Francis, Processus brevior sentence coram Francis, 13 July 2017.

In the name of the Lord.


Bishop of the City

in the fifth ongoing year of Our Pontificate, in the day 13 July 2017, with those assisting Us, the Most Excellent P.D. Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and R.P.D. Petro Milite, Prelate Auditor of the same Apostolic Tribunal and the Instructor in this cause, in the following processus brevior we have brought forth

a definitive sentence in a Roman cause of matrimonial nullity A – B between

- A., actress, represented in the judgment through the patron ex officio Adv. Rot. Mariam Fratangelo; and

- B., defendant, consenting to the petition;

- intervening and disputing in the case, the Cl. D. Adv. Rot. Enrico Ferrannini, the Defender of the Bond deputed to the cause.

1. – Species facti. – Seeking the peace of her conscience, Mrs. A., a Catholic, came to us, when with a libellus presented on 12 June 2017, she sought a declaration of nullity for a marriage which was contracted in the City, on 10 December 1983 with Mr. B., also a Catholic, who consented to the petition of the woman.

The woman herself explained that she entered engagement with B., with her parents urging her most strongly, after the bond of affection she had fostered with Mr. C. was dissolved, precisely when he {B.?} was becoming successful at making money.

Engagement with B. was rocky on account of the incompatibility of their characters and their understanding of life, from whence there grew in A. many ambiguities and doubts about the good of entering into the upcoming marriage. Moved by these perplexities, the woman asserts that she maintained for herself the liberty of marrying again, if things turned out badly, with children excluded.

From the acts, it appears that the actress arrived at consent, even if today she would not admit this to the nail, altogether lacking the aptitude for understanding, accepting, and then fulfilling the essential obligations of marriage.

Only a few months having passed from the wedding, with the common life completely collapsing, the parties arrived at separation by common consent, which was followed in time by a civil divorce.

At the beginning of the year 1985, A. became involved again with C., with whom – having then entered into a bond with a civil rite – she has now been living for 30 years in a stable union, having been gifted with the birth of two sons.

2. – With the petition of the woman actress accepted, the doubt being established on 26 June 2017, namely whether the nullity of marriage is established, in this case, on account of the exclusion of the good of the sacrament on the part of the woman actress (can. 1101, §2 CIC), having completed what is to be completed de iure, having consulted the Most Excellent Dean of the Roman Rota and the Most Reverend Instructor, having gained moral certitude about the contested nullity of matrimony, we have come to bring forth a definitive decision in this case.

3. – In iure. – It is now most pleasing to Us to provide a witness of pastoral solicitude even in the judiciary ambit with this established judgment.

By Our Apostolic Letter given motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus We willingly restored the judicial power {postestas} of Bishops in the matrimonial cause, full and entire, personal and immediate, having been as it were overshadowed by the practice of many centuries. They were desiring this most of all so that, constituted as pastors of souls, in causes in which the nullity of consent shines forth with peculiar clarity, they may render peace to souls by their judgment, having removed those things from the process of ordinary custom (or having applied the briefer rite) which were renovated in cann. 1683-1687.

And indeed Our Predecessor St. John Paul II in an Allocution to the Roman Rota in the year 2005 most strongly admonished: “In the annual discourses to the Roman Rota, I have several times recalled the essential rapport which the process has with the search for the objective truth. About which the Bishops first of all must take charge, who are the judges for the divine law of their community. It is in their name that the tribunal administers justice […] The sacred Pastors cannot think that the operation of their tribunals is merely a “technical” matter about which they can disinterest themselves, entrusting it entirely to their judicial vicars (cfr. CIC, cann. 391, 1419, 1423 §1)” (St. John Paul II, Allocution to the Roman Rota, 29 January 2005, in AAS 97 (2005) p. 165, n. 4).

4. – The merciful God granted a consolation to Our Apostolic function {munus} to propose nearly the same account of ruling and pronouncing about the improper custom of modern youths approaching matrimony, improper on account of an absence of faith and a consequently diminished habit of living according to the counsel of God, which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI taught by asserting: “the closure to God or the refusal of the sacred dimension of the conjugal union and of its value in the order of grace renders difficult the concrete incarnation of the highest model of matrimony conceived by the Church according to the design of God, being able to go so far as to undercut the validity itself of the pact if … this translates into a refusal of the principle of the conjugal obligation of fidelity or indeed of other essential elements or properties of marriage” (Benedict XVI, Allocution to the Roman Rota, 26 January 2013, in AAS 105 (2013) p. 170, n. 2; cf. St. John Paul II, Ap. Ex. Familiaris consortio [22 November 1981], AAS 74 [1982], p. 184, n. 83).

We want to firmly confirm the above doctrine of great moment set forth by our Predecessor, which we similarly brought forth to the Roman Rota on 21 January 2017: “We cannot hide from ourselves that a widespread mentality tends to obscure access to eternal truths. A mentality which involves, often in a manner vast and widespread, the attitudes and behaviors of the same Christians (cfr. Ap. Ex. Evangelii Gaudium, 64), for whom the faith becomes weakened and loses the proper originality of the interpretive and operative criteria for personal, familial and social existence. Such context, lacking religious values and faith, cannot but condition even matrimonial consent. The experiences of faith of those who request Christian marriage are very diverse. Some participate actively in the life of the parish; others are approaching it for the first time; some have a life of prayer that is even intense; other are, however, driven by a more generic religious sentiment; at times they are persons distant from the faith and lacking faith.” (Francis, Allocution to the Roman Rota, 21 January 2017, in L’Osservatore Romano, 22 January 2017, p. 8).

5. – We reckoned that the faster rite was able to be used, there recurring in the case the circumstances of persons and things which, according to art. 14 of the Ratio procedendi, annexed to the abovenamed Apostolic Letter, permit the cause to be handled through the briefer course. For the brevity of marital intimacy stands out, as well as the presence of love for another, fostered beforehand and resumed after the marriage collapsed, which things suggest that the nuptial consent of the actress was crippled, having deliberately omitted the note of perpetuity.

6. – In facto. – At the threshold, there seems to be no doubt that the intention of the actress contrary to the perpetuity of the bond is abundantly demonstrated in the acts. For it is evident that until marrying, she had come close to giving assent to another in marriage.

We judge that the same woman is to be held truly credible when she asserts: “I immediately felt that my doubts about marriage were founded and that the conjugal common life would not have had a good outcome. I did not feel the push to form a family and I therefore closed myself to the idea of having children” (2/9).

The defendant, arrested by a grave illness, was not responding to the petition of nullity for a long time from the year 1989 and then recently at the beginning of 2017, he was taken by a desire to celebrate before the Church the sacrament [of matrimony] with the woman with whom he now lives.

The honesty of the parties is not to be doubted, attentive especially that they call upon the ecclesial ministry of justice for the healing of conscience, humanly at peace and long established in new civil unions.

7. – But an indirect proof comes to the aid of this case, since a prevailing reason for simulating stretches further than the reason for contracting. The reason for simulating (an admission which removed does not urge, there being in the present a general adherence to the principles of Catholic matrimony) shines forth most strongly, from the perplexities fostered by the actress on account of the dissimilitude of natural dispositions and views about life: “There were not interruptions [of engagement] but crises connected to diverse visions of life. At the time of engagement I remember that B. at times had pressuring behaviors, connected to his human character. This mode of acting aroused in my mind the perplexities of the eventual future common life… I nourished doubts about our future life with regard to his mode of relating to me in the future conjugal life” (2/6-7).

The weight of the amorous relation fostered beforehand by the actress with C., later relaxed on account of the young man causing difficulty and the opposition of the parents, is not to be diminished, because evidently the memory of the original love, as we read in the libellus, was working in the mind of the woman even up to now.

The reason for marrying stands out as weak, as if there was an intention to test the agreement of disagreements through marriage: “We arrived at the matrimonial decision because it was thought that these relational difficulties would be able to be resolved with conjugal common life” (2/8); “It was my desire of independence … pushing me to experiment in the matrimonial life with B.” (lib., p. 2). On the contrary, the reason for simulating stands out clearly from the attempt of abandoning the man to whom she had married after only four months had elapsed.

8. – Eloquent are the circumstances of cause, among which peculiarly worth of mention are the disturbance of the time of engagement on account of the discordance of character and of the understanding of life; perplexities which constrained the actress before the nuptials; the extreme brevity of the common life, during which the prenuptial difficulties were made even more difficult; the quick dissociation of minds and the most quick recourse to separation and then divorce; the establishing, within a short time, of common life and later of a civil marriage with the same man, C., whom the woman had loved initially.

9. – With all these things in law and in fact carefully weighed, We FRANCIS, the Bishop of the City, having only God before our eyes, having invoked the Name of Christ, declared and pronounced the sentence, responding to the doubt proposed:


So we pronounce, sending to the Ordinaries of the places and the assistants of the Tribunals, for whom this concerns, that all those who are interested may know this Our definitive sentence, about all the effects of law.

Given in Rome, from the Vatican Apartments, on the day 13 July 2017.


In Audience conceded to the Underwritten, with council gathered for deciding the cause, the Highest Pontiff Francis, Bishop of the City, with myself present, signed the present sentence.

On the day 13 July 2017



Francis, Processus brevior sentence coram Francis, 13 July 2017. Translation by Maximilian Nightingale from the Latin version in Pio Vito Pinto, Matrimonio y familia en el camino sinodal del Papa Francisco: proceso brevior del Papa Francisco Obispo de Roma, Arquidiócesis de Bogotá, 2017, pp. 88-94. Used with permission of the translator.