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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Feb 01, 2021

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Last week Pope Francis took another step to dismantle the edifice of teaching on marriage left to the Church by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

You already know, I trust, that Pope Francis has made it easier for Catholic couples to obtain an annulment: a declaration that their union was never a sacramental marriage. Now, however, the Pope has—belatedly—turned his attention to the children of those unions. But he has done so in a way that turns the problem completely upside-down.

Bear with me, while I try to explain the confusion.

Nearly every year during his pontificate, when he delivered his annual address to the Roman Rota at the start of its judicial year, Pope John Paul II would urge the tribunal judges—and by extension, the judges on marriage tribunals in every diocese—to uphold the sanctity of the marital union. More specifically, he exhorted tribunal judges not to rush to judgment in annulment cases—not to assume that a troubled marriage is no marriage at all.  …

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