Since the promulgation of the first 1917 Code of Canon Law for observance in the universal Church, there was already an official provision therein on the matter of the “Separation of Spouses” i.e., with reference to couples who entered into a Church Wedding and thereafter have their separation in terms of separate “Roof, Table and Bed” for grave offensive reasons.
Some 66 years later, the Church updated her universal laws through the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law – with substantially the same normative provisions though updated according to the realities and demands of the times but always in conformity with the fundamental truths taught by the same church. It is this 1983 Code of Canon Law that is now being observed and applied the world over by the Church. The following is officially and specifically provided for:
Canon 1153 par. 1 CIC reads: “A spouse who occasions grave danger to soul or body to the other or to the children or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult provides the other spouse with a reason to leave, either by a Decree of the Local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own right.”
Recently, Pope Francis addressed the matter of the separation of spouses when living together already becomes morally unbearable. It appears that a good number of people – Catholics included – seem surprised if not offended even by the papal statement. It might be good wherefore to expressly and officially put on record the following more relevant doctrino-canonical observations:
a. The Church wants, works, and prays that all marriages succeed whereas such is a big blessing for the couple concerned and their children, if any.
b. The Church however realistically admits that some marriage prove morally impossible to succeed for one grave reason or another.
c. The Church thus notes and acknowledges that the more common causes of conjugal dissension is violence, infidelity, and other vicious facts.
d. The Church then has provisions on separation, i.e., either at the personal instance of the grieving party or by the authority of the Bishop concerned.
e. The Church however is very clear and emphatic that the separation of spouses entitles no one of the couple therein involved, to get married.
There is a whale of a difference between mere “Separation of Spouses” and “Declaration of Marriage Nullity” which when granted by Due Process allows one or both to get married to somebody – not unless the Matrimonial Tribunal concerned appends a “Restrictive Clause” or formal prohibition to get married on either or both the man and the woman concerned usually for reason of a given serious mental and/or affective personal liability.