Pope Francis announced reforms Tuesday aimed at simplifying and speeding up the Roman Catholic Church’s procedure for marriage annulments. The new law involves a fast-track process that will be handled directly by bishops.
An annulment is a ruling that a marriage is not valid because certain conditions are not being met, such as free choice, psychological maturity and willingness to have children. The ruling is based on a finding that the marriage contract was fundamentally flawed from the start, and hence invalid in the eyes of the church.
Without an annulment, a Catholic who remarries is considered an adulterer and may not participate in some sacraments, including Holy Communion.