Catholics will find it easier to seek a marriage annulment, as changes to the process announced by Pope Francis in September go into effect this week. The additional process will make it easier for practicing Catholics who divorce their first spouses to remarry in the church.
A new process is being added that is shorter and more streamlined, and allows the bishop to issue a decision. Sister Marianne Burkhard, who oversees annulments in the Peoria Diocese, said the fast track process is available only in cases where the marriage is clearly invalid, and when both spouses want the annulment.
The diocese covers much of central Illinois, and oversees annulments at a tribunal in Peoria. Sister Marianne said that another change allows a husband or wife to file all annulment papers within the diocese where one of them lives, even if they did not marry in that diocese.
Sister Marianne said Catholics who receive annulments in the Peoria Diocese will also no longer have to wait for an additional review of their annulment petition by a Second Instance Tribunal.
Before the new rules, annulments in the Peoria Diocese would have to receive approval from the second tribunal in Chicago, that deals with annulments for all 6 Illinois dioceses.