By Mark Abrams

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A La Salle University Theologian says Tuesdays move by Pope Francis to streamline the annulment process for Catholics reflects his view of a healing and merciful church.

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Father Frank Berna, director of La Salle’s graduate program in theology and ministry, says timing of the pope’s announcement is significant.

Berna says the pope’s decision on reforming the annulment process to dissolve a marriage comes just weeks before his visit to the United States and the convening of a synod of bishops in Rome next month.

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“You’ll have a shorter process that’s much more pastoral and healing for people than rather than being a long, canonical legal procedure.” says Berna.

He says while the pope’s moves do not change church teaching on marriage as an institution, they will allow bishops and their flocks to engage in a more relaxed process that has been time-consuming contentious and costly.

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