From a reader…
When making vows at a Catholic Wedding in a Catholic Church if a Groom genuinly beleives that the officiating priest at a wedding is the minister of the Sacrement of Matromony, and not the bride and groom (as the Chuch teaches), is it possible that the groom would \ may lack the intention to do what the Catholic Church dose rendering the marriage null and void in all but Civil Law ?
One need not be fully aware of the profundity of one’s own actions for those actions to have effect.
If Bob consents to marry Betty, but Bob does not fully understand the Church’s theology of marriage, all things being equal, he does, in fact, marry Betty.
The Church’s understanding is that the average 14 year old female, and the average 16 year old male has the mental wherewithal to consent validly to marriage. I will add that perhaps the Church is a bit optimistic in this matter, given my conversations with young people.
Bishops Conferences have the right to set a higher minimum age, taking into consideration the cultural situation of the country. However, the US Bishops have not done so… yet.
Failure to understand, precisely, the sacramental efficacy of one’s consent does not render that consent invalid. Failure to grasp that the priest is not the minister does not render consent invalid.