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Reviewed by:
  • Procédures matrimoniales en droit canonique
  • Chad J. Glendinning
Procédures matrimoniales en droit canonique by Anne Bamberg. Paris: Editions Ellipses, 2011.

As part of a much larger series entitled Mise au point, the author provides a helpful overview of matrimonial procedures for those with little or no knowledge of canon law. Each chapter adopts a similar methodology, consisting largely of a brief overview of the pertinent canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and articles of Dignitas connubii. A short multilingual bibliography is included at the end of each chapter for further reading (pour prolonger l'étude), in addition to an excerpt from an allocution to the Roman Rota by either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI.

Much like Book VII itself, the first part of the book (Procédures et instances compétentes) addresses those matters pertaining to trials in general before proceeding, in the second part, to an examination of the actual unfolding of a contentious trial. The first part, then, contains chapters on the organization of tribunals in the Catholic Church (chapter 1); those involved in the canonical process, with a description of their roles (chapter 2); and a treatment of other matrimonial procedures, such as the procedure for ratum et non consummatum cases, the separation of spouses, the presumed death of a spouse, and dissolution of the bond in favour of the faith (chapter 4). Chapter 3 departs from strictly procedural matters to examine causes of matrimonial nullity, the model of a judicial sentence, and the use of jurisprudence of the Roman Rota. The causes of matrimonial nullity do not receive considerable attention, but are identified for the purposes of providing the context for which matrimonial procedures are utilized.

The second part of the book (Le déroulement du procès en nullité de mariage) follows the steps of the ordinary contentious trial, with extensive reference to Dignitas connubii for purposes of elaboration or clarification. Although restricted to procedural essentials, the book makes brief mention of presumptions, the documentary process (chapter 6), and the imposition [End Page 317] of a vetitum (chapter 7). Tribunal practitioners may be interested to know that in France judicial expenses for the matrimonial process are approximately 300 euros, 200 for the first instance and 100 for the second (p. 67).

Despite its small size, the author did not neglect to include some helpful appendices, such as an index of legislative texts—the 1983 Code, Dignitas connubii, and Pastor bonus—and a short thematic index. The author could not foresee changes that would be made to Pastor bonus by means of the motu proprio Quaerit semper. Since 1 October 2011, the competency for processes of dispensation from a ratified and non-consummated marriage belongs to the Roman Rota and no longer to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as indicated on p. 21.

Although presented for an audience unfamiliar with canon law, Bamberg avoids colloquial terminology, identifying as early as the introduction the difference between the canonical procedure for a declaration of nullity (une declaration de nullité) versus what is popularly known as an annulment of marriage (l'annulation d'un mariage). As such, the author has succeeded in presenting a complex process without obfuscating important juridical principles. The result is a well-organized and accessible resource, especially useful as an introductory text or helpful review.

Chad J. Glendinning
Faculty of Canon Law
Saint Paul University
Ottawa, Ontario


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pp. 317-318
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