Just imagine this scenario:
A local politician goes to the bishop and tells him his daughter needs an annulment so she can have a great big wedding, a time of civic rejoicing. The bishop, a timid man, not exactly faith filled, however having looked into the matter is doubtful and says that it should follow the ordinary course. The politician, a bit of a bully, says he will go to the secularised press and insure they put up yet another story of the 'un-pastoral' style of the bishop, and he will certainly complain about him to his powerful friends in Rome. The bishop thinks about it and within 45 days the politician's daughter is organising a second wedding in the Cathedral with the bishop assisting a presiding Cardinal.The great thing about the 'unreformed' annulment procedure is that having collected the evidence for an annulment a judgement was made by the diocesan tribunal and then the papers were passed to second tribunal for an independent verdict, if it was different in the second instance from the first it was sent to the Rota. The great advantage was that the diocesan tribunal's work was scrutinised by the second tribunal, and occasionally by Rome. This meant that Bishops had to act according to the law, in fact they were protected by the law, they could hide behind the law and one of the purposes of the law is for the weak to hide behind it.
There are certainly problems with the annulment procedure, it is slow and invariably under funded, in some parts of the world it simply does not exist, some diocese do not have any canonists who can run a marriage tribunal, which means people are denied justice. However we saw the madness in the 1970s where US canonists seemed to merely rubber stamp any requests for a declaration of nullity.
I cannot help thinking the Holy Father, out of pastoral zeal, has acted unwisely and is placing the whole Church in the American 1970's situation. Already in my parish a couple of people with less than perfect marriages have been asking if possibly they might not be married after all; doubts have been sown. According to Cardinal Kasper the Holy Father has said he believes 50% marriages could be or are invalid, which seems a rather pessimistic attitude to the sacraments. Of course if one suggests 50% of marriages are invalid, could one not apply the same criteria to ordinations, if bad catechises could be criteria for invalidity, as some are suggesting, could not bad theological formation (or moral formation) be a good reason to suggest one's priest or bishop's ordination was null and void and the same for the sacraments he has celebrated?
That way of course lays theological madness and sees a return to a new Donatist Crisis, which actually one does see amongst certain uber-Catholics of an ultra-'traditional' stripe. The Church has always understood that Christ is greater than the Church, than the sacraments, and certainly greater than the weak and limited people who receive the sacraments, by his Grace he makes up for our sins and deficiencies.
The problem here is the same as lies behind the Synod: do we rely on God's grace or are we merely bound by human weakness?