The two motu proprio letters issued by Pope Francis last week, decreeing a reform of the ecclesial procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriages, have caused astonishment among Catholic faithful. Although the doctrine of indissolubility of marriage remains intact in theory, the new procedure, if implemented as outlined in the new provisions, appears to have been drafted with the intention of allowing a finding of nullity in practically all cases where the spouses, or one of them, so demand. In practice this looks like the introduction of divorce on request, with the sole difference that findings of nullity apply ex tunc (i.e. that the marital bond is declared to have never existed), while a divorce would be effective only ex nunc (i.e., the validity of the marriage is not called in doubt, but the marriage is dissolved with effect as from the day of the divorce).
Even if this reform may have been motivated by the best of intentions, it risks making the doctrine of indissolubility of marriage look very hypocritical.