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Marriage and definitions

14 June 2013

June 13th, 1913.

THE Archdeacon of Coventry has been taken to task, and, in our judgment, rightly so, for deducing from the 105th of the Canons of 1603 the argument that the Church recognizes the unfaithfulness of either party as a ground for the dissolution of a marriage, or divorce a vinculo. It is clear, how-ever, that the Canons recognize only two kinds of divorce, to use the term in its widest sense, namely, a decree of nullity and a decree of separation from bed and board. The former decree could not be obtained on the ground of conjugal infidelity, but only for some antecedent disqualifications rendering the marriage invalid. The latter decree carried with it the recognition of the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage, for it was not granted until either party had pledged himself or herself not to attempt re-marriage during the other's lifetime. It has been pointed out in the Times, where the Archdeacon has been defending his position, that his mistake arose from his not looking at the Latin original of the Canons, where it is clear what we now speak of as divorce was not referred to. The Archdeacon ought to have remembered that subsequently to the adoption of the Canons, until 1857, the few persons who were able to obtain divorce a vinculo did so by means of a private Act of Parliament. The Church could not and would not dissolve their marriages.

Since there is much confused talk, even on the part of ecclesiastical dignitaries, on the subject of divorce, it is of importance to point out that divorce as an ecclesiastical term differs com- pletely from divorce as a modern legal term. . .

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