[quote="jdconvert, post:1, topic:295141"]
I've heard it said a number of times, in different ways, that no human power can dissolve a valid, sacramental marriage.
While this may be the Catholic teaching, I don't see how it can be squared with the Catholic practice of annulments.
Why not? The Church does not "annul" valid sacramental marriages.
What are the impediments to an annulment tribunal or a priest dissolving a marriage that was in fact, valid and sacramental?
The system has in place practices and procedures to assure that they receive sufficient information and are able to understand and act appropriately on that information. These practices and procedures are in accord with canon law and the Tribunals themselves are legitimately instituted ministries of the Church...
So long as the Tribunal does - in fact act properly on the information obtained...they have not erred in any way - they have not annulled a valid marriage.
Just because an annulment tribunal decrees that a marriage was not valid, that doesn't mean it actually wasn't.
For all intents and purposes...and with the authority of the Church behind them - Yes it does mean that the marriage was, in fact, not valid.
So it seems to me that there is the situation in the Catholic Church where people are having their marriages annulled, even though at the time of the marriage, it was valid.
Now - this is a different aspect that involves more than just the tribunal....It is important to recognize this fact.
As others have pointed out - someone COULD provide false or fraudulent testimony to the Tribunal. The Tribunal would then make a correct ruling based on the information provided. In such a case, the tribunal has not erred and the decree of nullity is valid.
Then they re-marry, believing that this second union is valid, when objectively speaking, they're still married to their first spouse.
So long as a person has acted honestly and forthrightly with the Tribunal system - even if there was some irregularity in the process - they would incur no sin by remarrying. They would have followed Christ's instruction in Mt 18:15-18. They took the issue to the Church and then they listened to the Church. The Church "loosed' it on earth - it is "loosed" in heaven....
Now - if a person knowingly acted dishonestly with the tribunal system and that person remarried....then THEY are sinning...first by lying to the Tribunal and then my remarrying. But the problem lies with this person and not with the tribunal.
As far as I'm aware, annulment tribunals are not infallible and are not guided by the Spirit.
This is not true...Tribunals are valid offices of the Church working under guidelines, procedures and practices all established by the Church through canon law. As such the tribunals carry the authority of the Spirit guided Church.
Of course there ARE sinful individuals...but that is a different subject.
So what's to stop them from dissolving a valid marriage bond, either out of poor judgement, misinformation, or outright contempt for Church teaching?
Tribunals are composed of three judges...Making "poor judgement" and "contempt for church teaching" difficult things to impose...
Add to this that each decision is forwarded to a second tribunal in another diocese for review - they must concur with the first...So there are six judges in two tribunals involved before a decree can be issued.
As for misinformation - this could be a problem but it would be very difficult for any one person to lie on the questionnaire and get away with it.
I say this as one who has been through the system.
The questionnaire - More than 40 questions dealing with every aspect of the marriage from courtship to divorce. The person applying fills out the questionnaire...They supply the names of at least three witnesses - who likewise fill out a similar comprehensive questionnaire. The Ex-spouse is contacted and offered the chance to participate. They are likewise asked for witness names (at least three).
All of this information - all of these answers - would need to be consistent. Get someone lying in the mix and it will most likely stand out like a sore thumb...and the Tribunal could not rule until the discrepancies were resolved.
I would like to have an adequate solution to my conundrum, as it is a big stumbling block for me in accepting the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded.
Hope this helps clarify a little....The system is well safeguarded.