EWTN Catholic Q&A
Question from thomas lehr on 09-05-2016:


Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 09-06-2016:

I don't know what this has to do wth Pope Benedict, as you wrote in your message subject. The "annulment" as we know it is really a mixture of a few aspects of Church teaching. Scripture sets the stage in the Old Testament with God permitting Divorce of married couples (Moses essentially asks for a "dispensation" from God to allow it). Jesus acknowledges this and says Divorce was "because of hardness of heart" or "stubbornness", and stresses the permanence of marriage ("What God has joined, let no man put asunder"). The Church teaches that what is necessary for a marriage is the free consent of the persons getting married (no one can be married against their will). The Catechism explains how this consent is necessary for the bond of marriage to take place, and that if it does not, then the marriage is not sacramentally valid in paragraphs 1625-1629:

1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; "to be free" means:

- not being under constraint;

- not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that "makes the marriage." If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

1627 The consent consists in a "human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other": "I take you to be my wife" - "I take you to be my husband." This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two "becoming one flesh."

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent.If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed.In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.