Catholics/Unconsummated Marriage


QUESTION: My son got married 2 1/2 years ago.  Unfortunately the marriage was not consummated due to Erectile Dysfunction.  Investigations showed that the problem was due to venous leak in the penis.  This was corrected by surgery about 2 years ago.  The follow up about 1 year after the surgery showed that his problem is corrected.  

His wife left him just before the surgery and she has approached the Marriage Tribunal for a divorce.  My son still loves her very much and wants to continue the marriage.

The Tribunal has apparently not come across a case before in which Erectile Dysfunction got corrected.  Will the Tribunal take a decision against me based on the Canonical laws made when no Erectile Dysfunction was possible to be corrected surgically?

Kindly advise how to go about it and uphold the marriage.


ANSWER: Dear Martin, thank you you for the question...

Without actually quoting from Canon Law Chapter and verse, I am quite certain that one could find my analysis of this based upon my knowledge of Catholic Marriage Law as reflected in the Code of Canon Law:

At the time of this couple's lawful public consent to marriage by vows, the man had uncorrected erectile disfunction, which never allowed him to consummate the marriage in a human manner (vaginal intercourse) during the time he and his wife were together;
However, the marriage had been ratified by vow; but not consummated...
Since his wife left him with the intention of separating from him permanently, perhaps to take up another full marital union (ratum & consummatum); the ratified marriage by vows can be dissolved, leaving both partners free to enter into marriages later.

The dissolution has force based upon the circumstances and conditions from the time of consent by vow, until the separation - during which the marriage was not consummated, and could therefore be dissolved...

However, there is a real pastoral dimension to this case as presented...
It has to do with the fact that the man still loves his wife very much, and would like to continue the marriage; and since the disfunction can be remedied (fixed), wouldn't it be wonderful if the wife were willing to stay with her husband with whom she had a ratified marriage, which still would have the potential of being consummated?  Then if they were to choose to stay together through this time of trial, they would (by all appearances) seem to be able to have a ratified, consummated marriage; which, if it is a Sacrament as between 2 baptized persons (1 male, 1 female), then it would also be indissoluble.

Fr. Timothy Johnson

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Fr. Timothy Johnson,
Thank you very much for your answer.  May I ask you one more question.

In the present mood that is prevailing, if the Tribunal grants her (who is totally brainwashed by her parents) the dissolution of marriage, she would go away from me for ever.  But there is a high possibility that she would return to me if she is somehow stopped from getting the dissolution, as my Erectile Dysfunction is already fixed by surgery.

Is there any Canonical law by which I can achieve this or by which the Tribunal can help me for it?

Kindly give your valuable reply.

As far as I know, if she does not return, and there is no consummation of the ratified bond; then this would leave each of you free to marry once you were to have a dissolution granted.
I wish you well... I can imagine this can certainly be a big struggle for you, as the outcome can go two different ways, either/or...

Fr. Timothy Johnson


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