Statement of Bishop Dennis Sullivan Regarding Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus


On the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis promulgated a letter entitled The Lord Jesus, Gentle Judge, which revised the canonical procedures for Catholics seeking a declaration of nullity (annulment) for a marriage.


The Holy Father made it clear that the Church’s law and pastoral life are ordered to the practice of charity and mercy and ultimately the salvation of souls. In fact, Pope Francis made it clear that he is “not promoting the nullity of marriage, but the quickness of the processes, as well as a correct simplicity” of annulment procedures. These changes have resulted from the world-wide consultation for last year’s Extraordinary Synod and the recommendations of a commission of canonists impaneled by the Holy Father to review annulment procedures and the Church’s law.


In the coming months new procedures and policies will be developed. I have asked the Diocesan Tribunal to prepare presentations for priests, deacons and the faithful before the beginning of December. In this way the Diocese of Camden will be ready on December 8th to implement the changes made by the Motu Proprio. On that day, we, together with the Church throughout the world, will joyfully commence the Jubilee of Mercy.