What is the teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic
The Catholic teaching on this matter is given to us by God Himself
in the Bible:
X 11-12: "And He saith to them: Whosoever shall
put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against
her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married
to another, she committeth adultery."
Luke XVI 18: "Every one that putteth
away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he
that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth
Rom. VII 2: "For the woman that hath
an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound by the law.
But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband."
ROM VII 3: "Therefore, whilst her husband
liveth, she shall be called an adulteress, if she be with another
man: but if her husband be dead, she is delivered from the law of
her husband; so that she is not an adulteress, if she be with another
I Cor. VI, 9-10: "Know you not that the unjust
shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate,
nor liars with mankind, (...) shall possess the kingdom of God."
1 Cor. VII 10-11: "But to them that are married,
not I, but the Lord, commandeth that the wife depart not from her
husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or
be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put
away his wife."
1 Cor. VII 39: "A woman is bound by the law as
long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die, she is at liberty.
Let her marry to whom she will, only in the Lord."
This is why
adultery is a "sinful union," (1) preventing those who commit it
from going to heaven (2). Moreover, they must "be excluded
from the Sacraments" (3), except confession which they can make
provided they have the proper dispositions.
Why is adultery a grievous sin, excluding from the Heavenly Kingdom?
Because adultery is against chastity.
In adultery, a married person has sexual relations with another,
married or not, who is not his/her spouse. Only marriage authorizes
this relationship between two persons of different sex. Thus
adultery violates chastity which is obligatory outside marriage.
Because adultery is an injustice to the faithful spouse.
By adultery, a married person has sexual relations with another,
married or not, who is not his/her spouse but through marriage,
the spouses mutually give themselves to each other, exclusively
and perpetually. Thus adultery is unjust toward the faithful
spouse because it gives to another that which he (or she) alone
has the exclusive right to receive.
Because adultery is an injustice to the legitimate children.
Through adultery, one risks having illegitimate children or provoking
a divorce, if the adultery becomes known. The existence of
illegitimate children or the possibility of a divorce jeopardizes
the care that the parents should give to their legitimate children.
Thus, adultery is unjust to the legitimate children because it violates
Question: If life between the spouses becomes intolerable,
may not one look for a little affection or pleasure with a third
indeed, matters have come to such a pitch that it seems impossible
for them to live together any longer, then the Church allows them
to live apart and strives, at the same time, to soften the evils
of this separation by such remedies and helps as are suited to their
condition; yet she never ceases to endeavour to bring about a reconciliation,
nor despairs of doing so. But these are extreme cases; and
they would seldom exist if men and women entered into the married
state with proper dispositions, not influenced by passion but entertaining
ideas of the duties of marriage and of its noble purpose; neither
would they anticipate their marriage by a series of sins drawing
down upon them the wrath of God." (Leo XIII, Encycl. Arcanum Divinae
Sapientiae, Feb. 10. 1880, M 194.)
Question: If one of the spouses gives permission to the
other to practice adultery does not that remove the injustice?
Answer: In that case, such an action remains objectively
a grave offense against the divine precepts which man can not change:
a sin against chastity and an injustice towards the legitimate children.
This is why Pope Innocent XI solemnly declared that, in spite of
the consent of the faithful spouse, such an action was always adultery
(Decree of the Sacred Office of the 2nd March, 1679; Proposition
50; Ds 2150).
"Conjugal fidelity is attacked (...) by those who advocate modern
ideas and outlook concerning a false and far from harmless friendship
with third parties. Husband and wife, they claim, should be
allowed greater freedom of feeling and action in their relations
with others, especially because many are naturally endowed with
a sexual temperament which cannot find satisfaction within the narrow
sphere of monogamous marriage. The rigid attitude of good
married folk, which condemns and banishes any sensual feeling or
action in regard to a third person, is accounted by them an old-fashioned
narrowness of mind, or a contemptible form of jealousy. They
therefore consider that any penal laws of the State for the safeguarding
of marital fidelity are obsolete, or ought to be annulled.
feeling of every chaste husband and wife needs only to listen to
the voice of nature to repudiate these opinions as both groundless
and shameful; and the voice of nature is corroborated by God's commandment:
‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ (4) and by the words of Christ,
‘Whosoever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, hath already
committed adultery with her in his heart’ (5). No human customs,
no bad examples, no vaunted human progress, can deprive this divine
commandment of its binding force. Just as ‘Jesus Christ is
one, yesterday and today and the same forever’ (6) so the teaching
of Christ remains forever one and the same, and not one jot or tittle
of it shall pass away until all is fulfilled (7)" (Pius XI:
Encyclical Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930; M333 - 334).
reference the letter M stands for "Matrimony - Papal Teachings"
by the Monks of Solesmes, The Daughters of St. Paul Edition, 1963.
XIV: Encyclical Inter omnigenas; Feb. 2, 1743; M 14. (2)
I Cor. VI 9 - 10. (3) Benedict XIV: Ibid.; M 15.
(4) Exodus XX 14. (5) Matthew V 28. (6)
Hebrews XIII 8. (7) Matthew V 18.
may be reproduced in any quantity.