Project Description

Pope Francis is known and beloved for his outreach to those on the peripheries of society. But he’s also initiated a pastoral revolution within the Catholic Church itself aimed at those living “on the margins” in complex pastoral situations, especially in families. This revolution hinges on his ardent call to pastors (bishops and priests) to avoid a cold bureaucratic morality in dealing with sensitive issues. Instead, the Pope has proposed deep, intentional “pastoral discernment” of complex situations, “which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate.” (Amoris Laetitia 312). It was in this pastoral spirit that Francis reformed the marriage annulment process in 2015. The reforms have touched the lives of countless individuals and couples including Mark Schwinghammer and Lynn Imholte from St. Cloud, MN. They are lifelong devout Catholics, whose application for annulment was denied over the course of three years until Francis’ reforms took effect. Their story is one of tragedy, struggle and perseverance in faith; two Catholics, each with three children from a previous marriage, longing for the Church to recognize and sacramentally bless their new relationship.