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House panel faces obstacles with “Church Nullity Act”

A bill seeking civil recognition of church annulments was adopted by the House Committee on Population and Family Affairs on Thursday. This will make it affordable and accessible for many Filipinos.

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House Bill 1593, also known as the Church Nullity Act of 2022, was written by TINGOG Party-list Representatives Jude Acidre and Yedda Marie Romualdez and submitted on July 7 of last year.

“I would like to thank the committee for taking favorable action on House Bill 1593 on behalf of Tingog Party-list. This is an important achievement that offers promise for a successful and more cheap technique to help couples who are caught in an irretrievably broken relationship, said Acidre.

A technical working group (TWG) has been tasked with assembling all eight related proposals into one bill and creating a substitute.

A declaration of nullity (of marriage) made by the Church will carry the same weight and have the same consequences as a legal annulment, according to Acidre, if the bill is passed into law.

He continued by saying that the measure relieves Catholics who have sought an annulment in the Church of the burden of going through the civil annulment process. They will no longer be “long oppressed by the darkness of doubt” over whether their marriages, already deemed null and void, should also be recognized as such by the State.

In accordance with the canons and precepts of the church or religious sect, a marriage that has been validly and legally solemnized by a priest, imam, rabbi, or presiding elder of an established church or religion in the Philippines and later annulled, dissolved, or declared null shall have the same effect as a decree of annulment, dissolution, or declaration of nullity issued by a competent court.

“Thus, a marriage solemnized by the Church should have both canonical and civil effects. The bill’s explanatory note said that in order to solemnize marriages, priests, pastors, imams, and rabbis needed permission from the State.

According to the writers, Pope Francis’ position to streamline Catholic Church procedures for annulling marriages was the inspiration for the proposed policy.

They noted Pope Francis’ issuance of “Mitis Iudex Dominus lesus,” which sped up the process of the declaration of nullity of marriage, saying, “If a marriage can be legitimately contracted under the laws of the Church, then it follows that under the same laws, such marriage can also be nullified or annulled.”

“A marriage solemnized under the laws of the Church is recognized as valid by the Philippine Family Law. Since such weddings are recognized by the State, it is only fitting that the church that officiated the marriage also has the authority to rule on any accompanying defect that rendered the marriage void and its consequences enforceable by the State. The writers noted that this holds true for all other recognized churches and religions as well.

In accordance with Executive Order No. 209, often known as the Family Code of the Philippines, “the status of offspring of marriages subject to a decision of annulment or declaration of nullity by the church or religious sect shall be resolved.”

The bill states that their common children born or conceived prior to the issuance of the decree of annulment or declaration of nullity shall be regarded as legitimate in the event that the grounds for the church annulment or declaration of nullity are not similar to any of the grounds provided in the Family Code.

The legislation also suggests that either former spouse may remarry after meeting the standards outlined in Section 5 and Article 52 of the Family Law; otherwise, the following marriage shall be void, without regard to the limitations outlined by the church or religious sect.

The spouse involved must provide a real certified copy of the decree of annulment or declaration of nullity issued by the church or religious group and recorded with the relevant civil registry in order to get a marriage license.

They noted that divorce is recognized by the State under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1083.

“If a Muslim divorce is acknowledged, there can be no major problems against the acceptance of the civil effects of a marriage by an established and officially recognized religious denomination, under the principle of equality before the law,” they continued.

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