Pope Francis met on Friday with bishops from around the world who are attending a course at the Vatican tribunal of the Roman Rota to discuss recent developments regarding marriage annulments.
In September 2015 Pope Francis issued two new documents introducing reforms to the legal structures of the Church, making marital nullity trials simpler, faster and less expensive.
In his words to participants at the three day Vatican training course, the Pope noted that bishops must be both “teachers of the faith” but also those who learn from the needs and questions of men and women today.
Quoting from Scripture and from his predecessor Paul VI, Pope Francis said that the spiritual health of those entrusted to the bishops must be the goal of all pastoral activity.
Pursuing this aim of the “salvation of souls”, he said, it is important to eliminate all financial and bureaucratic impediments which prevent the faithful from gaining access to Church tribunals.
Following the example of Jesus, the Good Shephard, he said, the Church “incarnates” herself through the suffering of individuals, and must therefore care especially for those who feel excluded because of a marital breakdown.
By virtue of their baptism, the Pope stressed, these people remain fully part of the Church and the bishops are called to minister to them with particular love and concern.