Thanks to GKC for some great info about the above I swiped from another thread. I have some questions about the swiped quotes below.
And, with respect to the system as it was worked in his day, it was not only reasonable, it was unexceptional. It happened daily. But to make it happen, Henry had to submit his case (causa) to the system, and wait for a decree of nullity, which he was fully justified in expecting to be forthcoming. Henry’s case was based on the concept of an impediment to his marriage to Catherine, arising from the prohibition in Leviticus against a man marrying his brother’s wife. This was what as generally known as an impediment of affinity (of which there were many kinds and degrees. Because of this impediment, Juluis II had issued a dispensation (the other side of a decree of nullity, removing a canonical impediment) permitting Henry to marry Catherine in the first place. Henry now maintained that the prohibition was Scriptural, God’s law, not positive Church law, and thus was beyond a Pope’s power to dispense. There are impediments like that; no one can dispense to permit a son to marry his mother for example (canonically, an impediment of consanquinity in the first degree, direct). This meant that he was saying that Julius had made an error and the diispensation exceeded his authority (*ultra vires). *
While a reasonable case, it was not an exceptionally strong one. And Julius was not an exceptionally strong Pope. And for historical reasons that I pass over, the ruling was against Henry (hint: Charles V). But there was actually a stronger case lurking in Henry’s history (not that either case would have gotten him the decree of nullity; politics and military power trump canonical law). His stronger case, as Cardinal Wolsey saw, lay in a class of impediments called the justice of public honesty. Without getting into technical details, this meant that if a marrige was contracted and consummated between A and B, two actual types of impediments might arise for person C later wishing to marry A or B. That is, there was the potential for an impediment of affinity, which arose from the the consummation of the marriage, or of the justice of public honesty, which arose from the betrothal/marriage contract.
At the time, the rule was that if a valid marriage was contracted, and consummated, and later a dispensation was sought for some one who would have an impediment to marrying A or B, the dispensation need only specifically state that the affinity impediment was dispensed, and the impediment of public honesty was thereby dispensed, implicity. But, if the marriage was not consummated, as Catherine maintained all along, and as was likely true, then the justice of public honesty must be explicitly dispensed. Julius didn’t do that. And hence there was a good case for Henry.
He didn’t pursue that, and it didn’t really matter. Given the relationship between Clement and Charles, and Charles and Catherine, no way was Henry going to get a decree of nullity. An Emperor trumps a King. And an emperor controlling a Pope is stronger still. So Henry didn’t get his decree. He got a Church, instead.
I have cut that severely. You want more details, just ask.
So who’s right?
Does the possibility of a mistake by a pope make one the head of the Church to his subjects?
Does political influence on a pope trump the importance of a (very important) dynasty of the day?