CATHOLIC HERALD REPORTER A SHARP attack on the Catholic Church's laws on mixed marriage appears this week in a Church of Scotland report, which calls on the government to demand from the Holy See the withdrawal of the decree Ne Temere.
It also maintains that no member of the Church of Scotland has any moral right to make the promises require a of the nonCatholic party to a mixed marriage, as such a promise binds "children yet unborn to he brought up in what he believes to be in error."
The report adds: "Those who have already rashly signed the Ne Temere undertaking should realise that it cannot be spiritually and morally binding in view of their prior promises as members of the Church of Scotland."
Prepared by the Church and Nation Committee and published on Monday, the report will be presented to the forthcoming meeting of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly.
It declares that the promulgation of the decree in 1908 caused "bitter division in hitherto peaceful
families" and led to the breaking up of homes in cruel circumstances.
This is difficult to understand in view of the fact that the decree was not retroactive.—EDITOR.
Some Catholics, under the decree, says the report, "found release from responsibilities solemnly undertaken and were free to form other matrimonial alliances with the blessing of their Church, as happened recently in one case affecting a prominent person, which attracted public notice."
The gravamen of the report is to accuse the Catholic Church of failing to respect "the validity and supremacy of the marriage law of the land, in what is a country predominantly attached to the Reformed Faith." It sees the Church's failure to respond to the criticisms of the British Churches, press, legal circles and Parliament as a "sinister thing".
It also suggests that an agent of the Roman Catholic Church describing a civilly legal marriage as "living in sin" no liable to
damages for defamation of character.
Declaring that "a sufficient number of cases of homes cruelly broken up through this Decree have occurred in our midst to make it a matter of urgent concern", the report says that the Ne Temere promises have no legal standing, and that this should be made clear to all members of the Church of Scotland.
It recommends that a strong plea be made for the introduction of legislation similar to the New Zealand law which makes it a penal offence to impugn the validity of marriage celebrated in accordance with Civil Law, and urges that "a copy of this report should be sent to the Secretary of the Secretariat for Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church."
The report makes no reference to discussion now going on among Canon Lawyers in the Catholic Church as to the possibility of some relief being given in this matter by the Vatican Council.
One suggestion, recently reported in the CATHOLIC HERALD, is that a
marriage involving a Catholic but contracted outside the Church might be regarded as valid though illicit.
The present position, it is pointed out, is a matter of disciplinary, not natural, law, as marriage is a contract established by the parties, not by the person officiating. It may at least be asked whether the circumstances requiring the decree have changed sufficiently to warrant an amendment.
To regard a marriage contracted by a Catholic outside the Church as valid would put a new complexion in cases where the Catholic, after years of cohabitation, wishes to be reconciled to the Church. He would not only continue to have moral obligations, as at present, in regard to the well-being of his partner and children, but would have a duty to preserve the marriage and the home.
But objectors to the proposal fear that its adoption would diminish respect for the sacramental aspect of marriage.
Another suggestion put up with a view to helping non-Catholics in diffiFulties of conscience is that a unilateral promise by the Catholic party to do everything possible to rear the children as Catholics might be substituted for the guarantee now exacted from the non-Catholic.