Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio eliminates fees in an effort to “reach out to all people and facilitate their encounter with the Risen Lord in the sacraments.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As of Dec. 8, 2015, Catholics seeking marriage annulments through the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, will no longer be taxed to cover the administrative costs related to the adjudication of marriage cases by the archdiocesan tribunal. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio ordered the elimination of the fees in a decreecoinciding with the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, which began on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the USA, and runs through Nov. 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
According to the decree, fees for a Formal Case for Annulment have been eliminated. Only a $100 registration fee will be solicited for formal cases. Administrative cases involving marriages where a Catholic failed to celebrate his or her marriage in a Catholic Church (Lack of Form) will be processed without even a registration fee.
Without a formal annulment, divorced Catholics who contract marriage outside the Church are not allowed to receive the sacraments. In hopes of drawing fallen-away Catholics back to the Church, Pope Francis recently announced reformssimplifying the procedures for obtaining an annulment while at the same time “upholding and keeping in first place the indissolubility of marriage.”
The AMS Judicial Vicar, Father Christopher Armstrong, J.C.D., remarked that the simpler annulment procedures show “Pope Francis’s pastoral solicitude for the whole Church. The Supreme Law of the Church is the salvation of souls, and I think the Holy Father wants to use every means at his disposal to draw everyone to the practice of faith.”
Archbishop Broglio noted in his decree that “Tribunal expenses are already greatly subsidized in ordinary procedural administration of justice and no one has ever been denied due process because of an inability to satisfy the financial requirements heretofore in place.” He said, “It is indeed the mission of the Church to reach out to all people and facilitate their encounter with the Risen Lord in the sacraments, privileged moments of grace.”
So this year, the AMS tribunal has opened 105 new Formal Cases for Annulment, 110 new cases seeking annulment based on a declaration of Lack of Form, eight new cases citing Ligamen (existence of a prior bond before the contested marriage took place), and six new cases invoking the Pauline Privilege. Father Armstrong said that the annulment process can take “anywhere from eight months to eight years,” depending the level of cooperation among separated spouses and witnesses.