As my title suggests, I propose to look at several aspects connected with the topic of annulments, none of which has to do directly with canonical procedures. But a prior word may not be out of place on two questions that I am at times asked. One is, if I am in favor or against annulments? Perhaps a somewhat naive question, since naturally I am in favor; very strongly so, when a proper judicial process shows that a declaration of nullity corresponds to the facts. Then one is dealing with a matter of justice, of the upholding of ecclesial rights.
[La concezione personalistica del matrimonio, recepita dal vigente Codice di diritto canonico nella linea di una riflessione magisteriale che dalla enciclica Casti connubii giunge al Vaticano II, trova ancora difficoltà ad affermarsi pienamente nella prassi dei tribunali ecclesiastici relativa alle cause di nullità matrimoniale. Muovendo da questa costatazione Cormac Burke, giudice della Rota Romana, delinea i tratti del personalismo coniugale, chiarendo nella loro pregnanza umano-soprannaturale note essenziali come il bene degli sposi e la mutua donazione aperta alla vita, che sono precisamente i fini del matrimonio cristiano.
The mentality of our age is hostile to the christian concept of marriage and to any true marital commitment. Couples in ever-growing numbers are living together casually and temporarily, without a thought of marriage, and apparently with no sense that they are excluding something profoundly human from their lives. Of those who cohabit in this way no doubt quite a few do think of an eventual ceremony or social event which will "formalize" their relationship - always provided that it has gone satisfactorily.
To begin with, it should be noted that the term "annulment" is not exact. To "annul" implies to dissolve or rescind something that had really existed. A civil contract can be annulled, but not the covenant of marriage. Once a true marriage has been entered on and a real marital bond created, it can only be dissolved by death.