Expert Answer Forum
Invalid Marriage? QUESTION from Carole Keown May 1, 2000 In your response to the post Ordaining Homosexuals to the Priesthood you statend that There are heterosexual single men who may have injuries (from war perhaps) making it impossible for them to have sex. These men canno validly get married according to Canon Law.
Why can they not be validly married? Is this because they cannot consumate the marriage? If such an accident were to happen to a married man, would it affect the validity of his marriage?
I apologize if these questions seem odd, but as a protestant, some of the finer issues of Canon Law are quite confusing.
Thank you for all of the fine, thoughtful answers I have recieved here. It is a truly wonderful site! Carole
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on May 2, 2000 Dear Mrs. Keown:
I just KNEW someone with eagle eyes would catch that and ask the question. :-) And I am glad the question is asked since few people know about this impediment to marriage.
Canon Law 1084 states:
º1. Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or of the woman, which is either absolute or relative, of its very nature invalidates marriage. º2. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, either by reason of a doubt of law or a doubt of fact, a marriage is neither to be impeded nor is it to be declared null as long as the doubt exists.
º3. Sterility neither prohibits nor invalidates marriage, with due regard for the prescription of can. 1098.
This means that if the man or the woman is unable to have sexual intercourse, then the marriage in invalid.
Temporary impotence does NOT impede a valid marriage, and Sterility does NOT impede a valid marriage.
This impotence must be antecedent (meaning that it existed before the proposed marriage) and perpetual (meaning that it is incurable by natural human means).
If a person becomes impotent AFTER marriage it is called Subsequent impotence and has NO effect on the validity of the marriage.
The reasons for this Canon Law relates to the purpose of marriage which it NOT mere companionship. The fundamental nature of marriage is described in Canon 1055:
º1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring... Perpetual and absolute impotence makes impossible BOTH aspects of the what marriage is order toward -- the unitive factor between spouses and the procreative factor to have children.
By the way, a marriage is also invalid it a couple marries with the expressed desire, intent, and determination to never have children.
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