University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
UOM Main Page
Apply - Admissions 2016


TITLE Matrimonial Consent: Juridical and Psychological Aspects

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Pastoral Theology, Liturgy and Canon Law

DESCRIPTION By far the greatest number of marriage cases for a declaration of nullity are brought on grounds of incapacity due to a cause of a psychological nature. This theme has been a recurring subject of the Pope’s allocutions to the personnel of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. This rather controversial topic has also been the subject of an abundant bibliography. This study-unit will therefore concentrate on the person’s psychological capacity to give and receive matrimonial consent and hence the capacity to exercise one’s fundamental right to marry. Taking its point of departure from a discussion of the dialogue that should exist between the Judge and the psychological expert, between canon law and psychology, this study-unit will delve in depth on issues of psychopathology in the light of DSM - IV and hence on the effects which psychic and psycho-sexual anomalies can have on the person’s capacity to give matrimonial consent.

Study-unit Aims:

Essential to the constitution of a valid marriage is the exchange of a true matrimonial consent. This study-unit aims at explaining the true nature of such consent from the psychological and canonical perspectives and to offer an explanation of the psychological or medical conditions that could render the consent canonically invalid.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

-- understand the different meanings and implications of canonical and psychological capacity;

--learn the diagnostic criteria of the major mental disorders and develop capacity to provide differential diagnoses among the various disorders, with emphasis on developing facility in the use of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.

-- appreciate the bio-physical - social aspects of mental disorders.

-- hence, attain a holistic meaning of matrimonial consent

2. Skills (including transferable [generic] skills):
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

-- develop ability to conduct mental status examination and work up an acceptable mental status based on clinical interview material.

-- become familiar with the more common psycho-social treatments of mental disorders.

-- become sensitive to cultural aspects of diagnosis and treatment using cultural formulations.

-- practically evaluate the marital situation of persons assailed by psychological or medical conditions and thereby individuate the possible sources of nullity in concrete situations

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

-- The 1983 Code of Canon Law

-- Various Commentaries to the Code of Canon Law

-- The Mala Marriage Act

-- Pope's Allocutions to the Personnel of the Roman Rota

-- AMATI ANGELO, Maturità psico-affettiva e matrimonio: can. 1095,2-3 del Codice di Diritto Canonico, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001

-- BURKE R.L. - GORCHOLEWSKI Z. - POMPEDDA M.F. - VERSALDI G., Incapacity for Marriage. Jurisprudence and Interpretation. Acts of the III Gregorian Colloquium, R.M.Sable, Coordinator and Editor, Rome 1987

-- D’AURIA ANGELO, Il consenso matrimoniale. Dottrina e giurisprudenza canonica, Aracne Roma 2007

-- VILADRICH J., Il consenso matrimoniale: tecniche di qualificazione e di esegesi delle cause canoniche di nullita' (cc. 1095-1107 CIC), Giuffre Milano 2001

-- Alloy L.B., Acocella J., Bootzin R.R., Abnormal Psychology: Current Perspectives, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill, Inc. 1996

-- Davison G.C. & Neale J.M., Abnormal Psychology, 6th Edition, John Wiley & Sons Inc. 1996

-- Barlow, D., & Durand, V. M. (2002). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (4th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

-- American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Fourth edition, Text Revision). Washington., D.C.: Author

-- Zuckerman, E.L. The Clinician’s Thesaurus (5th edition). New York,NY: Guilford Press.

-- A Minister's Handbook of Mental Disorders. J. Ciarrocchi. Paulist Press, 1993

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite qualifications
First Degree in Theol., Law, Psych., or Social Work


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper Yes 40%
Examination (3 Hours) Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Joseph Bajada
Anthony Dimech
Paul Galea

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

 Click here for more information


Dissertation Logbook
The Dissertation Logbook can be found here.


Log In back to UoM Homepage