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Continuing his reform streak from within the Vatican’s highest post, Pope Francis on Tuesday announced that he is taking steps to make marriage annulment a less complex, pricey and fraught process for Catholics than it historically has been.

There’s a lot of room for improvement in that regard.

The New York Times relayed the details of the pope’s announcement:

The new rules take effect on Dec. 8 and are expected to speed up cases in which neither spouse is contesting the annulment. These fast-track cases can be heard as soon as 30 days after a couple files an application, and at most within 45 days.

The new procedures also eliminate one of the two church trials that are required of all couples seeking an annulment, a process that can drag on for years, at great cost.

“To ensure that a case doesn’t sleep, tribunals and judges will have to sleep a little less,” said Msgr. Alejandro W. Bunge, secretary of the commission that drafted the changes, speaking at a Vatican news conference on Tuesday.

The Times added that the details haven’t been worked out in full yet, but one of the pope’s expectations for the new system is that it will be free of charge, “not counting legitimate fees to maintain the tribunal process.” Again with the fine print.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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