Sentence of Nov. 25, 1993 (Dublin) (c. 1095,2)

I. The Facts

1.         The parties met when they were both 17 years old. ...

II. The Law

2.         The Right to marry. From the start man and woman were made for each other, to cleave to one another in that exclusive, permanent and open to life union called marriage (Gen 1, 28; 2, 18; Mt. 11, 19). Few things in human life therefore are more natural than the aspiration to marry. Leaving aside the exceptional case of celibacy for the love of God, the person who avoids marriage remains in an isolated situation which does not favor his or her development in human maturity or in God's grace. One of the basic principles of anthropology is enunciated in those words of Genesis: "it is not good for man to be alone" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 371).

            It follows that there is a natural right to marry and that, within the normal order of things, each person possesses a natural capacity for marital consent. Therefore, for a person entering on adult life to lack such a capacity implies a grave handicap that could only derive from a truly abnormal and pathological condition in his or her physical or psychological makeup.

            Certain rights, in their integrity, pertain to the person by the mere fact of belonging to the human race. They are present ab initio, are totally inviolable, and cannot be limited by any regulation of public or private authority; the right to life is obviously the first among these. Regarding other rights however, especially where the common good is affected, a minimum maturity of age or experience should be achieved before they can be properly or responsibly exercised. In their case the public authority can reasonably lay down concrete requirements for their valid exercise.

            In the work of the Pontifical Commission charged with revising the Code of Canon Law, proposals were made - and rejected - for increasing the age for valid matrimonymnl consent. The Commission gave the following reason: "cum matrimonium sit ius naturae, non videtur quomodo iure canonico hoc ius limitari possit, ratione aetatis, quando iam partes ad maturitatem sive biologicam sive psychologicam pervenerint" (Communicationes 9 (1977) 360).

3.         Presumption of minimal maturity. While canon 1083, 1 refers to physical maturity for marriage, and psychic or psychological maturity is dealt with more particularly in the chapter on consent (Communicationes, ibid.), jurisprudence tends to follow the presumption that the minimum psychic maturity for marriage is also attained at the age of biological maturity (cfr. c. Stankiewicz, d. 22 martii 1984: RRD, vol. 76, pp. 171-172), or shortly afterwards. Certainly by the time of late adolescence, the presumption becomes strong that sufficient psychic capacity exists for valid matrimonial consent.

            "Generatim in statibus modernis verificari potest phaenomenon quo reducitur, ab annis 21 ad annos 18, aetas in qua unusquisque civis "maioritatem" suam consequitur; capax exinde est plena cum responsabilitate in suis negotiis personalibus agendi, cum iure quoque in comitiis publicis suffragandi. Proinde in hodierna vita illae personae quae annum decimum octavum suae aetatis assecutae sunt ita maturae ac competentes habentur, non tantummodo ut plene respondeant de negotiis personalibus, sed etiam ut partem teneant in publicis negotiis patriae. Codex Iuris Canonici, anno 1983 promulgatus, modernam legislationem civilem in hoc puncto secutus est, statuens aetatem in qua quis maior fit in 18 annis potius quam in 21 (can. 97, § 1). His omnibus consideratis atque in luce quoque can. 1096 necnon 1083, § 1 positis, fortis oritur praesumptio illas personas quae, tum in iure civili tum in iure ecclesiastico, maioritatem adeptae sunt, sufficientem discretionem atque maturitatem ad matrimonium validum contrahendum possidere" (decis. 2 decembris 1987, coram infrascripto: RRD, vol. 79, pp. 713-714). To upset this presumption, adequate contrary proof is needed.

4.         Simple immaturity does not constitute a grave anomaly. The law therefore does not support declarations of nullity based merely on the simple immaturity of a person of marriageable age who is otherwise psychically normal. It is beyond question that an immature person can validly marry, unless his or her immaturity is so gravely anomalous (which also means so disproportionate to their age), that it must be held to reveal a pathological defect of personality. Immaturity connected with adolescence,*

            Formal education received in school is not a prerequisite for possessing the minimum discretion necessary for marriage; otherwise illiterate people, whether in primitive or modern societies, would have to be held incapable of valid marital consent. It is in the "school of life", that the discretion necessary for marriage is acquired by all normal people. Consensual incapacity under c. 1095, 2 is not justified by the hypothesis or fact of "inadequate schooling", but only by proof of a radical inadequacy of personality structure.

            In the present case the Second Instance Judges came to an Affirmative decision after weighing elements in the Acts of which they said: "All this shows an immature, unreflective and teenage approach to the seriousness of marriage". Even if this opinion were fully supported by the Acts (which we do not hold), it seems pastoral more than judicial. It is in adolescence that one acquires the right to marriage, and its valid exercise cannot be made dependent on possessing such a capacity for mature reflection as only the passage of the years can bring. That is not to say that adolescent immaturity cannot be a basis for consensual incapacity; it can, but only if the immaturity is shown to have been so completely out of proportion to what is normal at the age in question, that it must be diagnosed as having been gravely pathological.

5.         The incapacity must relate to the essential obligations of matrimony. Not only must there be a serious psychic disorder at the root of consensual incapacity, but the incapacity thus caused must relate precisely to some essential right/obligation of matrimony. However serious a psychic disorder may be, if it incapacitates a person for social but not for specifically matrimonial obligations or relations (as can happen in the case of persons suffering from Delusional-Persecutory Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Social Phobias, Kleptomania, Pyromania, etc.), it would not appear to be relevant under c. 1095. The same is true of disorders which, although no doubt likely to be a source of trouble in some particular marriage situations, do not affect any right or obligation that can legitimately be considered essential to matrimony as such: disorders such as Nicotine Dependence, or claustrophobia, or the many other phobias that some people have about the most common things (cats, dogs, dish-washing, etc.).

            In other words, not only an anomaly which is not grave, but also one which, though being grave, does not relate to some essential right/duty of matrimony, is inadequate to establish consensual incapacity.

6.         No fumus boni iuris without some indication of a grave anomaly, related to an essential obligation. This would suggest a number of ancillary but important considerations, especially in view of the singular frequency with which pleas of consensual incapacity are presented before our Tribunals nowadays.

            Regarding the libellus by which a person seeks to introduce such a plea, the facts it alleges must in some way suggest the possible presence of a grave psychic anomaly in one or both parties, at the moment of the wedding. Furthermore, the anomaly thus intimated must bear some relation, in its possible incapacitating effect, to some particular marital obligation which can reasonably be considered essential.

            A libellus that simply speaks of a vague "immaturity" as the cause of incapacity, that gives no indication pointing to the possible presence of some grave anomaly at the time of consent, that fails to specify any essential right or duty of marriage in relation to which the person might have been consensually incapable, can clearly be rejected. The claims or allegations contained in a libellus must not only be definite enough to permit investigation, with a minimum possibility that they may be judicially established, but must in particular be juridically apt to sustain the concrete plea made (cf. cc. 1502-1505).

7.         Regarding the judgment deciding the case, it also seems requisite that every declaration of nullity on the grounds of consensual incapacity should not only set forth the arguments or proofs by which the Court reached the moral certainty that the person in question suffered from a grave psychic anomaly at the moment of consent, but also indicate the obligation of marriage for which this anomaly rendered him or her incompetent, justifying with authoritative arguments and references not only its character as a peculiarly matrimonial obligation, but also why it is in fact essential to marriage.

8.         Psychological insight. If a marriage is to be successful, it is highly desirable that each of the parties understands the peculiar personality and and concrete way of being of the other. It is certainly an obligation of the married state to strive for this psychological understanding and to respect the legitimate characteristics of one's partner. This is one of the many duties of married life whose observance contributes to the "bonum esse" of marriage. However, it does not seem that one can posit any constitutional right/duty to such mutual psychological understanding, as necessary to the actual "esse" of marriage itself. Such a right/duty remains in the sphere of what is morally desirable and pastorally recommendable; but it resists efforts to give it juridic status which would incorporate it into the area of the law.

            Reciprocal psychological insight is an aptitude or ability that is ideally developed throughout married life, although this clearly depends on the goodwill and efforts of the parties. It is certainly true that a person at the time of consent may be imperfectly aware that understanding of his or her partner is called for in marriage. Yet it seems highly unlikely that such lack of awareness should reach a gravely pathological level. The question of "mutual psychological insight" would therefore seem to have very little relevance in cases being heard under c. 1095, 2. If a true incapacity for such insight could be proved, then perhaps c. 1095, 3 might be invoked. In the end, nevertheless, any plea of consensual incapacity on the grounds of a "lack of mutual psychological insight" would seem bound to fail, under both no. 2 and no. 3 of the canon; the reason being simply that such a quality or capacity cannot be legitimately placed among the juridical and constitutional essential obligations of marriage, and it is in relation to these alone that incapacity under the canon can derive.

9.         "Relative lack of discretion". People who are apparently ill-suited often enough marry; and such marriages not infrequently work out well. If they fail, it is easy for others to conclude: "Of course they were not suited to one another. What is amazing is that they did not see it". Our considerations above suggest that even if the conclusion were justified, it points to something which has no bearing on the question of due discretion for marriage under c. 1095, 2. If psychologists themselves have great difficulty in saying what exactly constitutes "compatibility" or "incompatibility" (are characters that are similar always compatible, and those that are dissimilar, always incompatible?), it seems that Judges have little basis on which to evaluate compatibility, and less still to turn it into a juridic requisite for valid marital consent. The notion of "compatible" or "incompatible" personalities must always remain dubious. Some maintain that differences make for interest and good contrast, and would agree with Jane Austen that spouses being unlike actually furthers happiness: "it is rather a favourable circumstance. I am perfectly persuaded that the tempers had better be unlike... Some opposition here is friendly to matrimonial happiness" (Mansfield Park, Vol. III, Ch. 4). "Amor omnia vincit": even 'incompatibility'.

            In the case before us, the affirmative decision handed down by the second Court is formally based on c. 1095, 2º: the Petitioner's lack of due discretion for marriage. According to the Judges, the aspect of marriage which she failed to understand was her incapacity to relate to a particular husband, the Respondent, although later on, with greater maturity, she found that she could relate to a different type of person. "Relative incapacity", or more precisely the failure to foresee and recognize "relative incapacity", is the basis for the Judges' decision. The "relative lack of discretion", which this seems rather confusedly to postulate, is as unacceptable as a theory as is "relative incapacity of assuming" (cf. decision of July 22, 1991 coram the under-signed).

10.       A failure to ponder sufficiently the possible ups and downs of married life, or to make a perceptive psychological judgment of one's partner's (or one's own) character, offers no proof of consensual incapacity. Such a lack of reflection, perception or anticipation, is quite frequent in people's approach to marriage. It may be unwise, but scarcely falls outside the broad limits of normality. In itself it offers no symptom of any grave psychic anomaly, and fails utterly to fit into the category of an essential obligation of marriage.

            The quality of married life depends above all on the good or bad will of the parties; in itself, it cannot be adduced as proof of anything further. The poor quality of married life is no demonstration of consensual incapacity, which must be otherwise proved. If this can be done, then the deficiencies of conjugal life may serve to corroborate the alleged incapacity.

11.       Therefore the instruction of the case must concentrate on the moment of consent. Nothing is proved in its regard by the fact that there were difficulties, even grave difficulties, later in married life; there are in almost every marriage. There is no point in seeking out and highlighting these, unless they can serve to establish a clear link between them and an original and constitutional incapacity. Questions such as "Was there anything in either party which would have made him/her difficult to live with?" (cf. the present case: Acts, 36/5) are of dubious value for the the proper juridic instruction and decision of the issue in pleading.

12.       Recourse to a "peritia" or Expert opinion is in order when the Judges cannot determine the issue on the basis of the evidence gathered in the Acts, but further need a technical-professional opinion about some question or aspect that lies beyond their competence. To decide that a person falls within the broad limits of psychic normality or characterial maturity is not beyond judicial competence. Only if the instruction of the case tends to establish facts which positively suggest some serious departure from normality, thus hypothesizing the possible presence of a pathological or diseased personality, is the opinion of a psychiatric or psychological Expert called for.

            Therefore, neither law nor doctrine justify the practice of habitually seeking expert opinion, whenever consensual incapacity is advanced as grounds of nullity. Any such practice can facilitate an improper application of the law. In his 1987 Address to the Rota, the Pope laid it down that no one can be judged consensually incapable in virtue of "slight pathologies which do not substantially undermine human freedom". Therefore, he continued, "an argument for real incapacity can be entertained only in the presence of a serious form of anomaly which, however one chooses to define it, must substantially undermine the capacity of understanding and/or of willing of the contracting party (AAS, vol. 79 (1987), 1457). This of course fits in fully with the terms of canon 1680 which are quite explicit: it is in cases of defect of consent "propter mentis morbum", that expert services are normally called for. The regular use of expert opinions, in cases where there are no signs of any serious disease of illness ["morbus"] of the personality, can indicate or facilitate an abandonment of professional responsibility on the part of ecclesiastical Judges. This can give rise to abusive declarations of incompetence in persons who are fundamentally normal, to exercise a primary human and ecclesial right.

            The Pope's Address to the Rota in 1988 gave further confirmation of this. In a christian anthropological understanding, he insisted, the psychic life of a normal person is often "marked by slight or moderate psychopathologies which do not substantially prejudice one's freedom". Hence derives an important conclusion: "Therefore, while for the psychologist or the psychiatrist every form of psychopathology can seem contrary to normality, for the canonist, who draws his inspiration from the aforementioned integral understanding of the person [offered by christian anthropology], the concept of normality, i.e. of the normal human condition in this world, also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty..." (AAS, vol. 80 (1988), 1181).

III. The Argument

13.       The two disconforming decisions in this case have debated the issue in terms of the Petitioner's immaturity. Our decision must hinge on: A) whether any gravely anomalous immaturity is proved to have existed at the time of the wedding (since we have seen in our Law considerations that normal, or slightly below normal, immaturity, does not render a person consensually incapable); B) whether, if in fact there is evidence of such a grave anomaly, the serious lack of discretion of jugdment shown or caused by it related to matrimonial obligations which are essential, for immaturity (even if grave) in regard to non-essential obligations does not cause consensual incapacity.

            A) The evidence suggests that we are dealing here with two young, rather dull, but fundamentally normal people. Both came from large, happy families, a background that favours normal development in maturity and responsibility. She was the fourth of nine; he, the fourth of eight.

            The Petitioner herself insists that hers was a happy family (4/5). Asked, "Did your parents give you a good example as to how a relationship should be lived?", she replies: "They were happy together... I saw nothing that would be against a good relationship. They had their normal arguments when we were young, like any couple would have" (19/15).

            The Respondent says, "She had a good family upbringing and there were no problems there that I could see. Mary was a pretty, friendly, bubbly, outgoing girl... She had a very good gentle temperament and [was] a hard worker. She got on well with everyone at work and had many friends both male and female" (III, 8/2).

            There are no indications whatever of any negative background or history before marriage. Asked in third instance, "Were there any particular events or circumstances as you were growing up and/or before the wedding which affected you in a negative way?", she replies: "None whatsoever when I was growing up" (III, 3/2).

            The Petitioner left school at 13 to take a job, working constantly with the same firm until marriage (4/5). She thinks that at work she would have been "regarded as a steady, reliable worker.... as a sensible person" (19/6-7). Asked if there was anything in her behaviour to suggest that "you were more than normally immature", she replies: "No, there is nothing I can think of. I just thought I was the same as everybody else" (19/10).

            Alice D., his mother, says, "They were young but I thought it would be okay" (27/3), while her father, Edward B,, says he had "no reason to fear that the marriage would not be happy" (31/3). The Respondent's mother, saying that they were both "ordinary enough young people" (28/5), adds, "The four of us (parents) agreed that they should get married but there was no pressure put on them... They seemed in love and that was that" (28/9-10). These two witnesses agree that there was no advice from either family against the marriage (28/8-10; 32/9-10).

            Her father says, "She was mature" [in 1974] (32/5). While John B,, her older brother, says, "I thought they were a bit young; a bit immature" (35/2), his assessment of the personalities of the parties in 1974 is: "I thought they were okay" (36/5). Pauline W., the Respondent's sister, does state: "They were too young... They were too immature to get married" (39). She feels that their problem was, "Immaturity. They were not prepared to give up so much of their freedom" (40). It must be remembered however that this witness was only 15 at time of wedding.

            In third instance, the Respondent, though feeling that they married "too young", states, "Mary, to me, at the time was emotionally and psychologically stable, but the day to day living was a problem for both of us" (III, 10/8b).

            Neither had doubts regarding the marriage, nor was there any advice or pressure for or against it (5/8b; cf. 8/24c). The Respondent clarifies that the marriage had in fact been arranged earlier, and the Petitioner "called it off about a month before the wedding was due"; but after a separation of about six months they started again (11/3).

            Two other points should not be lost sight of. First, when they married, both had been working for some years and were therefore in a position to start and maintain a family. Second, they were engaged and had decided to get married before she became pregnant, as the Petitioner herself declares (5/6; 8/24d).

            Her pregnancy. Having described their reconciliation after the first arrangements for marriage had been called off, the Respondent continues: "then we went on a holiday together, and she became pregnant. Her pregnancy was the second reason for getting married. The first was that we thought we wanted to" (11/3). The pregnancy would thus seem to have acted mainly as a factor bringing forward the date of a marriage already agreed on.

            Her comment, "as I was pregnant by him I thought it [to get married] was the right thing to do" (III, 3/2), indicates a decision taken with reflection and a sense of responsibility. She adds: "I had no option but to marry. Abortion or adoption never entered my head, I wouldn't even dream of it. I was happy to get married for the child's sake and I felt at peace and felt I was doing the right thing for the child" (III, 4/3). The suggestion that she did not enjoy freedom in deciding to marry ("I had no option..."), is not supported by her subsequent words ("I was happy to get married... I felt at peace").

            One can certainly hold that to get pregnant before marriage shows a lack of moral principle and responsibility. It does not follow that the subsequent decision to marry because of the pregnancy, is proof of irresponsibility or a sign of immaturity. The Petitioner herself however, in statements which once again seem somewhat inconsistent, tends to argue just this. "I was very immature and I thought I was doing the right thing by getting married for the baby's sake. I consented to marry John, but it wasn't a responsible consent as I was marrying to get security and a father for the child I was expecting" (III, 4-5). The motive she gives may have been prudent or not, but we cannot agree that it proves immaturity or irresponsibility. When the Respondent is asked, "Do you feel she gave a mature and responsible consent to marry?", he replies: "At the time "yes", but I feel that we both thought of the pregnancy more than the marriage and its responsibilities" (III, 9/4). In first instance, as we have noted, he put their love as the more important motive (11/3). He confirms that there was discussion between both parties about the "right thing to do" (*).

            Normal wedding and beginning of married life

            In first instance she too had testified that the motive for the engagement was love on both sides (5/6-7), and that neither had hesitations about the marriage (5/8b). In the present instance she affirms: "I thought I loved him when I married him" (III, 3/2); "on the wedding day I intended to be John's wife and to give him his marital rights" (III, 5/4). The Respondent confirms this (III, 9/4 ad 2).

            She declares, "I remember I was happy enough at the time" (9/25). In third instance, the Respondent says, "she seemed to be quite happy to be getting married" (III, 8/3), while she herself asserts that the wedding day "was a normal, happy occasion" (ib., 5/5).

            In first instance she said that "the marriage [was] reasonably happy", "for about a year and a half" (6/12b). In third instance, the Respondent suggests that it was "after a few months" that "the love we thought we had for each other seemed to die" (III, 10/8c). The Acts do not really provide a clear account of the decline in their feelings for one another, especially as both testify that there was a reconciliation between them after three years, even though it lasted only a brief period (8/21; III, 11/9d).

            To the Judges of first instance the evidence suggests that "while Mary was somewhat below par, she seemed to have had at least a minimally adequate degree of discretion" (52). This is also our reading; we find nothing in the evidence to substantiate the plea of a grave lack of discretion.

            B) Inexplicably, neither Sentence deals with the question of the concrete essential obligations of marriage to which her alleged lack of discretion would have related.

            When questioned about the understanding she had of the basic commitment of marriage, the Petitioner gives replies that are not thoroughly coherent. Asked, "Did both of you understand and accept that marriage is a commitment for life, involving fidelity and the possibility of children?", she answers: "No. I didn't understand that marriage is for life, a commitment for life. Not at the time. I did understand that it involved being faithful to each other, and also that children would be part of marriage" (6/10). However, in later supplementary evidence in the same instance, she states, "I did know that when I was getting married it would be for life at the time" (20/17); and that she wanted it to be for life (20/18). Asked to clarify this in third instance, she says: "I believed in fidelity and at the time I suppose I knew it was "forever"... I didn't consciously exclude indissolubility" (III, 4-5). While this is not altogether satisfactory, she certainly seems to admit having possessed an adequate natural understanding of the essential elements of marriage.

            In the end, she appears to reduce her alleged lack of discretion to a failure to foresee the difficulties she might run into, above all with the concrete person she had chosen as spouse. "I don't think I had a reasonable understanding of what I was taking on, at the time of wedding. I never really thought about it, about what it would be like afterwards. Though I remember I was happy enough at the time" (9/25). Asked, "Do you think that you were able for married life?", she replies: "Yes. It was what I wanted at the time. If I had had a reasonable partner I think I would have been able to make an effort at it" (9/27).

            In coming to their decision about the Petitioner's grave lack of discretion, the Judges of second instance were impressed by fact that the parties "could not see how ill-suited they were for permanent living together" (II, 16). As we have noted in our "In Iure" section, a failure to judge one's partner's (or one's own) character wisely and perceptively, or to foresee what married life might "be like afterwards", in no way shows or constitutes the incapacitating defect of discretion covered by c. 1095, 2º. We note too that the Petitioner, in the last words of hers just cited, seems to attribute the failure of her marriage to the inadequacy of character of the Respondent, rather than to her own lack of discretion.

Expert opinion

            Psychologist Harrison diagnoses no grave disorder, simply offering some tentative conclusions. Tests indicate "present intellectual functioning at the level of dull normal ability... "it appears from Mary's way of relating at interview and her test results that at the time of her marriage she would have been very much less mature than a person of average or above average intelligence at the age of nineteen" (43-44). Besides being inconclusive and not altogether logical ("much less mature than a person of above average intelligence"...?), these opinions find no support in the evidence given; not one witness speaks of her as being very immature at the time of the marriage.

            The Expert continues: "It is possible that she would not have been able to understand what marriage involved" (44). The burden of her evidence, as we saw above, is that she did understand what it essentially involved. The Expert again suggests the possibility that she would have seen "nothing beyond the immediate crisis of pregnancy, having little capacity to anticipate and plan for the future" (I, 44). We agree that a pregnancy could provoke such a reaction; but in the present case, the evidence is that the pregnancy turned her mind very deliberately to marriage: "I was happy to get married for the child's sake and I felt at peace and felt I was doing the right thing for the child" (III, 4/3); "I was marrying to get security and a father for the child I was expecting" (III, 4-5).

            The second instance Judges find an "invalidating lack of discretion" in her failure to understand that she was suffering from an incapacity "to relate". They quote a statement of the Respondent, "I don't think she understood what she was taking on in marriage to me", and comment: "This is an essential point. She did not understand that she could not really relate to John; later on when she was more mature and had a person with a different character she found she could relate to him" (II, 16). As we pointed out in Law, the rather confused theory of "relative lack of discretion" underlying this is unacceptable.

            When the Judges say that she "could not really relate", such incapacity is not proved. Nothing gravely anomalous appears in the Petitioner's psychic constitution. Perhaps she in fact did not understand or anticipate that she would find it difficult to relate to the Respondent; but while that may show a lack of prudence about the particular marriage being entered, or a simple miscalculation about the generosity of the spouses' dispositions, it cannot be raised to the category of a grave lack of discretion about the essential rights or duties of matrimony.

            This appears to be a marriage that went wrong over little things, and one which could have been rightened with more effort from the parties, and perhaps more helpful advice from outside. Asked about the cause of the breakdown, she replies: "I'd say money, really"; in matters of no great importance (6/12c; cf. 21/28). He admits that his irresponsibility with money caused difficulties (III, 10/8). There were no problems with drink, etc. (6); nor on the sexual level (7/14; cf. 24/61-64). His mother speaks about his working overtime (27), and feels that money was not the problem (29/14).

            In third instance, the Petitioner says they had "the usual difficulties of most normal couples", and attributes the breakdown to a lack of communication: "we just drifted apart after the baby was nine months old" (III, 5/7).

            "Why are you seeking an annulment?" - "Because I don't think there is any chance of John and me ever getting together again" (8/21). This does not suggest any sense of a marriage vitiated ab initio.

            She implies that there was an total lack of effort on either side to make it work: "Did both of you really try to make the marriage work?" - "No. Neither of us did" (7/17). Yet he testifies: "Mary always fulfilled her conjugal duties in the marriage and there were no problems [in that respect]" (III, 10/7). Her sister, Pauline, asked: "What efforts did the parties make to create a good marriage?", replies, "They did try but the whole situation was beyond them" (41).

            In the opinion of the First Judges: "the evidence... strongly suggests that both parties put no real effort into their marriage and that when difficulties arose they chose to go their separate ways, each ignoring the other and the marriage itself. The evidence does not show that this ignoring of their responsibilities was something outside their control or that they did not see the need to do something positive about the problems. Rather it suggests that two somewhat flawed people chose not to make a go of the relationship" (52).

            In their Decree of Feb. 4, 1986 rejecting the Petitioner's original libellus, the Dublin Judges summarised their reasons: "the parties came from good stable backgrounds; they were responsible in their work and had a good grasp about the responsibilities of life. While there are indications that they were immature at the time of this marriage, it is also quite clear that they knew what marriage entailed" (56). It seems to us that all the subsequent investigation of the case has borne this out, showing that the libellus was in fact rightly rejected, as lacking a reasonable "fumus boni iuris".

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

            "IN THE NEGATIVE"

            that is, the nullity of the marriage has not been proved, in the case before the Court, on the grounds proposed"


            Given in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Nov. 25, 1993.

            Cormac BURKE, Ponens

            Thomas G. DORAN

            Kenneth E. BOCCAFOLA