Failure of a Marriage Doesn't Prove Its Nullity, Says Pope

Warns of Bureaucratic Approach to Premarital Investigations

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2004 ( John Paul II warned against the idea that the failure of conjugal life means that a marriage is invalid.

“Unfortunately, the force of this erroneous approach is at times so great as to become a generalized prejudice,” the Pope said when he received in audience today the judges, officials and lawyers of the Roman Rota, the Church’s central appellate court.

Such a mistaken approach might even “forget that, given human experience marked by sin, a valid marriage can fail because of the erroneous use of the freedom of the spouses themselves,” the Holy Father warned in his address. The audience was held at the start of the judicial year.

“Proof of real nullities,” he insisted, “should lead rather to verifying with greater seriousness, at the moment of marriage, the necessary requirements to get married, especially those concerning consent and the real dispositions of those entering into marriage.”

This task rests with “parish priests and those who collaborate with them in this context,” who “have the grave duty not to yield to a merely bureaucratic view of premarital investigations,” the Pope said.

“Their pastoral intervention must be guided by the awareness that persons can, precisely in that moment, discover the natural and supernatural good of marriage, and commit themselves in consequence to pursue it,” he said.

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