Can a true sexual harmony be reduced to the simple and exclusive [

If by consummation, we mean ‘completeness’ and the mutual enrichment of the spouses, such consummation requires more from them […], it requires understanding, knowledge, esteem, affection, balance, psychological and spiritual adaptation, all of which cannot be done in an instant […].

Therefore, if the Church can dissolve a marriage as long as it has not been consummated – physically – what would happen […] if we were to approach dissolution from this broader concept of consummation? Footnote 59

Forcano used a similar argument with impotence, which was also grounds for annulment. ‘An impotent marriage can be dissolved. Nevertheless, is true impotence only carnal and physical?’ he wondered. Footnote 60 He thus implied that impotence could also be defined as the inability to perform emotionally. As Forcano explained, the absence of an affective union, something that he regarded as continuous day-to-day work to be developed in the long term, could qualify for an annulment, since the objectives of marriage had not been met. Similarly, another author played with the idea of the ‘death’ of the spouses as the only end for marriage.

He wondered whether the ‘death’ of love could be another type of demise that could justify divorce:

So, if marriage […] is love, community, understanding, affection, desire to have children, mutual help between husband and wife, contract, but one day all this disappears and, between the spouses, there is no desire to have children; nor love, but something that borders on hatred; nor understanding and help, but desire to not see the other spouse anymore, can it be said that marriage continues to exist, that this contract has not been broken? If marriage is dissolved by the physical death of one of the spouses, can it be maintained that marriage exists when the formalities of the contract, the characteristics of the union, and the very essence of marriage have died, have definitively died? Footnote 61

Other liberal Catholic magazines such as Vida Nueva (New Life) also opposed the state’s imposition of that which only belonged to the individual conscience and argued in favour of autonomy between civil and ecclesiastical e can be said for El Ciervo (The Deer). Different articles published at the beginning of the 1970s conveyed an attitude in favour of people’s right to rebuild their lives after a failed marriage. Footnote 63 Based on the acceptance of religious freedom and plurality, this periodical contended that the dogma of indissolubility should not be forced on those who did not believe in it. It also claimed that this rule was only incorporated into the Catholic creed at a late historical stage but had not existed in the early writings of Christianity. Footnote 64 The magazine even provided biblical passages to prove the naturalness with which separations were accepted – in the form of repudiations – at some points in early Christianity. Such evidence, reinterpreted in the context of contemporary concerns, served to support a divorce law.

In this way, through resourceful readings of traditional dogmas, these authors aimed to broaden the criteria to have a canonical bond annulled based on the end or absence of love

The claim for a separation between civil and ecclesiastical law was, in fact, a vital issue to the authors who argued for renewal in marriage theology. They thus opposed the confusion between Church and state typical of National-Catholic Spain. They called attention to the fact that many only opted for an ecclesiastical bond out of habit, without genuinely and consciously acknowledging the sacramental character of marriage. In so doing, they admitted that there were people in Spain who did not believe in the Catholic faith or the indissolubility dogma, and that they were entitled to do so without being judged or condemned for their decisions. Footnote 65 They also thought that neither the state nor the Church had the right to dictate public morality, because that belonged only to individual conscience. Footnote 66 Consequently, these authors abandoned the identification between Catholicism and the Spanish nation that was paramount to Francoist politics. Criticism of the ecclesiastical courts, as well as the defence of civil e a manifestation of the religious dissent and disengagement from Franco’s dictatorship. Footnote 67