Sentence of April 6, 1995 (Austin) (c. 1095,2)

I. The Facts

1.         John and Florence kept company for three years. When she became pregnant they contracted civil marriage in May 1942, in order to legitimize the child; some eighteen months later they convalidate the marriage before a priest. John was then twenty two years old, while Florence was in her twenty first year. Their conjugal life lasted for forty four years; five children were born. Serious difficulties having arisen over financial matters connected with an inheritance received by Florence, they separated in 1987. Two years later John petitioned the Tribunal of Austin to have the marriage declared null. The doubt was concorded on the grounds of grave lack of discretion in both parties. A Negative decision, given in 1989, was reversed the following year by the second instance Court of San Antonio.

            The case came to our Apostolic Tribunal where free legal representation was granted to the Petitioner. Communication with the Respondent through the Tribunal proved difficult... Further interrogations having gradually been performed, the Petitioner renounced the cause in June 1993. The Respondent however insisted that it be pursued to a definitive sentence.

II. The Law

2.         Grave force or fear can render marriage invalid (c. 1103), as can lack of internal freedom (now dealt with by jurisprudence under c. 1095, 2° : i.e. grave lack of discretion of judgment). In both cases, the internal deliberation is affected; but in quite different ways. This is why it can be misleading to draw parallels between them. It must be remembered that in "metus" there is real consent (if the party did not give genuine consent, the case would be one of simulation rather than of fear); positive law however, in full accord with natural law, nullifies it because of the injustice involved (cf. c. De Lanversin, d. 7 novembris 1990, R.R. Dec. vol. 82, p. 776, n. 7). Canon 1095 however deals with cases where consent was never real.

            In force and fear, there is an external threat which consciously influences a person's interior deliberation: to the extent that he does consent, however reluctantly, to an unwanted marriage. In lack of discretion, there is an internal factor, arising from some psychic anomaly, that makes a person incapable - unconsciously - of consenting to a marriage that he or she in fact wanted. The grounds for the nullity in the former case is the external force which causes the person to consent; in the latter it is the psychic anomaly which prevents the person from validly consenting.

            These differences seem to be obscured in a passage (from Annulments, by L. Wrenn) that the appeal court in the present case quotes and follows in its sentence: "The adjacent grounds of lack of due discretion picks up exactly where force and fear leaves off. Where, in other words, the fear is present to such a degree that it disturbs the subject's faculties and disables him from making a sound judgment and a free choice, then even though the fear is intrinsic, the marriage is nevertheless invalid" (Acts, p. 167). Fear might be one of the many factors provoking a psychic disturbance sufficient to nullify consent; but it is to the psychic anomaly itself and not to its cause (whether fear or some other factor) that nullity is to be attributed. It may therefore be opportune here to develop some reflections on the connection between internal freedom and consensual capacity.

3.         A 1931 sentence states succinctly: "For a human act, i.e. one proceeding from deliberate will, it is required that the person be master of the act through his reason and will. He would not be master, if he had lost his immunity from intrinsic determination" (c. Massimi, July 10, 1931). Man loses his internal freedom therefore when his action is determined.

            It is not in accord with rational or christian psychology to claim that a person is free only if no influence affects his or her choice. The choice that proceeds from human deliberation is necessarily influenced by motives. Without a motivation, no one would make a human choice. Some motivations can have their origin in a morbid condition; but even then, the choice is not to be considered null unless it was in fact determined by the morbidity, and the person could not act otherwise; in other words, he was in such a situation that he had lost his internal freedom. Massimi puts this clearly in another sentence of the same year: "Nor is it enough, in order to exclude freedom, to show that a person was suffering from some ailment of the mind, but it must be proved that, given the gravity of the illness, consent could not be given";... [rejecting the expert opinion, "his consent was not sufficiently free", he comments:] "it must be noted that the final conclusion that matrimonial consent was impeded because of a lack of freedom is not properly drawn from the premiss of greatly reduced freedom in the respondent, unless one admits, as the expert seems to do, that marital consent cannot be given except with perfect health of mind and will - which can in no way be accepted, as we have explained above in our In Iure considerations" (c. Massimi, Nov 20, 1931).

4.         It follows therefore that one cannot speak of an invalidating loss of internal freedom unless the factors influencing the will actually determine it; and this cannot happen without the presence of some abnormal psychic deficiency. This has been constantly stated by rotal jurisprudence. "In order to enter marriage validly it is not enough that the person knows what matrimony is; he must further determine himself to this end, and then voluntarily give his consent. Therefore (and we abstract here from external coercion, which does not enter the case) one must exclude all internal predetermination to which the person because of his abnormal condition cannot offer resistance". A sentence c. Heard defines the nature of an invalidating lack of internal freedom clearly: "in order to have a human act it is necessary that the person be master of his action through the mind and the will. That person is not master of his action who... because of a lack of interior freedom is necessarily determined to an act... As regards the will, it is required for valid marriage that it should not be determined through some intrinsic defect". "In obsessive ideas, there is not always that impelling force which totally takes freedom away. Therefore, in order to judge whether uncontrollable impulses took all freedom away, the following rule is given...". Similarly in a sentence c. Ewers of May 13, 1972 one reads: [in obsessive ideas] "there is not always that uncontrollable impulse which totally takes freedom away".

5.         A Paris Sentence of Nov. 5, 1992, coram the undersigned Ponens, considered certain aspects of this question at some length; dwelling particularly on the difficulty that arises once one tries to measure degrees of internal freedom. Acknowledging that we speak of degrees of knowledge and regularly seek to measure them, the sentence continued: "Perhaps one can speak of degrees of will, although they tend to escape measurement. But it is not clear that one can speak of degrees of internal freedom. A person is either free interiorly or else he is not. Properly speaking it is never correct to say that a person is "half-free" or "partly" free. People of course do not always express themselves properly, as when someone remarks, "I was free - up to a point". By this however he usually means, "I choose something freely, although I was not totally happy in my choice. I had motives for doing what I did, but also motives against. In the end, I followed the former". It is the "voluntarium secundum quid" of the scholastics (cf. Summa Th., I-II, q. 6, art. 6), which of course is still a voluntary and free act. A conflict of motives cannot be confused with a lack of freedom; it is rather a sign of its existence. Here we need to analyze more particularly how a person makes his way from indifference to choice, from neutrality to commitment... If one holds that freedom means unmotivated decisions, one easily comes to regard the presence of motives as "proof" of some form of internal coercion which, just as external coercion (cf. c. 1103), would involve a violation of human dignity and freedom. This is not sound psychology. Gaudium et Spes teaches very clearly: "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint" (no. 17)..." (vol. 84, pp. 523-524).

            "Therefore" - continues the sentence - "one can question the principle suggested in a decision coram Anné of March 29, 1966: "Matrimonial consent is nullified from within not only if freedom is altogether lacking, but also if it undergoes grave internal impairment" (RRD: vol. 58, p. 187). For this criterion - reduced internal freedom can nullify - to be judicially useful, one would have to assign some minimum level of will (as c. 1096 does for intellectual knowledge), below which consent is certainly invalid, and above which there is a presumption of validity. Neither juridically nor psychologically can one see any scientific basis on which such a level could be established and measured. Mainstream rotal jurisprudence has rather held that, to cause an invalidating defect of consent, the pathological lesion of the will, coming from interior impulses, must be so grave that the natural capacity of self-determination, in which lies the essence of freedom, has been lost. In other words, in the case in question, the will is no longer operative as a human faculty, and the person's apparent choices - e.g. matrimonial consent - are not free personal choices at all; they are determined from within by a pathological condition affecting the will" (ib. p. 526).

6.         The sentence therefore took issue with the principle suggested by Anné, on the grounds that one cannot measure degrees of freedom as one can seek to measure those of intelligence. Jurisprudence has generally avoided speaking of "adequate" or "inadequate" freedom. For the judgment of the validity of acts, it has rather rested on the distinction between free will and determined will. Free will is free, even if not perfectly so. Determined will is not free will at all.

            The sentence also quoted recent jurisprudence in support of these views: "If, because of some illness affecting the area of the will, a person in apparent enjoyment of due discretion of judgment, is deprived of the capacity of freely determining himself to contract matrimony, his consent is to be held invalid" (c. Davino, Apr. 28, 1977: vol. 69, p. 233). "Freedom after all does not exclude even grave impulses, but simply requires that these urges should not be such that they necessarily determine the will" (c. Ewers, Jan. 19, 1980: vol. 72, p. 49). "So that one can speak of a defect of internal freedom, the influence swaying the will towards a particular choice must be irresistible; in other words, it is necessary that the higher faculties be unable to master this influence" (c. Agustoni, Dec. 4, 1984: vol. 76, p. 582). "When we speak about freedom we necessarily imply a certain lack of determination and at the same time a capacity to determine oneself. But this does not exclude the presence of urges, even of a grave nature, which make deliberation more or less difficult, but do not destroy freedom. It is enough that the impulses should not be so powerful as to determine the will (c. Pompedda, March 23, 1987: vol. 79, p. 135).

7.         The aforementioned sentence of Nov. 5, 1992 was first published in Il Diritto Ecclesiastico (1993-2, pp. 118-131) which accompanied it with a very brief critical note. The note summed up the main «In Iure» conclusion - "Perché esista vera incapacità occorre che il soggetto sia privo di libertà, non che questa sia soltanto diminuita" - and, mentioning several of the rotal sentences which the 1989 official edition of the Code lists as "Fontes" of c. 1095, asserted, "Tutte queste sentenze si esprimono in senso contrario" (p. 119).

            Nothing is quoted from the sentences in support of this assertion; nor is the claim borne out by a careful perusal of the sentences themselves. They are: c. Jullien of July 30, 1932, c. Wynen of Feb. 25, 1941, c. Canestri of July 16, 1943, c. de Jorio of Dec. 19, 1961, c. Mattioli of April 4, 1966, and c. Pinto of July 8, 1974; and their main points can be usefully recalled here.

8.         The first of these sentences are noteworthy in having given clarity and consistency to the basic norms regarding consensual incapacity. The 1932 decision c. Jullien sets forth the principle: "valid consent requires both advertence, that is, sufficient discretion... and deliberate will". That c. Wynen of 1941 adds that the act of consent cannot be "merely conceptual" but "also estimative", and the required discretion of judgment must be "proportionate to marriage" (vol. 33, p. 151); while that c. Canestri of 1943 deals mainly with a "lack of the estimative faculty" (vol. 35, pp. 598-600). None of these however consider the question of "diminished" will or freedom. Canestri simply presents the will as a "blind faculty", and enuntiates the traditional philosophical position according to which both mind and will, as spiritual faculties, "cannot be subject to any illness; they can only be impeded or disturbed in their activity, ab extrinseco, by the influence of other closely connected powers [of the spirit]".

9.         The De Jorio case of Dec. 19, 1961 does seem more pertinent to the question of "lack of internal freedom". In contrast with the previous three decisions which were negative, this is an affirmative, based on clear evidence of grave pre-marital "phrenastenia" or possibly schizophrenia. De Jorio here centers his considerations more on the will than on the mind, for he wishes to explain how a person can be incapable of marital consent not because of a defect of the mind (for their reasoning is intact), but because of a deficiency of the will. "We know that the mind is the root of the will, and that each is a spiritual power, existing in the soul as is their subject, and therefore in this respect are not distinguished. However mind and will are not only diverse powers, but also different in kind (St. Thomae, De veritate, q. 32, art. 10). Therefore the will can fail or be notably lessened without any evident damage of the mind...". With regard to the phrase "notabiliter minui", it should be noted that the decision in the case is based not on a simple lessening, but on the total absence or loss of any effective free will. To illustrate the ultimate basis for the decision, the Ponens quotes the psychologist Moglie: "non va dimenticato che il decadimento della volontà e dell'affettività precede quello dell'intelligenza... e che volontà e affettività agiscono avendo perduta ogni connessione con il pensiero" (615). When will is totally dissociated from thought, there can be no truly human act, for the will in its human reality has been reduced to nothing. This becomes evident from De Jorio's concluding words: "we feel it should be pointed out that in order to give valid consent, intellective knowledge is not sufficient, but a capacity is also required of putting it properly and freely into practice. Now the respondent totally lacked this capacity, as is shown by the overall acts". Here there is a clear advance in thinking; one notices also how the way for c. 1095, 3° is gradually being paved.

10.       These sentences in no way enter upon the particular questions considered in the decision of Nov. 5, 1992: whether one can measure degrees of freedom, or whether interior motivation such as fear can cause consensual incapacity; much less do they contradict the opinions on these matters proposed in the 1992 decision.

11.       The remaining two sentences listed - c. Mattioli, Apr. 4, 1966 and c. Pinto, July 8, 1974 - , are more relevant, since they consider, though briefly, the effect of internal impulses. The Mattioli sentence speaks precisely of "irresistible impulses by which the act is invalidated", for they are endowed with such force that it "necessarily suppresses knowledge, the awareness and the freedom of the acts". And in the Pinto sentence, under the title "De defectu consensus liberi et consulti", several considerations are made which the undersigned Ponens fully subscribes to, and which seem to strengthen and not to weaken the main point made in the 1992 sentence. Valid marital consent, says Pinto, does not require a "perfect choice", in which everything involved in marriage is fully pondered and the will is exempt from all influence: "it is enough that freedom substantially remains, in the sense that the will can reasonably and truly choose to contract or not, and to do so in this or that way". The decision handed down in this case was affirmative "ob defectum consensus liberi et consulti, in viro"; according to the argument in facto, while the petitioner's mind seemed quite aware of the peculiarities of the proposed [virginal] marriage, his will was not free but was determined by an unconscious obsession: "Although he seemed to deliberate, he was in fact necessarily driven, obsessively although unconsciously, to contract that marriage".

12.       The Pinto decision was subsequently confirmed by another rotal sentence, c. Palazzini of Jan. 11, 1978, which distinguishes even more clearly between a defect of the mind and a defect of the will. "Consent can be annulled by a defect both of the mind and of the free will; such as when the mind is not able to perceive what pertains to the substance of marriage, or the will cannot choose it with deliberation". In the «In Facto», part, the Ponens insists: "In this case, rather than to a defect of the intellect, one should advert to the unfree act of the will". Having quoted the opinion of the psychiatric expert: "la sua decisione [actoris] di sposare... non era libera, cioè non scaturiva da un atto consulto della volontà... ma era l'inevitabile conseguenza di meccanismi psicologici imperativi, che gli toglievano la base stessa della libertà dell'assenso", the Sentence adheres fully to this opinion: "the rotal expert rightly does not hesitate to categorically assert that the consent of the petitioner was totally lacking in interior freedom".

13.       If we thought inexact the principle suggested in c. Anné of March 29, 1966 (see above. no. 5), that to be found in a recent rotal sentence seems to be less acceptable still: "it is required that the will be immune from all limitations, not only extrinsic but even intrinsic". This is to postulate a freedom such as only God possesses; for only the divine will is free from all limitations. Every exercise of human will undergoes many difficulties and limitations; and yet, unless these provoke or correspond to a pathological situation in which a decision must be judged to have been determined - by some ultimate factor or force other than self - , it remains self-determined, which is the essential condition of freedom (cf decis. c. Pompedda, March 23, 1987, loc. cit. supra). Consent "must not only be free from external coercion, but also from natural necessity or determination to a single choice".

14.       There is therefore an abundance of both past and contemporary jurisprudence which holds that "incapacity must be distinguished from the mere lessening of internal freedom", and that consent is not invalidated by internal factors on acount of which the exercise of interior freedom is made more or less difficult, but freedom is not in itself taken away (c. Fiore, May 30, 1987: vol. 79, p. 340; cf. (along with the many quoted above) c. Lanversin, July 8, 1987: vol. 79, p. 484; c. Ewers, Jan. 19, 1980: vol. 72, p. 49; c. Pompedda, Nov. 14, 1991: vol. 83, p. 730; Oct. 27, 1992, vol. 84, p. 504. n. 5, etc).

15.       It can be further remarked that the critical note referred to above (no. *) not only suggests that the "Fontes" which it lists contradict the thesis outlined in the sentence of Nov. 5, 1992 (a suggestion that, as we have seen, seems in no way accurate), but immediately adds: "ma il Ponente è ben cosciente di andare decisamente contro corrente su questo punto (cfr. [Sent.] sub n. 15)". The Ponens was certainly conscious of going against a certain current that has at times proposed a different view; but as appears from all outlined hitherto, it is this view which would appear to be decidedly in the minority. The reference to no. 15 of the sentence is mystifying.

16.       In conclusion, one must take proper account of the differences which christian psychology draws between the choice that is motivated, the choice that is influenced, and the choice that is determined. In the Paris sentence of 1992 the following passages were quoted from a well-known work by R. Zavalloni: "Willing is not something that begins in itself; freedom does not imply the absence of presuppositions: every decision or voluntary choice presupposes in fact the existence of motives. Such motives properly speaking do not determine human conduct, they simply condition it" (La libertà personale: ed. 1973, p. 257). The author goes on to apply this also to the unconscious aspect of decisions: "All of these factors, such as suggestions, unconscious needs, heredity and environment, including the physiological constitution and the pathological condition of a person, can be regarded as the components of his 'motivation' in the broad sense of the word; and to the extent that they influence man's activity, without attaining the level of consciousness, they constitute what can be termed the 'conditionism' or the limitations of human freedom" (ib.).

            The Pinto decision of July 8, 1974 (invoked by the Diritto Ecclesiastico as clearly opposing the thesis of the Paris sentence) approvingly quotes another passage from the same work by Zavalloni: "unconscious motivation exists and influences our conscious activity in a significant way; there is however no proof that it eliminates totally the freedom of our voluntary decisions" (vol. 66, p. 501). This remains the main conclusion: even unconscious motivations influence - but do not necessarily eliminate - our freedom, unless they actually determine it. It is this determination which has to be proved, in order to sustain a plea of invalid consent due to lack of internal freedom.

III. The Argument

17.       The marriage whose validity we have to judge today was celebrated in church in 1943, and lasted more than forty four years. It was not a question of a purely external common life since, apart from the first two years when John was doing military service, the parties really lived together without interruption, except for three days in the first ten years, when Florence left the house in a fit of anger, to return almost immediately at the request of her father and also of her husband. Five children were born of the union, the last two, who were twins, fourteen years after the first.

18.       Acceptance of the petition. Certainly the woman's pregnancy was decisive in bringing about the civil marriage. This was not true however regarding the ecclesiastical ceremony. Hence, so many years of life together having elapsed, there was strong reason to doubt the basis of any petition for declaring the marriage null. In fact if we examine the petition of April 5, 1989, it evidently lacks the requisite laid down by c. 1504, § 2. For there is no indication whatever, not even expressed in vague words, of the grounds on which the petitin of nullity would be based. The libellus therefore should have been rejected in accordance with the norm of c. 1505, § 3. It is not up to the judge to originate the grounds of nullity but simply to cast it into more fitting words, if this is necessary.

19.       Main aspects. We would set out the following main aspects of the case. The parties, who knew each other since childhood, began a loving relationship when he was 19 years old and she 17 (Acts, 18; 48; 82). It was not a formal engagement, according to the evidence of the parties and witness; but it was known to the parents of both, who were against it "because of our young ages" (I, 18/8). The relationship was certainly not aimed at any immediate celebration of marriage. When she was asked, "Had you talked about marriage before you became pregnant?", she replied, "No. He said he was too young to get married" (49). But neither did the parties exclude the prospect of marriage to be eventually celebrated. He being asked whether without the pregnancy he would have married the respondent, replies, "Yes, I probably would have" (42).

            Both parties came from normal and happy family backgrounds. "I had a normal happy family life", says the petitioner (15); and of her life in her family he states: "Well, yes, she was happy" (30). Later in her studies and job, "She was an outstanding student. She was number One... high grades. She was smart" (41). Asked, "Do you think she was a good mother?", - "At times, yes. I wouldn't go so far as to say she wasn't" (44).

            Special weight must be attached to the evidence of Msgr. W., whom the petitioner describes as "a family friend" (31). He in fact knew both parties from 1939, married them in 1942, and followed their married life as their pastor (81ss). In first instance he testifies very positively to the family background of each of the parties (81-82) and says they dated for two years, despite some initial opposition from her mother which was later withdrawn: "The mother of Florence objected [to the marriage] but later approved it" (83). We note that he says both had a proper understanding of the essential aspects of marriage, and later were good spouses and parents (83-85). Nor was there any history of psychic anomalies or deficiencies.

20.       Freedom of the petitioner. It can be allowed that the civil marriage was contracted because of the pregnancy, and with some pressure from the parents, especially of the respondent. Regarding the religious marriage however, which is more to the point, we must say that no sign is to be found of an absence of internal freedom or of a grave defect of discretion; rather the contrary. Although the appeal court gave its decision on the grounds of lack of due discretion, it constructs its argument to no small extent on the force exercised on the parties. "The first instance Court is reluctant to see the presence of force in this marriage. But this court is of the opinion that force was present at the time of the Church union... Even after the civil marriage, it was not the parties' idea to get their union blessed. The Petitioner's mother made the arrangement with the priest... The Petitioner agreed to it out of love for his mother who strongly urged it. He seemed to be entering a relationship which his whole heart was not receptive to" (169).

            As regards the marriage in church, he freely accepted his mother's advice: "I accepted my mother's request" (31). According to the respondent, the petitioner himself "said he wanted to get married in church" (49). He frankly states he considered the canonical rite, and not the civil celebration, as "really the first marriage", and wanted moreover a lifelong union, hoping it would be "successful" (31). It must be said that to freely consent to the advice of others, even if this is accompanied by some hesitation, does not indicate a lack of discretion of judgment but rather the contrary, inasmuch as the party seems thus to have weighed all the circumstances of the situation. The petitioner's sister, Stella, says that the parties got married because "they wanted to do right" (63).

21.       When Msgr. W. was asked in first instance about possible pressure to marry, his reply merits careful attention: "[There was] pressure on both parties, because she was pregnant; he was in the Navy. They married civilly although he objected to it at first: later while on leave he came to me to validate the marriage". This shows the petitioner himself taking the initiative to seek the religious celebration, and suggests that his earlier objections related only to the civil marriage. That these objections - for which the reason is not clearly given - disappeared even before the civil marriage seems to emerge from what the witness immediately adds: "He objected to the civil marriage at first but gave in later and agreed to it" (83).

            Given the unique position of this witness - the only one to know the parties closely (and from before their marriage) - it seemed important to interrogate him again in the present instance. His new evidence is more specific about the reluctance of the petitioner towards the suggested marriage, and about certain threats exercised against him: "He had an aversion to marriage with this girl and his future father-in-law threatened to blow his brains out and his parents said he should marry the girl because he got her pregnant" (Suppl. 2/4), although he immediately adds that his knowledge of the threat is second-hand and he cannot remember its source (ib. 2/5). The witness adds: "The coercion lasted till the church marriage"; "He was reluctant to marry her in the church" (ib. 2/4): this does not quite agree with his statements in first instance noted above. The inconsistency is perhaps explicable in a witness in his eighties. In any case there is no suggestion that the witness felt faced with an instance of "coercion" such as to make the petitioner no longer master of his actions. On the contrary, Msgr. W. concludes: "I told him to make up his mind about whether to marry her or not" (ib.). These are words that a pastor directs to a man whom he considers capable of exercising full discretion.

22.       The cause of the marital breakdown. No doubt there were difficulties between the parties because of their different characters (such as happens in almost all marriages), yet from both the petitioner's and the respondent's evidence it is clear that the greater part of their quarrels arose from their differences about financial affairs, and not from an abnormal character in either.

            Confirmation of this seems to be provided by the fact that the sharper difficulties arose when Florence came into a sizeable inheritance. Both parties admit that the divorce came about when the respondent distributed this property to her children, despite the opposition of her husband who wanted to have a say in administering his wife's goods. The petitioner himself confirms this: "I feel that financial matters played a part in the breakup of our marriage" (23); later he admits even more clearly that if it had not been for the differences arising from the inheritance, their married life "would have continued probably" (39). Rev. Greg P. confirms this (80), as does Msgr. W. (85), and other witnesses (130, 140, 150).

            The witnesses called by the the petitioner do little to clarify the case. His brothers and sisters know nothing (or claim to be completely ignorant) about the family background of the respondent. Moreover they contradict the petitioner in several points; when, for instance, they speak about the way the respondent cared for the children. The petitioner's nephew, as is logical, can know nothing about the pre-matrimonial situation, since he says he has known the petitioner for only thirty years; that is, more than ten years after the wedding.

23.       Expert opinion. The court expert, Michael M., LP, in giving an opinion based on his reading of the Acts, notes the totally different versions presented by the parties. He expresses himself in a way that is doubtfully scientific, and at times scarcely literate. He writes for instance: "to suggest that both of these individual's are in an extremely immature mindset throughout the relationship, from in essence the time of meeting, would have a reliability that would equal the sort of reliability that psychological opinions should have" (87). The judge of first instance mildly says, "the meaning of this phrase is unclear" (100), whereas those of second instance have no hesitation in interpreting it: "In other words, the expert as a psychologist has no doubt at all that both parties to this marriage exhibited extreme immaturity on entering the marriage and throughout its duration" (171).

            As a conclusion (if the term is warranted), the expert says: "in essence it is suggested that both of these individual's [sic] at the time that they married, more or less married in a thoughtless manner, and more or less were allowing others to make decisions for them, on one plane or another, as to whether to marry, due to the pregnancy or not..." (88). He gives his opinion "that there seem's [sic] to be some psychopathology somewhere, however, it is beyond the reliability of the information in this particular case to pinpoint where that psychopathology indeed is" (89)! Inasmuch as one can speak of a diagnosis here, it obviously gives no support whatsoever to the hypothesis of any grave psychic anomaly present at the time of the wedding in either party.

24.       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".


            Given in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, April 6, 1995.

            Cormac BURKE, Ponens

            Kenneth E. BOCCAFOLA

            Francisco LÓPEZ-ILLANA