Image courtesy: indy100.independent.co.uk
The Pope was in America recently visiting Washington D.C., New York City, and Cuba. He met with the president and spoke to congress and the United Nations during his tour. Pope Francis has courted a bit of controversy the last couple of years or so since he has taken a decidedly liberal and un-Catholic (at least in the more orthodox sense) stance on marriage. What does this mean exactly? Well, if you aren’t a practicing Catholic, not much. However, his unique and slightly more modern views on marriage will make an impact on Catholic doctrine that may ripple through the rest of Christianity.
1. He’s making annulments easier
Once upon a time if a Catholic couple were to divorce and want to remarry, the first marriage would have to go through the clergy to receive a formal annulment. Without this, the church wouldn’t recognize the new marriage as being valid and you could no longer receive Holy Communion. These strict rules would alienate a huge chunk of the population. According to CNN the changes would do the following:
- Eliminate a second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.
- Give bishops the ability to fast track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances — for example, when spousal abuse or an extramarital affair has occurred.
- The process should be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days.
2. He assures that the Catholic doctrine of marriage is “safe”
Contrary to what the LGBTQ community may think, the pope has not come out in favor of gay marriage. He simply stated, that people of that community should be welcome in to the church as brethren, rather than shunned for whom they choose to be with. And while wanting to make annulments easier, Pope Francis holds that the Catholic stance on marriage won’t change stating that they’re, “defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond… [It should] not be changed by passing fads or popular opinions.”
The reality is, I don’t think Francis’ or the church’s take on marriage means much. There are very few Catholics (and Christians for that matter) obeying the letter of church law anymore. It’s great that annulment can be put on the fast track if need be, but there is a majority that doesn’t really care if they can’t receive communion anymore – if they’ve even taken it since their confirmation anyway.
It’s lovely that the pope is trying to make the Church feel less elitist than in the past, and attendance numbers are way down across the board since many prefer to either worship their own way or have become more socially liberal.
Unless you are Catholic to the core, the pope’s standing on marriage will affect you unless you want to continue taking communion and badly need out of your marriage.