'A positive move - but no help for divorced Catholics'
Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30
The new reforms outlined by Pope Francis have been broadly welcomed by Catholics in Ireland - although some warned they do not go far enough.
Brendan Butler of 'We Are Church Ireland' said he welcomed any reforms which would speed up annulments and allow bishops more discretion.
However, he said the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics "is a more urgent problem and is not addressed in these reforms".
He added that it needs to be "seriously addressed by the forthcoming synod on the family" which will take place in the Vatican in October.
The church currently teaches that Catholics can remarry only if their first marriage is declared invalid by a church marriage tribunal. Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the church in civil ceremonies are barred from receiving communion.
Dr John Murray, a moral theologian and director of the pro-marriage Iona Institute, said that what the Pope is announcing is a limited measure.
"But it will probably not help Catholics who are validly married and who unfortunately are in trouble with their relationship," he warned.
Patricia Fitzsimons is a member of the Association of Catholics in Ireland.
She said: "As someone who, although never previously married, is not invited to the sacraments because I married Ben - who is divorced - I am delighted that Pope Francis is making the annulment process easier and free."
But she said the reforms would probably not affect her as Ben's application for an annulment was turned down twice and his previous marriage was declared valid by the church.
"The changes do not go far enough and the church needs to recognise that valid marriages fail and people should be allowed remarry," she said.
Her husband Ben Flood added: "This change is about the annulment process only and the church still maintains that marriage is for life.
"This puts a lot of people who cannot get an annulment in a situation where they are excommunicated if they have remarried."
"My annulment procedure has been decided upon and my marriage was found to be valid.
"I have since written to the Vatican to say that even valid marriages fail, and that there needs to be recognition that this happens and that new marriages of previously divorced people have validity."