World

Vatican adviser questions annulment reform, citing training of bishops and fast-track process

Pope Francis talks with a newlywed couple during his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope Francis talks with a newlywed couple during his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

An adviser to the Vatican's high court has warned that Pope Francis' new reform of the church's marriage annulment process raises serious legal questions and could lead to "crises of conscience" for even happily-married Catholics.

Canon lawyer Edward Peters, a consultant to the Apostolic Signatura, says the most troubling aspect of the reform concerns the fast-track annulment process, decided by a bishop and aimed at speeding up what has been a lengthy and complicated procedure to declare a marriage null.

In a blog post Wednesday, Peters said the reasons listed in the Vatican's new norms could lead even happily married couples to wonder if their marriages are invalid: If the woman had an abortion or if a spouse concealed children from a prior relationship or a past incarceration.