PIUS VI 1775-1799

The Power of the One Church in the Marriage of Baptized Persons *


[From the Epistle, “Deessemus nobis,” to the Bishop of Motula, Sept. 16, 1788]


1500a It is not unknown to us that there are some, who, attributing too much to the authority of the secular princes, and captiously interpreting the words of this canon [see n. 982], have undertaken to defend this: That, since the Tridentine Fathers did not make use of this form of speaking, “to ecclesiastical judges alone,” or, “all matrimonial cases,”–they (the Tridentine Fathers) have left to lay judges the power of at least invest) gating matrimonial cases which are of pure fact. But we know that even this sophism and this false kind of quibbling are devoid of all foundation. For the words of the canon are so general that they embrace and comprise all cases. Moreover, the spirit or purpose of the law extends so widely that it leaves no place for exception or limitation. For if these cases pertain to the tribunal of the Church alone for no other reason than because the marriage contract is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, then, just as this notion of the sacrament is common to all matrimonial cases, so all these cases ought to pertain to the ecclesiastical judges alone.

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