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Table of Marriage Validity & Liceity (1917 CIC)

Started by Geremia, April 12, 2018, 10:30:41 AM

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Quote from: Mithrandylan on November 09, 2017, 10:19:10 AMThis is not an authoritative source, but merely a table of possible spousal combinations and places/conditions of marriage, along with a corresponding note of validity and lawfulness for each scenario.  The table itself was initially designed by Geremia here and I filled it in.  The version hosted here contains the same content, but has been reformatted for much easier readability.  I intend to post a .pdf version eventually, too.


[1] [Civil Marriage] "Marriage between unbaptized persons is subject to the civil power, and in the case of these marriages the civil law has the right to determine the condition of the validity as well as the liceity of these marriage contracts.  However, the civil power is bound to respect the divine law on marriage, and all civil laws which contradict the divine law are necessarily null and void" (Woywod vol. 1, p. 647 1957 ed.).
[2] [Marriage outside the Catholic Church] Canon 1094: "General Principle: Church Law requires for the validity of marriage that it be celebrated in the presence of the pastor or Ordinary of the place, or of a priest delegated by either of these, and at least two witnesses...

..."The Following Persons are obliged to observe the form above prescribed:

1) All who are baptized in the Catholic Church or who have been converted to it from heresy or schism, even though the former or the latter may later have left the Church, whenever the contract marriage among themselves;

2) The same persons above mentioned, if they contract marriage with non-Catholics, either baptized or not baptized, even after obtaining a dispensation from the impediment of mixed religion or disparity of cult" (Bouscaren and Ellis, 1946, C. 1094, p. 516).
[3] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Valid and Licit] "If the civil law demands it, the Church does not censure parties for appearing even before a non-Catholic minister who is acting merely as an official of the government, provided that their purpose is solely to comply with the civil law and to get civil recognition of their marriage" (Woywod., p. 704).
[4] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Valid and Licit]
"Also note that Canon 1098 provides for Catholics who, if their pastor is unavailable to witness their marriage for the foreseeable future (a month), they are allowed to validly marry before witnesses only, and the canon does not require that these witnesses be Catholic.  So in such a situation, a civil ceremony would suffice" (Woywod p. 705). [Also see "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].
[5] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Invalid and Illicit] It would be invalid and illicit, taking into account the principles from [2] and the details of canon 1099, if the couple forewent the religious ceremony in favor of the civil ceremony.  Note that the civil officiation of the marriage does not make it valid or licit, but only under certain conditions simply makes it allowable, provided that canon 1094 is followed.
[6] [Marriage by two Catholics in the Catholic Church without the Bishop's Permission] Does not seem possible; the bishops permission is not required except inasmuch as the couple are to be married in front of their pastor who is deputed by the bishop to act on his behalf.  So in the rare and unusual instance that a couple, though free to marry, are for some reason forbidden by their pastor from marrying (something he does not, to my knowledge, have the power to do), and they go and get married in a different parish, one might perhaps face this instance.  But it would still seem valid and lawful.
[7] [Marriage between two Catholics outside the Catholic Church with Bishop's Permission] Does not seem possible at all.
[8] [Marriage between two Catholics outside the Catholic Church without Bishop's Permission as invalid and illicit] See Note [2].  Also, regard later notes re: C. 1098
[9] [Civil Marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic as invalid and illicit] It depends on whether or not the baptized non-Catholic was baptized in the Catholic Church.  See note [2] and notes [3-5]

[10] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic in the Catholic Church with the Bishop's Permission as valid and licit] The impediment of mixed religion may be dispensed from, rendering the marriage lawful and valid.  Note that mixed religion never (by itself) renders a marriage invalid (Woywod, p. 670).  The conditions for the dispensation to be granted is moral certainty on the part of the bishop that the non-Catholic party will at least not interfere with the upbringing of Catholic children and will not interfere with the Catholic life and duty of the family.
[11] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic in the Catholic Church, without the Bishop's permission as valid and illicit] "Canon 1060. The Church everywhere most severely forbids the contracting of marriage between two baptized persons of whom one is a Catholic whereas the other is a member of a heretical or schismatical sect; and if there is danger of perversion for the Catholic party and the children, the marriage is forbidden also by the divine law itself" (Bouscaren and Ellis, p. 458 ).
My comment: without a dispensation (i.e., the permission of the ordinary), the marriage would be unlawful.
[12] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church with the Bishop's permission as valid and licit] This would require not only a dispensation from the impediment but also a dispensation to the Catholic party to dispense them from observing the Catholic form of marriage.
[13] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church without the Bishop's permission as valid and licit] Theoretically lawful and valid according to canon 1098.  [See also note [4] and "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].

[14] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church without the bishop's permission as valid and illicit] Theoretically valid but unlawful according to canon 1098 depending on why the bishop's permission was not given-- was he appealed to?  Could he be appealed to?  etc. This note is not substantially different from the previous note.  It's a very complicated situation. [See also note [4] and "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].
[15] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church, without the Bishop's permission as invalid and illicit] Without any extenuating circumstance (such as one which would make canon 1098 applicable), the marriage would be invalid for wont of form and the lack of dispensation allowing the Catholic to marry elsewhere.
[16] [Civil Marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized as valid and licit] This is the impediment of disparity of cult (C. 1070), which renders a marriage invalid unless dispensed from (Woywod p. 712, see note [17]).  So if this couple marries civilly without sufficient reason/dispensation, it is an invalid marriage.  If, however, a dispensation is granted and the marriage before civil authorities is simply to gain civil benefits and recognition while the couple intend to or already have married in the Church with the proper dispensation and form, see note [3].
[17] [Marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized without the Bishop's permission, regardless of place] Marriage between a person baptized in the Catholic Church, or received into the Church from heresy or schism, and an unbaptized person is null and void" (Woywod p. 712, C. 1070)

[18] [All marriages where both parties are not baptized] The Church's law does not govern infidels.  Such persons are capable of contracting natural marriages that are valid and lawful inasmuch as they meet the conditions established for validity and liciety according to whatever governing body to whom they answer.

Regarding Canon 1098: Canon 1098 is, in my opinion (so take it for what it's worth), a law which dispenses parties from the requirement to observe the proper form of marriage, i.e., it dispenses from the requirement to marry in front of one's pastor under pain of invalidity.
My opinion is based on the fact that the canon itself makes no requirement regarding the quality of witnesses (that is, it does not require them to be Catholic), nor have I ever read any commentators who require such a thing—indeed, most who write about the canon presuppose that this is not the case (i.e., when a couple to whom canon 1098 applies decide to marry in front of a civil official).
If that is the case, and I believe it is, then as a general (though exceptional) rule given the current ecclesiastical crisis, we can view the marriages between Catholics who marry outside the Church, and between Catholics and the baptized non-Catholics who marry outside the Church, as valid.

This study goes into great detail on the matter and echoes my own view about it.
Presumption of Validity: To bolster that contention, I would point out that marriage is a unique sacrament because it enjoys the favor of the law.  That means that regardless of the type of doubt which may occur after the attempted contracting of marriage, marriages are presumed valid until and unless they are proven invalid.
Baptized in the Catholic Church: This term causes some confusion.  It is not a colloquial expression, but a technical term in canon law.  In principle, it has nothing at all to do with the actual minister or even the place of baptism but with the intent of the person who is seeking baptism (or in the case of infants, the intent of the parents who seek to secure baptism for their child).
Here is Woywod on the term:
Quote"The term 'baptized in the Catholic Church' creates some difficulty, especially in cases of baptism administered by lay persons.  In the first place, if the father and mother, or at least one of them, are Catholics and adhere to the Church, the infant baptized at the request of the Catholic party by a non-Catholic doctor or nurse in a case of emergency may still be considered baptized in the Catholic Church, for there is but one baptism, and whether the reception of that baptism means the joining of the Catholic Church or of some non-Catholic denomination depends on the will of the person who has the right and duty to care for the welfare of the infant.  If neither parent adheres to the Catholic Church (i.e., if both are Protestants or apostate Catholics), but one of them consents to have the infant baptized by a Catholic priest, one must know whether some guarantee was given of the Catholic education of the child; if so, the child was by the will of the parent legitimately enrolled in the Catholic Church.  If such guarantee was not given, no Catholic priest or layman had the right to baptized the child, and it was not legitimately enrolled in the Church Church, except in urgent danger of death... The Committee for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code declared on April 29, 1940, that persons born of non-Catholics and baptized in the Catholic Church, but not raised as Catholics, are subject to the impediment of disparity of cult according to Canon 1070 when they marry unbaptized persons" (Woywod p. 713-14).

Again, "baptized in the Catholic Church" is not a "common sense" term, not a general colloquialism, or anything of the like.  It is a technical term with an intended legal meaning and legal consequences in this context.  Apostates, for instance, would be "baptized in the Catholic Church" and despite their current-non-membership and rejection of the Church, they would be bound by this law.  The Church normally governs only members in the sense that most of her laws apply only to members, but by divine right she has jurisdiction over all the baptized, and it is her jurisprudential prerogative to decide the extent to which she imposes her laws on them.

Purpose of Table: This is all my own opinion based on the sources provided.  It's not uncommon for questions about marital validity to pop up around the forums, so I thought having this table would be useful.  The table itself was designed by Geremia and posted on CI a while back, with a request for someone to fill it in.  I am more than happy to receive any corrections or additions to the table if I've got something wrong.

Please also note that when I reference a marriage as lawful, that doesn't necessarily mean that either party attempting the marriage is free of all guilt.  For instance, while I believe that the marriage between two Catholics in front of a Lutheran minister can be lawful, I do not mean to imply by this that the parties necessarily act with all moral uprightness in so marrying, only that the marriage itself is not unlawful.  Other Catholic and moral principles that are distinct from marriage law still apply to all individuals.

Furthermore, a note of validity assumes that parties are free to marry and that there are no other impediments which would render the marriage invalid.  In cases where other diriment impediments are present, those can of course render a marriage null regardless of who the parties are and where (and in front of whom) they marry.


1)Is civil marriage valid between Catholics in only exceptional circumstances? Like political ones? Where authorized by the Catholic Church? 

2)Since virginity is more meritorious than married state (or the sacrament of Matrimony as such too?), does that mean a married person can never reach the same highest potential level of merit in heaven itself as the highest potential level of merit in heaven for a celibate person or consecrated virgin?

3)When the Scriptures speak of a man leaving father and mother to cling to his wife, does the same principle apply vice versa for women marrying?

4) Although Fr. Heribert Jone, OFM says in his Moral Theology that the wife should live wherever the husband has his job, how is it to be understood where often wives prefer to live close to their own side of the family?

5) What is a good reponse to the claim that many married couples in recent decades have had possibly invalid marriages supposedly due to immaturity, having the mentalities of seven- or eight-year olds, or not knowing what they were doing? (That is the psychological claim I see now.)


Quote from: Kephapaulos on June 07, 2018, 11:40:17 AM2)Since virginity is more meritorious than married state ..., does that mean a married person can never reach the same highest potential level of merit in heaven itself as the highest potential level of merit in heaven for a celibate person or consecrated virgin?
No, they can. See Summa Theologica II-II q. 152 a. 4 ad 2:
QuoteThough virginity is better than conjugal continence, a married person may be better than a virgin for two reasons. First, on the part of chastity itself; if to wit, the married person is more prepared in mind to observe virginity, if it should be expedient, than the one who is actually a virgin. Hence Augustine (De Bono Conjug. xxii) charges the virgin to say: "I am no better than Abraham, although the chastity of celibacy is better than the chastity of marriage." Further on he gives the reason for this: "For what I do now, he would have done better, if it were fitting for him to do it then; and what they did I would even do now if it behooved me now to do it." Secondly, because perhaps the person who is not a virgin has some more excellent virtue. Wherefore Augustine says (De Virgin. xliv): "Whence does a virgin know the things that belong to the Lord, however solicitous she be about them, if perchance on account of some mental fault she be not yet ripe for martyrdom, whereas this woman to whom she delighted in preferring herself is already able to drink the chalice of the Lord?"
Our perfection consists chiefly in our degree of charity (cf. Theology of Christian Perfection by Royo Marín, O.P.). Marriage is a means toward this end, and continence/virginity/celibacy is a better, safer, more effective means toward this end.

Quote from: Kephapaulos on June 07, 2018, 11:40:17 AM(or the sacrament of Matrimony as such too?)
See St. Robert in De Matrimonio p. 788:
Quotealiud est comparare statum cum statu, aliud, statum cum sacramento. Status continentiæ altior est statu Matrimonii et majoris gratiæ et meriti: Qui enim nubit, bene facit: qui non nubit, melius facit, 1. Corinth. 7. Sacramentum tamen semper auget gratiam, in quocumque statu suscipiatur. Quare continens dum Matrimonium contrahit, in gratia crescit sed si idem continens propter Deum nuptias humanas contempsisset, plus gratiæ apud Deum invenisset

it is one thing to compare a state with a state, another to compare a state with a sacrament. The state of continence is higher than the state of Matrimony and of greater grace and merit: For he who marries [i.e., "giveth his virgin in marriage"] does well: he who does not marry [i.e., "giveth her not" "in marriage"] does better, 1 Corinth. 7[:38]. But a sacrament always increases grace, in whatever state it is received. Wherefore when a continent person contracts Marriage, he grows in grace, but if this same continent person had contemned human marriage for God's sake, he would have found more grace with God