From a reader…
I understand the position of the Church is the SSPX has no jurisdiction. However, I just recently became aware of a friend from college who was “married” in front of a SSPX Priest (without permission or jurisdiction), and yet, there was an annulment that went through the full Court of Second Instance. It was granted on the basis of inability to consummate.
The funny thing is, this was treated as if it were a putative marriage, and accepted that way by the Church. There was no sanatio associated with it at any point.
Again … we have to be careful with the language we use about declarations of nullity.
The Church does not “grant” an annulment as if it’s something positive that’s either given or withheld based on some list of circumstances. A declaration of nullity is more like a medical diagnosis: the facts are examined by experts, who, to the best of their ability, make a determination of the situation.
Like a medical diagnosis, there can be a number of possible explanations. Those examples might not be mutually exclusive.
For example, you are coughing up blood. People who have TB cough up blood and, on that basis diagnosis could be that you have TB. On the other hand, people who have typhus cough up blood too. But wait! What’s this? You also have a sucking gunshot wound in your chest? Maybe that’s it!
However, it’s possible that all three diagnoses were correct, you have TB and typhus and a gunshot wound in the chest.
Similarly, a marriage might be null and void because one of the parties withheld an essential element of marriage at the time of consent (e.g., she simulated consent about exclusive fidelity), or because the other party was incapable of true consent (e.g., because of a seriously abusive childhood, he was simply not mature in the area of relationships to make a free choice for marriage), or because the priest who officiated at the wedding lacked the necessary faculties to marry them.
It’s quite possible that all three things, each of which would result in a declaration of nullity, are true.
Without knowing all the details of the case you provide, there may have been a number of reasons why the Tribunal proceeded the way it did. Since we are looking at this from the outside, it’s probably best not to speculate too much.