Cardinal Hume (left) speaks out On the royal couple's ceremony
THERE ARE two issues in this matter of the validation of the Royal Marriage which must be kept very clearly distinct.
The first concerns the annulment of the marriage of the Princess to her former husband Mr Thomas Troubridge. That annulment was granted five yers ago following a full investigation in
the ecclesiastical courts competent to handle these matters. That particular case was subjected to the same strict and severe investigation that is standard practice in the hundreds of similar cases handled each year in the marriage tribunals of the Church.
The second issue concerns the Church's lass that in a so called "mixed marriage" — that is a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized Christian of another denomination — the Church authorities must be satisfied that the Catholic partner is willing to make every effort to baptize and bring up the children of the marriage as Roman Catholics.
It is the will to make the effort which counts, even if that effort does not necessary} lead to
This requirement of the Church is obviously considerably less rigorous than former legislation which required both partners to promise to bring up the children as Catholics and also required moral certainty that these promises would he kept.
Even so the Church remains profoundly concerned about the spiritual welfare and salvation of the children and still requires all Catholics to recognise their grave responsibilities in this matter.
In the case of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Act of Settlement excluded any possibility of the children of that marriage remaining heirs, however remote to the I prune if they were baptized and brought up as Catholics. Prince Michael did not consider it was proper for him to renounce this right of succession on behalf of his children.
In 1978, solemn undertakings were made that the children of the marriage would be baptized and raised in the Church of England. These undertakings and other indications were judged at that time to exclude any realistic expectation that the Princess would be able to make the efforts still required by the Church's law, It is now clear that the competent authorities in Rome have been satisfied, and indeed impressed, by the evident and consistent efforts of the Princess over the years to convey to her children a genuine love and knowledge of the Catholic faith.
Furthermore, it has not become clear that should the children of the marriage wish to become Catholics of their own volition in future, then no obstacle would be put in their way, except of course that the} would he deprived of the right of succession to the Throne.
No further evidence of this changed situation can be revealed without infringing family privacy and the appropriate confidentiality of information given to pastors.
The authorities in Rome have now decided that the conditions for granting a dispensation from the impediment of mixed religion have been met. This was not the ease five years ago. They have judged that it would be an injustice to withhold this permission any longer.
Finally, it should be noted that in accordance with Canon Law the Holy See alone has the power to grant such a dispensation to members of a Royal Family. In all other cases — which amount to many hundreds each year — the local bishop gives such dispensations before marriage or to validate irregular unions.