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New Mexican (Newspaper) - February 9, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico Wednesday February THE NEW MEXICAN A3 says annulments too easy to get I The Associated Press i VATICAN CITY The Vatican has revised its guide i lines on marriage annul I merits acknowledging some abuses and saying Tuesday i that it wants the practice that some critics have dubbed i Catholic divorce handled in a more serious way I Publication of the compen idium of canonlaw aspects about marriage comes on the the most recent i criflcisndi by Pope John Paul who complained jhat annulments are too easily obtained and expressed worry that tribunals face the risk of corruption In the context of a divorce mentality even canon pro cesses of annulment cases can be easily misunderstood as if they werent anything jnore than ways to EObtain a drvoice with the blessing of the said Cardinal Julian Herranz Head of the Pontifical Council for Legisla tive Texts who presented the new guidelines to reporters For Catholics who want to remarry annulment is their only hope of being able to do so in the church which forbids divorce Among the reasons church tribunals grant annulments are impotence refusal by a spouse to have children and psychological immaturity at the time of saying I Critics of the annulment process contend the last rea son is frequently interpreted too loosely They also sug gest diocesan tribunals are too generous in embrac ing canonlaw loopholes pointing to the lopsided sta tistics annulments decreed by dioceses account for roughly twothirds of all those granted worldwide to faithful Nobody misses the fact that human frailty can make it possible that true justice didnt happen in a specific case or that it didnt come the cardinal said acknowledging flaws in the f churchs system But the church is deter mined Herranz said to persevere in the intent to improve handling both in terms of seriousness and j and to render all the tribunals decisions more At John Pauls orders experts compiled aspects of revised canon law and inter pretations of the last two decades by Church courts but added no new rules The i previous such compendium dates to 1936 Asked by a reporter about the high number of annulments the Spanish cardinal said it was jtoo early to tell if following the updated guidelines would fewer of them The new instructions for tribunals are aimed at ascertaining the truth about marriages Herranz said Results will be decided case by case I cant predict if annulments will be harder I to obtain Church observers note that while annulment cases far outnumber those in other countries Ameri can dioceses have been far more diligent in setting up Dignity of Marriage the title of the compendium notes in some cases the 1 tribunals cant keep up with the annulment cases and urges bishops in dioceses with no marriage tribunals to set them up appointing i competent lay people if nec essary In 2002 Vatican officials said tribunals worldwide ruled on more than requests for annulments with some of them granted Of the favorable rulings nearly came in North America Requests have jumped enormously in the last decades especially in coun tries of longstanding Chris tian said Monsi gnor Velasio De Paolis a top Vatican court official who put some of the blame on Results will be decided case by case I cant predict if annulments will be harder to JULIAN HERRANZ head of fhe Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts widespread secularization with its erroneous concepts of In the late 1960s for exam ple the number of annul ments in the United States numbered in the hundreds Many Catholics especially in the United States have been hoping the Vatican will have a change of heart on a ban on Catholics receiving Communion if they have remarried without annul ments The only exception on the Communion ban for such couples is if they abstain from sex with their new spouses Herranz appeared to dampen such hopes While not excommuni cated these Catholics are living in a persistent tena cious public state of sin and cant receive the body of Herranz said Judge testtube embryo is human being The Associated Press CHICAGO All Alison Miller and Todd Fairish wanted was to become par ents But when a fertility clinic didnt preserve a healthy embryo they had hoped would one day become their child they sued for wrongful death A judge refused to dismiss their case ruling in effect that a testtube embryo is a human being and that the suit can go forward Though most legal experts believe the ruling will be over turned some in the fertility business worry it could have a chilling effect threatening everything from invitro fer tilization to abortion rights and embryonic stemcell research If the decision stands it could essentially end in vitro said Dr Robert Schenken president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Few doctors would risk offering the procedure if any accident that harmed the embryo could result in a wrongfuldeath law suit said Schenken chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas in San Antonio IM HERE AND IM HEADY TO TALK THROUGH YOUR INSURANCE QUESTIONS If the decision stands it could essentially end invitro fertilization American Society for Repoductive Medicine president He said the society a pro fessional group for fertility doctors is considering filing a court brief opposing the ruling by Cook County Judge Jeffrey Lawrence The lawyer for the clinic James Kopriva declined to say if an appeal is planned but added We are weighing our options We disagree with the courts decision and do not believe Illinois law provides for the remedy provided by the In a letter to the couple in June 2000 Dr Norbert Glei cher director of the Center for Human Reproduction said an employee had failed to put an embryo in frozen storage and he apologized for this If the ruling for the couple holds it would have no legal standing outside Illinois However it could provide impetus for groups elsewhere to push an agenda opposing both abortion rights and stem dell research said Northwest University law professor Victor Rosenblum an abor tion foe who has worked with antiabortion activists I certainly admire the initia tive of the Cook County judge in taking this but it likely will not survive any appeals attempts Rosenblum said The judge refers in his rul ing to an Illinois statute that implies wrongfuldeath law suits can be filed on behalf of the unborn regardless of age In Lawrences interpretation that includes a testtube embryo before pregnancy the micro scopic bunch of cells that form after an egg is fertilized in the laboratory but before being implanted into the womb Nearly half a million such embryos are frozen at fertility clinics nationwide Typically extras are produced through invitro fertilization and most clinics keep them indefinitely until couples decide to use them or authorize their dis posal said University of Min nesota ethicistJeffrey Kahn Kahn said if the decision stands it will have implica tions not only 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