Vatican City Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged concern about the plight of divorced Catholics, who are not permitted to receive Communion after remarriage, and appealed to a Vatican tribunal Saturday to issue "rapid" rulings on annulment requests.
He told the Roman Rota its decisions should come quickly for the sake of the faithful, but he reminded church jurists that their paramount task in making a ruling was determining the "truth" about whether the marriage was valid.
An annulment means that the marriage was invalid, essentially concluding that the marriage never existed, leaving the faithful free to remarry and receive Communion.
Last fall, a Vatican gathering of bishops reaffirmed church policy denying Communion to divorced Catholics who remarry without annulments. The bishops urged these people to make every possible effort to have their previous marriages annulled by the Roman Rota.
The pope said it was important that the church help couples try to work out problems.
Circumstances for granting annulments include refusal by a husband or a wife to have children, impotence or the psychological incapability of one of the spouses to contract a marriage.