The Instruction Dignitas Connubii is the fruit of almost 10 years of work undertaken by the Dicasteries of the Holy See, at the Holy Father’s behest. The purpose. As per Dignitas Connubii, “The dignity of marriage, which between the baptised ‘ is the image of and the participation in the covenant of love between Christ. Download Citation on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , Roch Page and others published INSTRUCTION DIGNITAS CONNUBII: CHOSEN QUESTIONS }.

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The Second Vatican Council not only presented the doctrine on the dignity of marriage and the family 2 using new concepts and renewed terminology, and developed it by exploring more deeply their Christian and properly human aspects, but also prepared a correct path for further doctrinal perspectives and laid renewed foundations upon which the revision of the Code of Canon Law could be based.

It is evident that marriage and the family is not a private matter that each person can construct at will. To this doctrinal progress in the understanding of the institution of marriage there is added in our day a progress in the human sciences, especially the psychological and psychiatric ones which, since they offer a deeper understanding of the human person, can offer much help for a fuller understanding of those things which are required in the human person in order that he or she be capable of entering the conjugal covenant.

The Roman Pontiffs, since Pius XII 8while they called attention to the dangers to be encountered if in this area mere hypotheses, not scientifically proved, were to be cobnubii for scientifically acquired data, always encouraged and exhorted scholars of matrimonial canonical law and ecclesiastical judges not to hesitate to transfer for the advantage of their own science certain conclusions, founded in a sound philosophy and Christian anthropology, which clnnubii sciences had offered in the course of time 9.

However, the new Code followed the same method as the Code ofin regard to the matrimonial process for the declaration of nullity. In the rignitas part De processibus matrimonialibusit gathers together in one chapter comnubii particular norms proper to this process cann.

In regard to the method and the criteria employed, connjbii instruction organized the material by gathering together the canons, the jurisprudence and the praxis of the Roman Curia. After the Code was promulgated dignitaathere appeared a pressing need to prepare an instruction which, following the footsteps of Provida Materwould be helpful to judges and other connubii of tribunals in properly understanding and applying the renewed matrimonial law, all the more so because the number of causes of the nullity of marriage had increased while, in contrast, the judges and ministers of tribunals were often found to be fewer and entirely unequal to the task of carrying on the work.

Nonetheless it also seemed necessary that some time would be allowed to pass before that instruction would be prepared, as had happened after the promulgation of the Code, so that in digniats the instruction account could be taken of the application of the new matrimonial law in the light of experience, of any authentic interpretations that might be given by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and also of both doctrinal development and the evolution of jurisprudence, especially that of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the Tribunal connubli the Roman Rota.

Once such a suitable period of time had elapsed, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, on 24 Februaryjudged it opportune that an interdicasterial Commission be established to prepare, using the same criteria and the same method as in the Instruction Provida Materan instruction by which judges and ministers of tribunals might be led by the hand, as it were, in carrying out this sort of work of great importance, namely, in processing causes which pertain to the declaration of the nullity of marriage, avoiding the difficulties which can emerge in the course of a trial even from the manner in which the norms of this process have been distributed throughout the Code.

The first and second drafts difnitas this instruction were prepared through the cooperation of the Dicasteries concerned, namely, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Tribunal of comnubii Roman Rota and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Conferences of Bishops were heard as well.

After he had studied the work carried out by the Commission, the Roman Pontiff, with a letter dated 4 Februarydetermined that this Pontifical Council, taking into consideration the two drafts previously mentioned, would prepare and publish the definitive text of an instruction concerning the norms in force. This was carried out with the help of a new interdicasterial Commission and in consultation with the Congregations and Apostolic Tribunals concerned.

The Instruction then has been drafted and published with the intention that it be a help to judges and other ministers of the tribunals of the Church, to whom the sacred ministry dignltas hearing the causes of the nullity of marriage has been entrusted.

Thus, the procedural xignitas of the Code of Canon Law for the declaration of the nullity of marriage remain in their full force and reference is always to be made to them in interpreting the Instruction. However, keeping in mind the proper nature of this kind of process, it is especially important to avoid both a juridical formalism, which is entirely foreign to the spirit of the laws of the Church, and a way of acting that indulges in connkbii great a subjectivism in interpreting and connubbii both the substantive and the procedural norms For this reason it falls to the Bishops, and this should weigh heavily on their consciences, to see to it that suitable ministers of justice for their tribunals are trained in canon law appropriately and connubji a timely manner, and are prepared by suitable practice to instruct causes of marriage properly and decide them correctly.

Therefore, the following norms are to be observed by diocesan and interdiocesan tribunals in handling causes of the nullity of marriage:.

Dignitas Connubii – Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

This Instruction concerns only the tribunals of the Latin Church cf. All tribunals are regulated by the procedural law of the Code of Connugii Law and by this Instruction, without prejudice to the proper laws of the tribunals of the Apostolic See cf.

Dispensation from procedural laws is reserved to the Apostolic See cf. A marriage between Catholics, even if only one party is a Catholic, is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to art. A marriage between a Catholic party and a baptized non-Catholic party is governed also:.


The matrimonial causes of the baptized pertain by right to the ecclesiastical judge can. However, an ecclesiastical judge hears only those causes of the nullity of marriage of non-Catholics, whether baptized or unbaptized, in which it is necessary to establish the free state of at least one party before the Catholic Church, without prejudice to art. Causes concerning the merely civil effects of marriage belong to the civil magistrate, unless particular law provides that those same causes, if they are to be treated incidentally and subordinately, can be heard and decided by an ecclesiastical judge.

Whenever an ecclesiastical judge must decide about the nullity of a marriage of baptized non-Catholics:. Whenever an ecclesiastical judge must decide about the nullity of a marriage contracted by two unbaptized persons:. Causes of the nullity of marriage can be decided only through the sentence of a competent tribunal. However, the Apostolic Signatura enjoys the faculty of deciding by decree cases of the nullity of marriage in which the nullity appears evident; but if they require a more detailed study or investigation the Signatura is to remit them to a competent tribunal or another tribunal, if need be, which is to handle the cause according to the ordinary procedure of the law.

However, in order to establish the free state of those who, while bound to observe the canonical form of marriage according to can. Causes for the declaration of the nullity of marriage cannot be handled through the oral process cf. This Instruction is concerned only with the process for the declaration of the nullity of marriage, and not with the processes for obtaining the dissolution of the marriage bond cf. Therefore the distinction between the declaration of the nullity of a marriage and the dissolution of a marriage must be kept clearly in mind also in regard to terminology.

It is the right of the Roman Pontiff alone to judge causes of the nullity of the marriage of those who hold the highest office of governance of a state, as well as other causes of the nullity of marriage which the same Roman Pontiff has called to his own judgement cf.

Thus the incompetence of a judge is absolute by reason of grade if the same cause, after a definitive sentence has been issued, is heard again in the same instance, unless the sentence happens to have been declared null; it is absolute by reason of matter if a cause of nullity of marriage is heard by a tribunal which is able to judge only causes of another type.

Pastor bonusart. In causes of the nullity of marriage which are not reserved to the Apostolic See and have not been called to it, the following tribunals are competent in the first grade of jurisdiction:. The incompetence of a judge who does not enjoy any of these titles of competence is called relative, without prejudice however to the prescriptions regarding absolute incompetence cf.

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If no exception of relative incompetence is filed before the concordance of the doubt, the judge becomes competent ipso iurebut without prejudice to can. In a case of relative incompetence the Apostolic Signatura for a just cause can grant an extension of competence cf.

In order to verify the canonical domicile of the parties and especially their quasi-domicile, as treated in cann. If it is claimed that a quasi-domicile has been acquired by a stay in the territory of some parish or diocese, combined with the intention digjitas remaining there for at least three months, particular care is to be taken to see whether the requirements of can. A spouse separated for whatever reason either permanently or for an indefinite time does not follow the domicile dighitas the other spouse cf.

Until the conditions stated in art. In these cases there must be written proof of the consent of the Judicial Vicar of the domicile of the respondent party; such consent cannot be presumed. The prior hearing of the respondent party by his Judicial Vicar can be done either in writing or digntias if done orally, the Vicar is to draw up a document attesting to this.

Before giving his consent, the Judicial Vicar of the domicile of the respondent party is to consider carefully all the circumstances of the cause, especially the difficulties of the respondent party in defending himself before the tribunal of the place in which the petitioning party has a domicile or in which conhubii greater part of the proofs are to be collected.

The Judicial Vicar of the domicile of the respondent party in this case is not the judicial vicar of an interdiocesan tribunal but rather the diocesan judicial vicar; if in a particular case there is no such Vicar, it is the Diocesan Bishop If the conditions stated in the preceding paragraphs cannot be observed because, after a diligent investigation, it is not known where the respondent party lives, this must be documented in the acts.

A tribunal of the Latin Church, without prejudice to artt. In such case, the tribunal of the Latin Church must proceed according to its own procedural law, but the question of the nullity of marriage is to be decided according to the laws of the Church sui iuris to which the parties belong. Once an instance has finished through abatement peremptio or renunciation, a party who wishes to introduce the cause anew or pursue it can approach any tribunal which is competent at the time of resumption If the abatement or renunciation or desertion desertio took place, however, before the Roman Rota, a cause which was either entrusted to that same Apostolic Tribunal or was brought there through a legitimate appeal can be resumed only before the Rota In each diocese the judge of first instance for causes of nullity of marriage not expressly excepted by law is the Diocesan Bishop, who cknnubii exercise judicial power personally or through others, in accordance with the law cf.

Nonetheless, it is expedient that, unless special causes demand it, he not do this personally.

Therefore all Bishops must establish a diocesan tribunal for their respective dioceses. Several Diocesan Bishops, however, with the approval of the Apostolic See, can by common agreement establish a single tribunal of first instance for their dioceses, in accordance with can.

If it is entirely impossible to establish rignitas diocesan or interdiocesan tribunal, a Diocesan Bishop can request from the Apostolic Signatura an extension of competence for another nearby tribunal, with the consent of the Bishop Moderator of that tribunal. The Bishop Moderator is understood to be the Diocesan Bishop in regard to a diocesan tribunal dignits the designated Bishop, mentioned in art.

In regard to tribunals of second instance, without prejudice to art. The Roman Rota is an appeal tribunal of second instance digitas with the tribunals mentioned in art. Without prejudice to particular laws issued by the Apostolic See or indults granted by it, the Roman Rota is the only tribunal of third and higher instance cf.


Any tribunal has the right to call upon another tribunal for help in instructing a cause or in communicating acts can. If need be, rogatorial letters can be sent to the diocesan bishop so that he can take connubii of the matter.

Causes of the nullity connuibi marriage are reserved to a collegial tribunal of three judges, without prejudice to artt. The Bishop Moderator can entrust more difficult or more important causes to the judgement of five judges cf. In the first grade of fonnubii, if it happens that a college cannot be formed, the Conference of Bishops, as long as this impossibility persists, can permit a Bishop Moderator to entrust causes to a single clerical judge who, when this can be done, is to employ connugii assessor and an auditor; to the same single judge, unless it is determined otherwise, pertain those things attributed to a college, praeses or ponens cf.

A tribunal of second instance is formed in the same way as a tribunal of first instance; but for validity that tribunal must always be collegial cf. The judicial power enjoyed by judges or judicial colleges is to be exercised in the manner prescribed by law dgnitas it may not be delegated except for the purpose of carrying out acts preparatory to some decree or sentence can.

Judicial power is to be exercised in one’s proper territory, without prejudice to art. Ministers of a diocesan tribunal are named by the Diocesan Bishop; ministers of an interdiocesan tribunal, unless otherwise vonnubii determined, are named by the coetus of Bishops or, as the case may be, by the Conference of Bishops.

In an urgent case the ministers of an interdiocesan tribunal may be named by dignitae Bishop Moderator until the coetus or Conference provides.

Dignitas Connubii

All who make up the connunii or assist it must take an oath to carry out their function properly and faithfully can. In order to exercise their respective functions properly, judges, defenders of the bond and promoters of justice are to be diligent in continuing to deepen their knowledge of matrimonial and procedural law.

With particular reason it is necessary that they study the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota, since it is responsible to promote the unity of jurisprudence and, through its own sentences, to be of assistance to lower tribunals cf.

The Judicial Vicar, Adjunct Judicial Vicars, other judges, defenders of the bond and promoters of justice are not to exercise the same function or any other of these functions in a stable manner in two tribunals which are connected by reason of appeal.

The same officials are not to exercise simultaneously two functions in a stable manner in the same tribunal, without prejudice to art. It is not permitted for the ministers of the tribunal to exercise, at the same tribunal or at another tribunal connected with it by reason of appeal, the function of advocate or procurator, whether directly connuhii through an intermediate person. Every Diocesan Bishop connubki bound to appoint for his tribunal one Judicial Vicar or Officialis with the ordinary power of judging; he is to be distinct from the Vicar General, unless the smallness of the diocese or the scarcity of causes suggests otherwise cf.

The Judicial Vicar forms one tribunal with the Bishop, but he cannot judge causes which the Bishop reserves to himself cf. Without prejudice to those things which pertain to himself by right, especially freedom in passing judgement, the Judicial Vicar is bound to render an account concerning the state and activity of the tribunal to the Bishop, who is responsible for monitoring the proper administration of justice. Without prejudice to their freedom in judging, the Adjunct Judicial Vicars are bound to act under the direction of the Judicial Vicar.

Both the Judicial Vicar and the Adjunct Judicial Vicars must be priests or bishops sacerdotesof unimpaired reputation, having a doctorate or at least a licentiate in canon law, and not less than thirty years of age can.

It is strongly recommended that no one lacking experience of tribunal work be appointed a Judicial Vicar or Adjunct Judicial Vicar. The same officials do not cease from office during the vacancy of the see nor dingitas they be removed by the diocesan administrator; however, when the cojnubii Bishop arrives they need confirmation can. Judges are to be appointed for both diocesan and interdiocesan tribunals; they are to be clerics cf.

The Conference of Bishops can permit even lay judges to be named; when necessary, one of these can be chosen in order to form a college can. Judges are to be of unimpaired reputation and to have a doctorate or at least a licentiate in canon law cf.

It is also recommended that no one be named a judge who has not already carried out another function in the tribunal for a suitable period of time. The collegial tribunal is to be presided over by the Judicial Vicar or Adjunct Judicial Vicar or, if this cannot be done, by a cleric from the college designated by either one of them cf. The ponensor presenter, designated by the praeses from among the judges of the college, is to present the cause in the meeting of the judges, connjbii write down the decision in the form of a response to the proposed doubt, as well as to draw up in writing the sentence and decrees in incidental causes cf.

Once the libellus has been admitted, the powers of the praeses, mentioned in art. For a just cause the praeses can replace the ponens with another cf. The Judicial Vicar is to assign judges in order by panels to judge each individual cause or, as the dugnitas may be, to assign a single judge according to a pre-established order cf. In individual cases the Bishop Moderator can determine otherwise cf.

The praeses of the tribunal can designate an auditor to carry out the instruction of the cause, selecting him either from among the judges of the tribunal or from among the persons approved by the Diocesan Bishop for this function cf. The Diocesan Bishop can approve for his diocese for the function of auditor clerics or laypersons who are outstanding for their upright life, prudence and learning cf. It pertains to the auditor, according to the mandate of the judge, only to collect the proofs and give them to the judge; connugii, unless the mandate of the judge provides otherwise, he can also decide in the interim what proofs are connubiii be collected and how they are to be collected, if the question should happen to arise while he is carrying out this function cf.