Consanguinity affinity and spiritual relationship advice

Full text of "Systems of consanguinity and affinity of the human family"

Relationships of Consanguinity - Two people are related to each other by consanguinity if one is a descendant of the other or if they share a common ancestor. and Highness impediments of consanguinity, affinity, or spiritual relationship, This advice has not met with the approval of the Queen's physicians; who have. Marriage and the Cloister, to Suzanne Fonay Wemple He sought advice from popes on the the seventh degree of consanguinity, as well as to relationships by affinity and spiritual kinship, that it considerably restricted the capacity.

This, as is seen, would extend the impediment of consanguinity. Some have called the new computation Germanic computatio Germanica because it has a similarity to the peculiar Germanic system of determining inheritance, and whose technical terms were borrowed from the seven joints of the body on both sides from the neck to the finger-tips. But Santi-Leitner calls attention ed. The latter system was more directly connected with the natural relations of marriage, and Alexander II treated it as peculiarly ecclesiastical law c.

The reception and extension of this severe discipline regarding the impediment of consanguinity came about gradually and by custom, says Wernz, from the sixth and seventh centuries when first the third and then the fourth degree, i. It is, however, doubtful whether the sixth and seventh degrees of consanguinity were ever a diriment impediment, at least everywhere.

It is not improbable that even the fifth was only a preventive impediment Wernz, op. While in the twelfth century the theory of the remote degrees was strictly maintained by canonists, councils, and popes, in practice marriages ignorantly contracted within them were healed by dispensation or dissimulation Wernz, loc. He explains that it was found difficult to carry out the extension to further degrees. For a defence of his illustrative reference to the current theory of the "four bodily humours", borrowed from the ancient physiology, see Santi-Leitner, op.

Gregory Iif the letter in question be truly his, granted to the newly converted Anglo-Saxons restriction of the impediment to the fourth degree of consanguinity c. For converted infidels it is recognized that the Church does not insist upon annulment of marriages beyond this first degree of consanguinity.

For further details of the history of ecclesiastical legislation concerning this impediment see Esmein, "Le mariage en droit canonique", Paris,I, ; II,; Santi-Leitner, op. The welfare of the social order, according to St. Dei, XV, xvi and St. By overthrowing the barriers between inimical families and races, ruinous internecine warfare was diminished and greater peace and harmony secured among the newly-converted Christians.

In the moral order the prohibition of marriage between near relations served as a barrier against early corruption among young persons of either sex brought habitually into close intimacy with one another; it tended also to strengthen the natural feeling of respect for closely related persons St. Nature itself seemed to abhor the marriage of close kin, since such unions are often childless and their offspring seem subject to grave physical and mental weakness epilepsy, deaf-muteness, weak eyes, nervous diseasesand incur easily and transmit the defects, physical or moral, of their parents, especially when the interbreeding of blood-relations is repeated Santi-Leitner, op.

The stockor root, is the common ancestor, or the person, male or female, from whom descend as from the nearest common bond the persons whose blood-relationship is to be determined.

The degree is the distance of one person from the other in regard to blood-relationship. The line is the classified series of persons descending from the common stock through one or more generations. The line is direct when the series of persons descend one from the other, as father and son, grandfather and grandchild.

The line is transverse, or collateralwhen the blood-relations spring from a common stock, yet do not descend one from the other but form different branches side by side, as two brothers, two nephews. This collateral line is equal or unequal according as these persons derive equally or unequally from the same stock or root.

The blood-relationship is computed according to the distance from the stock whence it is derived, and this is the rule by which the degrees or steps of consanguinity are determined. In the direct line the Roman civil and the canon law agree on the principle that there are as many degrees as generations; hence as many degrees as there are persons, omitting the stock or root.

A son is one degree from his father, a grandchild two degrees from the grandfather. In the computation of the degrees of the transverse or collateral line there is a serious difference between the Roman civil and the canon law.

The civil law founded its degrees upon the number of generations, the number of degrees being equal to the number of generations; thus between brothers there are two degrees as there are two generations; between first cousins four degrees, corresponding to the four generations.

The degrees are calculated easily in the civil law by summing up the number of persons in each line, omitting the common ancestor. Except for marriage, the canon law follows regularly the computation of the civil law, e. But the Canon law, in the collateral line of consanguinity, computes for marriage one series only of generations, and if the series are unequal, only the longer one.

Hence the principle of canon law that in the transverse or collateral line there are as many degrees of consanguinity as there are persons in the longer series, omitting the common stock or root. If the two series are equal, the distance is the number of degrees of either from the common stock.

Thus brother and sister are in the first degree, first cousins in the second degree; uncle and niece in the second degree because the niece is two degrees from the grandfather who is the common stock. Thus if Caius has two sons, Titius and Sempronius, and Sempronius has a son and grandchild, the relationship of the grandchild of Sempronius to Titius is in the third degree, because this grandchild is distant three degrees from the common stock, Caius. This rule holds if the common stock should only be one person ; thus half-brothers and half-sisters, that is from either father or mother, are in the first degree.

Children of the same father and mother are called german, as from the common germ; those of the same mother and not of the same father are called uterine, as from the same womb; and children of the same father and different mother are called blood-children.

  • Consanguinity (in Canon Law)

The legitimacy or illegitimacy of any member of the series does not modify the relationship as a bar to marriage. For civil effects the civil law's computation of degrees must be known.

Affinity (canon law) - Wikipedia

In most European countries the law follows mainly the computation of the Roman civil law. In England, since the Reformation, the Levitical law has been recognized as the standard by which to determine the prohibitions of marriage. For Catholics everywhere, as Alexander II decreed c. The Council of Trent required the absolute separation of those who knowingly contracted marriage within the prohibited degrees, and denied all hope of obtaining a dispensation, especially if the attempted marriage had been consummated.

But in this regard the practice of the Church, probably on account of the recognition of such marriages by the State, and the consequent difficulty of enforcing the dissolution of illicit unions, has tended towards greater leniency. The Council of Trent, it is true Sess. Rechts, Freiburg, sqq. In the Uniat Eastern Churches, the marriage of blood-relations is forbidden in the collateral line to the seventh civil degree, 1.

In the schismatic Churches of the East all marriages of relations in the direct line are prohibited; in the collateral line the seventh civil degree is the limit of prohibition; the remotest degree, however, is only a preventive impediment. In the National Greek Church, sincemarriage is forbidden within the sixth civil degree, i.

The pope generally exercises his power of dispensing through the Roman Congregations. The Congregation of Propaganda is the medium for countries dependent on it, e.

Great Britain and its dependencies and the United States. This power of dispensation with the right to subdelegate is often delegated to bishops, vicars Apostolicand others having pastoral authority over souls. In whatever is forbidden by the law of nature there is no dispensation. In the direct line of consanguinity Nicholas I supposes that there is no room for dispensation. However, in cases of infidels when one or both are converted, while it is to be held that marriages within the first degree of the direct line are invalid, in all others the Holy See has to be consulted.

The Holy See has the supreme right in doubtful cases to determine what may or may not be forbidden by the law of nature or by the Divine positive law. Benedict XIVas already said, emphasized the fact that the popes had never granted a dispensation for a marriage between brother and sister, even where the union might have occurred without a knowledge of the relationship on the part of the contracting persons.

Consanguinity may be duplicated as arising from two sources: The law of nature compels it, the law of the Church sanctions it. With reason, then, does the Church oblige children to consult their parents in the matter. Of course, cases may and do arise in which the consent of the parents is unjustly held back. Some parents out of mere selfish love dislike to lose their children, and act all regardless of the divine ordinance that for the sake of matrimony a man shall leave his father and mother.

In case of dispute, however, the children will not go against the wishes of their parents without first consulting their confessor. Again, since the Church regards marriage as a great Sacrament, she encourages her children to celebrate it with great pomp and festive joy. It happens as a rule only once in a lifetime and, therefore, is most fittingly accompanied with banquet and merry-making. All these things, however, would manifestly be out of place during times set about for the more solemn religious exercises.

The Church ordains, therefore, that marriages shall be discouraged during the seasons of Advent and Lent; in Advent until the feast of the Epiphany, in Lent until Low Sunday inclusive.

A marriage may, however, be permitted during these times, but it must be celebrated without any of that external display which would otherwise be so fitting on such an occasion.


A third condition for a lawful marriage is that neither party shall be engaged to any one else. There are three points of view from which a previous engagement must be regarded. It has a personal aspect, a legal aspect, and an ecclesiastical aspect.

No man of honor will enter into a new engagement until he has been formally released from any previous engagement in which he may have become involved. It would, perhaps, be needless to say that he ought not to make serious overtures to another partner until he has been released by the first; for, oftener than otherwise, it is the appearance of a new face which is the cause of dissatisfaction with the old one.

A man in such a predicament owes it both to himself, to his previous partner, and to his prospective partner to arrange an honorable settlement as soon as possible.


The claims of society demand that neither girl should be kept in a false position. The previous partner, too, may have legal rights to compensation for breach of promise. Then again there is the ecclesiastical aspect of the matter.

The law has recently been changed, and henceforth only those engagements hold good in ecclesiastical law which have been made in writing, signed by both parties and signed by the parish priest or ordinary, or at least two witnesses. Of course, couples may marry lawfully without such an agreement in writing, but without such an agreement the engagement will not be binding in conscience or produce any canonical effect. It would produce a legal effect and a social effect; it would hold good in the eyes of the law of the country and in the eyes of all respectable society.

Nay, more, although there would be no obligation to marry, although the espousals were invalid, through want of proper formality, still those invalid espousals would render a person liable to all due restitution or damages just as if they were valid. Thus the Church protects the weaker party in two ways. First, she gives the warning and protects young people against imprudent engagements - engagements entered into without deliberation, and under circumstances when innocence and ignorance hinder the due consideration of the dignity of the Sacrament.

Secondly, she obliges the guilty party to make fitting restitution for all the material loss which the innocent party may have suffered in consequence. Another impediment, similar to that of previous betrothal, is the impedimental vows. Obviously, a vow to do one thing is a hindrance to the making of a vow to do something contrary. So rarely, however, does this impediment arise that it may be left for individual treatment. If there has been a vow of any kind, the matter should be mentioned to the confessor.

Further, there are a number of impediments which not only render a marriage unlawful and sinful, but also null and void. Let us clearly understand the difference between what is unlawful and what is invalid. If I burn down my neighbor's haystack, it is validly burnt down, for there is no haystack left; but it is unlawfully burnt down.

My action is valid, but not lawful. If I shoot at my neighbor in the dark and miss him, my action is both unlawful and invalid.

I have intended to take my neighbor's life, but have failed to do so. Likewise, there may be certain attempts to get married which, on account of certain impediments, produce no effect.


Such ceremonies are both unlawful and invalid. It is the duty of the priest to inquire whether there be any such impediments before he allows the celebration to take place. Most of them are so rare as not to need public treatment. When the banns are published, the faithful are told that if they know of any impediment, either of consanguinity, affinity, or spiritual relationship, they are bound to declare the same as soon as possible.

The impediment of spiritual relationship is that which arises out of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The chances of this relationship are reduced to a minimum by the custom of having a man as sponsor for the boys and a woman as sponsor for the girls. The two great diriment impediments, therefore, which need to be carefully watched by young people are the impediments of consanguinity and affinity. Consanguinity is the connection of blood relationship; affinity is the connection of relationship by marriage.

The Church excludes marriages between persons who may be related to each other within certain degrees of relationship. She thus forbids marriage between first, second, or third cousins; and also between a man and his deceased wife's sister. These are the more common cases in which difficulty arises and which need to be carefully guarded against.

In some of them, of course, which are not involved in the primary law of nature the Church may grant a dispensation. Nevertheless, she regards them as evil, and only grants dispensations in order to prevent greater evils.

The disastrous results of intermarriage are well known. It leads to deterioration of the race, to insanity, to physical deformity, and to a general weakening of the social bond. The Church, therefore, in setting her face against such marriages, proves herself to be the friend and guardian of the temporal, as well as of the spiritual well-being of her people. Now, although the Church is very strict in limiting the freedom of her children whenever it is for their good, yet at the same time she leaves much to their own individual judgment.

Those who look forward to a happy marriage, therefore, must avail themselves of that freedom which the Church allows, and use also their own sound judgment and common sense.

In this sphere one cannot lay down hard and fast rules. What is good in England may be bad in America; what is permissible in one degree of society may be inadvisable in another. The custom of the country or of the particular sphere of Catholic society is a point which must always be considered.

Nevertheless, a few general suggestions may be offered. Character or virtue will be the first quality to be sought for in the choice of a mate. The predominant and essential virtues expected from the man are honesty and sobriety. These are especially manly virtues. In the natural order it is the sense of honor which will keep the husband faithful to his wife, and insure for her that respect, care, and protection to which she has a right.

Affinity (canon law)

Sobriety, too, is absolutely necessary for the making of a happy home. The love may be there and the fidelity may be there, but they will be in constant peril if they are accompanied by drunkenness.

And if drunkenness be a failing during the days of courtship, a reform after marriage cannot be expected. The pity of it is that girls are only too eager to find excuses for a lover addicted to this failing.

The predominant virtue expected from the woman is chastity. This will be measured by the care which she takes in avoiding occasions of sin. Here it is not a question of having sinned grievously, but of a constant observance of all those habits of modesty, reticence, sobriety of language and gesture, and, above all, utmost decorum in all necessary intercourse with members of the opposite sex.

They are habits which can be observed and felt much more effectually than they can be described.