I recently became aware of the fact that a Nihil Obstat from the local chancery is required prior to the church wedding of someone who has previously received a decree of nullity - and moreover, that a “double Nihil Obstat” is required if both partners had previously received a decree of nullity from prior putative marriages.
Say a priest failed to obtain such a Nihil Obstat prior to such a wedding - for whatever reason, carelessness, forgotten, etc. Would the marriage still be sacramentally valid?
There is no document, and the context is pretty much what I put in my OP. I learned of all this in a conversation with someone who knew the couple getting married, and in the course of the conversation it was mentioned that the diocesan chancery had to conduct a review and issue a Nihil Obstat for each party because each had a prior marriage that had been annulled. I thought that I was reasonably familiar with a lot of church procedures, but this was a new one on me, and it got me to wondering whether this particular piece of paperwork - the Nihil Obstat - was critical to the sacramental validity of the post-annulment marriage, should, say, the officiating priest himself have overlooked this, forgotten, been careless, etc.
There “must” be a document in this case, because absent a document requiring a nihil obstat, it would not be a requirement in the first place.
it was mentioned that the diocesan chancery had to conduct a review and issue a Nihil Obstat for each party because each had a prior marriage that had been annulled.
I think that’s what’s causing the confusion. A nihil obstat is not required because of a prior marriage. Instead, it’s required if, and only if, the tribunal (after issuing a final declaration of nullity) attaches a condition to future marriages. This does not happen all the time. Perhaps your friends think that it always happens?
(Technically, the local bishop attaches those conditions. The Tribunal does it vicariously).
I thought that I was reasonably familiar with a lot of church procedures, but this was a new one on me, and it got me to wondering whether this particular piece of paperwork - the Nihil Obstat - was critical to the sacramental validity of the post-annulment marriage, should, say, the officiating priest himself have overlooked this, forgotten, been careless, etc.
That’s why it depends on exactly what that condition (attached to the decree of nullity) requires. It will be different in every case.
Without knowing the conditions, no one can know whether or not meeting those conditions would be required (or just suggested, or whatever else) for a future valid marriage.
Even if we discuss it hypothetically, we would first need a sample text of the condition to know if meeting it would be required for validity.
The nihil obstat is an approval on a document or set of documents, not the document itself. So we would have to know what the document was in order to comment.
The most common nihil obstat use I know of is for marriages taking place in a diocese that is not the home diocese of the bride or groom.
To be married in a place other than your own diocese requires paperwork that travels from your pastor to your bishop/chancery office, from your bishop/chancery office to the bishop/chancery office of the other diocese, and then from that bishop/chancery office to the pastor of the place where there marriage will take place. The receiving diocese affixes a *nihil obstat *to the paperwork packet which is the “ok” for the marriage in that diocese.
I am in a similar situation; I received the declaration on my marriage today. The final paragraph states:
“The Tribunal has further determined that before Generic_Name may celebrate a marriage in the Catholic Church, the priest, deacon, or pastoral minister who is making such arrangements must consult the Diocesean Bishop AT LEAST FOUR MONTHS PRIOR TO ANY PRO POSED MARRIAGE for his prior permission.”
What does this usually involve? Is the priest going to know all the details of my case? Could I still be denied the ability to marry?
Given that this is pretty generic, I’m not sure. DH has a declaration of nullity from his first marriage but no special conditions were attached to it that I know of. I went into our archdiocesan Policy & Procedure manual and found the following policy:
Vetitum This prohibition prevents the celebration of a new marriage without the express consent of the archbishop or his delegate. The restriction is imposed to ensure that serious factors and problems that were identified during the tribunal study of a previous marriage have been adequately dealt with to the extent that they are not likely to contribute to difficulties in a new union, or invalidate marriage consent.
I’m guessing (of course you may not want to share all of the details; I respect that) that there may have been something peculiar to your case that necessitated this permission. The policy manual further stated that in such cases the priest was to review the entire judgement, which would specify any restrictions. The priest would then meet with you and your intended spouse to discuss the specific issues and determine whether a marriage would be advisable at this time.
I was privy to the documentation of a particular declaration of nullity at one time. This declaration had on it a statement that prior to entering into the Sacrament of Marriage, one of the parties must carry out specific requirements. Probably most declarations of nullity do not contain any such requirements, but in some cases it is necessary to ensure that the person concerned would be capable of truly receiving the Sacrament. The Church does not want to deprive anyone of a Sacrament without good reason, but, also needs to ensure that whatever caused the prior putative marriage to be invalid is no longer the case. And, yes, if the situation has not changed, or not changed sufficiently, then that person would have to wait until the situation changed. For instance, perhaps a person had been incapable of giving true consent because of mental trauma from an abusive childhood, the Church would require that the person would need to receive psychological assistance to overcome the problem prior to entering into another marriage.