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Insight: The Matrimonial consent by Rev. Fr. Tindana

The matrimonial consent is so important without it there can be no marriage. Can.  1057 §1 states, “The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent.”  

This canon makes it abundantly clear that, for any union between the parties to qualify to be described as marriage, there must necessarily be present the consent of the two parties. In other words, the consent of the two parties is the efficient cause which constitutes marriage.

A person must be juridically qualified to give consent. This means the person must not be legally impeded in any way. For example, a man who has not completed his sixteenth year of age and a woman who has also not completed her fourteenth year of age cannot enter into a valid marriage. With such couple, unless they are granted dispensation, they are not qualified by law to give matrimonial consent.

Apart from the necessity of having qualified persons give matrimonial consent, it is also essential that it belegitimately manifested. John P. Beal et al states that, “Although consent itself is an internal act imperceptible to the senses, the social significance of the institution of marriage requires that it be given some public expression.”

This legitimate manifestation in the Latin Rite is expressed with the presence of the couple, the witnesses and the officiating clergy. This is termed as the canonical form.(Anytime you hear the expression canonical form of marriage, remember we are talking about the couple, the witnesses and the officiating clergy.) Without this the marriage is invalid.

The law insists that no human power is able to supply the matrimonial consent. In effect, no human power can supply for the absence of consent by one or both parties. This may be challenging to certain cultural practices in which people are given into marriage without their consent. As it stands now, these cultural practices are at variance with Church law and therefore inadmissible.  

Paragraph 2 of canon 1057 states, “Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.

As an act of the will, it means the person must will and want it. The intellect which discerns the truth and the will whose purpose is to pursue the good must be present to help the person make this act of the will.

To put it literally, the matrimonial consent is the reciprocal giving and acceptance of selves, that is, of the person in his or her totality, given and accepted reciprocally and irrevocably, in as much as it is a constitutive act of matrimony (Luigi Sabbarese).

The man freely tells the woman, I take you to be my wife, and the woman freely tells the man, I take you to be my husband. This is the consent that makes marriage. The moment this consent is given, and accepted by the Church through the officiating clergy, there is established a covenant that cannot be revoked.

Paying attention to the fact that the Code mentions consent between a man and a woman, it means that the phenomenon of same sex marriage is alien to Church law. Therefore, the consent expressed by persons of the same sex to each other does not constitute marriage in any shape or form.

Authored by Rev. Fr. John Patrick Tindana// AGNUS-DEI MEDIA 

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