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Canon law uses the word impediment in its restricted and technical sense, only in reference to marriage, while impediments to Holy orders are spoken of as irregularities (q.v.).We may remark, however, that several real impediments or obstacles to the reception of Holy orders are not called irregularities: thus, women and unbaptized persons, who are by Divine law incapable of being ordained, are not termed irregular.



(1) Betrothal A valid engagement to marry, entered into by two individuals, constitutes an absolute, prohibitory impediment, that is, an obstacle to any other marriage; by plighting his troth, the man creates a correlative right on the part of the woman, and any other marriage would be a violation of that right (see BETROTHAL).The Latin word impedimentum signifies directly whatever embarrasses or hinders a person, whatever is an obstacle to his movements, and in this sense the baggage of an army was called impedimenta .Juridical language applies the term to whatever hinders the free action of an agent, or to whatever prevents him from performing, or at least from performing regularly, any act that the law takes cognizance of.It is possible likewise to count in different ways the prohibitory impediments among which that of "mixed religion" must be included.

Of the many definitions of matrimonial impediments formulated by canonists, we prefer that of D'Annibale (Summula, III, n.

Though this method of enumerating them is so common, it is not satisfactory, being somewhat confused.