Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Christ allowed permanent separation if adultery be committed, but He does not allow divorce and re-marriage in the sense you intend. When He said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery, etc.," the sense He intended was this, "Whosoever shall put away his wife (I am not speaking of mere separation without re-marriage, for that is lawful in the case of fornication), but whosoever shall put away his wife ... he that marries her commits adultery." This is the only possible interpretation in the light of parallel passages. Thus St. Mark records Christ's words absolutely, "Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her." X., II. In St. Luke, also, we have the words without any parenthesis: "Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery, and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery." XVI., 18. St. Paul tells us clearly, "A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die, she is at liberty." I. Cor. VII., 39. For a Christian, then, there is no such thing as divorce and re-marriage whilst the first partner is still living. Attempted re-marriage results in a sinful union only. You can have divorce and give up Christianity, or you can have Christianity and give up divorce You cannot have both.
Civil law and divine law are not always in harmony. Politicians at times exceed their powers and make laws, which are contrary to those of God. Thus they have legislated concerning matrimony with no reference to the will of Christ who raised the marriage contract to the dignity of a Sacrament.
It is the law of Christ, not a law made by the Catholic Church. And it is at times hard upon the innocent party. But since when were we dispensed from the observance of God's laws on the score that obedience to them is inconvenient?
Brutal cruelty and ill treatment afford lawful grounds for separation, as also does adultery if it has not been condoned. But this separation does not break the bond of marriage. Death alone can do that, and neither is free to marry again whilst the other is still living. For grave reasons a Catholic can obtain ecclesiastical permission to have the separation rendered legal by a civil decree of divorce in order to avoid legal difficulties, but this must be on the understanding that such a decree leaves neither party free to contract another marriage whilst the other party is still living.
You would find it very difficult to prove one such case. Many decrees of nullity have been issued, but they are not divorces. Yet even supposing that you could prove that some individual Pope had granted such a divorce, that would be no argument against the doctrine of the Catholic Church. It would but prove that such an individual Pope acted against his conscience and against the teaching of the Church. An appeal to the lapse on the part of an individual Pope proves nothing against the Church. You cannot disprove a law by pointing to a criminal who has broken it. The Catholic Church has always taught that divorce of a true marriage with the right to re-marry is not allowed.
The two prior marriages you mention were declared to have been null and void from the beginning. Therefore no true marriage had ever existed. Louis XII. proved conclusively that he had not been a free agent, having been compelled by his father, Louis XI, to submit to the ceremony. So too, the first marriage of Henry IV. was declared null and void because Marguerite de Valois had been forced into the marriage by her mother, Queen Catherine, for political purposes. The free consent of both parties is necessary for a true and binding marriage contract. In the case of Henry VIII, the power of Charles V. was a motive why his marriage with Catherine of Aragon should not be declared null without rigid proof of its invalidity. At the same time, the enmity of Henry was to be avoided if at all possible, and theologians did all they could to see whether the first marriage were really null and void. But it was impossible, and at the risk of losing England to the Holy See a negative decision had to be given. Henry promptly declared himself head of the Church in England, and took the divorce Rome refused to grant.
No. Napoleon married Josephine in 1796, a marriage validated by a dispensation from the Pope. From that marriage Napoleon never secured any divorce by lawful ecclesiastical authority. He forced a declaration of nullity from some unauthorized clerics, and they put him through a second marriage ceremony in 1810, but this attempted re-marriage was a mockery. The whole thing was a violation of the laws of the Church, and the Church has never acknowledged the second marriage as valid at all.
Marconi secured a decree of civil divorce from the state, but from the Catholic Church he secured a decree of nullity. The civil divorce broke no real bond of Church declared that the form of marriage Marconi went through with Miss Beatrice O'Brien on March 16, 1905, was null and void, and that both were really single people mistakenly believing themselves to be married. Nullity was proved by sworn evidence given by Marconi, Beatrice O'Brien, a Protestant, and many witnesses. The defect in the first marriage was not that it took place in the Anglican Church but that neither party consented to a marriage until death in the Christian sense of the word. They attempted to contract marriage until they should grow tired of each other, both lacking the knowledge that such a temporary contract is not a valid Christian marriage.
Even though objectively their marriage was invalid, they were both in good faith believing their state to be lawful, and therefore they were not guilty of a sin of adultery. Nor would any children have been illegitimate, for children of a putative marriage are entitled to legitimacy.
No. A civil divorce was granted in 1920, and both parties had married again before the case was put to Rome in 1926.
The Duke was a Protestant when the decision was given. Nor was it promptly given. The application was made to the Southwark diocesan court in 1925. This court, after scrutinizing all the evidence, gave judgment in February, 1926, that the first marriage was invalid from the beginning. Rome, not opposing the decision, but lest it might have been given too easily, called the case to the Holy See. The whole matter was reviewed, sworn testimony being obtained in America and England. The Holy See arrived at the same decision as Southwark and decreed nullity accordingly, six months later. You can hardly call that promptly.
On November 6th, 1895, the Duke of Marlborough went through a marriage ceremony with an American girl, Consuelo Vanderbilt. Both were Protestants, and normally such a marriage would have been valid. However, Miss Vanderbilt had secretly promised to marry another man of her own choice, but the mother forced the girl to marry the Duke. The marriage was not a success, and they separated in 1905, by mutual consent. In 1920 they secured a civil divorce, and both married again. In 1925 the decision of the Catholic Church was sought as to whether the first marriage had ever been valid according to Christian principles. Rome sought all the evidence possible. Miss Vanderbilt's mother deposed on oath, "I forced my daughter to marry the Duke, thinking her objections merely those of an inexperienced girl." Her aunt deposed on oath, "This marriage was forced on the girl, who desired to marry someone else altogether." Another friend of the mother deposed that "it was no question of persuasion, but of absolute constraint." Rome could not but decide that, abstracting altogether from the civil decree of divorce, the parties had never really been married at all.
Not at all. Not all the money in the Bank of England would be of any avail to secure an annulment from the Church if the first marriage had ever been valid. Meantime the trial at Southwark, with three judges and two other officials, lasting three months, cost $40 in expenses. The retrial in Rome lasted six months. There was much more expense in securing sworn testimonies from America and England, and in the number of legal men employed. This trial cost $200 in expenses; not a very great burden to the parties concerned. Moreover, the law of the Church is that litigants bear expenses only if they are able to afford them. In the ten years between 1920 and 1930 some 120 matrimonial cases were tried in Rome. In 69 cases the litigants paid expenses. In nine cases a nominal fee only was paid. In 39 cases the expenses were totally remitted. Nor did the offerings make any difference in the decisions given. Sixty-six per cent, of those who paid, and 89 per cent, of those who could not pay, obtained favorable decisions.
There is all the difference in the world between the two positions. A civil divorce claims to break the bonds of a valid marriage, bonds which the Catholic Church rigidly declares to be unbreakable. A decree of nullity does not break the bonds of a valid marriage at all. It declares that the marriage was never a true marriage and that there is no bond to break. It declares that the reputed marriage was null and void as a contract from the beginning. Had it been valid, the bond could not be broken save by the death of one of the parties.