In your opinion, is this marriage valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church?
#1
Scenario:

A young man and a young woman have been dating for a while and things are beginning to get serious.  The young woman tells the young man that she plans to remain a virgin until marriage and would not marry someone who was not a virgin.

The man assures the woman that he is indeed a virgin, and the couple gets married after three years of dating.

Five years into their marriage, the husband informs his wife that he had lied about being a virgin, and had had sexual relations with a few of his girlfriends during college.

The husband and wife have a great marriage, but now the wife fears that their marriage is not valid (null) in the eyes of the Catholic Church because of what is indicated in Canon Laws 1097 (Error about a quality of a person) and 1098 (Error induced by fraud).  She's afraid that her husband's lie might make the marriage invalid.

Please take a minute and read the Canon Laws mentioned above.

In your opinion, is this a valid marriage in the eyes of the church?

Thanks!
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#2
Can. 1098 A person contracts invalidly who enters into a marriage deceived by malice, perpetrated to obtain consent, concerning some quality of the other partner which by its very nature can gravely disturb the partnership of conjugal life.

She was deceived by malice in order to obtain her consent.  Her marriage is invalid.  The man should be barred from the house, the locks should be changed, the woman should immediately begin divorce proceedings, and petition for an annulment. Proving the nullity is going to be the hard part, but it could possibly be done.  The big thing is the man she thought she married is a literal enemy (i.e., someone who introduces disorder into another person's order), she has to remove him from any position of esteem and the farce of conjugal life she's been living.
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#3
(11-29-2020, 07:11 PM)Number 4 Wrote: In your opinion, is this a valid marriage in the eyes of the church?

Well, this question is itself problematic. 
It’s difficult for us to know for sure what has happened, and for that reason a marriage tribunal is needed to give an objective opinion.
If we were all left to decide for ourselves whether our own marriages or annulments were truly valid or not, it could lead to some serious craziness.
In that scenario, I’d simply advise the woman to contact the Judicial Vicar of the diocese to explain the situation, and to get the best advice on how to best move forward. 
If it is indeed determined to be invalid: who’s to say they don’t wish to remain together? Perhaps the man is truly repentant for his previous fornication & dishonesty, and the woman wants to stay together. In this case, the Judicial Vicar could simply be asked how they could fix this situation so that they can be truly married in the Church. Perhaps a radical sanation could applicable in this instance, I don’t know. Again, this person would do best to contact the Judicial Vicar or the Bishop of the diocese.
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#4
My opinion doesn't count for much, since if it were invalid, only a tribunal could determine this, but in trying to provide an answer I asked a traditionalist priest friend of mine.

He pointed me to Haligan's Administration of the Sacraments which was a standard seminary manual from 1962. In it we read (p. 431):

Quote:To be mistaken or in error about some quality of the person with whom marriage is contracted is accidental, e.g., that the person is rich, or healthy, or a virgin, or has a different name, etc., and does not of itself invalidate marriage either by natural law or positive law of the Church, even though the contract is based on it.

The reference for that statement is the 1917 Code's Canon 1083, which is the same in the 1983 at Canon 1097 :

Quote:§1. Error concerning the person renders a marriage invalid.

§2. Error concerning a quality of the person does not render a marriage invalid even if it is the cause for the contract, unless this quality is directly and principally intended.

Halligan goes on to say that an error on a quality of a person would invalid only if it were a sine qua non condition of the contract. 

So, the question about validity goes back to her true intent. Did she really mean and say that she would only consent marry someone who is a virgin? If he had said at that point in time, or during engagement that he was not a virgin would she have left him? Is there any proof that she said this except her statement?

The marriage might be invalid if she really meant that she would truly never have married him if he had revealed before marriage that he was not a virgin—if she made this a sine qua non condition of the contract. If she did, to prove it to a tribunal would require evidence beyond her own word and his (because they are interested parties).

A better solution, if she wants to solve the doubt and not pursue nullity is to approach a priest with delegation, explain the situation, ask him to witness their consent with two witnesses present. This would remedy any defect here. Recourse to a tribunal or the bishop or vicar would not be necessary if she wanted to simply fix the possible problem here.
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#5
(11-29-2020, 08:06 PM)FultonFan Wrote:
(11-29-2020, 07:11 PM)Number 4 Wrote: In your opinion, is this a valid marriage in the eyes of the church?

Well, this question is itself problematic. 
It’s difficult for us to know for sure what has happened, and for that reason a marriage tribunal is needed to give an objective opinion.
If we were all left to decide for ourselves whether our own marriages or annulments were truly valid or not, it could lead to some serious craziness.
In that scenario, I’d simply advise the woman to contact the Judicial Vicar of the diocese to explain the situation, and to get the best advice on how to best move forward. 
If it is indeed determined to be invalid: who’s to say they don’t wish to remain together? Perhaps the man is truly repentant for his previous fornication & dishonesty, and the woman wants to stay together. In this case, the Judicial Vicar could simply be asked how they could fix this situation so that they can be truly married in the Church. Perhaps a radical sanation could applicable in this instance, I don’t know. Again, this person would do best to contact the Judicial Vicar or the Bishop of the diocese.

^^^
This. You are not going to get a reasonable answer here because there is far more to delve in than just the prima face scenario.
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#6
(11-29-2020, 08:06 PM)FultonFan Wrote:
(11-29-2020, 07:11 PM)Number 4 Wrote: In your opinion, is this a valid marriage in the eyes of the church?

Well, this question is itself problematic. 
It’s difficult for us to know for sure what has happened, and for that reason a marriage tribunal is needed to give an objective opinion.
If we were all left to decide for ourselves whether our own marriages or annulments were truly valid or not, it could lead to some serious craziness.
In that scenario, I’d simply advise the woman to contact the Judicial Vicar of the diocese to explain the situation, and to get the best advice on how to best move forward. 
If it is indeed determined to be invalid: who’s to say they don’t wish to remain together? Perhaps the man is truly repentant for his previous fornication & dishonesty, and the woman wants to stay together. In this case, the Judicial Vicar could simply be asked how they could fix this situation so that they can be truly married in the Church. Perhaps a radical sanation could applicable in this instance, I don’t know. Again, this person would do best to contact the Judicial Vicar or the Bishop of the diocese.

With all due respect to you, this is not the case.

A person can discern whether his marriage is valid or invalid, or whether his annulment is valid or invalid.  It doesn't take an advanced degree, it takes minimal education...and is part of what is (or supposedly is) now undertaken in the 6 mo - 1 yr prior to a wedding when the examinations are done to make sure there are no diriment impediments.  It is well within the ability of lay people to know this.

Furthermore, this is why the Roman Rota exists...because lay people can judge when tribunals err and appeal their cases to Rome, where annulments are either given or overturned frequently.

If the reader restricts his judgment to the scenario given by the OP, it's easy to judge that by Can. 1098 the marriage is invalid.  It is another thing entirely to prove it.
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#7
Despite the circumstances described in the opening post in this thread, the wife and husband are happily married and want nothing more than to have their marriage considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  The man has been a wonderful husband and a devout Catholic since the day they were married. 

The life he led prior to meeting his wife is one that he deeply regrets.  He considered himself a "secondary virgin" from the time he began dating his (future) wife.

And, yes, he admits that he lied to her because he thought he would lose her.

Based on what some of you have said in your posts on this thread, it would be impossible for the couple to provide proof of the facts, since no one else knew about them.

If it were impossible for them to provide proof of the facts, does that mean that the marriage is indeed valid in the eyes of the Church because there would be no proof to deem it invalid (null)?
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#8
(11-29-2020, 11:07 PM)Number 4 Wrote: Despite the circumstances described in the opening post in this thread, the wife and husband are happily married and want nothing more than to have their marriage considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  The man has been a wonderful husband and a devout Catholic since the day they were married. 

The life he led prior to meeting his wife is one that he deeply regrets.  He considered himself a "secondary virgin" from the time he began dating his (future) wife.

And, yes, he admits that he lied to her because he thought he would lose her.

Based on what some of you have said in your posts on this thread, it would be impossible for the couple to provide proof of the facts, since no one else knew about them.

If it were impossible for them to provide proof of the facts, does that mean that the marriage is indeed valid in the eyes of the Church because there would be no proof to deem it invalid (null)?

As long as they are together the marriage enjoys the presumption of validity. 
Were there any witnesses to this discussion of virginity? That would be very difficult to prove before a tribunal without witnesses. He could say one thing and she could say another and there would be no proof for the tribunal to consider.
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#9
(11-30-2020, 12:35 AM)benedicite Wrote:
(11-29-2020, 11:07 PM)Number 4 Wrote: Despite the circumstances described in the opening post in this thread, the wife and husband are happily married and want nothing more than to have their marriage considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  The man has been a wonderful husband and a devout Catholic since the day they were married. 

The life he led prior to meeting his wife is one that he deeply regrets.  He considered himself a "secondary virgin" from the time he began dating his (future) wife.

And, yes, he admits that he lied to her because he thought he would lose her.

Based on what some of you have said in your posts on this thread, it would be impossible for the couple to provide proof of the facts, since no one else knew about them.

If it were impossible for them to provide proof of the facts, does that mean that the marriage is indeed valid in the eyes of the Church because there would be no proof to deem it invalid (null)?

As long as they are together the marriage enjoys the presumption of validity. 
Were there any witnesses to this discussion of virginity? That would be very difficult to prove before a tribunal without witnesses. He could say one thing and she could say another and there would be no proof for the tribunal to consider.

Can.  1060 Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.

If the woman tells the judicial vicar that she told the man she would only marry a virgin, and if the man tells the judicial vicar that he did in fact deceive the woman by malice in telling her he was a virgin in order to gain her consent to marry, then that is really all they need to hear to grant an annulment.  Radical sanation could be examined at that point.
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#10
(11-29-2020, 11:07 PM)Number 4 Wrote: Despite the circumstances described in the opening post in this thread, the wife and husband are happily married and want nothing more than to have their marriage considered valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  The man has been a wonderful husband and a devout Catholic since the day they were married. 

The life he led prior to meeting his wife is one that he deeply regrets.  He considered himself a "secondary virgin" from the time he began dating his (future) wife.

And, yes, he admits that he lied to her because he thought he would lose her.

Based on what some of you have said in your posts on this thread, it would be impossible for the couple to provide proof of the facts, since no one else knew about them.

If it were impossible for them to provide proof of the facts, does that mean that the marriage is indeed valid in the eyes of the Church because there would be no proof to deem it invalid (null)?

The question, as I noted, is one of her condition.

Did she really mean that if he has told her before marriage that he was not a virgin (including his desire to remain chaste after meeting her), that she would have refused marriage? That will be the real question here, and since they have no desire to separate or seek a declaration of nullity, the solution is very simple.

The priest I spoke to about this gave the solution I paraphrased :

Visit their pastor or another solidly traditional priest who knows what he is doing. Explain the situation, including the condition. He (with two witnesses for validity), can officially witness their renewal of consent, without any other process. This would remedy any defect in the consent from before, and ensure that all of the conditions were met.

In fact, that priest said that her removing that condition after knowing that her husband was not a virgin, and even privately renewing her part of the consent might be sufficient to validate it were it invalid, presuming his consent continued, so in short, not to worry, but for the sake of peace of soul, to remove any doubt and renew consent properly in front of two witnesses and the priest with delegation.
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