The National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW) has published a revised 4th Edition of ‘A Guide to the Annulment Process’ supported by the Marriage and Family Life Office at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
First published in 1998, the Guide seeks to de-mystify the annulment process, making it easier to understand, and hopefully less stressful. The 4th Edition also takes into account Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, ‘The Gentle Judge, our Lord Jesus, the Shepherd of Souls’, the document issued by Pope Francis in 2015 which gives a more streamlined and readily accessible way of proceeding in cases concerning the declaration of the nullity of a marriage.
Pope Francis’ emphasis on mercy is at the heart of these new procedures which help reduce the time taken to process a case, and assist diocesan bishops to use their judicial power for the good of those in their care. It is therefore fitting that the front cover of NBCW’s Guide depicts Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reaching out to aid one of his flock caught in the thorns.
In his foreword, the Rt Revd Peter Doyle, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life, describes the 4th edition as, ‘a resource to assist all those in our communities whose marriages have failed, and those accompanying them; and restore to them, with the mercy of God, hope and confidence on the journey of faith in the light of the Gospel.’
NBCW is a forum, founded in 1939, in which Catholic women of England and Wales come together to share their views and concerns at diocesan and national level. NBCW is a Consultative body to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and has consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC).
Commenting on the new 4th Edition, NBCW President, Mrs Maureen Meatcher, said:
“The National Board of Catholic Women actively seeks to enable the spiritual growth and development of all Catholic women. Applying for an annulment may have procedural and emotional difficulties for some, but it is a time of learning and understanding about themselves.
“Pope Francis has urged us to go out to the marginalised, so we hope and pray that this booklet will facilitate a healing process and a fresh start for some.”