Changes will relieve pain felt by many faithful
The Pope's reforms of the marriage annulment process are the most wide-ranging changes to the practice in over 300 years. His decision to streamline the rules by which the church grants annulments is another piece in the jigsaw for a pontiff who wants the church to reach out to those who are suffering - in this case, those whose marriages have broken down.
The rules and regulations by which the church grants couples a decree of nullity - a formal declaration that a marriage is considered to have been invalid from the beginning - are a mystery to many. The Pope's reforms will make an enormous difference in the lives of many practising Catholics who have experienced marital breakdown.
Crucially, his new policies do not change the criteria under which the church grants annulments, but they do make the process faster, easier and less expensive. And it will inevitably lead to a wider understanding of the circumstances under which a couple might be entitled to have their marriage declared null.