(I'm asking for roman catholicism, but you can answer eastern or other full communion's if you want.)

Example: You can see some of my questions on marriage law in the Philippines (for example, Q1 and Q2; and also Q3, that's not about the Philippines specifically). Ostensibly:

  1. The Philippines differs from other Catholic countries in that Filipinos or well anyone gets married in the Philippines and wishes to be annulled in the Philippines is required to get an secular annulment (or foreign secular divorce. not sure.) before applying for a church annulment. In other countries, this requirement relaxed to a secular annulment OR a (local) secular divorce (again: or foreign secular divorce. not sure.). Therefore, poor Filipino Catholics who cannot go abroad to get a secular divorce and then a secular annulment. This unfortunate situation for Filipino Catholics is ironically because the Philippines doesn't have divorce because of Catholic reasons.

  2. But this doesn't matter IF (but not only if I guess) Philippine secular marriage/canon laws accommodate all of Catholic marriage/canon laws. It seems that the former accommodates at least almost all of the latter.

    • 2.1. But still! Even if there's a single unaccommodated case, then there's the question of the poor Filipino Catholics who are invalid church married but valid secular married. I think of Genesis 18:27-33 or 'It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.' (Oh wait, this statement is called 'Blackstone's ratio', and apparently it's a literal, well, ratio. I didn't think the statement was literal. I thought it really meant that I would rather have infinity guilty people go free than one innocent person in prison.)

I'll repeat that the above has an 'ostensibly' attached.

Question 1: In general, how do Catholic marriage laws differ by region?

  • Eg there's a sufficient condition that makes a Japanese Roman Catholic marriage void/able that doesn't apply to French Roman Catholics or to German Eastern Catholics or whatever.

  • Eg there's a loophole that allows a Roman Catholic marriage conducted in Argentina to be void/able if the couple seeks an annulment in Scotland, whereas the marriage would've been otherwise 'valid' (as in not necessarily invalid) from the viewpoint of Argentinian diocese or whatever.

  • Eg the consummation rules are somehow different. (Maybe certain positions don't count in Ireland. IDK.)

  • If there are a lot, then well I find this insane since we're talking about a single denomination here, but ok, please say a few differences. (eh the lent and holy days of obligation already differ. I don't expect zero differences. I just expect there to be not so many differences.)

  • I attended a Catholic university in the Philippines, and we were required to take a course that included some canon law stuff like necessary or sufficient conditions for a marriage to be sacramental/consummated/void/able/invalid/whatever. I don't recall there was any mention of the regions to which these were applicable like 'applies to the Philippines but not necessarily to other countries'. I just assumed they were applicable everywhere.

    • Re canon vs marriage: Okay so the term I seem to be looking for is 'matrimonial law' a subset of 'canon law'. Idk. I just remember from that class that catholic laws related to marriage and stuff are under 'canon law'.

Question 2: How are Catholic marriage laws regionally affected by local laws?

  • Eg Because of certain laws in South Korea, Catholic marriages have or don't have a certain requirement expected of Catholic marriages elsewhere.

  • Perhaps age.

  • Reading what you wrote it looks like the Catholic rules on marriage are not different in the Philippines from other places. In both you are required to have your civil (secular) marriage ended before you seek a Catholic annulment. But while in most place you can get a secular annulment or divorce, in the Philippines divorce isn't an option. There are probably other places too. But in any case the difference isn't in the Catholic rules, but in the marriage rules of the country. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 0:17
  • @DJClayworth the philippines is 1 example in this post. i'm not asking specifically about the philippines (i know we have a tag for the philippines now)
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 7:29
  • @DJClayworth ' But in any case the difference isn't in the Catholic rules, but in the marriage rules of the country.' --> de jure maybe you're right, but de facto are you sure? why in the 1st place doesn't the philippines have divorce? i invite you to check out my previous posts on the matter
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 7:30
  • 1
    My point is that since the Catholic rules aren't different in the Phillipines, and you don't have any other examples, is there any reason to think that they differ at all? My understanding is that they are universal. Geremia's answer says that, and he knows a lot about this stuff. Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 14:00
  • 1
    The answer to the second question is that all local law can have some effect on Catholic marriage laws. A requirement of a valid Catholic marriage is that it must be legal in the place where it is carried out. If a certain country were to forbid marriages between people under the age of 21, then that prevents people from being validly married as Catholics in that country. Answering "how do local marriage laws affect Catholic marriage in all countries" is the same as asking "what are all the laws about marriage in every country", which is too broad to answer here. Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Canon law is for rites, not geographical regions.

However, there are provisions in canon law for local laws, at least in the 1917 Code

Canon 1089: § 1. With due regard for diocesan statutes added to the above…

  • As I wrote in the comment on the question, the difference is in the laws of the Philippines, not Catholic law. Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 0:19
  • 1
    @DJClayworth If that's the case, then doesn't the question belong on law.stackexchange.com?
    – Geremia
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 0:20
  • Geremia, thanks, but did you see the posts in the link to the tag? I'll edit my post to link directly to them.
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 2:33
  • Geremia and @DJClayworth de jure you may be correct, but what about de facto? see here christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/66164/…
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 3:07
  • Geremia and @DJClayworth Btw, I would like to point that there are 2 questions in the body. Perhaps I wasn't so clear, but maybe question 2 can be viewed as like de facto while question 1 is de jure
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 3:10

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