Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Response to a Petition for a Dissolution of Marriage in Favour of the Faith. 1998, Private.

This entry involves a non-baptized petitioner, who is not converting, although he states openness to the possibility, who sought the dissolution of his marriage to a baptized Catholic in favor of the faith. He plans to marry a baptized Catholic. If the privilege were granted, it would require a second dispensation from disparity of cult. However, the norms issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Ut notum est [1973]), state that a privilege of the faith dissolution would not be granted a Catholic petitioner who sought to marry a non–baptized person. If the non-baptized person is not subject to the law, would that person be bound by the restriction contained in this norm?

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded and stated that the case would not be recommended to the Holy Father without the petitioner’s conversion. The request was resubmitted to the Congregation on the basis of a strict interpretation of the norms referred to above, that the new marriage would be an improvement on the marriage in question and would present a true spiritual advantage. The Congregation responded again, stating that reconsideration was not possible because the norms applied equally to Catholic and non-Catholic petitioners.

What follows is the petition, the facts of the case and the Congregation’s final response. English original.

Petition for a Dissolution of Marriage in Favor of the Faith

Most Holy Father:

I, the undersigned, residing in Diocese “A," most humbly prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, submit the following petition for an apostolic dissolution, in favorem fidei, of my former marriage.

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pg. 1080
The marriage was entered by me on date ____________ with (respondent). When the union proved unhappy, a decree of civil divorce was sought and obtained by (petitioner) on *. From this union one child was born. The petitioner and respondent were awarded joint custody of the child. This child was baptized Catholic.

At the time of said marriage, I was non-baptized and the other party was baptized Catholic.

Wherefore, I humble implore Your Holiness to grant the Apostolic dissolution of said marriage in favor of the faith for the following reasons:

1. Estrangement from my former spouse with no prospect for reconciliation.

2. My desire to be free to marry a Catholic in the future.

3. My desire to maintain a Catholic home and raise my children Catholic.

So help me God. . .



The petitioner was born on . The respondent was born on . The parties entered marriage on at in the presence of a Catholic priest. This was the first union for each. At the time of the marriage the petitioner was non-baptized, and the respondent was baptized Catholic. The parties separated finally in . The petitioner sought a civil divorce and was given a final decree on . From this union one child was born. The petitioner and respondent were awarded joint custody of the child. This child was baptized Catholic.

The petitioner has completed a full course of instruction in the Catholic Faith. At this time he does not wish to become a Catholic as he is not convinced of the truth of all the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, his conversion to Catholicism remains a possibility at a future date. The petitioner now anxiously awaits the opportunity to be permitted

pg. 1080

pg. 1081
to enter marriage in accordance with the laws of the Catholic Church with (proposed spouse), a baptized Catholic. The proposed spouse is free to enter marriage in accordance with the laws of the Church. Therefore, the petitioner has submitted the following petition.

Judge Instructor

Your Excellency,

The Congregation has received your letter regarding the negative decision given to the petition submitted by (petitioner) through your diocesan curia for the dissolution of his marriage to (respondent).

Although n. V of the 1973 Instruction on favor of the faith cases was composed in terms of a Catholic petitioner, the principle upon which it is based applies equally to cases in which the petitioner is a non-Catholic.

The Church at times permits the dissolution of non-sacramental unions when it is evidently to the advantage of the Faith. The use of this permission, however, is always measured against the need to uphold and defend the indissolubility of all marriages, whether sacramental or not. For this reason, the Instruction prudently does not contemplate the concession of the favour to a person who has benefitted from it on a previous occasion in order to avoid a second non-sacramental union likewise susceptible to dissolution.

This constant practice of the Congregation in applying its regulations explains, as I am sure Your Excellency will understand, why the petition cannot be reconsidered.

With every good wish, I remain

Devotedly yours in the Lord,

Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.


RRAO (1998): 13-15.