Skip to comments.Does Canon 1066 amount to a coin toss?
Posted on 05/09/2014 1:30:19 PM PDT by BlatherNaut
Canon 1066 (it seems out of fashion to quote canon law these days, but indulge me) states: Before a marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration. Cdl Kaspers shocking assertion, which he claims is the popes view, that half of all marriages are invalid, would, if true, indicate that Canon 1066 is being disregarded on an unprecedented scale.
Canon 1066 does not mean, of course, that every officiating cleric guarantees the validity of every Catholic wedding, but it does, at a minimum, oblige officiants to make an assessment of the parties commensurate with the burden they are taking on, namely, that of forming a partnership of the whole of life ordered to the good of the spouses and to the welfare of children (Canon 1055 § 1). If, therefore, as Kasper claims, half of all marriages (or even half of all Catholic marriages) are null, then the pre-wedding inquiry conducted in accord with Canon 1066 is a statistically pointless exercise that could just as well be replaced with a pastors toss of the coin. Heads I marry yall, tails I dont.
I worked in tribunals for ten years. I saw hundreds of null marriagesnot all of them Catholic, many not even Christian, but hundreds nevertheless. I need no more proof that there are far too many null marriages (including many between Catholics who married in Catholic rites) to let us ignore the great crisis in marriage today. But to parlay there are too many null marriages into half of all marriages are null seems like hysteria to me.
But maybe Im wrong. Maybe Kasper (and the pope?) are right, maybe half of all marriages (or at least half of whatever kind of marriages the prelate has in mind) are null. What then?
Well, the first step (or the second, depending on whether one wishes first to know whether this dark view of marriage really is the popes) would be, I think, to ask for some evidence in support of such an astounding assertion. Is there a better time than now to present such evidence, if it exists? Surely those preparing for upcoming Synod on Marriage need to know whether the sacrament they are examining is being conferred invalidly as often as it is validly. But, if it turns out that there is no evidence for the claim that marriage is as often chimeric as it is real, then the immediate project shifts to one of repairing the damage done to the psyches of all those preparing for, or struggling in, marriage, damage done by telling such folks that their chances for nothing were as great as their chances for something.
Then, I trust, we can refocus on the real problems in marriage today and marriage law. Of which there are plenty.
My own personal guess as to the number of invalid marriages contracted by Catholics with valid form before a priest (in other words, following the external canonical norms): 20%.
That means 80% of them are valid.
But, sheesh, 1 out of 5.
Hyperbole however useful it is as a rhetorical tool, is not a sound or honest foundation for discerning pastoral applications of moral theology.
I would put the percentages exactly the other way around!
I suspect that 80% of the marriages performed in the Catholic church today are invalid for this reason: They don’t really intend to enter an indissoluble union. They certainly hope that their marriage would last (who wouldn’t?!) but they have in the back of their minds that if it doesn’t, they’ll move on and find someone else. That, in itself, invalidates the marriage, because it is not their intent to enter a union which the Catholic church calls matrimony.
If, at the time they exchange vows, even one of the persons getting married believes that they can always get out and move on, then it’s an invalid marriage. Period.
I also believe that there are many causes of this abominable state:
1. So many Catholic children today are growing up in families where one or both parents had previous marriages.
2. The catechesis of children is so poor, especially as regards marriage, because the instructors don’t want to make kids feel bad about their parents.
3. They don’t really understand that an annulment is not a “Catholic divorce”.
4. Despite the fact that an annulment is not a “Catholic divorce”, it is treated as such in pre-cana classes and otherwise by so many priests and Catholics.
If my experience as an Episcopal (would-be) priest is anything to go by:
Young people who come to pre-marital counselling RARELY take it seriously. The hardest job I had was persuading them that my thoughts mattered at all.
So, I can say all the stuff that TEC used to say, including that getting married with the intention NOT to have children waa a problem.
And THEY’re Going, “Yeah, yeah. He’s like, 35! What could he possibly know about love?”
So, I can well see that, while it’s an upper bound, 50% is not utterly incredible.
I’m a Protestant and a geek. When I saw the title for this article, my first thought was that the poster was trying to decide between models of a product - such as a camera or printer or scanner - from the Canon technology company.
What constitutes an invalid marriage according to Canon law?
Does that mean that 1 out of 5 people are living in sin?
And how would someone know if their marriage is null or not?
III. GROUNDS OF NULLITY
IV. WHAT WAS AGREED TO WAS NOT MARRIAGE
(i) Exclusion of Permanence
(ii) Exclusion of Children
(iii) Exclusion of the Sacrament
V. THE PARTIES WERE NOT FREE TO MARRY
A. Where One or Other of the Parties Is Not Free
to Marry Anyone
(i) Spouse Living
(iii) Holy Orders
(iv) Solemn Religious Vows
B. Where the Parties Were Not Free to Marry Each Other
(i) Blood Relationship
(iii) Public Decency
(iv) Spiritual Relationship
(v) Difference of Cult
VI. THE PARTIES DID NOT CONSENT
A. Want of Consent from Want of Knowledge
(ii) Ignorance of What Marriage I
(iii) Ignorance of What the Ceremony Was
(iv) Error as to the Person
B. Want of Consent from Causes Affecting the Will
(i) Force and Fear
(iii) Simulated Consent
I don't know. You could be right. I have a limited imagination, I guess.
When my wife and I got married, I figured, it better work out, or I'll be praying for the end of time. LOL.
I'm not sure the arrogance of youth negates entirely the catechesis imparted by someone like yourself. But I could be wrong.
I can say from my own knowledge that among the few folks I know who married and divorced, there were certainly grounds for annulments in almost every case. But most of the folks I know are still married to their first spouse.
So... 50%? That sorta raises the question why there aren't more divorced folks.
Given that, with the right amount of money...to hire the right canon-lawyers....most actually can get a marriage annulled by Rome, I suspect Cardinal Kasper and the pope are correct.
The question which seems obvious to me is, are the grounds for nullification too broad?
But your comment is worth pondering. Yes, wonderful to say, people stay married.
It's the sort of thing that could lead someone to believe in God and grace ... if one wasn't careful.
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