MANILA, July 10, 2016— Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches has been elected as second in command of the Church body that handles annulment for Catholic marriages in the Philippines.
The prelate will be the first to hold the post as vice judicial vicar of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal that is under the leadership of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz.
From the lower tribunals, annulment process in the Church are elevated to the appellate tribunal which functions somewhat like the Supreme Court.
The bishops elected Tobias, a canon lawyer, to the post on the first day of their plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on Saturday, July 9.
The election also took place as Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines gears up for Church law reform in marital nullity cases.
In August 2015, Pope Francis announced reforms streamlining church’s procedure for marital nullity while affirming the longstanding Catholic teaching on marriage indissolubility.
The main goal of the new norms, which is contained in the Apostolic Letter Mitis et Misericors Iesus, is pastoral and seeks to reach out to families suffering from a broken marriage.
While the pope has opted to simplify and speed up the process, the CBCP said the doctrine about the sacredness of marriage remains “unchanged”.
“The declaration of nullity of marriages is not divorce,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, previously said.
Cruz, for his part, said he expects the number of people who would seek marriage nullity to increase as a result of the reforms in the marriage nullity process. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)