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Ne Temere (literally meaning "not rashly" in Latin)[1] was a decree (named for its opening words) issued in 1907 of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Council regulating the canon law of the Church about marriage for practising Roman Catholics.

Ne Temere (1908)[edit]

The decree was issued under Pope Pius X, 10 August 1907, and took effect on Easter 19 April 1908. This decree was voided for marriages in Germany by the subsequent decree Provida.

Differences from Tametsi[edit]

To the clandestinity requirements of the decree Tametsi of the Counter-Reformation Council of Trent, it reiterated the requirements that the marriage be witnessed by a priest and two other witnesses (adding that this requirement was now universal), added requirements that the priest (or bishop) being witness to the marriage must be the pastor of the parish (or the bishop of the diocese), or be the delegate of one of those, the marriage being invalid otherwise, and the marriage of a couple, neither one resident in the parish (or diocese), while valid, was illicit. It also required that marriages be registered.[2]

On the success of a divorce action brought by a non-Catholic spouse, the Catholic spouse was still considered married in the eyes of the Church, and could not remarry to a third party in church.

It explicitly laid out that non-Catholics, including baptized ones, were not bound by Catholic canon law for marriage, and therefore could contract valid and binding marriages without compliance.[2]

Conflicts of laws[edit]

Before and after 1907, legal reforms across Europe were slowly creating new personal freedoms. Ne Temere was widely criticised by non-Catholics for restricting choice in family matters.[3]

The result made official civil marriages difficult for lapsed Catholics in some Church-dominated nations.[citation needed] It also meant that, because a priest could refuse to perform mixed marriages between Roman Catholics and non-Roman Catholics, he could impose conditions such as an obligation for any children to be baptised and brought up as Catholics, and for the non-Catholic partners to submit to religious education with the aim of converting them to Catholicism.[2]

The issue of the Roman Catholic Church's Canon law declaring marriages invalid, which were however recognised as valid by the State, raised major political and judicial issues in Canada, especially Quebec,[4] and in Australia. In New South Wales, the legislature came within one vote of criminalizing the promulgation of the decree.[5]

The use of the decree to extract commitments in mixed marriages led to state-sanctioned enforcements in the Irish courts, such as the Tilson v. Tilson judgement, where Judge Gavan Duffy, then President of the High Court, said:

"In my opinion, an order of the court designed to secure the fulfilment of an agreement peremptorily required before a mixed marriage by the Church, whose special position in Ireland is officially recognised as the guardian of the faith of the Catholic spouse, cannot be withheld on any ground of public policy by the very State which pays homage to that Church."[6]

A similar dispute led to the Fethard-on-Sea boycott. The New Ulster Movement publication "Two Irelands or one?" in 1972 contained the following recommendation regarding any future United Ireland:[7]

"The removal of the protection of the courts, granted since the Tilson judgement of 1950, to the Ne temere decree of the Roman Catholic Church. This decree which requires the partners in a mixed marriage to promise that all the children of their marriage be brought up as Roman Catholics, is the internal rule of one particular Church. For State organs to support it is, therefore, discriminatory."

BBC Radio Ulster examined the decree and its impact on a single Belfast family, with a mixed Presbyterian and Catholic marriage performed in a Presbyterian church, in its 2010 documentary Mixing Marriages.[8]

Matrimonia Mixta (1970)[edit]

Ne Temere was replaced in 1970 with the slightly more relaxed Matrimonia Mixta, given by motu proprio. Section 15 revoked an automatic "latae sententiae" excommunication for certain offences, but they remained offences.[9]


  1. ^ "Ne temere". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Ne temere text online
  3. ^ British parliament debate, 1911 (Hansard)
  4. ^ http://www.umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/ccha/Back%20Issues/CCHA1981/Moir.html
  5. ^ http://www.uniya.org/publications/pdfs/politics.pdf#search=%22ne%20temere%22; B. Moore, Sectarianism in NSW: the Ne Temere legislation 1924-1925, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 9 (1987), 3-15.
  6. ^ Irish Law Times Report LXXXVI 1952, pages 49–73.
  7. ^ "Two Irelands or one?" text online
  8. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11705764
  9. ^ Matrimonia Mixta online; accessed Dec 2009

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne_Temere — Please support Wikipedia.
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28 news items

BBC News
Sun, 07 Nov 2010 07:40:42 -0800

Marriage The Ne Temere ruling means the Catholic Church will not recognise a mixed marriage unless it takes place in a Catholic church. On Easter Sunday in 1908, the Catholic Church's Ne Temere ruling came into force. It meant the Catholic Church would ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Sat, 20 Sep 2014 18:30:00 -0700

There was a deep fear of a Catholic takeover, fuelled by the Vatican's promulgation in 1907 of the Ne Temere decree. This decree said that a Catholic could not marry validly unless the marriage was witnessed by a priest. This priestly 'veto' on valid ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:26:15 -0800

... events impacted only slightly to accelerate a pre-existing trend, and that, when military personnel are excluded, decline in Protestant numbers could be attributed to internal factors - failure in recruitment, late marriages, low fertility, the ne ...

Galway Advertiser

Galway Advertiser
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 23:43:48 -0800

Her family opposed the marriage, not because they were narrow minded, but the ne temere decree, which ordained that children of the union would be raised as Catholics, drove them wild. It caused a terrible rupture in the family, my mother and the rest ...
Slugger O'Toole
Sat, 05 Apr 2014 03:45:41 -0700

Sheila signed the Ne Temere contract, which obligated her to raise her children as Catholic. In the film, the priest Father Stafford ratchets up his outrage at her non-compliance, instructing his parishioners to boycott all non-Catholic business. Yet ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Sat, 26 Apr 2014 18:35:45 -0700

... and his spot might well have gone to Hubert Butler, the Kilkenny essayist who wrote so stylishly about the Catholic Church's fascist tendencies, the disastrous Supreme Court endorsement of the Ne Temere decree on mixed marriages in In re Tilson ...
The Economist (blog)
Thu, 07 Nov 2013 15:59:21 -0800

The Protestant population in the South has declined greatly because of emigration, intermarriage with Catholics and the "Ne Temere" doctrine, which requires mixed marriages to bring up children as Catholics. The Catholic church grew in power that it ...

Irish Times

Irish Times
Thu, 12 Sep 2013 17:10:32 -0700

Another concern was the fear of the 1908 papal decree known as Ne Temere, with which the Catholic Church insisted that in mixed marriages involving a Catholic partner the children must be raised Catholic. It was feared the student body of Protestant ...

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