2. Along with the ground of lack of due discretion, this case was heard before the Chicago Tribunal also on that of "Consent Defective in its Formal Object on the part of the Petitioner (can. 1055 §2; 1057 §2)". While a negative decision was given on this ground, the legal part of the sentence considers it at some length (189-191), enunciating certain principles that do not seem juridically sound.
In the present case, the Judges in first instance, holding the Petitioner incapable of assuming the essential obligations of marriage, took as their measure "the care and concern essential to build up a normal and human marriage relationship" (Acts, 99). But there seems to be no way by which one can establish a working juridic criterion to judge the "normality" of a marriage relationship. As a result of Original Sin, the relationship between husband and wife will always tend in some way to diverge from the harmony which the covenant of conjugal love morally calls for. In the first state of creation, perfect harmony between man and woman was no doubt achieved without effort.
I. The Facts
1. Rita et Laurence met in 1973 and became engaged very shortly afterwards. Their marriage took place in June 1974, when she was twenty one and he almost nineteen. Their conjugal life was happy for a number of years, and they had two children by common consent. Then he began to be unfaithful and, though she would pardon him, the relationship gradually declined. He finally left the home in 1989 and went to live with another woman.
II. The Law
2. "All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage" (c. 1058). Among those affected by the restrictive clause of this canon are all who, although free from canonical impediments (cc. 1083-1094) and also from external force or fear (c. 1103), suffer from some substantial defect of mind or will - some psychic defect - which reduces the act of consent (that they give or wish to give) to something less than a human act adequate for the essential commitment of matrimony. The effect in law of such a psychic anomaly is to provoke consensual incapacity.