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Holy See, Malta revise concordat on marriage

January 30, 2014

Following the recent legalization of divorce in Malta, the Holy See and the Mediterranean island nation have amended their 1993 concordat.

Under the previous terms of the concordat, the decisions of canonical tribunals had immediate effects in civil law. According to the previous terms, civil courts were “prohibited from continuing to take cognizance of an action for the nullity of a marriage celebrated as a canonical marriage once an action for nullity of that marriage has been filed before the ecclesiastical tribunals,” according to a Gozo News report. In addition, the previous terms provided that “if a marriage [was] confirmed as valid by a final judgment of the ecclesiastical tribunals no action on the same grounds of nullity may be filed in the civil courts in respect of that marriage.”

Under the amended concordat, which was signed by the apostolic nuncio and Malta’s foreign minister on January 27, “parties will be able to continue an action for the nullity of a marriage celebrated as a canonical marriage before the civil courts notwithstanding the fact that one of the parties may have filed an action for nullity of the marriage before the ecclesiastical tribunals after the commencement of the civil action.”

In addition, “when the civil action declaring the nullity of the marriage becomes res iudicata [an adjudicated matter] the marriage will be annulled for all civil effects irrespective of the fact that an action for the nullity of the same marriage may still be pending before the ecclesiastical tribunals.”


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