Internal Forum

The internal forum is the process of using one’s own informed conscience to make decisions. As a central concept in Catholic moral life, the Internal Forum process applies to all aspects of human decision-making, not just annulment and remarriage.
In cases of remarriage and annulment, Internal Forum is also called the “in good conscience solution”. Contrary to the annulment-tribunal process, called the “External Forum”, the Internal Forum does not involve any witnesses, psychological evaluations are not used, and the former spouse is not required to be involved. In other words, the Internal Forum is a far more compassionate and pastoral process than the annulment-tribunal External Forum Process.

In the most recent information to be announced by Rome, the Synod document of 2015 and Pope Francis’ view of remarriage, defined “Internal Forum” as a way “to help remarried Catholics become conscious of their situation before God” and then decide how to move forward. The document goes on to state “conversations with a priest in Internal Forum contributes to the formation of a correct decision on what is blocking the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the church and on steps that might foster it and make it grow. For this to happen, the necessary conditions should be guaranteed of humility, discretion, and love of the Church and its teachings in the sincere seeking of the will of God and in the wish to give a more perfect response to it”.

SOS believes that the Internal Forum process is a far more compassionate process toward remarriage than is the “External Forum” tribunal-annulment process

The following five links are to articles about Internal Forum & annulment:

America magazine article by Mary Ann Walsh, an American observer at the Synod of Bishops.

She presents three possible options for Bishops to consider about the annulment dilemma.

  1. Streamline cumbersome annulment process
  2. Encourage more use of Internal Forum
  3. Consider the Orthodox position on annulments
http://americamagazine.org/issue/revisiting-remarriage

2. Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment

Joshua J. McElwee | National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 24, 2015
https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/synod-offers-striking-softening-remarried-proposing-individual-discernment

Included in this article: "Catholic teaching says that acts of governance in the church can take place either in an internal or external forum. The internal forum is the forum of conscience, where a decision is made in private counseling with a priest without a formal decree or any sort of publicity. The Synod offers an important softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment. Pope Francis concluded the Synod saying to the bishops “The Synod experience … made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness".

3. Internal Forum: A Concise Explication (Five Questions to Ask about Making an Informed Decision)

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC)
http://www.arcc-catholic-rights.net/internal_forum_1.htm

4. A report from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests based on a survey of its members regarding pastoral ministry.

This report is prepared for the October 2015 Synod of Bishops
http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/1190714/26129738/1428715555340/Survey+Report+to+Rome+final+040115.pdf?token=uFHPKPcPnHEZ6D1TKdaxDelLgM8%3D

5. Vatican’s agenda for the October 2015 world-wide Synod of Bishops

See important sections concerning annulments (see # 113 and # 129)
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20150623_instrumentum-xiv-assembly_en.html