The abbreviated matrimonial process before the bishop is the most novel element introduced by Pope Francis in his August 15, 2015 reform of the marriage nullity process. Among other things, it situates the diocesan or eparchial bishop in the position of judge in the trial. According to the prevailing doctrine, however, the bishop can delegate his judicial power, and that applies also to the power to judge such causes. In any case, such causes are of an inherently judicial nature inasmuch as they are directed toward the procedural discovery of the objective truth of the alleged nullity of marriage and are thus necessarily of a declarative nature. The essential presuppositions of the process are the explicit consent of both spouses and the verification of a very strong fumus boni iuris already in the libellus (called “manifest nullity” in the new law). The abbreviated process, while not providing all the hoped-for guarantees for the protection of the matrimonial bond, follows an ordered sequence in accord with the judicial patrimony of the canonical system.


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pp. 539-591
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