Cardinal Müller, Private Judgment Decides Whether Marriage Is Valid Or Not

Cardinal Müller, Private Judgment Decides Whether Marriage Is Valid Or Not


According to Cardinal Gerhard Müller a Catholic may conclude that the marriage he contracted in front of the Church was invalid although he has no canonical proof for this.

Talking to the ultraliberal Vatican Insider (December 31) Müller claimed that if such a person enters another liaison, the second liaison would be the one valid before God.

The claim that anybody but an ecclesiastical judge may decide about the validity of a marriage was explicitly condemned by the Council of Trent (1545-1562). Without annulment every second liaison is a mortal sin. Müller therefore presupposes that the annulment process and/or the canonical form of the Catholic marriage are irrelevant.

Get AQ Email Updates

2 comments on “Cardinal Müller, Private Judgment Decides Whether Marriage Is Valid Or Not

  1. What about the reverse. What would Cardinal Mueller say to someone then, if their conscience said an annulment was invalid? Why are Church annulments binding if someone’s conscience says to the contrary, if marriages are not binding if an improperly formed conscience disagrees?

  2. I think is taking the Cardinal out of context. While Müller is attempting to navigate away from the wishy-washy modernist deconstruction of marriage, he is trying to give ground on the case of a Catholic who has left the faith, gotten married, and is coming back to the faith. Note that 1) Müller says that such persons cannot receive Communion, and 2) he is NOT saying that married Catholics, in general, can declare their marriages to be invalid. Then he waffles on what a pastor can do for the former, which is problematic.

    Müller, “Buttiglione’s book has dispelled the cardinals’ dubia”
    Andrea Tornielli, 31 Dec, Vatican Insider
    [excerpts follow]
    [Tornielli] In your introductory essay to Buttiglione’s book, you speak of at least one exception concerning the sacraments for those who live a second union, that concerning those who cannot obtain marriage annulment in court but are convinced in conscience of the nullity of the first marriage. This hypothesis was already considered, in 2000, by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In this case, can we open the way to the sacraments? Could Amoris laetitia be considered a development of that position?

    [Cd. Müller] Faced with the often-inadequate education in Catholic doctrine, and in a secularized environment in which Christian marriage is not a convincing example of life, the question arises also on the validity of marriages celebrated according to the canonical ritual. There is a natural right to marry a person of the opposite sex. This also applies to Catholics who have departed from the faith or maintained only a superficial bond with the Church. How can we consider the situation of those Catholics who do not appreciate or even deny the sacramentality of Christian marriage? Cardinal Ratzinger wanted to reflect on this without having a ready-made solution. This is not about artificially constructing some kind of pretext for being able to give communion. Those who do not recognize or take marriage seriously as a sacrament in the sense that the Church considers, cannot even, and this is the most important thing, receive in holy communion, Christ who is the foundation of the sacramental grace of marriage. There should first be a conversion to the entire mystery of faith. Only in the light of these considerations can a good pastor clarify the family and marriage situation. It is possible that the penitent may be convinced in conscience, and with good reasons, of the invalidity of the first marriage even though they cannot offer canonical proof. In this case the marriage valid before God would be the second one and the pastor could grant the sacrament, certainly with the appropriate precautions as not to scandalize the community of the faithful and not to weaken the conviction of marriage indissolubility.

    [Tornielli] We are faced with an increasing number of marriages celebrated without real faith between people who, after a few years (sometimes a few months) leave each other. And then, perhaps, after having entered a new civil union, they truly meet Christian faith and embark on a journey. How to act in these cases?

    [Cd. Müller] We do not yet have a consolidated answer here. However, we should develop criteria without falling into the casuistic trap. Theoretically, it is quite easy to define the difference between a non-baptized believer and a so-called “Christian in name only” who later reaches the fullness of faith. It is more difficult to verify this in the concrete reality of the individual person on the pilgrimage of their life. Faithful to the Word of God, the Church does not recognize any dissolution of the marriage bond and therefore no division. A sacramental marriage valid before God and before the Church cannot be dissolved by the spouses or by the authority of the Church, nor can it be dissolved by a civil divorce followed by a new marriage. The case is different, which we have already mentioned, of a marriage that has been invalid since the beginning because of the lack of a true consensus. In this case, a valid marriage is not dissolved or considered irrelevant. It is simply recognized that what seemed to be a marriage actually wasn’t.

Leave a Reply