Prelate nixes measure on ‘pro-poor’ annulment

A CATHOLIC Church official is strongly against the proposal to make annulment more accessible for fear that it could be abused and encourage infidelity.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, an expert in Canon Law, said the measure, which was filed in Congress, could be an easy way out for those who want to escape their marriage.

“For example, if I don’t like my wife anymore, I could create a situation just to get an annulment like adultery,” said Cruz, who chairs the National Appellate on Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“On intention, I can create and factualize grounds for annulment if I am tired of my wife,” he said.

Militant Party list Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares has filed a bill, in what he called, a measure aimed to make annulment “more accessible to the poor” by simplifying its proceedings.

House Bill seeks to recognize spousal violence, infidelity and abandonment as presumptions of “psychological incapacity”—one of the grounds for annulling marriages.

If passed into law, Colmenares said the bill will make annulment proceedings “less costly” since there is no more need to hire psychiatrists, psychologists and lawyers to annul an unfortunate marriage.

But Cruz fear the possibility of more broken families if the proposal will be approved which means more children are likely to lose parental care.

He also criticized the bill’s proponent for pushing for annulment in the guise of helping the poor, where many of them do not enter into marriage but have “live-in” relationships, to secure “annulment decision.”

“Even if they are poor, most of them just live together, most of them just separate, and most of them just unite with other partners so they are not annulment seekers,” Cruz said.

“I do not see the rhyme or reason for cheaper annulment process and quicker because of the poor,” he said. “To me it does not hold water.”

When asked who would benefit from the bill, he answered: “Those in middle class, upper middle class who seek annulment as a matter of principle.”

“There could be some poor people who seek annulment but that is a matter of principle,” the prelate added.

Cruz said another reason why he is against the bill is that it also does not say how many times a person can avail of annulment or if they would be allowed to remarry again.

“The biggest problem with annulments is that it’s never said how many annulments I could get,” he said.

Cruz claimed that the bill would destroy the sacredness of matrimony. “The sanctity of marriage would become more dilute,” he said.

He also expressed optimism that the bill would not prosper in Congress.

“Honestly, I think there would be objections to this. I am certain some legislators whose legal mind and value system remain intact (would oppose) because the poor are the ones who do not need this,” he said. CBCP News

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