The Catholic marriage annulment — a process that allows a Catholic marriage to end without disgrace — has long been purposely difficult to receive from the church hierarchy. The process is now being simplified and made easier by Pope Francis, perhaps because so few Catholics were bothering to seek annulments anymore.
The annulment always seemed suspicious to Catholics. Even though there were rules the church claimed to follow, the process mystified many — and why one marriage was eligible and another wasn’t was hard to discern. The granting of annulments came to be seen by rank-and-file Catholics as cynical and often politically motivated. When the late Senator Ted Kennedy‘s first marriage to his wife Joan — a marriage that lasted 23 years — was annulled more than a decade after his divorce, many Catholics laughed sadly at the whole idea. The Pope’s new move is meant to reverse the trend where Catholics stopped taking annulments seriously.