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decree on the dismissal of religious, issued by the Congregation of Religious, in May, 1911, contains a similar arrangement, but only for men; it, however, attached the penalty to a fourth crime, viz., apostasy from the Institute for a period exceeding three months.1

Dismissal of Religious with Temporary Vows.-The dismissal of religious with temporary vows is to be effected:

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1o. In the case of nuns, by the local Ordinary, and, if the convent is subject to Regulars, by the Regular Superior, after the Superioress of the convent with her Council has given a written attestation of the motives of dismissal;

2o. In the case of sisters belonging to Congregations approved by the Holy See, by the General Superioress with the consent of her Council, manifested by secret voting;

3o. In the case of sisters belonging to diocesan Congregations, by the Ordinary of the place in which the house is situated; but he must not exercise this right without the knowledge or against the just opposition of the Superioresses. (c. 647, § 1).

The Superiors in question, in dismissing religious, must observe the following conditions :

'1°. The motives for the dismissal must be grave;

'2°. These motives can be either on the part of the Institute or the religious. The absence of the religious spirit, which is a cause of scandal to others, is a sufficient motive for dismissal, when a repeated admonition, together with a salutary penance has produced no effect; ill-health is not a sufficient motive for dismissal, unless it be proved with certainty that it had been fraudulently hidden or dissimulated before profession;

'8°. Although these motives must be really known to the Superior who effects the dismissal, it is not necessary, however, that they be proved by a judicial process. But they must always be manifested to the religious, and full liberty to reply given her; and her replies must be faithfully submitted to the Superior effecting the dismissal;

'4°. The religious has the right to appeal to the Apostolic See against the decree of dismissal; and, pending the appeal, the dismissal has no juridical effect;

'5°. . . . the prescriptions of Canon 643, § 2, must be observed' (c. 647, § 2).

It will be remembered that Canon 643, § 2, deals with the

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provision to be made for a religious who has been admitted without a dowry and who has no property or money of her


A religious with temporary vows, dismissed in the manner just described, is freed straightaway from all her religious Vows (c. 648).

Dismissal of Religious with Perpetual Vows.-For the dismissal of religious with perpetual vows, whether solemn or simple, grave external reasons are required, together with incorrigibility, experience having proved, in the judgment of the Superioress, that there is no hope of amendment (c. 651, § 2). The religious, however, has the right of defending herself; and her replies must be faithfully reported in the acts (c. 651, § 2).

In the case of diocesan Institutes, the Ordinary of the place in which the house of the professed sister is situated, must examine the motives for, and issue the decree of, dismissal' (c. 652, § 1). If there be question of nuns, the local Ordinary shall transmit to the Sacred Congregation all the acts and documents, with a statement of his own judgment of the case and that of the Regular Superior, if the monastery be subject to Regulars' (c. 652, § 2). 'In the case of other religious approved by the Holy See, the Mother-General likewise shall transmit to the Sacred Congregation the whole matter with all the acts and documents' (c. 652, § 2). In all these cases the usual provision should be made for a dismissed religious who has no dowry or other means of her own.

The procedure just outlined should be followed in ordinary circumstances. According to Canon 653, however, in the case of grave external scandal or of very serious imminent injury to the community, the religious can be dismissed immediately by the higher Superioress with the consent of her Council, or even, if there be danger in delay and time does not admit of recourse to the higher Superioress, by the local Superioress with the consent of her Council and of the local Ordinary; the religious must immediately put off the religious dress; the Ordinary, however, or the higher Superioress, if she be present, must without delay submit the matter to the judgment of the Holy See.'

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We have now brought this question of Nuns and Sisters in the New Code' to a conclusion. We feel, however, that we have dealt with it only very inadequately. The matter is so extensive that only the briefest commentary

was possible within the limits to which we were confined. When we first approached this subject, the English translation of that part of the Code dealing with religious had not yet appeared, and the need of an explanation such as we have given was more pressing than it is at present. Yet, even though the translation is available, the want of a commentary is still felt; we hope our articles will help a little towards supplying it.





THE diriment impediments constitute the basis of the Matrimony tract. A priest must know what they are, and what in a crisis are the means for their removal: else there will be more invalid marriages than his peace of mind, or perhaps the indulgence of his superiors, can tolerate. Understood in the wider sense, the impediments are cited in a few Latin versicles-Error, conditio, votum,' etc.-generally given in our text-books, and immortalized, in their opening stage, in the famous I Promessi Sposi of Manzoni. On some of these the following article will have nothing to say. 'Error' has, we hope, been dealt with sufficiently already1: 'conditio' (1083, § 2, 2°) involves slavery, unknown in these countries except in a metaphorical sense; fear has been mentioned before 2; and ' clandestinity '-involving the changes made by the Ne Temere decree, and by the Code even in the Ne Temere itself-had better be reserved for separate treatment. None of those just named is an impediment in the strict sense, or is mentioned in the special section on 'diriment impediments 'diriment impediments' (1067-1080), with which we are just now concerned. On the others, however, a few remarks may be advisable. And, in obedience to the directions of the Holy See, we will sacrifice the usual order of the manuals, and take the impediments as arranged in the Code itself.

Age.-Canon 1067 runs :

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1. A man, before completing his sixteenth year, or a woman, before completing her fourteenth, cannot enter into a valid marriage.

2. Although a marriage contracted after the age just mentioned is

1 I. E. RECORD, October, 1918, Fifth Series, vol. xii. pp. 274 sqq.

2 Ibid., p. 277. It may be contended that the new definition (1087) covers even the case in which a person, to free himself from fear inflicted by A, makes a matrimonial arrangement with B (a rank outsider). The point is one for debate.


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valid, pastors of souls must be careful to dissuade young people from contracting it until they have reached the age at which, according to the accepted customs of the country, marriage generally takes place.

As will be seen at once, this introduces a change of great importance in theory but, so far as this country is concerned, of slight consequence in practice. The previous condition of things may be briefly summarized as follows. According to the natural law anyone might contract marriage as soon as he had attained the use of reason, for no serious cause could be shown for differentiating in this matter between marriage and the other contracts. But public policy suggested a more advanced age, and so the positive law of the Church fixed on the age of puberty. That will vary with different individuals: a distinction, consequently, came to be drawn between 'natural' puberty, attained when the person is capable of having children, and 'legal' puberty, attained when the law presumes that the capacity has been secured. For purposes of her impediment the Church selected 'legal' puberty: fixed it, in conformity with the old Roman law, at the ages of 14 and 12, in the case of boys and girls respectively and decided that marriages contracted after that age were valid, whether natural ’ puberty had been reached or not. But she did not neglect the latter altogether. If evidence were procurable that the individuals were capable at an earlier age, there was no diriment impediment to their marriage. And, since evidence to that effect was difficult to secure except sinful conduct had actually resulted in conception, the exception came to be formulated in the uncomplimentary phrase, 'nisi malitia supplet aetatem.'


So in regard to invalidity. But the boundaries of ' unlawfulness' extended further. Even when malice' did secure validity, permission from the Bishop, granted only for very urgent reasons, was required to render the marriage lawful. And all were agreed in emphasizing the important point that, even after the ages specified, priests were to discourage marriage until the parties had attained the development and strength that indicated their fitness to be the fathers and mothers of another generation. The period varied in the various localities.

The second section of the Canon merely embodies the

1 Decret., B. 4, t. 2, c. 6: only positive law (Bened. XIV, Magnae Nobis).

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