What does indissolubility mean?


#1

I have an observation and a question.

Observation:

Having read through many posts about annulments on these forums I see a pattern. Very few people mention being turned down for an annulment. I could easily get the impression from reading these posts that the annulment process is a paperwork process that is usually (almost always) granted. I get this same impression talking to people…very rarely do I come across someone who has been denied an annulment. Finally, it seems that often I hear immaturity as a the reason why the annulment was granted.

Question:

We hear in Church teaching and the code of canon law that marriage is a basic right for human beings. Moreover, an annulment is a statement that a marriage never occurred. Therefore, if it is true that the majority of annulments are granted on the grounds of immaturity, doesn’t this mean that tribunals are telling people that they are less than human?

Yours in Christ


#2

No, not at all. Voting is a basic civil right in the United States, but if you fill out your ballot incorrectly, your vote is not properly exercised, and therefore not a vote at all. You have not been stripped of your civil right, but merely told that you did not exercise it in the proper form to make it a vote. Similarly, an anullment does not strip one of their right to marry, but simply rules that the right has not been properly exercised, and was therefore not a marriage.


#3

[quote="xpistou, post:1, topic:178708"]
I have an observation and a question.

Observation:

Having read through many posts about annulments on these forums I see a pattern. Very few people mention being turned down for an annulment. I could easily get the impression from reading these posts that the annulment process is a paperwork process that is usually (almost always) granted. I get this same impression talking to people...very rarely do I come across someone who has been denied an annulment. Finally, it seems that often I hear immaturity as a the reason why the annulment was granted.

Question:

We hear in Church teaching and the code of canon law that marriage is a basic right for human beings. Moreover, an annulment is a statement that a marriage never occurred. Therefore, if it is true that the majority of annulments are granted on the grounds of immaturity, doesn't this mean that tribunals are telling people that they are less than human?

Yours in Christ

[/quote]

Your observation is not complete. There are multiple steps to an annulment, and one of the first is "triage". Sometimes, people that inquire about an annulment with the priest/deacon at the parish are told right there that there isn't a case. (They can't stop them from applying, but many people take the advice seriously and stop right there). This way a lot of the marriages that wouldn't be granted an annulment don't even make it to the tribunal only to be denied. That weeds out and so the ones that do make it through are more likely to be granted. This makes the statistics of granted annulments higher. Also, I think "lack of consent" is much more of a condition than "immaturity"

Your 2nd question does not follow logic, but I'll let someone else tackle that one.


#4

[quote="Lujack, post:2, topic:178708"]
No, not at all. Voting is a basic civil right in the United States, but if you fill out your ballot incorrectly, your vote is not properly exercised, and therefore not a vote at all.

[/quote]

Yes, but in canon law immaturity falls under canon 1095 which defines capacity for consent. It is not being told that you simply filled out your ballot wrong, but being told that you were incapable of filling out your ballot. And so, incapable of exercising a basic human right. Doesn't this sound degrading?


#5

I'm not surprised that we hear about more granted annulments than refused annulments, but don't blame this on the Church handing them out too frequently. "Correlation does not imply causation," and there may be other factors at play. For example:

(1) A couple considering annulment does research before beginning the arduous process. If the couple learns the possible grounds for annulment and understands that they do not have valid grounds for an annulment, they won't pursue the process in vain.

(2) The kind of strife in a marriage that leads to divorce is a very painful topic. People who are denied annulment must either continue in their marriage, live a chaste life with no hope for romantic love, or live in a state of sin. None of these situations are fun conversation topics. If the marriage does improve, the spouses may avoid talking about the denied annulment publicly because it represents a low point in the marriage.


#6

[quote="agapewolf, post:3, topic:178708"]
Your observation is not complete. There are multiple steps to an annulment, and one of the first is "triage". Sometimes, people that inquire about an annulment with the priest/deacon at the parish are told right there that there isn't a case. (They can't stop them from applying, but many people take the advice seriously and stop right there). This way a lot of the marriages that wouldn't be granted an annulment don't even make it to the tribunal only to be denied. That weeds out and so the ones that do make it through are more likely to be granted. This makes the statistics of granted annulments higher. Also, I think "lack of consent" is much more of a condition than "immaturity"

Your 2nd question does not follow logic, but I'll let someone else tackle that one.

[/quote]

Well another assumption based on observations is that not many people are turned away in the beginning. I know of at least one diocese that makes filing for an annulment extremely easy and they never turn anyone away. Again this is only based on my experience but I know of four dioceses that will accept almost any petition as long as the paperwork is filled out correctly. In these dioceses the great majority of cases are based on canon 1095.

Lack of consent is a very general category. Tribunals are required to pinpoint canon law more exactly than "lack of consent". Canon 1095 (read immaturity) is often choosen.

How does my question not follow logic?


#7

[quote="Augusta_Sans, post:5, topic:178708"]
I'm not surprised that we hear about more granted annulments than refused annulments, but don't blame this on the Church handing them out too frequently. "Correlation does not imply causation," and there may be other factors at play.

[/quote]

Your points are well taken, but I can't imagine that your two points completely wipe away my question. I know of one diocese that has recently begun processing more annulments than there are new marriages each year in the diocese.

I think there is a problem, and I think the Church is "handing them out too frequently."


#8

[quote="xpistou, post:7, topic:178708"]
Your points are well taken, but I can't imagine that your two points completely wipe away my question. I know of one diocese that has recently begun processing more annulments than there are new marriages each year in the diocese.

I think there is a problem, and I think the Church is "handing them out too frequently."

[/quote]

I didn't mean to "wipe away" your question--just to present some additional information that your question didn't take into account.


#9

Not really. What if you tried to vote as a seventeen year old? Or tried to become confirmed at the age of 9?


#10

[quote="Lujack, post:9, topic:178708"]
Not really. What if you tried to vote as a seventeen year old? Or tried to become confirmed at the age of 9?

[/quote]

You couldn't vote at 17 but you could definitely be confirmed at the age of 9 since the Church says the age for confirmation is 7 (age of reason).


#11

[quote="Lujack, post:9, topic:178708"]
Not really. What if you tried to vote as a seventeen year old? Or tried to become confirmed at the age of 9?

[/quote]

However, the age for valid marriage, according to canon law, is 14 for girls and 16 for boys. So having one's marriage declared invalid due to immaturity, is basically saying that they were incapable of marriage because the church found them less mature than a 14 year old girl. Again this sounds degrading.


#12

Then one would be getting the wrong impression based on the forum. First, in the US the parish will not send a case to the diocesan tribunal unless they have determined there is a high likelihood there is a solid case for nullity. So, while many decrees of nullity are granted, many more never make it to the tribunal due to lack of grounds. And, yes, even those cases that make it to the tribunal are many times found valid. There are many, many invalid marriages-- that is a sad fact of the time we live in.

“Immaturity” is not grounds for a decree of nullity in and of itself. An inability to form valid consent or a defect in intent are grounds for nullity. These could have psychological factors as an underlying factor but there would have to be more to it than that.

Where, exactly, do we find that in Church teaching and what canon in canon law states marriage is a basic human right? We don’t.

No sacraments is a “right.” The Church does not teach marriage is a right.

No. The Church does not say the marriage “never existed” but rather that the marriage was invalid. The Church recognizes that the marriage existed civilly, and if entered into in good faith by one party, is called a putative marriage.

This is a large, unproven supposition on your part based on some anecdotal stories on an internet forum board. In fact, you don’t know why the majority of nullity cases are affirmed by the tribunals across the world.

No. It is telling them that they married invalidly.


#13

Just because 14 is a valid age for marriage, doesn’t mean that all 14 year olds will be able to enter a valid marriage. It just means that it’s possible.

I think it’s worth pointing out that the only people who apply for annulments to begin with are faithful Catholics. It might be that these same people would apply for annulments only if they think there genuinely was no marriage to begin with, and might be that they are generally right.


#14

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
Then one would be getting the wrong impression based on the forum. First, in the US the parish will not send a case to the diocesan tribunal unless they have determined there is a high likelihood there is a solid case for nullity. So, while many decrees of nullity are granted, many more never make it to the tribunal due to lack of grounds. And, yes, even those cases that make it to the tribunal are many times found valid. There are many, many invalid marriages-- that is a sad fact of the time we live in.

[/quote]

Every diocese works differently, but canonically speaking the parish priest has no role to play whatsoever in the process for a declaration of nullity. In many diocese the person approaches the tribunal directly.

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
"Immaturity" is not grounds for a decree of nullity in and of itself. An inability to form valid consent or a defect in intent are grounds for nullity. These could have psychological factors as an underlying factor but there would have to be more to it than that.

[/quote]

It would be more accurate to say "incapable of forming valid consent". And these have to have a psychological factor to it.

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
Where, exactly, do we find that in Church teaching and what canon in canon law states marriage is a basic human right? We don't.

[/quote]

You will have to forgive me, I don't have my code with me. But start reading at canon 1055, it is there somewhere.

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
No sacraments is a "right." The Church does not teach marriage is a right.

[/quote]

Natural marriage is a natural right. Marriage becomes a sacrament when both parties are baptized.

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
No. The Church does not say the marriage "never existed" but rather that the marriage was invalid. The Church recognizes that the marriage existed civilly, and if entered into in good faith by one party, is called a putative marriage.

[/quote]

Actually, the question was posed within the context of the indissoluble bond. So yes, a declaration of nullity means that the bond never existed.

[quote="1ke, post:12, topic:178708"]
This is a large, unproven supposition on your part based on some anecdotal stories on an internet forum board. In fact, you don't know why the majority of nullity cases are affirmed by the tribunals across the world.

[/quote]

True, however, this is more than supposition on my part. I had a priest tell me the other day that the Catholic population of the US accounts for approximately 6% of the Catholic population of the world. But the US accounts for approximately 80% of the annulments granted worldwide. He said that the large majority of these are based on canon 1095. This may be impossible to prove however, because I don't think Rome publishes annulment statistics like this. Nevertheless, he is a trustworthy priest who has many connections in Rome.


#15

That girls of the age 14 are capable of entering into marriage is an assumption of law. This assumption can be overturned but only with concrete evidence to the contrary. Moreover, this assumption is based on centuries of practical application.

Those who apply for annulments are often non Catholic. They are applying for an annulment simply because the person they are “married to” is a Catholic and their priest told them they need an annulment. You can’t say that everyone applying for an annulment knows what they are doing.


#16

[quote="xpistou, post:15, topic:178708"]
That girls of the age 14 are capable of entering into marriage is an assumption of law. This assumption can be overturned but only with concrete evidence to the contrary. Moreover, this assumption is based on centuries of practical application.

[/quote]

Right, it means that as long as you're at least 14 it's possible for you to enter a valid marriage. But it's not the only thing that you need. I would bet that most 14 year olds would lack the other requirements (like say understanding what they're doing, and being able to fulfill the obligations of marriage).

Those who apply for annulments are often non Catholic. They are applying for an annulment simply because the person they are "married to" is a Catholic and their priest told them they need an annulment. You can't say that everyone applying for an annulment knows what they are doing.

I don't know, it would be interesting to see the statistics of who applies for annulment.

For example, it could be that only spouses of faithful Catholics would apply for annulments (since other Catholics wouldn't care), could also be that faithful Catholics wouldn't marry someone who was obviously married to someone else.

Could be that relatively secular people marry and later become faithful Catholics and apply for annulments. Maybe when secular people/cafeteria Catholics marry they are unlikely to enter a valid marriage because they might not intend to do the things that a Catholic marriage requires.

I don't know. Could well be that most people aren't in valid marriages !


#17

Relevant portion of Code of Canon Law available here: MARRIAGE (Cann. 1055 - 1165) I don't see anything about it being a basic human right, but I am NOT accustomed to reading Canon Law.

The Supreme Court has held that, under the US Constitution, Americans have a fundamental freedom to marry. Perhaps that's where you're getting the language: "the right to marry"? Loving v. Virginia (1967).


#18

[quote="flyingfish, post:16, topic:178708"]
I don't know. Could well be that most people aren't in valid marriages !

[/quote]

This is exactly my problem. Tribunals throughout the US seem to be sending this message. Which is says that most people are to stupid, or incapable, or in some way messed up...something that the Church teaches is a basic human right. The Church in the US seems to be saying that we are less than human.


#19

[quote="xpistou, post:18, topic:178708"]
This is exactly my problem. Tribunals throughout the US seem to be sending this message. Which is says that most people are to stupid, or incapable, or in some way messed up...something that the Church teaches is a basic human right. The Church in the US seems to be saying that we are less than human.

[/quote]

I wouldn't interpret it that way. We all have the right to vote, but if someone is too ill to understand the process and cannot vote as a result does it make them less than human?


#20

[quote="Augusta_Sans, post:17, topic:178708"]
Relevant portion of Code of Canon Law available here: MARRIAGE (Cann. 1055 - 1165) I don't see anything about it being a basic human right, but I am NOT accustomed to reading Canon Law.

The Supreme Court has held that, under the US Constitution, Americans have a fundamental freedom to marry. Perhaps that's where you're getting the language: "the right to marry"? Loving v. Virginia (1967).

[/quote]

See Canon 1058 "All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage." Those who are prohibited by law are expressly stated in canons 1095-1103. For everyone else, marriage is a natural right.


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