Kirk wrote: âRegarding marriages, in the Roman Catholic Church, full of laws as you can imagine, there is no divorce, but there is annulment if one of the partners behaved in an irregular way - cruelty, adultery etc. Therefore, another marriage is allowed. If the marriage partners are married before one or both partners are in the Church, and there has yet to be Church annulment of a previous marriage, then that couple must live in celibacy until the matter is decided by a Church Tribunal.... Uff!â
This is not correct. âDivorceâ (in Orthodox and Roman Canon Law and in civil law) is the dissolution of a marriage â so there must be a marriage to start with. Rome does not allow the dissolution of a marriage except for two obscure grounds, known as the Petrine and Pauline privileges. It does not allow dissolution on the grounds of adultery (although the Lord taught that this was a ground), cruelty, desertion or anything else.
âAnnulmentâ is not the dissolution of a marriage. It is (again in Orthodox and Roman Canon Law and in civil law) a declaration that no marriage ever existed. Annulment cannot be declared on the grounds of cruelty or adultery. It can only be declared if and when some fundamental flaw is found in the purported marriage from the beginning (for example: one partner was already married, the marriage was induced by coercion or fraud, one partner was under the lawful age for marriage, the partners were related in a prohibited degree). The Roman tribunals look at the evidence and if they determine that there was no marriage, a declaration of nullity is given. Both partners are then usually free to marry (not re-marry, since they had never previously been married).
These matters are dealt with by Canons 1055-1165 of âThe Code of Canon Lawâ (1983). A good basic introduction to this very complex subject is Eileen Stuart âDissolution and Annulment of Marriage by the Catholic Churchâ The Federation Press, Sydney, 1994.
Unlike Rome, the Orthodox Churches (both Eastern and Oriental) provide for both declarations of nullity and for the dissolution of marriage (that is, divorce).