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Defect of Consent


 All canonical inquiries should be addressed to the Director of the Office of Canonical Affairs,

Mr. Mark Raper, JCL, MCL, at 208-344-1344. 

 

The Office of Canonical Affairs cannot receive e-mail regarding

canonical matters due to issues of confidentiality.


  

CONSENT makes the MARRIAGE. This is a basic principle in marriage cases. A case of defect of consent arises when the circumstances prevailing at the time of the exchange of consent rendered that consent invalid. A person must possess a basic capacity for marriage. In 21st century Western society, one would have to question seriously the capacity of, say, a seventeen year old boy and a sixteen year old girl who are very immature and have no means of livelihood to exchange the kind of minimal level of marriage consent demanded of a life-long commitment, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, until death do them part. Admittedly, the Church has established that for a valid marriage to take place the minimum age for a man is sixteen years of age and that of a woman is fourteen. But this does not necessarily mean that every sixteen-year-old male person and every fourteen-year-old female person are capable of entering a valid marriage at such young ages. However, common sense tells us that with the normal pressures of modern living in this day and age a wedding between very young people has little prospect of lasting success.

 

A person must be free to undertake marriage without undue outside pressures (e.g., pressure from parents because of a pregnancy or a sexual liaison) or deceit (withholding of certain facts from the other fiancée, because of fear that the courtship would be terminated). A fiancée may be making undue demands upon a prospective partner (regarding future prospects). Psychological factors of a serious nature may be present which could raise questions about a particular individual’s basic capacity for marriage with any member of the opposite sex. Is a person simulating marriage (e.g., the "green card" marriage in which a non-U.S. person marries a U.S. citizen with the sole purpose of facilitating the procurement of a visa to become a permanent resident of this country)? Does a person enter marriage on his/her own terms (contrary to an intention to remain faithful or to permanence or to openness to the procreation and education of children)? Sexual orientation issues might also have to be addressed.

 

These are just some of the issues which create serious problems leading to the complete collapse of a marriage. That is why, in the case of a Catholic in particular, a very thorough pre-marriage preparation is necessary. At times, priests, deacons and other pastoral ministers experience great difficulty in eliciting the cooperation of engaged couples to take pre-marriage preparation seriously. The focus instead is on the wedding day, the floral arrangements, the reception, the guest list, etc. and not on the fact that the wedding day is the first day of the rest of their married life until death do them part. That is one of the reasons why most dioceses have a minimum time frame of four to six months for marriage preparation in the Catholic Church. Even then the assumption is that couples have been courting over a sufficiently long period of time to enable them to come to a mature decision about the wisdom and desire to consider the possibility of getting married to each other. Pre-marriage preparation is one of the many very serious, taxing and privileged undertakings in which a priest, deacon or other pastoral minister is involved and it also demands the fullest of cooperation and seriousness from the engaged couple. Short cuts and evasions in pre-marriage preparation can come home to haunt a married couple in later years.

 


  

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Judicial Vicar

V. Rev. Henry Carmona, JV, JCL

 

Director

Mr. Mark L. Raper, JCL, MCL

Case Manager

Ms. Colleen Cunningham

Case Manager

Marisela Baca

 

 


  

Phone:   (208) 344-1344     Fax:  (208) 344-1772 

 

 

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