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Validation of Marriage

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Validation of marriage may be effected by a simple renewal of consent when its nullity arises only from a defective consent in one or both parties. When, however, matrimony is invalid on account of the existence of some ecclesiastical impediment, it may be revalidated by simple dispensation or by that known as Sanatio in Radice.

(1) In the first method, as soon as a simple dispensation from the impediment has been obtained, a renovation of consent of both parties will validate the marriage. When the impediment had affected only one of the parties and the other was unaware of the impediment, it is probably that both must renew their consent. That a true renovation of consent be obtained, it is requisite that the parties be made aware of the nullity of their marriage, unless sanatio in radice be resorted to. The renovation must be made before the authorized ecclesiastical authority and witnesses when the impediment has been public.

(2) The dispensation called sanatio in radice consists in the revalidation of a marriage by reason of a consent formerly given, but ineffective at the time owing to some ecclesiastical impediment. When the impediment is removed, the consent is ipso facto ratified and no renovation is required. In such a case, it is requisite that the consent of both parties to the marriage had not ceased and that their wedlock had had the external appearance of a true marriage. Sanatio is resorted to when there is urgent reason for not acquainting the parties with the nullity of their marriage, or when one of the parties alone is cognizant of the impediment and the other cannot be informed without grave consequences, or when one party would be unwilling formally to renew a consent that is presumably existent. The pope has power to give the dispensation called sanatio in radice for all marriages which are invalid in consequence of an ecclesiastical impediment. Bishops generally have no such power, even when by particular indult they can dispense in diriment impediments. For the granting of sanatio in radice a special apostolic faculty is required. In the United States, the ordinaries may grant such dispensation, under certain limitations, when only of the parties to the marriage is aware of the impediment.

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