-Christopher A: Unfortunately, the people whom Christopher mentions are not unique.
There is no question that when a Catholic petitions the Church for a declaration that his marriage was null, he ordinarily should not expect a quick response.
True, this causes such obvious cases to take longer than they would if the Defender did not exist, and the result would presumably be the same.
Few Catholics realize it, but each diocese has a standing arrangement with another diocese that will take all its marriage cases on appeal.This is not a problem that is particular to the United States, nor is it a brand-new phenomenon.In his very first annual address to the Roman Rota-which is the Church’s highest court that deals with marriage cases, as we’ll see later in this column-Pope Benedict XVI urged marriage tribunals to provide decisions with “speed and efficacy.” Pope John Paul II had likewise made similar comments to those who handle marriage nullity cases in the past. Let’s take a very brief, general look at the basic procedure that must be followed whenever anyone petitions for a marriage annulment.For example, the second-instance tribunal for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC is Cleveland, Ohio; that of my own diocese of Arlington, Virginia is Baltimore, Maryland.This means that every single time the Arlington marriage tribunal finds a marriage to be invalid, the appellate tribunal in Baltimore automatically gets the same case and they review the entire process all over again from top to bottom.
It is far more complicated than most Catholics realize.