Benedict XVI Rises Up Against Multiplication of Marriage Annulments

Source: FSSPX News

As he does every year at the opening of the judiciary year, the pope addressed the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. During an audience accorded on January 29th 2009, Benedict XVI spoke before the 150 members of the Tribunal which deals with the requests for recognition of nullity of marriage.

Benedict XVI began by calling to mind the fact that his predecessor had established “the criteria in matters of psychiatric or psychological expertise, but also those permitting the judiciary definition of causes.” The pope spoke out against the “exaggerated and nearly automatic” multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage, “under the pretext of a supposed immaturity or psychological weakness of the one contracting,” the which weakness “remains an exception to the natural principle of the capacity allowing one to understand, decide and realize the gift of self which creates the conjugal bond.” The pope went on to denounce “certain anthropological, humanistic trends oriented toward self-realization and egocentric self-transcendence.” These trends so idealize marriage and the human person that they ultimately deny the psychological capacity of a great many persons, by basing it on elements which do not correspond to the essential demands of the conjugal bond, the sovereign pontiff explained.

Benedict XVI then reminded his listeners that the case for nullity due to psychological incapacity demands that the judge call upon experts, to verify the existence of a genuine incapacity. He likewise warned against the risk of falling into an “anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the present cultural situation, considers that it is nearly impossible to marry.” The pope insisted on the need to “reaffirm the innate human capacity for marriage [which] is the starting point to helping the spouses grasp the genuine nature of marriage, as well as its importance in the economy of salvation. What is at stake is the very truth of marriage and its intrinsic juridical nature, the indispensable preliminary for an understanding and an appreciation of the conditions of marriage.”

The Tribunal of the Roman Rota, together with the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, form the Tribunals of the Holy See, whose offices are located in the Apostolic Palace of the Chancery, in the Vatican. Only the ecclesiastical tribunal of the third instance - the Roman Rota - may judge at the appellate level the requests for recognition of nullity of marriage which have been judged in the first instance by diocesan tribunals. The Rota is assisted by 3,000 tribunals of first and second instance throughout the world. It is possible, however, to appeal directly to the Rota after an affirmative or negative judgment in the first instance. A request for declaration of nullity always begins before diocesan tribunals. Only princes and heads of state have the right to appeal directly to the Roman Rota in order to have their marriage declared null, officially so that they might not put any pressure on local ecclesiastical tribunals. (Sources: apic/imedia/VIS)