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In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an impediment is a legal obstacle that prevents a sacrament from being performed validly and/or licitly. The term is used most frequently in relationship to the sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders. Some canonical impediments can be dispensed by the competent authority (usually the local ordinary but some impediments are reserved to the Apostolic See) as defined in Canon Law.
Roman Catholic sacramental theology teaches[ citation needed ] that the ministers of the sacrament of holy matrimony are the man and woman, and therefore any marriage contracted voluntarily between two baptized and unmarried adults is valid[ citation needed ], though under ordinary circumstances the marriage must be witnessed by clergy to be licit. However, various provisions in current canon law outline extraordinary circumstances that would form impediments to marital validity.
The validity of an action is distinguished from its being licit in that the former pertains to its integrity while the latter its legality. (An analogous illustration might be that of a disbarred lawyer who wins a court case; the verdict is not overturned, but the attorney is still subject to sanctions. Similarly, a priest who has been laicized, suspended, or excommunicated cannot licitly celebrate Mass, but should he nonetheless do so the Mass is still considered valid.)
Impediments to marriage are classified according to many different criteria.
In regard to their effect on the sacrament,impediments are either diriment, which invalidate an attempted marriage, or prohibitive (or impedient), which make a marriage illicit but valid. "Diriment" comes from the Latin word dirimens ("separating"), that is, an impediment that means the couple cannot be joined. The 1983 Code of Canon Law does not list prohibitive impediments as such, and thus the distinction between validity and licitness is less clear than in previous formularies.
In regard to their origin, impediments are either from divine law, and so cannot be dispensed, or from ecclesiastical law, and so can be dispensed by the competent Church authority. Under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, ecclesiastical impediments only apply to marriages where one or both of the parties is Catholic. Under the prior 1917 Code, ecclesiastical impediments applied to the marriages of non-Catholic Christians as well, unless specifically exempted. Note that, as clarified by articles 2 and 4 of Dignitas Connubii,the Catholic Church now recognizes the diriment impediments of other (i.e., non-Catholic) Churches and ecclesial communities when their members are parties to a marriage.
Impediments are also classified as follows:
whether they can be dispensed by the local ordinary under ordinary circumstances, or whether their dispensation is reserved to the Pope
Impediments to the priesthood are divided into "irregularities", which are permanent unless removed by the competent authority and "simple impediments" which may pass with time without action of an ecclesiastical authority. Canon Law also lists various impediments to the exercise of a priesthood that has already been conferred. The bishop can remove most irregularities and simple impediments, except for those involving public apostasy, heresy, or schism; abortion or murder, even if in secret; and existing marriages. Irregularities that cannot be removed by the bishop can be removed by the Holy See (i.e. the Pope or the appropriate dicastery of the Roman Curia).
Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to end or at least regulate the communion of a member of a congregation with other members of the religious institution who are in normal communion with each other. The purpose of the institutional act is to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it, in particular, those of being in communion with other members of the congregation, and of receiving the sacraments.
The banns of marriage, commonly known simply as the "banns" or "bans", are the public announcement in a Christian parish church or in the town council of an impending marriage between two specified persons. It is commonly associated with the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Church of Sweden, and with other denominations whose traditions are similar. In 1983, the Roman Catholic Church removed the requirement for banns and left it to individual national bishops' conferences to decide whether to continue this practice, but in most Catholic countries the banns are still published.
Annulment is a legal procedure within secular and religious legal systems for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place. In legal terminology, an annulment makes a void marriage or a voidable marriage null.
In the Catholic Church, marriage, also known as holy matrimony, is the "covenant by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring", and which "has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptised." Catholic matrimonial law, based on Roman law regarding its focus on marriage as a free mutual agreement or contract, became the basis for the marriage law of all European countries, at least up to the Reformation.
Ne Temere was a decree issued in 1907 by the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Council regulating the canon law of the Church regarding marriage for practising Catholics. It is named for its opening words, which literally mean "lest rashly" in Latin.
In Catholic canon law, affinity is an impediment to marriage of a couple due to the relationship which either party has as a result of a kinship relationship created by another marriage or as a result of extramarital intercourse. The relationships that give rise to the impediment have varied over time. Marriages and sexual relations between people in an affinity relationship are regarded as incestuous.
Valid but illicit and valid but illegal are descriptions applied in the Catholic Church to an unauthorized celebration of a sacrament or an improperly placed juridic act that nevertheless has effect. Validity is presumed whenever an act is performed by a qualified person and includes those things which essentially constitute the act itself as well as the formalities and requirements imposed by law for the validity of the act. Canon law also lays down rules for lawful placing of the act, beyond its validity.
In the jurisprudence of the canon law of the Catholic Church, a dispensation is the exemption from the immediate obligation of law in certain cases. Its object is to modify the hardship often arising from the rigorous application of general laws to particular cases, and its essence is to preserve the law by suspending its operation in such cases.
Disparity of cult, sometimes called disparity of worship, is a diriment impediment in Roman Catholic canon law: a reason why a marriage cannot be validly contracted without a dispensation, stemming from one person being certainly baptized, and the other certainly not baptized.
In Catholic canon law, a validation of marriage or convalidation of marriage is the validation of a Catholic putative marriage. A putative marriage is one when at least one party to the marriage wrongly believes it to be valid. Validation involves the removal of a canonical impediment, or its dispensation, or the removal of defective consent. However, the children of a putative marriage are legitimate.
Ligamen is, in Roman Catholic canon law, an existing marriage tie, which constitutes an impediment to the contracting of a second marriage.
In the Catholic Church, a declaration of nullity, commonly called an annulment and less commonly a decree of nullity is a judgment on the part of an ecclesiastical tribunal determining that a marriage was invalidly contracted or, less frequently, a judgment determining that ordination was invalidly conferred.
Regarding the canon law of the Catholic Church, canonists provide and obey rules for the interpretation and acceptation of words, in order that legislation is correctly understood and the extent of its obligation is determined.
An interfaith marriage, also known as an interreligious marraige, is defined by Christian denominations as a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian, whereas an interdenominational marriage is between members of two different Christian denominations, such as a Lutheran Christian wedding a Catholic Christian, for example.
Natural marriage is the name given in Catholic canon law to the covenant "by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring", and is distinguished from a sacramental or Christian marriage, in which the two parties involved are baptized.
In the canon law of the Catholic Church, excommunication, the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it presupposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Catholic Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense. The excommunicated person is basically considered as an exile from the Church and as non-existent, for a time at least, in the sight of ecclesiastical authority. The Church regards the excommunicated persons as having the status of that of a stranger.
There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.
Canon 844 is a Catholic Church canon law contained within the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which defines the licit administration and reception of certain sacraments of the Catholic Church in normative and in particular exceptional circumstances, known in canonical theory as communicatio in sacris.
The jurisprudence of Catholic canon law is the complex of legal theory, traditions, and interpretative principles of Catholic canon law. In the Latin Church, the jurisprudence of canon law was founded by Gratian in the 1140s with his Decretum. In the Oriental canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Photios holds a place similar to that of Gratian for the West.
Bigamy, according to the strict meaning, signifies the marrying of a second wife after the death of the first, in contradistinction to polygamy, which is having two simultaneous wives. The present usage in criminal law of applying the term bigamy to that which is more strictly called polygamy is, according to Blackstone a corruption of the true meaning of bigamy. Canonically viewed, bigamy denotes (a) the condition of a man married to two real or interpretative wives in succession, and as a consequence (b) his unfitness to receive, or exercise after reception, tonsure, minor and sacred orders. This unfitness gives rise to an irregularity which is an impediment and "not diriment", hence orders conferred in violation of it are valid but illicit. This irregularity is not a punishment, medicinal nor punitive, as there is no sin nor fault of any kind in a man marrying a second wife after the death of his first, or a third after the death of his second; it is a bar against his receiving or exercising any ecclesiastical order or dignity.
Note: In the following, canonical references to the 1983 Code of Canon Law are denoted by "CIC" (Codex Iuris Canonici), canonical references to the 1917 Code of Canon Law are denoted by "1917 CIC", and canonical references to the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches are denoted by "CCEO" (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium).