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(CNA/EWTN News/Staff Re- ports) - Pope Francis announced changes to the marriage annul- ment process on Sept. 8. The new process will give more of a role to the local bishop, dropping auto- matic appeals, and the process will be free of charge. It is aimed at streamlining the system for granting annulments out of concern "for the salvation of souls" while affirming the longstanding Catholic teaching on marriage indissolubility. In a brief introduction, Pope Francis stressed that his adjust- ments "do not favor the nullifying of marriages, but the promptness of the processes." He said that he decided to make the changes in line with the desire of his brother bishops, who during last year's extraordinary synod on the family called for the process to be "faster and more accessible." Many have criticized the cur- rent process of obtaining an annul- ment for being long, complex and in some places, too expensive. Reform was also required due to "the enormous number of faith- ful whotoo often are diverted from juridical structures of the Church due to physical or moral distance," the Holy Father said, adding that "charity and mercy" require the Church as mother to draw close to her children who consider themselves far off. Among the changes the pope made were dropping the auto- matic appeal needed after a deci- sion on nullity has been reached. Until now, once a decision had been made to declare a marriage null, the ruling was automatically appealed to another body, a prac- tice many have blamed for unnec- essary delays in the process. With Francis' new changes, only one judgment will be needed. However, in the case that it is appealed, the Holy Fa- ther said that appeals can be done in the nearest metropolitan diocese, rather than needing to go to Rome. He also decided that each dio- cese throughout the world will have the responsibility to name a judge or tribunal to process in- coming cases. The bishop can be the only judge, or he can establish a three-member tribunal. If a three-member tribunal is estab- lished, it must have at least one cleric, while the other two mem- bers can be laypersons. Francis has also declared that the annulment process will be free of charge. Although the practice is already in place in many dioceses around the world, including the Dicoese of Marquette, the new change makes it universal. In his introduction, Pope Francis recognized that the streamlined process, particularly the new procedures surrounding the decisions made by bishops, could raise concerns over the Church's teaching on the indis- solubility of marriage. "It has not escaped me how an abbreviated judgment might put the principle of indissolubil- ity of marriage at risk," he said. "Indeed, because of this I wanted that in this process the judge would be composed of the bishop, so that the strength of his pastoral office is, with Peter, the best guarantee of Catholic unity in faith and discipline." The pope also explained that he wanted to offer the new process to bishops so it can be "applied in cases in which the accused nullity of the marriage is sustained by particularly evident arguments." The changes are set to go into effect Dec. 8 which is the opening day of the Jubilee for Mercy Statement by Bishop John Doerfler "I welcome the modifications Pope Francis has announced to streamline the process for decla- rations of nullity of marriage (otherwise known as annul- ments). Earlier this year, I waived all fees for this process in the Diocese of Marquette to make this ministry of healing more eas- ily available to all who have un- dergone a civil divorce. Marriage is a permanent, life-long partner- ship between one man and one woman that is ordered to the good of spouses and having and raising children. However, some- times there was something seri- ously deficient with the making of the marriage promises, or other impediment, and it was never a true marriage from the beginning. I encourage anyone who is di- vorced to contact a parish priest to seek healing and reconciliation through this ministry." THE U.P. CATHOLIC FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2015 PAGE 3 THE U.P. CATHOLIC The Newspaper of the Diocese of Marquette Publisher: Most Rev. John F. Doerfler Editor: John Fee Assistant Editor: Jamie Carter Advertising Manager: Deacon Stephen Gretzinger Administrative Assistant: Sheila Wickenheiser Direct all news, correspondence and changes of address to: 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855-8851. Postal authorities direct Form 3579 to: 1004 Harbor Hills Dr., Marquette, MI 49855. The U.P. CATHOLIC is the official publication of the Diocese of Marquette. All notices and regulations, appointments, assignments, etc., issued under the caption 'Official' are to be regarded as official communications of the Diocese of Marquette. Opinion columns, letters to the editor and advertisements that appear in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions held by The U.P. Catholic or the Diocese of Marquette. The diocese is prohibited from endorsing candidates for public office. Office of Publication: 1004 Harbor Hills Dr., Marquette, Michigan. Periodical postage paid at Marquette, Michigan, 49855 and at additional entry office. Published Monthly in January, April, June, July, August and November. Published semi-monthly all other months. The U.P. Catholic is provided to all registered U.P. parishioners. The cost for subscribers who are not registered members of a parish in the Marquette Diocese is $25/year. Advertising is $14.86/col inch unless specified otherwise. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The U.P. Catholic, 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855-8851. FOR CHANGE OF ADDRESS or SUBSCRIPTION QUESTIONS CALL (906) 227-9104 Telephone: (906) 227-9131 Toll Free: 1-800-562-9745 (ext. 131) FAX: (906) 225-0437 ADVERTISING Toll-Free: (866) 452-5112 E-Mail: Editorial - editor@dioceseofmarquette.org Advertising - upc@new.rr.com (USPS 916-360 ISSN 10634525) THEWORD FROM LANSING Paul A. Long I n a little over a week, Pope Francis is expected to speak about Catholics living out their val- ues in the public square. Standing in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, at the same lectern President Abraham Lincoln used to deliver the Gettys- burg Address, the location of Pope Francis' speech is significant consid- ering the city began as a site of reli- gious tolerance. Allowing institutions and indi- viduals of all faiths to express their beliefs openly has helped communi- ties develop, bringing together di- verse perspectives that seek to advance the common good. In Philadelphia, the Quakers, Baptists, Mennonites, Jews and Catholics all uniquely contributed to the city's for- mation and civic debate. The free ex- ercise of religion, or the ability to live one's life according to his or her moral beliefs, has long been a core value for both Americans and Catholics. Pope Francis's message on the freedom of the Catholic Church to serve the public comes at a critical time. In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges redefined marriage in the United States. With this ruling, the court significantly altered the con- temporary understanding of spouses and family, at the same time impact- ing hundreds of existing state and federal laws. While the Church re- mains committed to her teaching about marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the Supreme Court decision has created condi- tions for conflict between faith insti- tutions and individual rights. The full impact of the Court's ruling on the practices of religious organizations is still unclear. Some have commented that religious uni- versities may risk losing their tax-ex- empt status if they do not adopt the new definition of marriage. Charita- ble agencies may be asked to choose between their faith mission and the services they provide. Instead of pro- moting tolerance and recognizing the public good religious institutions offer, society is leaning toward mar- ginalizing institutions based on their beliefs about marriage. Religious organizations have been active in community life for hundreds of years. Motivated by their faith-based mission, Catholic organizations provided assistance to millions of individuals across the state last year. Michigan's Catholic schools educated 53,364 students, Catholic social services agencies as- sisted 931,554 individuals, and Catholic hospitals and health care centers served 6,801,015 patients. Additionally, 640 parishes-and their parishioners-provided vital spiritual, financial, and material sup- port to the community. The impact of Michigan's approximately 2 mil- lion Catholics, 20 percent of the state's total population, is deeply en- grained in society. The Catholic Church's involve- ment in Michigan, along with other faith-based and secular organiza- tions, reveals the value of tolerance and diversity in the state's history. In order to address issues such as human trafficking, adoption and fos- ter care, poverty assistance, and a number of other services for the vul- nerable, the state benefits from hav- ing a variety of organizations- including faith-based-that can reach out to those in need, recruit volunteers, and collect support in different ways. Through its service to others, re- gardless of religious identity, the Church promotes a positive vision for the flourishing of every human person. She recognizes that all life deserves a chance to be lived, that marriage unites a man and woman in a unique way, that all children de- serve a quality education, and that every individual is worthy of dignity and respect. These truths enhance the public square and promote the common good. Instead of further restricting in- stitutions of faith, a collective focus must be placed on ways to protect the good work of all agencies serv- ing those on the peripheries. May society continue to learn from the example of Pope Francis in Philadelphia and embrace the bene- fits of diversity and religious collab- oration. The Word from Lansing is a reg- ular column for Catholic news out- lets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) Presi- dent and CEO Paul A. Long. Michi- gan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. Religious tolerance and the freedom to serve Pope Francis announces changes to annulment process Priest on leave for suspected financial improprieties As of Sept. 10, Father Brian Gerber, director of Marygrove Retreat Center in Garden, Mich., has been placed on administrative leave in light of suspected financial improprieties. The Michigan State Police have been contacted about this matter. Father Timothy Ferguson, associate pastor of St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette, will serve as the center's interim director.

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