A Rome conference in late April hinted that the Vatican may be moving towards a more restrictive posture on annulments, the procedure in church law for declaring a marriage null and void, which some critics refer to as “Catholic divorce.”
If so, the fallout could have special significance for the United States, home to just 6 percent of the world’s Catholic population but accounting for roughly two-thirds of the 60,000 annulments issued by church courts each year.
The April 26-27 Rome conference focused on canon 1095 of the Code of Canon Law, which allows a marriage to be declared null if one of the parties lacked the ability to consent because of “causes of a psychic nature.” Of the 15 to 20 possible grounds for an annulment in church law, more are granted on the basis of canon 1095 than all others combined, roughly two-thirds of the total.
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