Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Ratification of only one of several grounds of matrimonial nullity, 16 April 1997.
A decision was rendered by a First Instance Tribunal declaring the nullity of a marriage on multiple grounds. The Second Instance Tribunal confirmed the decision but based on one ground only. The Apostolic Signatura was asked if the decree issued by the Second Instance Tribunal ratifying only one ground was valid, and if not, to sanate the decree if necessary. The Signatura responded that in this case it was sufficient for the Second Instance Tribunal to ratify only one ground of nullity, thus establishing two conforming decisions, and that no sanation is necessary. What follows is the Signatura's response in Latin with an unofficial English translation.
Quaesitum circa decretum quo sententia affirmativa primi gradus ex uno tantum capite ex pluribus accusatis confirmatur (c. 1682 §2).
In causa de qua supra (causa respicit migrantes ex Italia), Tribunal "X" die 27 septembris 1996 de nullitate matrimonii constare declaravit tern ex capite doli mulieri actricii mati (can. 1098) quam ex capite incapacitatis assumendi onera matrimonialia essentialia ex parte viri conventi (can. 1095, n. 3).
Tribunal Appellationis "Y" dein die 3 martii 1997 decreto confirmavit sententiam Tribunalis "X" quoad caput incapacitatis assumendi onera matrimonialia. sed eodem decreto (sic) etiam statuit matrimonium non esse invalidum ex capite doli.
Epistola tandem diei 4 aprilis 1997 Rev.mus Vicarius Iudicialis Tribunalis "X" ab hac Signatura Apostolica quaerit quid censendum sit de eiusmodi decreto confirmationis ("ob ein solehes Besliitigungsderkrel formell einwandfrei ist"), necnon petit- si et quatenus - eius sanationem ("Falls in diesem konkrelen, Fall die zweilinslanzliehe Enlscheidungformell nichl in Ordnung isl, bitte ick hiermitt, dass Ihr Dikasterium eine Sanierung vornimmt").
SUPREMUM SIGNATURAE APOSTOLICAE TRIBUNALRe sedulo examini subiecta;
Perlectis decisionibus in casu latis;
- Si sententia pro matrimonii nullitate prolata sit in primo iudicii gradu ob diversa capita nullitatis, tribunal appeallationis quoad singula capita videre debet utrum suo decreto decisionem continenter confirmare possit an ad ordinarium examen secundi gradus causam admittere debeat (cf. can. 1682 §2);
- Si tribunal appellationis quoad unum caput nullitatis decisionem affirmativam suo decreto confirmet et causam quoad alterum caput ad ordinarium examen remittat, habetur quoad primum caput duplex desicio conformist quam ob rem partes possunt novas nuptias contrahere statim ac decretum confirmationis ipsis notificatum est, nisi vetito decisioni apposito vel ab Ordinario loci statuto id prohibeatur (cf. can. 1684 §1);
- Cum huiusmodi in casu iam habeater decisio exsecutiva de nullitate matrimonii ex primo capite, dein non amplius habetursufficiens ratio ut tribunal appellationis ultra videat de altero capite ad ordinarium examen admisso;
- Tribunal Appellationis "Y" in casu causam quoad alterum caput nullitatis tantummodo ad ordinarium examen remittere poterat, sed haudquaquam statim decreto suo decisionem negativam ferre;
- In casu decisio quoad alterum caput nullitatis lata est sine iudiciali disceptatione iure requisita et proinde ad rem prorsus violatum videtur ius defensionis;
- Si et quatenus quae pars in causa petat ut haec Signatura Apostolica emittat decretum exsecutionis in ordine ad effectus civiles declarationis nullitatis matrimonii in Italia obtinendos, decretum TribunalisAppellationis"Y" quoad alterum caput, servatis iure servandis, corrigendum erit;
Quibus omnibus perspectis;
Audito Rev.mo Pomotore Iustitiae,
1. a. Duplex desicio pro nullitate matrimonii ex capite incapacitatis viri conventi ad assumenda onera matrimonialia in casu exsecutioni mandari potest, salvo vetito viro convento impoisto;
b. Ad rem nulla requiril Ur sanatio;
2. Prorsus admilli nequit decisio negativa in casu a Tribunali Appellationis "Y" per decretum quoad caput doli lata.
Datum Romae, e sede Supremi Signaturae Apostolicae Tribunalis, die 16 aprilis 1997.
Gilberto Card. Agustoni
Unofficial English Translation
SUPREME TRIBUNAL OF THE APOSTOLIC SIGNATURAQuestion concerning the decree by which the affirmative decision of the first instance is conformed for only one of several grounds challenged (c. 1682, §2).
In the above-referenced case (which concerns migrants from Italy) Tribunal "X" issued on 27 September 1996 a declaration of nullity of marriage both on grounds of deception by fraud (dolus) perpetrated upon the female petitioner (c. 1098) as on the grounds of the incapacity to assume the essential obligations of the married state on the part of the male respondent (c. 1095, 3°).
The Appellate Court "Y" then issued a decree in May 1997, confirming the decision of Tribunal "X" with respect to the grounds of the incapacity to assume the obligations of marriage, but by the same decree, established that the marriage is not invalid on grounds of deception by fraud (dolus).
Further, by a letter of 4 April 1997, the Very Reverend Judicial Vicar of Tribunal "X" asked of this Apostolic Signatura what must be decided concerning a decree with this sort of confirmation ("whether such a decree is formally devoid of contradiction") and seeks, to some degree., its sanation ("if, in this specific case, the decision in second instance is not formally proper, I ask that your Dicastery issue a sanation.").
THE SUPREME TRIBUNAL OF THE APOSTOLIC SIGNATURA
Having subjected the matter to careful examination;
Having thoroughly read the decisions made in the case;
- If the opinion in favor of the nullity of marriage has been issued by the Tribunal of First Instance on diverse grounds of nullity, the Appellate Tribunal, with respect to the individual grounds. must verify whether it can issue a conforming decision by its own decree, or whether the matter ought to be admitted to ordinary examination in second instance (cf c. 1682, §2).
- If the appellate tribunal confirms an affirmative decision with respect to one ground of nullity by its own decree, and remits the case to ordinary examination with respect to another ground, there are two conforming decisions with respect to the first grounds, and the parties can thereby contract new marriages immediately, and they are to be notified of the decree of confirmation, unless a prohibition is attached to the decision, or it is prohibited by a statute of the local Ordinary (cf c. 1684, § I).
- When, in a case of this sort, the decree of execution concerning the nullity of marriage on the first grounds has already been issued, there is not sufficient reason for the appellate tribunal to look further into other grounds that might be admitted to ordinary examination.
- In this case, Appellate Tribunal "Y" was able to submit a second ground of nullity to ordinary examination, but was not in any sense able to issue a negative decision with respect to its decree.
- In this case, the decision had already been carried out with regard to the second ground of nullity with a juridical decision as required by law, and the right of defense would seem de facto, to be thoroughly violated in this matter.
- If any party to the case seeks a decree from this Apostolic Signatura for the purpose of obtaining the civil effect of a declaration of nullity of marriage in Italy, the decree of Appellate Tribunal must be corrected as to the second ground, servatis iure servandis.
Having considered all of these matters
having heard the Very Reverend Promotor of Justice
1. a. Decisions in both instances favoring the nullity of marriage on the grounds of the incapacity of the male respondent to assume the responsibilities of marriage can be published in this case, save that a restriction is to be imposed on the male respondent.
b. No sanation is required in this case.
2. Further, a negative decision in this case issued by decree Appellate Tribunal "y" on grounds of dolus (deception by fraud) is not admissible.
Given at Rome, at the See of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on 16 April 1997.
Gilbert Cardinal Agustoni
Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Ratification of only one of several grounds of matrimonial nullity, 16 April 1997, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2001, 41-45.