Sentence of Oct 19, 1995 (Milan) (bonum prolis)

I. The Facts

1.         Marco and Elizabeth married in X Church in Milan in 1981. They had first met in 1972 when he was 19 years old, and she 17. Their friendship soon turned into love, and after a year they got engaged. Two points can be noted from their long engagement: the fact of their having sexual relations, and a five months break in 1972, on her initiative.

            Their life together after the wedding was not happy, especially due to a lack of sexual harmony. Within a year of the marriage Marco began an adulterous relationship with another woman that was continued until 1985. No children were born of the marriage, and in 1987 the couple definitively separated.

            In 1991 Marco petitioned the Milan Tribunal for a declaration of the nullity of the marriage on the grounds of "the exclusion of the bonum prolis on the part of the petitioner". The case was heard in these terms, with the respondent resting on the justice of the court. After the instruction of the case through the evidence of the parties and of witnesses, a Negative decision was handed down in March 1993. Appeal was made to the Regional Tribunal where, after a new instruction, the first decision was reversed. The case was then sent to the Roman Rota. The doubt was concorded in the original terms, while the respondent declared herself in favor of the nullity. No further instruction was asked, and now, having received the Brief of the petitioner's advocate and the observations of the Defender of the Bond, we must resolve the case in third instance.

II. The Law

2.         Marriage: personalist and institutional. The interpersonality of marriage - an aspect which has been particularly emphasized in recent years - has a very well-defined character to it. "While marriage is certainly an interpersonal relationship, to describe it as such and no more, is evidently inadequate. Interpersonal relationships are multiple and can be of many types: friendly or hostile, moral or immoral, commercial or disinterested, homosexual or heterosexual, etc. The interpersonal relationship of marriage is essentially conjugal; i.e. it is characterized by a mutual exchange between a man and a woman of exclusive and permanent rights over reciprocal and complemementary sexuality" (Sentence coram the undersigned: Oct. 20, 1994, no. 5; RRD: vol. 86, p. 459).

3.         The most peculiar feature of the marital relationship, it should be noted, is not its exclusive or indissoluble character (since other interpersonal relationships too could be set up in an exclusive or permanent way), but its procreativity. In this sense, St. Thomas says that "proles - he is speaking of the "intentio prolis" - "est essentialissimum in matrimonio" (Suppl., q. 49, art. 3), for it marks the specific difference of marriage in regard to other interpersonal relationships. This is a personalist as well as an institutional truth, the marital covenant establishing the spouses in the fullness of a "love-open-to-life" relationship. Only an inadequate anthropological analysis of marriage could fail to appreciate the personalist value of its procreative character, whereby the spouses open themselves to the full and unique power of their conjugal love: to incarnate itself in a new life, fruit of their spousal union: their child.

4.         It has in fact never been correct (although past canonical formulations perhaps fostered the error) to classify procreation as the "institutional" end of marriage, in contrast with its "personalist" end(s). Canon 1055 of the new Code (cf. CCC, n. 2363) has set this right, making it clear that both the more evidently personalist end - the b-con - as well as procreation are institutional ends (cf. C. Burke "Marriage: a personalist or an institutional understanding?": Communio 19 (1992), 287-288).

5.         There should be no natural tension between the ends; nor does it serve any purpose to argue to a hierarchy between them (which is nowhere proposed in the last Council or in any major post-conciliar magisterial document). What needs to be emphasized in the relationship between these two institutional ends of marriage, is their harmony, connection, and intimate inter-dependence. So GS teaches, "children are the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves" (GS 50). Husband and wife, in making themselves parents together, fulfill the potential of their human sexual love, so contributing to their mutual growth and to the "good of the spouses". As St. Thomas teaches: "children are the common good of both, that is, of husband and wife" (In VIII Ethic., lect. 12).

6.         It follows that a defective anthropology is also revealed by any over-contrasting of the procreative and personalist aspects of the marital union. The spouses can achieve no more personalized expression of the love between them than to engage together in an act - most significantly called the conjugal act - whose fruit and fulfilment is precisely a third person. "Married love tends naturally to be fruitful. A child is not something external added to the mutual love of husband and wife, but stems from the very heart of their reciprocal self-gift, of which it is the fruit and fulfilment" (CCC 2366). Pope John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, says that the modern depersonalization of sexuality is also shown in the frequent failure to understand procreation as "signifying the complete acceptance of the other and therefore an openness to the richness of life which the child represents" (Ev. Vit. 23).

7.         In the words of Scripture the union of marriage makes man and woman become "una caro" (Mt 19:6). Patristic and scholastic writers emphasized that marriage implies the spouses also being "unus spiritus", in an "unio animorum" (cf. Adami, F.E.: "Precisazioni in tema di consenso matrimoniale nel pensiero patristico": Il Diritto Ecclesiastico 76 (1965), 230ss). Here again any over-contrast between the "una caro" and "unus spiritus" should be avoided. Both are in fact metaphorical expressions, because an actual unity - of bodies or of spirits - is not achieved. Individual identity cannot be lost; two persons - body and soul - can be intimately joined together, but cannot be reduced to one.

8.         Recognizing therefore that conjugal sexuality most certainly has its spiritual as well as its bodily aspects, it must be said that bodily intercourse between husband and wife expresses and achieves a union - self-gift and other-acceptance - that is more specifically marital than a desire for union which remains on a merely spiritual and unincarnated level. The conjugal act also lends itself better to concrete juridic analysis and evaluation, something which is difficult to achieve regarding the non-bodily aspects of sexual self-giving.

9.         Marital giving and accepting. We find this confirmed in c. 1057, § 2. Matrimonial consent is to give oneself and to accept the other as partner, for the constitution of marriage. This giving/accepting evidently includes the bodily dimension of each spouse, also that which is most peculiar to physical sexuality, i.e. the potential to become father or mother. If to love means above all "to wish good to the other" (Summa Theol., I-II, q. 26, art. 4), each spouse in marriage bestows a singular good on the other, sharing with him or her one's personal procreative power; and each bears a singular witness to the unique complementary-unitive status assigned to the other in one's personal life, by the acceptance in oneself of that same power possessed by him or her (cf. decis. April 11, 1988 by undersigned: nos. 8-11: RRD, vol. 80, pp. 215-216).

            This giving/acceptance of mutual and complementary procreative power - the "bonum prolis", in the proper sense of procreativity ("proles in suis principiis") - is essential if mutual self-giving is to be genuinely marital: i.e. such as to constitute a true marriage. If one or other of the parties giving consent positively excludes the gift of procreativity, then their consent is inadequate to constitute marriage. By excluding procreativity one in fact neither gives oneself, nor accepts the other, in the full conjugal dimension of the person.

10.       Does temporary exclusion of the bonum prolis invalidate? Recent rotal jurisprudence generally accepts that a mutual agreement to postpone actual procreation for a time can be compatible with the true and full exchange of marital rights, and therefore does not in itself invalidate consent (cfr. c. De Jorio, d. 22 iulii 1964: R.R.Dec. vol. 56, p. 643; c. Brennan, d. 19 februarii 1965: vol. 57, p. 170; c. Bejan, d. 10 novembris 1971: vol. 63, p. 857; c. Ewers, d. 8 maii 1971: vol. 63, p. 388; c. Giannecchini, d. 14 ianuarii 1982: vol 74, p. 6; c. Bruno, d. 28 octobris 1983: vol. 75, p. 540; c. Agustoni, d. 7 novembris 1986, n. 3; c. Stankiewicz, d. 28 februarii 1989: vol. 81, p. 165; c. Funghini, d. 17 aprilis 1991: vol. 83, p. 249, etc.).

            "The question of temporary exclusion of offspring has to be considered carefully. When this temporary exclusion is by mutual agreement between the parties, it does not invalidate a marriage, since it is accompanied by an "intentio prolis" (cf. Suppl., q. 49, art. 3), even if the actualization of this intention is postponed for a time. This decision may not always be wise for the eventual solidity and happiness of the marriage; nevertheless, given the use of proper methods, it can in many cases be an application of "responsible parenthood", as latterly taught by the magisterium. Pope John Paul II has recently written that responsible procreation is also exercised by couples who "maintain an attitude of openness to life, even if, for serious reasons and in respect for the moral law, they choose to avoid a new birth for the time being or indefinitely" (Encyc. Evangelium Vitae, no. 97; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2368)..." (Turin Sent. coram undersigned, of Dec. 15, 1994, n. 11).

11.       It does not appear easy to give a general rule for the moral or the juridic evaluation of the case where, marriage having been entered with a bilateral agreement to postpone having children for a number of years, one of the spouses changes his or her mind and begins to press for procreation before the full time has elapsed.

12.       It is otherwise with the case of a unilateral postponement at the moment of consent of the possibility of procreating, made without the consultation, knowledge or acquiescence of the other. This unilateral qualification, if intended to limit the rights of the other party, certainly constitutes invalidating simulation (cf. sent. Dec. 15, 1994, loc. cit.).

13.       Simulated consent - where, despite the apparent external acceptance of marriage in its integrity, some essential and constitutive element or property is fully and deliberately excluded in a person's intention - is obviously inadequate to establish a true marriage. "While the simulator professes by words or external signs to accept the marital covenant, he or she by internal intention rejects some essential element of the alliance. This interior rejection of the covenant means that he does not really give himself to the other party in a total conjugal donation. The simulator consents at most to a partial donation of his or her sexuality, by excluding either the perpetuity of the gift, or its uniqueness, or its procreative orientation. Such a cut-down and mutilated self-gift is ineffectual for constituting marriage. Whoever gives himself to another partially, does not give himself maritally to him or her" (decision of Dec. 12, 1988, coram the undersigned, R.R.Dec., vol. 80, p. 737).

14.       The seriousness of simulation should be considered on two levels: that of society, and that of the parties to the apparent matrimonial covenant. Marriage is never merely a private affair. It involves important social consequences (cf. Gaudium et Spes, no. 52; Familiaris Consortio, nos. 43ss.), and those entering marriage are therefore bound by a grave duty before society to respect its essential nature. But the violation of rights involved in simulation appears as more serious still on the level of the individual person wishing really to marry. If one of the parties wants and intends a true marriage, while the other wants a "marriage" deprived of some of its essential properties or elements, the rightful expectations of the former have clearly been violated and a grave injustice inflicted on him or her. This is especially true if the simulation refers to the procreative aspect of matrimony. A person entering marriage has a strict right that the other party be open to the procreative possibilities of their union. It would be highly unjust to allow a person to be held by any such maritally flawed bond, which should be declared null.

15.       Positive and present act of the will. The nub of the question of simulation is the actual mind of the person: whether by a positive act of the will he really excluded an essential aspect of the marital self-donation. "Among the presumptions which our Apostolic Tribunal has always used in looking for moral certainty that there was a positive act provoking a null marriage, an important place must be held by those which more closely touch the dispositions of mind of the person going through the ceremony. In other words, examining the intention of the alleged simulator, considering his or her judicial or extra-judicial confession, or from an analysis of the cause of exclusion, with special attention to the character of the person, or from the circumstances, one seeks to discern whether or not he or she really gave himself to the other in entering the conjugal alliance" (c. Serrano, Dec. 6, 1988: R.R.Dec., vol. 80, p. 724).

16.       With regard to the hypothetical exclusion of a "good" of marriage, care must be taken to make adequate distinctions. With regard to the "bonum prolis" for instance, one can note two very different hypotheses. One, which reveals an abusive and immoral intention but not one that is invalidating, is: by my present consent, I now give the other party the right over my procreative power, although I intend to limit it in the future, to exclude or abuse it, if certain events occur. As against this, an invalidating intention would be: I do not give the other person the right now; and will only concede it in the future if things work out well. This hypothesis involves an actual and present exclusion of the right.

17.       Proof of simulation. The following elements should converge to constitute juridic proof of exclusion: a) the confession of the person simulating, made at a period which is not to be considered suspect; b) the explanation of the simulation, drawn from the causes both of simulating and of contracting, with due consideration for the particular position of the simulator; c) the confirmation of the simulation, coming from the antecedent, concomitant and subsequent circumstances, and borne out by credible witnesses or trustworthy documents (cfr. c. Pinto, April 9, 1973: R.R.Dec., vol. 65, p. 361).

18.       Even if there is a confession by the alleged simulator, the weight of this is obviously undermined if it has not backing from other sources; and particularly if it is contradicted by the other party. At the same time it is the judges' duty to weigh apparent contradictions: between evidence given by witnesses, between what one party asserts and another denies, or between different statements of the same party. At times what seem to be inconsistencies may, on careful examination, find a plausible explanation in peculiarities of character, difficulties in expressing self, etc. The core meaning must be sought, so as to see if apparent contradictions can be reconciled at a deeper level. The credibility or sincerity of the parties and witnesses is of course of importance, and testimonials can help in establishing this. But it is from adequate pondering of the Acts that the judge must arrive at his final conclusions.

III. The Argument

19.       For the first sentence, this case appears as a "causa difficile, incerta, dai contorni non chiari", since the parties "offrono due versioni contrastanti della vicenda" (101). The second sentence finds the contradictions between the different depositions of the parties more apparent than real, & regards the further instruction made as decisive in resolving them (176-177).

            It is certainly possible to dwell on the variations in the parties' evidence, underlining their apparent incoherence and even contradictory nature, and so concluding that the plea is not proven. But it is also possible to consider that these variations correspond to a gradually maturing of the Petitioner's true purpose, which had in fact taken full shape by time of wedding; while the Respondent simply did not properly understand or misread his intentions.

20.       In his first declaration of Jan 14, 1992, we find the statement of the Petitioner's which requires most consideration: "Devo dire che non accettavo nella presentazione del progetto cristiano del matrimonio l'elemento prole. Al momento del fidanzamento non si trattava da parte mia di una eclusione dei figli. Per il momento ero deciso a non averne, ma con la possibilità che li avrei potuti avere in seguito. Dal come si sono messe le cose quella che era un'esclusione provvisoria si è tramutata en definitiva" (30/8).

            There is an ambiguity about this statement. The decisive point - whether his definitive exclusion was pre- or post-wedding - is not clear; and it is only if his real intention at the moment of consent can be reasonably ascertained that its validity can be judicially evaluated.

            As the second sentences observes: "Da queste parole si potrebbe ricavare l'impressione di una volontà semplicemente dilatoria, che divenne di assoluta contrarietà solo dopo le nozze" (178). Yet they qualify this: "In realtà si tratta di una dichiarazione poco chiara, così come poco chiari erano i discorsi che sul punto l'attore faceva con Elisabetta" (ib.); and they conclude that the intention of the Petitioner in the very moment of consent was one of positive exclusion. So, rather than a contradiction in his versions, they find evidence of a clear, if rather confusedly expounded, pre-marriage change in his approach. Can one accept this reading?

21.       The Petitioner in his "libellus" states: "Non avevo mai avuto propensione per i bambini, li vedevo anzi come un impedimento che poteva togliere qualcosa alla mia vita, ed alla stessa vita di coppia. La mia prospettiva, riconosco egoistica, era stata in genere quella di non averne, e mi faceva comodo il tacito [?] accordo di rimandare, che mi evitava di affrontare il problema con Elisabetta... Su questo mio orientamento si innestò l'incertezza, che era venuta crescendo nei due anni precedenti le nozze, dopo la inspiegata interruzione di circa cinque mesi della nostra relazione nel 1979, e la manifestazione del disaccordo, della mancanza di intesa, fra Elisabetta ed i miei genitori, acuita negli ultimi tempi per la questione della casa. Tutto questo mi preoccupava molto, nella prospettiva di una probabile infelice sorte del nostro matrimonio.

            La decisione di non generare figli si rafforzò. Mi posi anche l'ipotesi di una futura richiesta di Elisabetta di averne, ma decisi che avrei forse ceduto soltanto se, dopo una non breve prova, ogni dubbiezza nel buon esito del matrimonio fosse in me sicuramente superata. Fu conseguenza di questa precisa volontà il rifiuto che opposi alla proposta di Elisabetta di mettere al mondo un figlio, intorno al 1987. Forse essa pensava che questo potesse migliorare la situazione matrimoniale compromessa: per me invece, il degrado della convivenza era proprio verifica contraria, che rendeva definitiva e assoluta la esclusione della prole da parte mia" (4-5).

22.       This undoubtedly permits different interpretations. One can dwell on his references to a "general" attitude, which per se is an insufficient basis to conclude to a positive act. Or one can look to the evidence of a gradual intensification and particularization of this attitude, leading to a positive act. If this latter reading is accepted, the question then becomes: did he make a positive exclusion not after the wedding (as his last words just quoted seem to indicate), but at the actual moment of consent itself?

23.       Her initial affirmations seem at first sight to weaken his case. "Certamente anch'io ero dell'avviso di procrastinare la nascita di un figlio. Credevo però che anche Marco avesse capito che i figli erano per me un bene cui non ero disposta a rinunciare. Anche Marco prima del matrimonio dichiarava di essere d'accordo... Scherzando avevamo già scelto i nomi da dare: Valentina per la femminuccia, per il maschio c'era incertezza perché il nostro desiderio era per la femminuccia. Questa scelta del nome era un pensiero nostro, condiviso con entusiasmo ma che tenevamo per noi due. Prima delle nozze non ricordo nessun indizio di contrarietà di Marco ad avere figli" (24/7-8).

            When this has been read to the Petitioner, in his second deposition, he acknowledges: "Non posso negare quanto deposto da mia moglie perchè è vero. Però sono state più le volte nelle quali ho manifestato a mia moglie la contrarietà. Devo ammettere che c'era stato da parte mia un atteggiamento non chiaro che può avere portato mia moglie a tirare le conclusioni de cui parla nella sua deposizione" (32). Before the Appeal Court he also affirms: "Sono cosciente di non aver mai fatto capire chiaramente a Elisabetta il mio reale pensiero sui figli. E' vero che nei primi tempi del fidanzamento si è parlato di figli, ho assecondato il discorso, le cose tra noi andavano bene e si è anche parlato di eventuali nomi da dare ai figli, ma con il passare degli anni e decisamente negli ultimi due anni di fidanzamento, la mia volontà contro la prole era decisa e radicata, ma per il mio carattere debole non ho mai avuto né la forza né il coraggio di esprimere chiaramente il mio pensiero ad Elisabetta se non per mezzo di batttute, spesso scherzose, che, mi rendo conto, non potevano essere indicative" (137).

            The Respondent who had already admitted in first instance, "ribadisco di non aver capito cose avesse in testa Marco" (24/6), repeats this in second instance in a way that makes the thesis of exclusion more plausible; "parlavo dei figli ed ero desiderosa di avere una bambina: questo era il mio ideale. Ricordo effettivamente che la posizione di Marco era di semplice ascolto e di passività. Pur essendo difficile penetrare nell'animo umano, alla luce di tutta la mia esperienza con Marco, posso anche pensare che effettivamente sia accaduto che Marco non volesse avere figli del matrimonio, ma non abbia ma avuto la forza o il coraggio di dirlo apertamente... per il suo carattere" (144).

            We find a certain sincerity in these statements that reduces the likelihood of collusion between the parties.

24.       It is also worth nothing that at the start of 1981, that is, some nine months before the wedding, the couple by mutual agreement went to Dr. R, whom they asked to prescribe "un contracettivo ormonale (pillola)" (92/3) for the Respondent; and she used this contraceptive during practically all their conjugal life together. This serves to explain the duration of their common life for six years. The intention of the Respondent was to postpone having children; so it was not until she ceased taking the pill and began to insist, that she discovered his intention was different: "Non c'è stato mai inizio di gravidanza. I nostri rapporti erano cautelati fuorché l'ultimo anno. Io ho martellato Marco 'come un martello pneumatico' per avere un figlio. L'ultimo anno io desistetti dal prendere la pillola, ma la gravidanza non seguì, con mio grande dispiacere" (25/10).

            "Dopo il matrimonio io ero convinta che se mio marito non affermava il contrario, egli la pensasse come me. Troppo tardi forse mi sono resa conto che ciò non era vero, quindi temo che anche dopo il matrimonio, quando io parlavo di figli... si trattasse di un monologo" (146-147).

            She concludes: "Venendo poi a conoscenza di tante cose, debbo onestamente dire che è probabile che il motivo che mio marito invoca sia anche fondato, perché mi sono resa conto che Marco è un uomo profondamente diverso da quello che credevo di conoscere" (147).

25.       In any case, one can understand the uncertainty of the first Court as to the decision to be given. Besides one must admit that confirmation of the Petitioner's argument on the part of the witnesses is rather weak. In general they know nothing of the Petitioner's mind regarding offspring (40/5; 45/4; 49/5; 92/3), or speak just of his pre-matrimonial indifference in their regard (54/6; 68/7), or else their evidence is based on post-nuptial knowledge (43/11; 50/7; 63/7, etc.). They confirm his reluctance about the wedding (48/4; 54/5; 55/7; 59/4); the strong character of the respondent and the not too loving relationship between the parties (41/7; 46/6; 49/7; 53/2; 56/11; 59/5; 66-67; 72/3); the pressure brought by her to get married (41/7).

            There are some exceptions, one of which at least seems to carry great weight. Carla R, his aunt, affirms: "Marco si confidava molto con me. Marco aveva paura del matrimonio. Ad un mia richiesta prima delle nozze allorché mi sono dichiarata disponibile a dargli una mano quando avrebbe avuto un figlio, mi ha risposto che lui figli non ne voleva ed Elisabetta si è messa a sorridere senza aggiungere altro. Io sono rimasta molto male, anzi mi sono sentita umiliata per il tono con il quale mi ha risposto" (58-59/3).

            In second instance, Rev. JR, who knew the Petitioner well from 1974 on, testified: "Sempre prima del matrimonio toccai anche l'argomento dei figli trovandolo decisamente contrario sia perché intravedeva tante difficoltà nel matrimonio con Elisabetta ma ricordo che la sua decisione sarebbe diventata ferrea in seguito a una esperienza negativa di un suo carissimo amico" (153/3).

27.       Now let us turn to the evidence of Paschal F which, if taken to be trustworthy, undoubtedly throws a decisive weight into the balance. The first instance judges attached little importance to his statements, inasmuch as the time factor attaching to them seemed uncertain; the further instruction of the case carried out at appeal level has clarified matters.

            The witness declared in first instance: "Da confidenze avute, sopratutto in occasione della nascita di mio figlio, mi sono fatto idea che Marco era contrario ad avere un figlio. Anzitutto perché privilegiava l'impegno professionale. In secondo luogo era stato sfavorevolmente impressionato dalla mia vicenda: mia moglie mi aveva lasciato con a carico il bambino di quattro anni. Questa esperienza assommandosi a qualche difficoltà che già Marco provava nei confronti di Elisabetta l'aveva confermato nella sua decisione di non avere figli" (73-74/7).

            In second instance he repeats this in a more concrete fashion: "Nei primi anni e fino a quando mi sono sposato [1976], avevo solo notato che a Marco il discorso figli non interessava ma neppure ne parlava, probabilmente lo vedeva come cosa lontana. Ho iniziato a capire che Marco tendeva ad escludere i figli nella sua vita proprio quando ho cominciato a comunicargli i miei problemi e le mei preoccupazioni a cominciare dal '78, problemi e preoccupazioni per il comportamento di mia moglie e quindi per la nostra vita coniugale, aggravati dalle presenza di mio figlio, tra l'altro molto piccolo... A lui ho confidato sempre i miei drammi e i miei problemi fino al 1980 ed è proprio in questo lungo dialogo che c'è stato fra di noi che Marco, senza mezzi termini, mi diceva che lui si sarebbe sì sposato ma figli non ne avrebbe mai voluti, proprio cogliendo lo spunto dalle mie preoccupazioni" (157). This serves as a clarification and confirmation of what the Petitioner had testified in first instance: "Oltre a quanto ho già detto è indubitabile che la vicenda del mio amico Di F, abbandonato dalla moglie con un bambino piccolo sulle spalle, ha molto influenzato la mia radicale decisione contro la prole" (138; cf. 84).

28.       What should we say of the "causa simulandi" and the "causa contrahendi"? A grave reason for simulating would have its roots in the Petitioner's general attitude towards children, which from an initial indifference developed into a positive pre-marital rejection. The process would seem to have matured in his mind only over the course of several years. This can explain the fact that the corroboration given by witnesses seems weak at first sight. Nevertheless, among the testimonies given, P. DiF's statements seem to have decisive importance.

            It is true that the reason for contracting - sufficient for making the Petitioner simulate consent rather than back out from the proposed marriage - is not so clearly established. It would seem to be make up of his own hope (however qualified) that the marriage could work out well, his weak character, and particularly the pressure exercised by the strong-minded Respondent for the celebration of the marriage after nine years of relationship and engagement. She herself declares: "Io non avevo alcuna fretta di sposarmi se non che il nostro fidanzamento andava avanti da nove anni e probabilmente saremmo ancora fidanzati, se io non cercavo di risolvere il problema" (145).

29.       While acknowledging that some difficulties still remain in harmonizing the different statements of the Petitioner, we feel that they must be put down to carelessness of expression. All things considered, we therefore judge that the Petitioner's claim is to be sustained.

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

            "IN THE AFFIRMATIVE", that is:

            "THE NULLITY OF THE MARRIAGE HAS BEEN PROVED, in the case before the Court, on the grounds of the exclusion of offspring by the man, who is prohibited from contracting a new marriage without first referring the matter to the local Ordinary".

            Given in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, October 19, 1995.

            Cormac BURKE, Ponens

            Kenneth E. BOCCAFOLA

            Daniel FALTIN