Pope Francis speeds up, simplifies process for marriage annulments

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has radically reformed the Catholic Church’s process for annulling marriages, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.

Francis issued a new law Tuesday regulating how bishops around the world determine when a fundamental flaw has made a marriage invalid. Catholics must get this church annulment if they want to remarry in the church.

But the process has long been criticized for being complicated, costly and out of reach for many Catholics.

The biggest reform involves a new fast-track procedure, handled by the bishop himself, that can be used when both spouses request an annulment. It can also be used when other proof makes a more drawn-out investigation unnecessary.