Angela Robb

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

George Worgul

Committee Member

Maureen O'Brien

Committee Member

Elochukwu Uzukwu


Philosophy, religion and theology, Canon law, Commitment, Consent, Marriage, Sacrament, Theology


Sacramental marriage is an essential social, public, ecclesial, and theological good, yet its influence in the United States is threatened by a divorce rate comparable to the U.S. population in general, an explosive increase in cohabitation, and a declining marriage rate. The underlying assumption of this dissertation is that commitment and consent, more thoroughly understood and consistently lived, are essential to lifelong, faithful, and life-giving marriage that symbolizes and makes present Christ's indissoluble love for the church. Through an adapted use of Don Browning's fundamental practical theological method, this study begins with practical concerns regarding concrete marital and family practices in the United States and ends with practical means and strategies related to the pastoral care of sacramental marriages and all those in the stages of marriage preparation, aftercare, and sadly, family fragmentation. Within this theological method, canon law is considered an ecclesial science distinct from theology yet organically united to it in the church. Relying primarily on Ladislas Örsy's theory of the relationship between theology and canon law, I affirm that theology identifies, explains, and evaluates the values or goods of marriage through the movements of biblical, historical, systematic, and moral theology, whereas canon law produces norms, processes, and structures for the protection and promotion of those goods. In this view, theology judges canon law to determine the fittingness of canonical norms and structures for theological realities. Furthermore, canon law is a ministry that is both pastoral and juridical to ensure freedom and good order within the church. Canon law is part of the overall care of the faithful given that justice is the minimum demand of love. Consent creates marriage; therefore, an integral and in-depth understanding of consent in canon law in light of a theology of commitment is important in helping the church to appropriate the human and theological values of marriage.