Archdiocese of Chicago. Canon Law on Civil Action in Marriage Problems, 1944
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On August 22, 2019
- Scholarly Resource
[Note: One of the presenters was Archbishop Samuel Stritch, who was elevated to Cardinal in 1946. The presenter of this section on “Practice” was Msgr Casey, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.]
(pg. 73) In the matter of divorce and separation, the Church’s norm of moral conduct is the same. Since the lawyer represents and speaks for his client, he may licitly do what his client may licitly do in regard to divorce and separation suits.
(pg. 74) Logically we must determine what the client may do licitly in regard to seeking a civil divorce or separation.
A person may licitly seek a civil divorce in the following circumstances: 1) If the marriage has already been declared null and void by the Church, for in such a case the person is clearly seeking nothing else than the dissolution of the civil effects of an invalid contract. 2) When the bishop decides that there is sufficient reason for permanent or indefinite separation in a valid marriage, and permits the seeking of a civil divorce for the protection of the civil (75 … 75) rights of the party. In such a case it is understood that the party does not intend to abuse the divorce to enter a second marriage sinfully and assurance to this effect must be given the bishop. The bishop will permit a civil divorce in such cases very rarely and only to prevent or correct some very serious evil which cannot be prevented or corrected by a separate maintenance. If the party in a valid marriage intends to obtain the divorce in order to remarry, the action is always illicit because he or she is seeking something that is contrary to the law of God. To obtain licitly a separate maintenance in our civil courts two conditions must be verified by the client. 1) There must be a just cause for such separation. The judgment in this matter is reserved to the bishop, except in the case of obvious adultery or where there is danger of immediate harm to the party and the sufficiency of the cause for separation is certain. 2) The permission of the bishop to bring the matter to the civil courts must be obtained by the party seeking the separate maintenance.
If the foregoing conditions are fulfilled on the part of a client seeking a civil divorce or a separation he is acting licitly. Any attorney may licitly represent him and since his cooperation in the usurpation of ecclesiastical power on the part of the State is indirect and remote, he may undertake the case solely for the fee involved since this is deemed a justifying cause.