Their purpose is to determine objectively, so far as humanly possible, whether a sacrament was administered validly, or not.
The process may sound complex and drawn-out already, but we’re actually just getting started.
Q: Why does it take so long for people who request marriage annulments to get them?
I know a couple of different people who have been waiting for an answer for over a year! One of them is really anxious for an answer soon because he wants to get married to somebody else in the Church, and he can’t do that without the annulment.
This is not a problem that is particular to the United States, nor is it a brand-new phenomenon.
In his very first annual address to the Roman Rota-which is the Church’s highest court that deals with marriage cases, as we’ll see later in this column-Pope Benedict XVI urged marriage tribunals to provide decisions with “speed and efficacy.” Pope John Paul II had likewise made similar comments to those who handle marriage nullity cases in the past. Let’s take a very brief, general look at the basic procedure that must be followed whenever anyone petitions for a marriage annulment.
At the same time, I’ve also met a couple of Defenders who have frankly admitted that occasionally, they are handed evidence about a marriage which is so obviously invalid that they have difficulty finding argument in support of its validity!
Sometimes they more or less end up agreeing that all the evidence indicates that a particular marriage is invalid.
Any one of these can render invalid the sacrament of matrimony. S., annulments seem to be granted quite regularly, which may lead many people to feel that annulling a marriage isn’t a big deal.True, this causes such obvious cases to take longer than they would if the Defender did not exist, and the result would presumably be the same.But the point of the whole process is that marriage tribunals were not established to automatically hand out annulments to everyone who wants one.A marriage annulment is a declaration by church authorities that while the wedding of two spouses may have been celebrated, in fact no marriage took place.Yes, the spouses went through a wedding ceremony, and externally it appeared that they were married, but in reality, some key element was either missing or wrong, causing the sacrament to be invalid.
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For even if the tribunal rules that a marriage is invalid, the Church will .