Marriage on death row
October 4, 2015 § 24 Comments
Both a death sentence and a declaration of nullity are fallible juridical decisions, made by fallible people exercising fallible judgment after looking at some evidence. We are told that it is more merciful to err on the side of not executing a convict, because sometimes we will inevitably get it wrong.
The same kind of reasoning applies to declarations of nullity, it seems to me. A wrong declaration of nullity turns the parties into material adulterers.
One difference is that often enough (though certainly not always) parties in the proceeding unanimously want to believe that a valid marriage never occurred. This gives rise to the idea that, whether factually accurate or not, declarations of nullity are a kind of mercy. And in that sense a “lenient” annulment process is more akin to euthanasia than it is to accidentally executing the innocent. Permission to die and permission to commit adultery are considered “mercy”; because sometimes doing the right thing can be very difficult, and that is not something that people like to hear.