Sentence of Nov. 26, 1992 (Armagh) (bonum coniugum)

[English version: Studia canonica 27 (1993), 496-505]

I.          The Facts

1.         After almost a year's engagement, Anne T ad Frank M got married on Feb. 23, 1980. At the time, both were twenty three years old. From almost the very start of their life together, he behaved violently towards her. Things got worse when she learned that, while she was in hospital, he had spent the nights with another woman in their home. Shortly after that, sixteen months from the wedding, she left him.

            On May 3, 1984, she petitioned the Tribunal of Armagh for a declaration of nullity on two grounds: lack of necessary discretion of judgment in him, and his incapacity for assuming and fulfilling the essential obligations of marriage. An Affirmative Sentence on both grounds, on June 18, 1987, was reversed by the National Appeal Tribunal on March 9, 1988. Through the Archbishop of Armagh, the Petitioner then requested that the case be heard in third instance at Leeds Tribunal. The Apostolic Signatura denied this petition on June 16, 1989.

            The case was received at the Rota only in the following year. The Advocate assigned gratuitously to the Petitioner immediately raised a complaint of nullity against the Appeal Tribunal Sentence, on the grounds of violation of the right of defense of both parties, under c. 1620, 7. On Oct. 18, 1990, having heard the Defender of the Bond and the Promotor of Justice, our Turnus decreed the irremediable nullity of the Sentence, indicating at the same time that the case be returned to the Judges of Second Instance, to deal with according to the norm of law.

            The Appeal Tribunal took up the case again and, without any further instruction of the matter, issued a Negative Sentence on April 25, 1991. When the case was received at the Rota, the Dean by a Decree of Nov. 12, 1991 assigned it once more to our Turnus. On this occasion gratuitous legal representation was granted to the Respondent also. The respective Briefs having been prepared and examined, along with the Animadversions of the Defender of the Bond, we now reply to the doubt concorded on April 23, 1992 according to the formula: "Whether the nullity of the marriage in question has been established on the grounds of a grave lack of discretion of judgment and/or a psychic incapacity to assume the essential obligations of matrimony on the part of the Respondent".

II.        The Law

2.         The ends of marriage, according to the teaching common up to the Second Vatican Council, were clearly understood to exist in an hierarchical order. A concise statement of this was to be found in c. 1013, § 1 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law: "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children; its secondary end is mutual help and the allaying of concupiscence". The Second Vatican Council twice insists that procreation is an end of marriage and of married love: "By their very nature the institution of marriage and married love are ordered to the procreation and education of children" (Gaudium et Spes, nos. 48, 50). While it states that marriage is endowed with "various ends" (no. 48), it neither speaks of a hierarchy between these ends, nor specifies what the other ends, besides procreation, are.

            Although the Council presents marriage in a strongly personalist light (describing married love as "the mutual gift of self", stressing the dignity of this love and of its most distinctive physical expression (GS, no. 49), etc.), it offers no formula which could be regarded as a condensation of the personalist end of matrimony. This gap has been filled by the new Code of Canon Law which the Magisterium has characterized as the "last document of the Second Vatican Council" (AAS 76 (1984) 644).

3.         The very first canon in the Title on Matrimony assigns two ends to marriage (without indicating any hierarchy between them). Marriage, it states, is "by its nature ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of offspring" (c. 1055 § 1). More recently, the Catechism of the Catholic Church insists on the "double end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the handing on of life" (no. 2363). The case before the Court - in which the Advocate for the Petitioner presents his arguments in terms of incapacity on the Respondent's part to assume the essential obligations of the "bonum coniugum" - offers an opportunity to reflect on this "good of the spouses" as an end of marriage.

4.         Careful reflection is called for here, especially since "bonum coniugum" is quite a new term in both theological and canonical usage. A fundamental point is to determine the nature of the "bonum coniugum" - a question which is still in fact an object of jurisprudential debate. Two other important questions could be considered: whether or not one can properly speak of a right to the "bonum coniugum" itself; and whether the "bonum coniugum" originates essential rights/obligations distinct from those already deriving from the three augustinian "bona" by which marriage is specifically characterized.

5.         Before studying these questions, however, it seems opportune to examine the relationship between the two ends of marriage indicated by c. 1055. It would be a mistake to regard these ends as disconnected, and an even greater mistake to think that they coexist in a certain state of tension or opposition. Such false appreciations can easily arise if one identifies the "bonum coniugum" with "the subjective" end of marriage, and procreation/education with "its objective end"; and, even more so, if one draws a contrast between "the personalist end" (good of the spouses) and "the institutional end" (procreation/education). To present the "bonum coniugum" - personalist end of marriage - as "non-institutional", just as to present procreation - an institutional end - as "non-personalist", betrays a failure to grasp the deeper and more integrated vision of the nature of marriage presented by Vatican II and subsequent magisterium, and the natural and essential interdependence between its ends as they are expressed in c. 1055.

            The fundamental inadequacy of these views is borne out by the history of the incorporation of the term "bonum coniugum" into the new Code. It was only in 1977 that it was first introduced into the draft of what was eventually to become the present c. 1055 (Communicationes, 1977, p. 123). Precisely to avoid misunderstandings about the scope of the term, the Pontifical Commission for revising the Code later made it clear that, while carrying a personal[ist] connotation, the term is intended to express not the subjective end(s) of the spouses (finis operantis), but an objective end of the matrimonial institution itself (finis operis) (ibid., 1983, pp. 220-221). As the wording of c. 1055 makes evident, both ends of marriage - the good of the spouses and the procreation/education of children - are institutional; in other words, both ends were assigned by God to matrimony when He instituted it (cf. Gen 2, 18; Gen 1, 27-28). We could add that both ends, properly understood, are also truly personalist (cfr. C. Burke: "Marriage: a personalist or an institutional understanding?": Communio 1992-III, 287ss.).

            Therefore, the "good of the spouses" to which c. 1055 refers is an institutional end of marriage, that does not necessarily coincide with the personal ends motivating those who marry. Nor is the achievement of this "bonum coniugum" to be identified with the fulfilment of the concrete - and very often temporal and restricted - aspirations of the spouses.

6.         What is the essence of the "bonum coniugum"? Some would identify it with the "consortium" or "communio" of life, proper to marriage. So we read in a sentence c. Huot of Oct. 2, 1986: "the «bonum coniugum» or the «consortium totius vitae»" (RRD, vol. 78, p. 503; cf. c. Giannecchini, June 26, 1984: vol. 76, p. 392); and in another c. Pinto of Feb. 6, 1987, "vitae coniugalis consortium (bonum coniugum)" (vol. 79, p. 33). This analysis would seem to underlie the views that the "bonum coniugum" "is to be understood and brought about through the right to communion of life" (c. Pompedda, Apr. 11, 1988: vol. 80, p. 202), or that it lies in the constitution of the "community of life and love" of which Gaudium et Spes speaks (cf. c. Colagiovanni, Apr. 23, 1991, Romana, no. 10). One can doubt however whether such equiparations are sound. "Consortium totius vitae", or "communio vitae", are (very incomplete) descriptions of the essence of matrimony; the "bonum coniugum" is an end. Essence and end cannot be identified, and one has to be careful how one connects them.

7.         It may be legitimate and useful to speak of the "ordination to a particular end" being essential to marriage, or being an essential element of marriage (cfr. c. Pompedda, Jan. 29, 1985: vol. 77, pp. 53-55). But such an ordination is essential in a juridic and constituent sense, only if it is referred to the institutional ends specified in c. 1055. Marriage after all is ordered to many ends. St. Thomas teaches that "matrimony is ordered to the common good" (II-II, q. 152, art. 4). And the very opening words of the chapter on marriage in Gaudium et Spes insist that the well-being - the "good" - not just of the individual person but of society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal life (GS 47). One could therefore speak of an "ordination to the good of society" as an important element of matrimony; yet such an ordination would not seem to have the juridic consideration of an essential and constitutive element of marriage under c. 1101, § 2.

8.         In any case, even if one limits attention to the institutional ends of marriage as enunciated by c. 1055 - good of the spouses and procreation/education of children - , while one can say that the ordination to the end is essential, the actual achievement of the end is not. Certain earlier sentences, in describing the "bonum coniugum" as an essential element of matrimony (cfr. vol. 75, p. 667; vol. 76, p. 350; vol. 76, p. 392), perhaps show a lack of nuance in this sense. It should also be clear that to classify the "good of the spouses" as a new essential "bonum" (element or property), to be added to the three traditional augustinian "bona", provokes a similar confusion between essence and end.

9.         Some sentences coram Pinto interpret the "bonum coniugum" as consisting in the psycho-sexual complementarity or "integration" of the spouses: "the good of the spouses, consisting in their essential mutual psycho-sexual integration" (Feb. 12, 1982: vol. 74, p. 67); he takes the "bonum coniugum" as the "intimate union of persons and deeds by which the spouses find that psycho-sexual complementarity without which the "consortium" of matrimonial life could not exist" (Feb. 20, 1987: Ius Ecclesiae, 1-2 (1989), p. 573); it consists in the right on the part of each spouse to find in the other "his or her specific psychological psycho-sexual complement of a true spouse" (Sentence of May 27, 1983: unpublished). This is surely to assign a very circumscribed and passing scope - the attaining of a relative complementarity - to the good that marriage should originate for husband and wife.

            Another opinion would relate the "bonum coniugum" to the achievement of at least a minimum degree of personal relationship between the spouses: "the good of the spouses, which is an essential element of matrimony, implying the capacity of fashioning at least a tolerable interpersonal relationship with one's future spouse" (New Orleans Sentence coram Bruno, of Feb. 23, 1990, n. 3); this again does not seem to be a sufficient analysis.

10.       In seeking to understand the essential nature of the "bonum coniugum" as an institutional end of matrimony, our mind is logically drawn back to those divine words which, according to Scripture, God pronounced in creating man and woman and in instituting marriage: "it is not good for man to be alone..." (Gen 2, 18). It is by identifying that good, which God has intended for those who marry, that we achieve an adequate appreciation of the "good of the spouses".

            Nothing in God's plan is created for an exclusively this-worldly purpose; everything is designed for his glory and, where rational creatures are involved, for their eternal destiny (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 293ss). In the plan of the divine institution of matrimony, we can therefore say that the true "bonum coniugum" consists in the maturing of the spouses throughout their married lives so that they can attain the end for which they were created. Within the christian dispensation, the authentic good of the spouses cannot but consist in their human and supernatural growth in Christ. Casti connubii insisted that the true purpose of marital love is "that man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life, so that through their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love towards God and their neighbor" (AAS 22 (1930) 547-548). Gaudium et Spes teaches that "as spouses fulfill their conjugal and family obligations... they increasingly advance towards their own perfection, as well as towards their mutual sanctification" (48). A key to the actual scope of the "bonum coniugum" is surely to be found in these words which - it is interesting to note - entered into a formula considered by the Pontifical Commission (in the very same session which accepted the term "bonum coniugum"), as expressing the purpose of the union between christian spouses: "so that they are of help to each other in their own perfection and sanctification and in the begetting and education of children" (Communicationes, 1977, 121).

11.       It follows that any analysis which identifies the "bonum coniugum" with some form of easy or gratifying human relationship between the spouses is fundamentally flawed. Only passing and superficial personal contacts can be smooth and without any strains. Difficulties always make their appearance in every close interpersonal relation that is extended over a period of time. Since marriage involves man and woman in a unique relationship and commitment to be maintained over the whole of their lifetime, it is bound to be marked by difficulties between the spouses, sometimes of a grave nature. Many happy married unions are between two persons of quite different characters who have clearly had to struggle hard to get on. One can rightly say that these marriages are the most "successful", for they have matured the spouses most.

            The married commitment is by nature something demanding. The words by which the spouses express their mutual acceptance of one another, through "irrevocable personal consent" (GS, 48), bring this out. Each pledges to accept the other "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health... all the days of my life" (Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium, no. 25; cf. GS, ib.).

            It is through dedication, effort and sacrifice, especially when made for the sake of others, that people grow and mature most; that way each one comes out of himself or herself and rises above self. Loyalty to the commitment of married life - to be mutually faithful, to persevere in this fidelity until death, and to have and rear children - contributes more than anything else to the true good of the spouses, so powerfully realized in facing up to this freely accepted commitment and duty: a duty, as John Paul II describes it, "of a conscious effort on the part of the spouses to overcome, even at the cost of sacrifices and renunciations, the obstacles that hinder the fulfilment of their marriage" (Address to the Roman Rota, Feb. 5, 1987: AAS 79 (1987) 1456).

12.       The natural interconnection between the "bonum coniugum" and the procreation/care of children - the other institutional end of matrimony - merits special consideration. As Gaudium et Spes says, "children are the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves" (no. 50). Care for their children tends to draw the best out of husband and wife, and not least when their own mutual relationship becomes subject to strain. A couple with difficulties in interpersonal relations may, for the sake of their children, determine to get on; and then each of them clearly grows as a person.

13.       It is evident therefore that the "good of the spouses" is achieved not only through the consolations of married life, but also and especially through its demands. This also underlines how the "bonum coniugum" (an end of marriage) connects naturally with the augustinian "bona" (properties of marriage). In fact it seems correct to say that acceptance of the augustinian "goods", and respect for the obligations they involve, more than anything else in marriage creates the conditions that favor the good of the spouses. One can therefore conclude that the augustinian bona which fundamentally characterize marriage, also provide the basic structure on which the "bonum coniugum" can be built.

14.       Turning to the question of whether one can speak of a right to the "bonum coniugum", it seems useful to bear in mind accepted doctrine regarding procreation, the other institutional end of marriage. According to most of recent jurisprudence, marriage originates a right to physical actions ordered to procreation, as well as to a positive mental disposition in its regard. In other words, conjugal consent involves the exchange of a right/obligation not only to conjugal acts open to life, but also to the acceptance of offspring that may in fact be conceived from these acts (cfr. c. Bejan, Nov. 9, 1961: vol. 53, p. 496; c. De Jorio, Dec. 18, 1963: vol. 55, p. 911; Feb. 19, 1966: vol. 58, p. 97; c. Pinto, Nov. 12, 1973, vol. 65, 726-727; c. Stankiewicz, July 29, 1980, vol. 72, p. 562, etc.). Consent, however, does not confer any actual right to offspring itself. Here one can usefully recall a principle expounded in a Sentence coram Raad of April 14, 1975: "it should be noted that the ends of marriage or of the person marrying, do not constitute essential elements of the object of consent, despite what has been suggested by some authors and judges. They maintain that whoever is incapable of the end, is incapable of entering marriage and giving valid consent. To refute this theory it is sufficient to recall can. 1068 § 2 [of the 1917 Code; can. 1084 of the 1983 Code]: "Sterility neither prohibits nor invalidates marriage". What is affirmed of the principal end of matrimony, can a fortiori be affirmed of the other ends" (vol. 67, p. 243). There is a right to the "bonum prolis" (property), but no "ius ad prolem" (end) (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Instr. "Donum Vitae", AAS 80 (1988), 97).

            In the case of the "bonum coniugum", it would seem that similar reasoning ought to be applied. Consent confers a constitutional right to the substance of the conjugal covenant, which involves the assumption of certain obligations favoring the "bonum coniugum"; but it confers no right to the actual achievement of this end (cf. C. Burke: "The «Bonum Coniugum» and the «Bonum Prolis»; Ends or Properties of Marriage?" The Jurist, 49 (1989):2, p. 709).

15.       Rather than speak of a right to the "bonum coniugum", one may consider the good of the spouses (just as one may consider procreation) as a source of rights or obligations. However, it would seem that the only legal measure of what is essentially involved in such rights/obligations is provided by the three augustinian "bona". From a juridic standpoint, the "bonum coniugum" gives rise to no other essential rights/obligations. So, while it is clear that the exclusion of the "bonum coniugum" invalidates (as does the exclusion of offspring), it is not clear that such exclusion comprises anything substantial not already contained in the three "bona". Therefore possible claims of nullity due to "the exclusion of the good of the spouses" are more properly formulated in terms of typical grounds of total or partial simulation.

16.       The spouses, as we have said, in their fidelity to the common endeavor constituted by the married commitment, develop powerfully as persons and so achieve their "good". But this endeavor inevitably runs into many difficulties, from outside and from within. Selfishness, after all, which has deep roots in every human being (cf. GS, no. 37), offers a major and constant threat to social life in general and to married life in particular. In effect, the greatest tests to conjugal life normally come from within, for it is never easy for two people, in such close and permanent contact, to learn to get on and to keep adapting indefinitely to one another. Here we would insist on the point made earlier: that such difficulties in inter-personal relations, if tackled with a christian spirit, become a major factor in the maturing of the spouses.

            Therefore the fact that the spouses' different characteristics, habits, weaknesses or defects disturb the smooth course of their conjugal life and at times provoke tensions between them, does not of itself impede the "bonum coniugum". Carelessness with money, over-dedication to professional work or social life, one-sided absorption with hobbies or sports, etc., can all be considered negative qualities likely to perturb conjugal life, even gravely. The same is true of other qualities or deficiencies such as being impatient or highly strung or obsessive, or given to fits of temper or depression. It is truer still if the defect in question is that of sexual dysfunction (frigidity, etc.) or excessive drinking, gambling, and so forth. There is no doubt that such qualities can represent a major obstacle to the smooth development of married life. The question we wish to consider here is that of their juridic relevance to the "bonum coniugum".

            Can one say, for instance, that a deliberate intention not to seek to cure or correct such defects amounts to an exclusion of the "bonum coniugum"; and therefore offers grounds for a declaration of nullity, as would a positive exclusion of procreation, the other institutional end of marriage? And, passing from the hypothesis of exclusion to that of consensual incapacity, the question can be posed: do these negative qualities or defects, present at the moment of consent, suffice to incapacitate a person for marriage, so annulling matrimonial consent?

17.       These are new questions. Perhaps significant guidelines for answering them can be drawn from canon 1098 of the revised law of the Church. The canon, newly introduced in the 1983 Code, deals with the effect of deceit or fraud ("dolus") on consent. It lays down that a person contracts invalidly who enters marriage deceived by fraud concerning some quality in the other party, "which of its very nature can seriously disturb the partnership of conjugal life". It is, it should be noted, not the negative quality per se, nor even its gravity, that invalidates consent, but the fraud by which consent was obtained (cf. Madras Sentence of Oct. 25, 1990 coram the undersigned, nos. 4-6: Studia canonica 26 (1992), p. 236). In effect, fraud about a serious personal defect radically vitiates the genuineness of the self-gift proper to matrimonial consent (cf. Umuahia Sentence of June 2, 1989, coram Serrano, no. 8). The invalidating factor therefore is not the disturbance caused to married life, but the initial deceit about the disturbing defect. The juridic reason is clear: there is no right to an undisturbed married life, but there is a right not to be deceived into marriage by the concealment of some important negative trait of the other. In other words, while no one has a right to find a husband or wife free from defects, everyone has a right to a marital consent given by the other, which represents a sincere and unfeigned gift of that person as he or she actually is.

18.       This last point might offer a key to further analysis. The 1983 Code, in c. 1057, gives a renewed and more personalist description of matrimonial consent, by which the spouses "mutually give and accept each other in order to establish a marriage". One gives oneself as one is; and, in particular, one accepts the other, as he or she is. Therefore sincere marital commitment implies not only an unreserved spousal gift, but also an unreserved spousal acceptance. This reflects the genuine personalism of Vatican II.

            At the moment of marriage, one spouse may be mistaken in his or her appreciation of the other. But there is no basis in justice or law for sustaining that this mistaken judgment (which can in no way be taken for the lack of discretion contemplated in c. 1095, 2) can invalidate consent, thus releasing a person from his or her free commitment to marital acceptance of the other. It is only if there has been deliberate deceit about the existence of a grave defect, that one can discover a "ratio iuris" for saying that consent was constitutionally vitiated. The clear implication would seem to be that, given no deceit or fraud, the presence - or the emergence - of such a defect is compatible with valid consent and a valid consortium.

III.       The Argument

19.       This is not an easy case to decide, especially as the Respondent has not been willing to undergo a psychological assessment (cf. Acts, 49).

            Looking at the history of this brief relationship, it is clear that the Petitioner, before the wedding, completely misread the Respondent's character. Whether this was due to deliberate deception on his part, or to simple naivete on hers, is hard to say. Her impression of him during their engagement was that he was "honest, caring and sincere" (Acts, 1); but soon after the wedding he began to treat her with "serious violence", which, she says, "continued for the rest of the marriage" (7/10g). "I thought I knew him pretty well but after I got married I discovered that I didn't know him... I thought he was truthful but I discovered that he was very devious" (3/2c-e). Before marriage, "he would say that he wasn't good enough for me, but he wouldn't tell me why he thought that way" (5/7).

20.       The Respondent himself is variously described by witnesses as "a kind of mystery man" (20/2), "not honest" (29/2d), "naive" (31/15), "not truthful" (33/2d), "in a world of his own" (37/2), "strange - needed professional attention" (46). He seems to have been a very superficial and selfish person, at the same time as he is quite open about negative points of character which might have had a bearing on the marriage: "I never had much confidence in myself. I always feared being rejected. I would have tried to make a good impression on people" (15/4e). This would be consistent with his having deceived her regarding his basic character and behaviour ("he wouldn't tell me why he thought that way...").

21.       There is no question that he was quite violent towards the Petitioner. The "serious violence" which she says was present from very early on in the marriage (7/10g), is confirmed by other witnesses (22/11e; 31/11e; 35/11e; 42). The Respondent himself, who acknowledges that the Petitioner is truthful and honest (14/2; 62/2) and also describes her as "very quiet and timid" (63/3), admits his violence towards her (16/10d; 17/13; 65-66). Its severity is confirmed by the medical report in the Acts; Dr. Br. speaks in fact of treating the Petitioner for several "assaults" (47). It appears also that the Respondent would demand sexual relations immediately after beating his wife (13). While he claims that he was violent on no more than four occasions (17/13), Rev. PD speaks of "his brutality over at least twelve months of their marriage" (42).

22.       Other sudden changes in his behavior occurred from the very start of the marriage. The Petitioner testifies: "As soon as we got married Frank would have gone out with his own friends, it didn't seem to matter whether I went or what I was doing. I was supposed to be there at his beck and call. He seemed to be living his own life and I wasn't included" (6/10). "He was married in name only" (11/16c).

23.       She claims to have been deceived about his gambling, since she thought before marriage that it was only light (5/6e). That he was in fact a heavy gambler is abundantly testified to in the Acts (1; 7/10f; 21/6; 30/6c; 31/11d; 34/6c; 35/11d; 36/16c; 39/11g). His mother is quite open that he had been a gambler from his early years: "Frank was very fond of the gambling..., he gambled from no age... He would have had a bet every day" (25/6c; 26/11d). We pass over the question whether this addiction to gambling was pathological (as the Petitioner's Advocate suggests: Restr. p. 5) or not, for - in the absence of "dolus" - it is not a quality which invalidates marital consent.

24.       The Respondent testifies that his father was a heavy drinker (15/4a; cf. 29/3e). There is somewhat inconsistent evidence regarding the extent of his own drinking (34/6d; 38/6c; 39/11g; 43).

25.       His extreme irresponsibility towards married duties in general (and particularly in financial matters), is fully borne out by Acts (5/6e; 6/8a; 8/10i; 11/15; 21/9; 36/16c). The Respondent himself admits this irresponsibility (16/8b; 66/13). In addition we note his indifference to her during especially critical moments: when she was in hospital, first for a spontaneous abortion, and secondly for the birth of their only child (8/10h).

26.       Again the Respondent himself admits his infidelity (17; 65). We take particular note of the circumstance that he committed adultery in the conjugal house precisely when the Petitioner was in hospital to have their child (9/10l; 42). Such behaviour does not necessarily prove an "absolute lack of capacity of distinguishing between right and wrong" (as the Advocate for the Petitioner maintains: Brief, 5), but it undoubtedly indicates a grave irresponsibility which the Respondent himself fully recognizes: "I have been an irresponsible father [and] husband... Through my misconduct I have sank to the bottom of the sea... The truth of the matter is that no [one] would like the things I have done on my wife..." (48; cf. I, 66/11).

27.       His gambling was certainly prior to the wedding. His violent tendency was undoubtedly there too, although he was apparently able to control it, perhaps with a deliberate design thereby to bring about marital consent.

28.       The post-wedding appearance of violence or of infidelity does not prove an antecedent and permanent incapacity for assuming an essential marital obligation. Nor can gambling or financial irresponsibility be considered breaches of any essential - constitutional - obligation of the married covenant. Proof of consensual incapacity would therefore not emerge from the existence of any one of these individual defects. Taking them together, nevertheless, and after careful consideration of all the evidence and the circumstances, without losing sight in particular of the underlying suggestions of deceit, we are satisfied that the Petitioner's plea should be upheld.

29.       Having therefore considered all the aspects of the law and the facts, we Auditors of this Turnus... answer the proposed doubt:

            "IN THE AFFIRMATIVE", that is,

            "the nullity of the marriage has been proved, in the case before the Court, on the single grounds of psychic incapacity to assume the essential obligations of matrimony on the part of the Respondent".

            Given in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, November 26, 1992.

            Cormac BURKE, Ponens

            Thomas G. DORAN

            Kenneth E. BOCCAFOLA