* Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (15 August 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 9 September 2015, pp. 3-4; cf. Motu Proprio Mitis et Misericors Iesus (15 August 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 9 September 2015, pp. 5-6.
+ Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (15 August 2015), Preamble, III: L’Osservatore Romano, 9 September 2015, p. 3.
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.