Schoch Nikolaus ,
La solennizzazione giuridica della «forma canonica» nel decreto Tametsi del concilio di Trento,
Antonianum, 72/4 (1997) p. 639-672
SUMMARY: The article aims to deepen our understanding of the change of marriage from being a consensual contract to being a solemn contract and follows systematic rather than historical criteria.. It is based on the distinction between three types of form: the form of the sacrament, juridic form or solemnity, and finally liturgical form. While for 1500 years the Church held that for a valid and sacramental celebration of marriage the form was sufficiently executed through the pronouncement of the words of consent, the Council of Trent prescribed a determined juridic form for the validity of the wedding: the exchange of consent before the parish priest and two witnesses. The Council succeeded in prescribing this juridic solemnity without changing the essence of the sacrament as constituted by form and matter. Thus it avoided changing the substance of a sacrament which would have presupposed possession of potestas excellentiae, a power that the Council held had not be granted to the Church. It conserved the role of causa efficiens of marriage for consent and reaffirmed that it was the spouses and not the blessing priest who were the ministers of the sacrament. Avoiding invalidating the contract and preferring to render the person inhabilis to contract without solemnity, the Council indirectly confirmed the doctrine of inseparability between the contract and sacrament of marriage. It is not possbile to invalidate the contract before it becomes a sacrament because the distinction between contract and sacrament is neither real nor temporal but exists only in the realm of theory. Confirming the doctrine that was alsready prevalent before the Council, and with the intention of changing as little as possible in the face of the Protestant challenge, the Council introduced a novelty at the disciplinary level that had enormous theological, juridical and pastoral significance.