Raymond on Paying but not Demanding

img_0300As I was reading commentators on Amoris Laetitia, and trying to think of difficult marriage situations, I remembered passages in Raymond of Penyafort’s Summa on Marriage. In these passages, there is doubt about the validity of the marriage, and consequently a limit on the enjoyment of the rights proper to marriage. What follows are two scenarios where Raymond (following the Liber Extra, a book of Papal Decretals that Raymond edited) judges it is acceptable to pay the marriage debt, but not to demand it. I left the Liber Extra passages in Latin, since the sense of them are basically in the passages from Raymond.

From Raymond of Penyafort, Summa on Marriage

Title XIII, The Impediment of Bond (p. 58)
“Suppose a wife believes her husband is dead and she contracts with another. Say that as long as she believes it and he does not return she is excused from adultery and fornication on account of the ignorance of fact.” “But what if he does not return and, nevertheless, she believes he is alive; what should she do? She should not demand the debt from the [second] husband, but pay if he demands.”

“Dubitans de morte coniugis, nisi prius certificetur, contrahere non debet, et, si contraxit, reddat, sed non exigat debitum. Et si postmodum sciat primam vivere, dimittat secundam. Abbas Siculus.

Lucius III. universis Christianis in captivitate Sarracenorum positis.

Dominus ac redemptor noster (Et infra:) Sane, super matrimoniis, quae quidam ex vobis nondum habita obeuntisconiugis certitudine contraxerunt, id vobis auctoritate apostolica respondemus, ut nullus ex vobis amodo ad secundas nuptias migrare praesumat, donec ei firma certitudine constet, quod ab hac vita migraverit coniux eius. Si vero aliquis vel aliqua id hactenus non servavit, et de morte prioris coniugis adhuc sibi existimat dubitandum: ei, quae sibi nupsit, debitum non deneget postulanti, quod a se tamen noverit nullatenus exigendum. Quodsi post hoc de prioris coniugis vita constiterit, relictis adulterinis illicitisque complexibus ad priorem sine dubio coniugemrevertatur.”

Title XXI, How an Accusation Is to Be Made against a Marriage (p. 78)
The scenario is a case where two men related to each other end up marrying two women who are related to the each other. Later on, “a judgment of divorce between one and his wife is rendered by the Church because of consanguinity. So the question arises whether the other, on account of this, can be separated from his wife, or how he ought to conduct himself with her.” Raymond says that the other couple should not be separated since a judgment concerning some persons does not affect other persons.

But then he makes a distinction with respect to carnal union: “either he know that consanguinity or another perpetual impediment exists between himself and his wife, or he believes it. In the first case he should nether demand nor pay the debt. In the second, if he believe for a probable reason, he should pay, but not ask. However, if he believes for a slight or inconsiderable reason, he should pay, and if he can, lay aside his erroneous conscience and afterwards demand.”

“Si coniux scit pro certo impedimentum matrimonii, non debet reddere debitum, sed potius excommunicationempati; si autem hoc credat ex causa probabili et discreta, potest reddere debitum, non autem exigere; sed si ex levi et temeraria causa, deposita conscientia potest reddere et exigere.


Inquisitioni tuae breviter respondentes credimus distinguendum, utrum alter coniugum pro certo sciatimpedimentum coniugii, propter quod sine mortali peccato non valeat carnale commercium exercere, quamvis illud apud ecclesiam probare non possit, an impedimentum huiusmodi non sciat pro certo, sed credat. In primo itaquecasu debet potius excommunicationis sententiam humiliter sustinere, quam per carnale commercium peccatumoperari mortale. In secundo vero casu distinguimus, utrum habeat conscientiam huiusmodi ex credulitate levi et temeraria, an probabili et discreta; et quidem ad sui pastoris consilium, conscientia levis et temerariae credulitatisexplosa, licite potest non solum reddere, sed exigere debitum coniugale. Verum quum conscientia pulsat animumex credulitate probabili et discreta, quamvis non evidenti et manifesta, debitum quidem reddere potest, sed postulare non debet, ne in alterutro vel contra legem coniugii, vel contra iudicium conscientiae committatoffensam. Tu ergo iuxta responsionem praescriptam super illo procedas articulo, de quo nos consulere voluisti.”

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