Casti Connubii and marriage annulments


#1

I was reading through the encyclical Casti Connubii and the question came to mind as to whether or not the present Catholic system of annulments as practised in the USA is contrary to the spirit of this encyclical. "And if any man, acting contrary to this law, shall have put asunder, his action is null and void, and the consequence remains, as Christ Himself has explicitly confirmed: "Everyone that putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."[65] Moreover, these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."
vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html
paragraph 87.
So according to the encyclical, divorce and remarriage is forbidden and it refers to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only. But in the annulment situation, the children of the previous marriage are usually assumed to be natural and legitimate, because the marriage was legal under the laws of the state. If the children of an annulled marriage are natural and legitimate, does that not mean that the marriage was natural and legitimate, and therefore according to this encyclical, an annulment would be prohibited ?


#2

[quote="Tomdstone, post:1, topic:332944"]
I was reading through the encyclical Casti Connubii and the question came to mind as to whether or not the present Catholic system of annulments as practised in the USA is contrary to the spirit of this encyclical. "And if any man, acting contrary to this law, shall have put asunder, his action is null and void, and the consequence remains, as Christ Himself has explicitly confirmed: "Everyone that putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."[65] Moreover, these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."
vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html
paragraph 87.
So according to the encyclical, divorce and remarriage is forbidden and it refers to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only. But in the annulment situation, the children of the previous marriage are usually assumed to be natural and legitimate, because the marriage was legal under the laws of the state. If the children of an annulled marriage are natural and legitimate, does that not mean that the marriage was natural and legitimate, and therefore according to this encyclical, an annulment would be prohibited ?

[/quote]

No, that is not the case. Natural and legitimate refers to the secular legal situation, whereas an annulment is refering to whether or not the marriage is valid before God.


#3

[quote="thewanderer, post:2, topic:332944"]
No, that is not the case. Natural and legitimate refers to the secular legal situation, whereas an annulment is refering to whether or not the marriage is valid before God.

[/quote]

As I read the encyclical, it is referring to the secular legal situation because it says that divorce and remarriage are wrong in that case. If the children are legitimate in the secular case, then would not the marriage be legitimate in the secular legal situation also? When you get an annulment in the USA, you are first required to get a divorce in the secular courts. Upon reading the encyclical, it seems to me that the Pope says that divorce and remarriage are wrong even if the marriage had not been sacramentally valid: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."


#4

[quote="Tomdstone, post:3, topic:332944"]
As I read the encyclical, it is referring to the secular legal situation because it says that divorce and remarriage are wrong in that case. If the children are legitimate in the secular case, then would not the marriage be legitimate in the secular legal situation also? When you get an annulment in the USA, you are first required to get a divorce in the secular courts. Upon reading the encyclical, it seems to me that the Pope says that divorce and remarriage are wrong even if the marriage had not been sacramentally valid: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."

[/quote]

By using the phrase "even that which is natural and legitimate only" I think its pretty clear that the encyclical is using the word marriage to refer to valid marriages, not legal ones. If it were concerned with legal marriages it would be emphasizing that even invalid legal marriages are included. Instead it is emphasizing that it is even talking about valid marriages which have not been made legal. This makes it clear it is not concerned about the legality of the marriage, but rather the validity. In which case, an invalid, but legal marriage would not count.


#5

[quote="thewanderer, post:4, topic:332944"]
By using the phrase "even that which is natural and legitimate only" I think its pretty clear that the encyclical is using the word marriage to refer to valid marriages, not legal ones. If it were concerned with legal marriages it would be emphasizing that even invalid legal marriages are included. Instead it is emphasizing that it is even talking about valid marriages which have not been made legal. This makes it clear it is not concerned about the legality of the marriage, but rather the validity. In which case, an invalid, but legal marriage would not count.

[/quote]

I disagree because it says: " these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only."
By saying that it refers to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only, it seems like it is clearly referring to every kind of marriage, even those that are legal in the secular sense, but not sacramentally valid.


#6

[quote="Tomdstone, post:3, topic:332944"]
As I read the encyclical, it is referring to the secular legal situation because it says that divorce and remarriage are wrong in that case. If the children are legitimate in the secular case, then would not the marriage be legitimate in the secular legal situation also? When you get an annulment in the USA, you are first required to get a divorce in the secular courts. Upon reading the encyclical, it seems to me that the Pope says that divorce and remarriage are wrong even if the marriage had not been sacramentally valid: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."

[/quote]

If a degree of nullity is granted, there is no 'remarriage' there would just be marriage.

Validity does not depend on whether the marriage is Sacramental. A Natural & Secular Marriage is a marriage between two non-Catholics done by the court where at least one member is not baptized. This marriage can be valid, though not sacramental, and it would be immoral for them to divorce and remarry, as it would in any instance where there is a valid marriage. However, if a decree of nullity is given, then that means that there was never a real marriage to begin with and so it would not be immoral to marry another person, since it would be their only marriage.

Children received in a marriage prior to a declaration of nullity are considered legitimate because it was assumed there was actually a marriage, though there was not.


#7

When the Church uses the term natural marriages, She is talking about marriages that are between the unbaptized as opposed to sacramental marriages, which are between the baptized.


#8

[quote="Tomdstone, post:5, topic:332944"]
I disagree because it says: " these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only."
By saying that it refers to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only, it seems like it is clearly referring to every kind of marriage, even those that are legal in the secular sense, but not sacramentally valid.

[/quote]

[quote="1ke, post:7, topic:332944"]
When the Church uses the term natural marriages, She is talking about marriages that are between the unbaptized as opposed to sacramental marriages, which are between the baptized.

[/quote]

1Ke is saying exactly what I tried to explain. The Church doesn't care about whether or not a marriage is recognized as valid by the state, but rather whether or not it is recognized as valid by the Church (which is a different thing from a sacramental marriage, the Church recognizes natural marriages as valid even though they are not sacramental). When the Church speaks about marriage she is speaking about it as the Church not as the State, in other words, invalid marriages, even if they are recognized by the state, are still considered, by the Church, to not be a marriage at all, and so would not be included in the statement about "every kind of marriage".

ETA: Basically, just because somebody other than the Church decides to call something a marriage doesn't mean the Church will consider it a marriage. For instance, if a cohabiting couple decided to call their arrangement a marriage while refusing to make vows of permanance to each other the Church would still not consider such a situation a marriage. The couple in question can protest all they want, but, since it doesn't fit the Church's definition of a marriage the Church will insist that it is not in fact, a marriage. Similarly with the state. Just because the state calls something a marriage (for instance think about the debates on same-sex marriages) doesn't mean the church considers such a relationship a marriage. If your way of thinking were correct then if the state makes same-sex marriage legal the Church will have to recognize it as a valid form of marriage, which is clearly contrary to Church teaching and so leads to an absurdity. The Church has clearly defined paramaters for what constitutes a valid marriage. Within valid marriages there are different kinds, natural and sacramental and it is these different kinds of marriages which the Church refers to when it says "all kinds of marriages". By definition the Church is not referring to those relationships which other people call marriages but according to the Church's own clearly defined parameters cannot be considered a valid marriage.


#9

A marriage that never took place cannot be "put asunder" because it never existed in the first place. You cannot divide what does not exist.

The children are not legitimate because of any law of the state. They are legitimate because, as other's have pointed out, the marriage was assumed.

**Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man's virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man's wickedness shall be his own. (Ezekiel 18:20)

We don't punish the children for something the parents might or might not have done.

-Tim-


#10

In the ages before DNA testing there was no real means of proving who was or wasn't the father of a child. Thus a child born of a marriage was always presumed to be the child of the husband. If the couple was not married, there was no way to prove the child was the offspring of a particular male. Thus legitimate and illegitimate had to do with inheritance rights and scandal.

Today with DNA, there is no real distinction between legitimate and illegitimate. We can know who is the child of who...


#11

[quote="Tomdstone, post:1, topic:332944"]
I was reading through the encyclical Casti Connubii and the question came to mind as to whether or not the present Catholic system of annulments as practised in the USA is contrary to the spirit of this encyclical. "And if any man, acting contrary to this law, shall have put asunder, his action is null and void, and the consequence remains, as Christ Himself has explicitly confirmed: "Everyone that putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."[65] Moreover, these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."
vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html
paragraph 87.
So according to the encyclical, divorce and remarriage is forbidden and it refers to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only. But in the annulment situation, the children of the previous marriage are usually assumed to be natural and legitimate, because the marriage was legal under the laws of the state. If the children of an annulled marriage are natural and legitimate, does that not mean that the marriage was natural and legitimate, and therefore according to this encyclical, an annulment would be prohibited ?

[/quote]

No. You are confusing civil law with liturgical law.

Liturgical law says there was never a sacrament when a decree of nullity is granted. It says nothing at all as to what the State may or may not recognize. The church recognizes that the State has interest, in terms of contractual relationships and in terms of inheritance (and in older days, of legitimacy - which ultimately was an issue of inheritance) and taxation. None of that has any bearing on sacramentality.

In at least some European countries, there are two marriage ceremonies; one in church and one at the (courthouse). The church does not hold that to be illegitimate. In the US; priests are authorized by the State to witness, as far as the State is concerned, to the marriage - which again, is totally a state issue, not a Church issue.


#12

I am reminded of a phrase I heard over and over again when I was in high school - taught by Jesuits: "Define your terms!".

When the Church uses the terms "natural and legitimate" it is speaking of liturgical law, not State law.

And liturgical law recognizes as a valid (in terms of the Church) a marriage between parties where at least one of them is not baptized. It uses that term because marriage was recognized far, far before Christ was on earth. and considering that baptism started with Christ instituting it as a sacrament, there you go. The intent had to be the same - life long commitment and openness to children.

The Church has authority over those marriages, to determine if they were "natural" (that is, at least one party was not baptized) and "legitimate" (that is, there was no impediment - e.g. a "shotgun marriage" which would be coercion or lack of proper intent).

Both a putatively sacramental marriage and a putatively natural marriage may be reviewed by the tribunals; and they can either make a declaration of nullity, or declare that there is not sufficient evidence to declare a nullity.

And that has nothing to do with the status before the State.

NOTE ALSO: in some circumstances, as set forth by civil law, the State may make a finding of nullity; that has to do with the State's law, not the Church's (although what applies to the State might also possibly apply to the Church).

Long ago when I practiced law, I had two civil (State) cases in which a decree of nullity was granted by the State.

Neither case involved Catholics.


#13

[quote="otjm, post:12, topic:332944"]
I am reminded of a phrase I heard over and over again when I was in high school - taught by Jesuits: "Define your terms!".

When the Church uses the terms "natural and legitimate" it is speaking of liturgical law, not State law.

And liturgical law recognizes as a valid (in terms of the Church) a marriage between parties where at least one of them is not baptized. It uses that term because marriage was recognized far, far before Christ was on earth. and considering that baptism started with Christ instituting it as a sacrament, there you go. The intent had to be the same - life long commitment and openness to children.

The Church has authority over those marriages, to determine if they were "natural" (that is, at least one party was not baptized) and "legitimate" (that is, there was no impediment - e.g. a "shotgun marriage" which would be coercion or lack of proper intent).

Both a putatively sacramental marriage and a putatively natural marriage may be reviewed by the tribunals; and they can either make a declaration of nullity, or declare that there is not sufficient evidence to declare a nullity.

And that has nothing to do with the status before the State.

NOTE ALSO: in some circumstances, as set forth by civil law, the State may make a finding of nullity; that has to do with the State's law, not the Church's (although what applies to the State might also possibly apply to the Church).

Long ago when I practiced law, I had two civil (State) cases in which a decree of nullity was granted by the State.

Neither case involved Catholics.

[/quote]

Why does it read: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."?


#14

[quote="Tomdstone, post:13, topic:332944"]
Why does it read: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."?

[/quote]

Did you note my distinction between the Churchs definition of marriage and the states definition of marriage? When the Church says "every kind of marriage" it is using the definition of marriage it has clearly laid out elsewhere. It is ridiculous to claim that just because someone else uses the word marriage differently than the Church the Church's teachings about marriage (as defined by the Church) must apply to this other entity's definition of marriage. You are getting caught up in words and losing sight of the meaning.


#15

[quote="Tomdstone, post:13, topic:332944"]
Why does it read: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."?

[/quote]

all marriages are considered valid until proved invalid.

I use the word "invalid" because not all marriages are considered sacramental (although if the non-baptized person is later baptized, the marriage can become sacramental).

So until the tribunal, after a hearing, finds that there was an impediment which (in the case of a sacramental marriage) prohibited a sacrament from being confected; or if a natural marriage, (an impediment prevented a valid marriage from occurring), all marriages are considered valid (and sacramental, given proper circumstances).

So what the Church is doing is preserving the sanctity and importance of marriage. The Church sees all marriages (which are valid) as permanent, whether they are sacramental or natural. Divorce (as in civil divorce) does not end a marriage; only death does, and the Pope was reiterating what the Church has always held, and that is, if one were to get a divorce, one is not free to remarry (unless it is subsequently shown the marriage was not valid at the time of the wedding).

Divorces are civil matters, as the Church does not divorce anyone. Tribunals do not divorce anyone. They only say either that there was an impediment at the time of the wedding such that a valid (and if appropriate, sacramental) marriage did not occur, or else, there is not enough evidence to so state (that is, the marriage is still presumed valid).

The State divorces people. And people who get divorced often want to (or do) remarry. The Pope was reiterating what Christ taught, and the Church has taught ever since - that valid marriages cannot be terminated by divorce.

The point underlying all of this is that people who are not baptized can make a valid, "until death do you part" marriage and that cannot be dissolved by the State, any more than the State cannot dissolve a sacramental marriage.

Again, the State looks at marriage as a contract, which if the parties so desire, can be terminated. "Validity" and sacramentality" are not something within the State's jurisdiction, nor is it something the State cares about. That is a religious issue, and the State doesn't decide those.

The Church is not going to be involved in considering the validity of a natural marriage unless a) the parties to it are divorced and b) one of them wants to remarry in a way that involves the Church (that is, one of the parties was baptized and wants to remarry -either they are Catholic, or they want to marry a Catholic) or the non-baptized person wants to marry a Catholic.


#16

[quote="Tomdstone, post:13, topic:332944"]
Why does it read: "these words refer to every kind of marriage, even that which is natural and legitimate only;..."?

[/quote]

There are two kinds of marriage: natural and sacramental. That is "every kind of marriage".

One could technically say there is a third, a putative marriage (one that is believed to be valid at the time, but is later found to be invalid).


#17

[quote="1ke, post:16, topic:332944"]
There are two kinds of marriage: natural and sacramental. That is "every kind of marriage".

[/quote]

That is what it seems like to me. It is wrong to divorce and remarry in every kind of marriage, including a natural one approved by the state.


#18

[quote="Tomdstone, post:17, topic:332944"]
That is what it seems like to me. It is wrong to divorce and remarry in every kind of marriage, including a natural one approved by the state.

[/quote]

The point is that the Church's definition of a natural marriage is not the same as a marriage approved by the state. So when it speaks of "every kind of marriage" it is, of course, speaking of both natural and sacramental marriages, but that does not mean it is speaking of every marriage the state approves of. For instance, the state approves of second marriages between people. Yet such marriages are not considered to be a valid natural marriage by the Church. Similarly with Same-sex marriages which are legal in some places. Just because the state considers them a marriage does not mean the Church does. Of course when the Church speaks of "every kind of marriage" it is referring to not only sacramental, but natural marriages as well. But that doesnt mean the Churchs annulment process is at all contradictory. The annulment process is simply the process to determine whether or not what was thought to be a valid marriage actually was valid. Its not about divorce or remarriage, its an investigation to see whether or not the "marriage" that took place was actually valid according to the Church's definition of a valid marriage. This is true whether it was assumed to be a valid natural marriage or a valid sacramental marriage. I really don't understand your problem with this passage.


#19

[quote="Tomdstone, post:17, topic:332944"]
That is what it seems like to me. It is wrong to divorce and remarry in every kind of marriage, including a natural one approved by the state.

[/quote]

The definition of "natural" marriage is the definition the Church gives, and has nothing to do with the State. It only has to do with the Church.

What do I mean? There may be no "state".

To be a natural marriage, at least one of the parties is not baptized.

And from that point, they need to fulfill in their intent what the Church defines as "marriage" - a permanent relationship between a man and a woman, open to children.

There are numerous examples of people who live far, far removed from any "State" supervision or interaction; a prime example would be people living in Central and South America, where there are no courts, no judges, no police, no... and etc. and at least one of them is not baptized; you get the point. If they intend to marry as the church defines marriage, then they have a natural marriage.That does not mean that two people, at least one not baptized, who marry in front of a justice of the peace are not in a natural marriage - they are. It is just that it is irrelevant whether the State was involved or not. It could have been any official, semi official or unofficial member of a religious, or quasi religious group that was the "official" witness. Or no witness at all. Or a witness by the State.

What is critical to the Church is that a) one of the parties (at least) was unbaptized, and b) the parties intended what the Church defines as marriage.


#20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.