Pope Francis gestures as he talks during a special audience with members of "Eucharist Youth Movement" in Paul VI hall at the VaticanPope Francis has made it easier for Catholics to end their marriages, making the most substantial changes to annulment procedures in centuries. He said the reforms are aimed at providing a “just simplicity” for the “heart of the faithful.” An annulment, formally known as a “decree of nullity,” is a ruling that a marriage was not valid according to Church law because certain circumstances – such as free will, psychological maturity and openness to having children – were lacking.

The annulment process has often been criticized for being cumbersome, lengthy, outdated, and expensive. Many say the rules discourage even those with legitimate grounds from trying to get annulments. The pontiff aimed to put end to those complaints on Tuesday, stating that the “impulse for reform is fed by the enormous numbers of the faithful who…are too often alienated from the juridical structures of the church…” He said the process should be sped up so that those seeking annulments will not be “long oppressed by darkness of doubt” over whether their marriages could be dissolved. FULL REPORT