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BREAKING: Vatican to announce annulment reforms Tuesday

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In characteristically awkward translation, from the Vatican press office:

The attention of journalists that tomorrow, Tuesday, September 8, 2015 , at 12.00 am , in the Hall “John Paul II” of the Holy See Press Office, will be held the press conference of presentation of the two letters datae motu proprio of Pope Francesco Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus, on the reform of the canonical process for the causes of declaration of nullity of marriage, respectively, in the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches .

Participate and intervene in order:

– Rev.ma SE Mons. Pius Vito Pinto , dean of the Roman Rota and Chairman of the Special Committee for the Reform of the process double canon
– Em.mo Card. Coccopalmerio Francis , president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and Member of the Special Commission ;
– Rev.ma SE Mons. Dimitrios Salachas , Apostolic Exarch of Athens for Greek Catholics of Byzantine rite and Member of the Special Commission;
– Rev.ma SE Mons. Luis Ladaria Ferrer, YES, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Member of the Special Commission;
– Msgr. W. Alejandro Bunge , Prelate Auditor of the Roman Rota and the Secretary of the Special Committee;
– Rev. P. Nikolaus Schöch, OFM , Substitute Promoter of Justice of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the Secretary of the Special Committee.

The texts of the documents in hard copy (in Latin and in Italian translation) will be available to accredited journalists starting from 10.30 tomorrow Tuesday, September 8, embargoed until 12.30 .

NCR has some context:

Pope Francis will be decreeing Tuesday new reformed procedures for those seeking annulments of marriages in the Catholic church, in his latest move to emphasize God’s merciful nature less than one month before the opening of a hotly anticipated global meeting of Catholic bishops on family life.

The pontiff will be reforming the procedures with two decrees known as motu proprios, the Vatican announced in a brief press note Monday. The decrees will be made public during a press conference at mid-day in Rome Tuesday.

While the content of the reformed procedures is unknown, the announced names of the two decrees — given in Latin as Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et misericors Iesus – suggest the reforms put a special focus on Jesus’ qualities of being merciful and meek.

An annulment in the Catholic church is a decree from a church tribunal that a marriage between two persons was invalidly contracted. Such a decree is often sought by persons who are seeking to celebrate a different marriage.

Read more.

Rocco offers this assessment: 

That the release of the texts was announced only on the eve of their publication – a striking contrast to the usual week’s notice for major Vatican documents – signals the Pope’s intent for the move to come as a complete surprise, and as an ostensible means of short-circuiting any attempt by critics of the changes to derail whatever he’s decided. In addition, that the commission completed its work in roughly a year is about the closest thing you’ll see to “lightning speed” for a process of this kind: to use a counter-example, the consultation and drafting of Benedict XVI’s tightened-up global norms on sex-abuse extended over at least three years before their release in 2010.

While no specifics of their contents are yet known, the announced titles and formats of the texts hint not only at the most significant revamp of annulment procedures at least since the 1983 publication of the revised Latin Code – and, unlike then, a loosening of the process this time – but likewise an overhaul of the relevant canons in each of the volumes which would enact a permanent, global, perhaps sweeping change to the laws overseeing the church’s discernment of whether a valid sacramental marriage indeed exists.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Read the summary of the changes here. 

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