|Free marriage, indissoluble and forever?
Pope Francis reformed the canonical law so that the annulment processes of the sacrament of marriage are kinder. He did it for charitable reasons. The reform caused ruffled, which makes some considerations necessary.
1. Nullity and annulment are not the same. Nullity is to declare a nonexistent legal act from its origin. Annulment is to declare that if it existed, but that it will no longer be in force. Two very well-run figures in civil matters that derive, like so many things, from Canon law.
2. The church has always recognized the existence and legitimacy of natural, civil and religious marriages (of any religion), as well as the commitments they entail. A process of sacramental nullity does not ignore these realities it confirms them. No one can promote any nullity unless he has previously and legally assumed his responsibilities to the couple and the children. What is in the absence of the sacrament, not of natural or civil marriage.
3. Life is full of mysteries, that is, of matters that we do not fully understand, and we will never resolve, especially when our humanity is involved. We can never define what love is and, nevertheless, it is a mystery before which reason always asks and tries to answer. If we forget its mysterious horizon, we also lose love. Mystery challenges our reason and sets it in motion, it is the force that frees our thought from the chains of the immediate and instinctive.
4. Dogmas are not the prison of thought. They are the most important mysteries that God has placed in front of us and that widen the horizons of our reason. Thus, in the face of constant attempts to trivialize marriage throughout history, Jesus challenges our reason to return to the mystery that implies the relationship of love between a man and a woman.
5. When Jesus established the marriage indissolubility, in no way locked us in a prison, but opened the doors of our humanity to the mystery, to go beyond the natural and legal circumstances that, by definition, are closed fields. We are not mere self-determined individuals, but people who transcend our individuality by entering into a relationship with other people, society, history, and God.
6. Christ, when declaring marriage as indissoluble, challenged us to understand the depth of our freedom when it is done in the love of neighbor because the relationship between man and woman contains all our freedom, ability to donate and Unconditional. Jesus, in the mystery of marriage, liberated us thus from the narrow world in which we enclose Narcissus, as the heavy burden of using our partner as an instrument to serve our selfishness.
7. The church, in fidelity to Christ, since the Apostolic era has recognized marriage as an indissoluble sacrament; but also, our fallible humanity that Jesus looks at with mercy. For these reasons, it has always opened the door to the recognition of the possible absence of the sacrament due to problems at the origin, mainly the lack of freedom and will among the parties. The instruments for discerning such a delicate matter have been spiritual, canonical (legal) and judicial, whose adaptability to different cultural circumstances I have the pleasure of investigating as a historian. I can say, without hesitation, that the reform promoted by Francis is a necessary step in this long history driven by the mystery that challenges and the mercy it embraces.