What is the teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic Church?
THE CATHOLIC DOGMA.
What is the teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic Church?
INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE
What is the true origin of Marriage?
"The true origin of marriage (...) is well known to all.
Though the revilers of Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the
never-interrupted doctrine of the church on this subject and have
long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all
times, they have nevertheless not only failed to quench the powerful
light of truth but even to lessen it. We record what is
known to all and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth
day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth and
having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion
whom he miraculously took from the side of Adam while he was asleep
(Gen. II. 18-24). God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight,
decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning
of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved
by an unfailing fruitfulness through all futurity of time."
(Leo XIII: Encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, February
10, 1880, M. 147.)
What is the importance of Family in Society?
"The family is the basis of society. As the human body is
composed of living cells, which are not placed only one beside
the other but by their intimate and constant relationship constitute
an organic whole, so society is formed not by a conglomeration
of individuals, sporadic beings, who appear for an instant and
disappear the next, but by the economic community and by the moral
solidarity of families which, transmitting from generation to
generation the precious inheritance of a common ideal, civilisation
and religious faith, guarantee the cohesion and continuity of
social ties. St. Augustine noted it fifteen centuries ago,
when he wrote that the family ought to be the initial element
and like a cell (particula) of the city. Since each
part is ordained to the purpose and integrity of the whole, he
concluded that peace in the family between who commands and who
obeys helps to maintain harmony between the citizens (St. Augustine:
Invitate Dei; L. 70, c 16). Well they know it who, in order
to expel God from society and throw it all into disorder, use
every means to deprive the family of respect and take away even
the remembrance of the divine laws, by exalting divorce and free
union, by obstructing the providential duty given to parents towards
their children, by instilling in married couples the fear of the
material efforts and moral responsibilities which accompany the
glorious burden of numerous children." (Pius XII: Allocution
to the Newlyweds, June 26, 1940, M. 430.)
What was the role of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Restoration
"Jesus Christ, who restored our human dignity and who perfected
the Mosaic law, applied early in His ministry no little solicitude
to the question of marriage. He ennobled the marriage in
Cana of Galilee by His Presence and made it memorable by the first
of the miracles which He wrought (John II): and for this reason,
even from that day forth, it seemed as if the beginning of new
holiness had been conferred on human marriages. Later on
He brought back matrimony to the nobility of its primeval origin
by condemning the customs of the Jews in their abuse of the plurality
of wives and of the power of giving bills of divorce and still
more by commanding most strictly that no-one should dare to dissolve
that union which God Himself had sanctioned by a perpetual bond.
Hence, having set aside the difficulties which were adduced from
the law of Moses, He, in the character of Supreme Law-giver, decreed
as follows concerning husbands and wives: 'I say to you, that
whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication,
and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall
marry her that is put away committeth adultery.' (Matth. XIX.
9.)" (Leo XIII: Encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae,
10 February, 1880, M. 152.)
What have the Apostles taught us about Christ's intentions on
"In like manner from the teaching of the Apostles we learn that
the unity of marriage and its perpetual indissolubility, the indispensable
conditions of its very origin, must, according to the command
of Christ, be holy and inviolable without exception. Paul
says again: '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' (1
Cor. VII. 10-11), and again 'a woman is bound by the law as long
as her husband liveth; but if her husband die, she is at liberty'
(1 Cor. VII. 39). It is for these reasons that marriage
is a 'great Sacrament' (Eph. V. 32), 'honourable in all' (Heb.
XIII. 4); holy, pure and to be reverenced as a type and symbol
of most high mysteries." (Leo XIII: Encyclical Arcanum
Divinae Sapientiae, 10 Feb. 1860, M. 154.)
As regards Marriage, what is the infallible teaching of the Council
of Trent and its consequences in Natural Law?
"This is the doctrine of the Council of Trent (Council of Trent,
Sess. XXIV; can. 1): 'The first parent of the human race, moved
by the Divine Spirit, declared that marriage is a perpetual and
indissoluble bond when he stated 'This now is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh' (Gen. 2, 23). Christ confirmed the
same stability of the bond which had been proclaimed by Adam so
long ago when he declared: 'what God hath joined together, let
no man put asunder'' (Matth. 19, 6). Thus marriage in the
very state of nature, and certainly long before it was raised
to the dignity of a sacrament in the true sense of the word, was
divinely instituted in such a manner that its bond was perpetual
and indissoluble, so that it cannot be dissolved by any civil
law." (Pius VI: Letter Litteris Tuis, 11 July 1789, M.
What about the objection saying that the Perpetuity and Indissolubility
of the Matrimonial Bond originated in Church Discipline?
"The perpetual and indissoluble strength of the marriage bond
does not have its origin in ecclesiastical discipline. For
the consummated marriage is solidly based on divine and natural
law: such a marriage can never be dissolved for any reason - not
even by the Pope himself - and not even in the case where one
of the parties may have violated conjugal fidelity by committing
adultery." (Pius IX: Letter Verbis Exprimere, 15 Aug.
1859, M. 103.)
What is the Foundation and what are the Consequences of the Divine
Institution of Marriage?
"Matrimony was not instituted or re-established by men but by
God; not men, but God, the Author of nature and Christ our Lord,
the restorer of nature, provided marriage with its laws, confirmed
it and elevated it; and consequently those laws can in no way
be subject to human wills or to any contrary pact made even by
the contracting parties themselves. This is the teaching
of Sacred Scripture (Gen. I, 27-28); it is the solemnly defined
doctrine of the Council of Trent, which uses the words of Holy
Scripture to proclaim and establish that the perpetual indissolubility
of the marriage bond, its unity and its stability, derive from
God Himself (Council of Trent, Sess. XXIV)." (Pius XI:
Encycl. Casti Connubii, 31 Dec. 1930, M. 267.)
More precisely, what is the Catholic Doctrine on the Indissolubility
"The indissolubility of the marriage contract is emphatically
declared by Christ Himself when He says, 'What God hath joined
together let no man put asunder' (Matth. XIX. 6) and 'Every man
that putteth away his wife and marrieth another committeth adultery;
and he that marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery'
(Luke XVI. 18).
And this attribute of marriage is assigned by St. Augustine to
the blessing called Sacrament in the following passage: 'Sacrament
signifies that the bond of wedlock shall never be broken, and
that neither party, if separated, shall form a union with another,
even for the sake of offspring' (St. Augustine: De Gen. ad Litt.,
L IX; ch VII; n 12.). But this inviolable stability, though
not always in equal measure nor always with the same degree of
perfection, is the attribute of every true matrimonial bond; for
the words of the Lord, 'What God hath joined together let no
man put asunder', were spoken concerning the nuptial union
of our first parents, the prototype of all future marriages, and
are consequently applicable to every true marriage. It is
true that before the coming of Christ, the perfection and strictness
of the original law were modified to the extent that Moses, because
of the hardness of their hearts, allowed even the members of God's
people to give a bill of divorce for certain reasons. But
Christ, in virtue of His power as supreme Lawgiver, revoked this
concession and restored the law to its original perfection by
those words which must never be forgotten: 'What God hath joined
together let no man put asunder' (Matth. XIX. 6.)."
(Pius XI: Encyclical Casti Connubii, 31 December, 1930, M.
What are the Fruits of this Indissolubility?
"The many precious benefits which flow from the indissolubility
of matrimony will be understood if we consider, even superficially,
the welfare of husband and wife, of their children and of society
as a whole. In the first place, husband and wife find in
it a guarantee of that enduring stability which their reciprocal
and generous surrender of their persons and of the deepest love
of their hearts naturally requires; for true charity 'never falleth
away' (I Cor. XIII. 8). To chastity it affords a bulwark
against temptations to infidelity, whether from within or from
without. It banishes the fear of being deserted in adversity
or old age and establishes instead a quiet feeling of security.
It provides an effective safeguard to the dignity of each party
and ensures that they will always be at hand to help each other,
the indissoluble bond which unites them serving as a constant
reminder that it is not for the sake of transitory goods, nor
for the mere satisfaction of desire, but in order to obtain for
each other higher and everlasting goods, that they have contracted
this matrimonial union which can be dissolved only by death.
Excellent provision is also made for the instruction and education
of the offspring, which has to be prolonged over many years: a
task involving weighty and enduring responsibilities which the
united efforts of both parents will make easier to bear.
Equal advantages are afforded to the whole of society, for experience
shows that the inviolable indissolubility of marriage is a most
fruitful source of upright living and of moral integrity.
If this is observed, the happiness and prosperity of the State
are secured; for the State is what it is made to be by the individuals
and families which compose it, as a body is composed of its members.
Consequently those who strenuously defend the permanent stability
of matrimony render a great service to the individual welfare
of married persons and their children and to the public welfare
of society." (Pius XI: Encyclical Casti Connubii, 31
Dec. 1930, M. 299-300.)
What is the Dignity of Marriage and what are its Consequences
for Social Life?
"After Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer and Restorer
of human nature, elevated Matrimony to the dignity of a Sacrament,
every marriage between Christians is by that very fact, a Sacrament,
nor can the contract be in any way separated from the Sacrament.
It follows that - having excepted the rights which the State has
over what are called the civil effects - Matrimony falls under
the authority of the Church. Besides, it is certain that
Jesus, the Redeemer of all peoples, abolished the bill of divorce
and gave back to Matrimony, which was strengthened by a new sanctity,
its indissolubility which it had received in the beginning through
the will of God Himself.
It follows that the marriage of Christians in the same moment
that it is completed acquires its sanctity, unity and perfection.
It cannot be dissolved for any reason whatsoever, save the death
of one of the partners, in conformity to the words of Sacred Scripture:
'What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder'
(Matth. XIX. 6). Jesus Christ had in mind the numerous interests
of mankind: in practice nothing better assures the preservation
and restoration of good morality and nothing could be thought
to be more useful and efficacious to nourish the reciprocal love
between husband and wife, and to procure for the family the stability
of divine power, to give back to the children the blessing of
the protection and the education of former times, to safeguard
woman's dignity and to assure the honour and prosperity of the
family and the State." (Leo XIII: Letter Dum Multa, 24
Dec. 1902, M. 247-248.)
What is the Competence of the Catholic Church in relation to Marriage?
"It is a dogma of Faith that Matrimony, which was only an indissoluble
contract before the coming of Christ, became, after the Incarnation,
one of the seven Sacraments of the Evangelical Law. This
was defined, under pain of excommunication, by the Holy Council
of Trent against the heretics and the impious of those times (Council
of Trent: Sess. XXIV. can. 1.). It follows that to the Church
alone, the guardian of everything that refers to the Sacraments,
belongs every right and power to determine the validity of this
contract which was elevated to the high dignity of a Sacrament;
and in consequence, it belongs to the Church alone to judge the
validity or invalidity of marriages. That is so obvious
that - wishing to oppose those who recklessly affirmed, either
in writing or in speech, as is again so widely done in our days,
that this is a practice foreign to the church's spirit and unheard
of at the time of the Apostles - the Council was induced to add
a special canon of condemnation and to put under pain of excommunication
whoever dared to say that matrimonial cases are not within the
competence of ecclesiastical judges (Council of Trent, Sess. XXIV,
can. 12.)." (Pius VI: Letter Deessemus Nos, 16 Sept.
1788, M. 43.)
As a Consequence, how is Marriage to be considered in Christian
"Therefore, insofar as the substance and sanctity of the bond
are concerned, marriage for Christian jurisprudence is an essentially
sacred and religious act, the regulation of which naturally belongs
to the religious power, not by a delegation of the State, nor
by consent of the Princes, but by mandate of the Divine Founder
of Christianity and Author of the Sacraments." (Leo XIII:
Letter Ci Siamo, 1 June 1879, M. 130.)
What has been the role of the Catholic Church in relation to Marriage
and to the Family?
"Christ, therefore, having renewed marriage to such and so great
excellence, commended and entrusted all the discipline bearing
upon these matters to His Church. The Church, always and
everywhere, has so used her power with reference to the marriages
of Christians that men have seen clearly that it belongs to her
as of native right; not being made hers by any human grant but
given divinely to her by the will of her Founder. Her constant
and watchful care in guarding marriage, by the preservation of
its sanctity, is so well understood, as not to need proof.
That the judgment of the Council of Jerusalem reprobated licentious
and free love (Acts XV. 29), we all know, as also that the incestuous
Corinthian was condemned by the authority of blessed Paul (1 Cor.
V. 5). Again, in the very beginning of the Christian Church
were repulsed and defeated, with the like unremitting determination,
the efforts of many who aimed at the destruction of Christian
marriage such as the Gnostics, Manicheans and Montanists; and
in our own time Mormons, St Simonians, Phalansterians and Communists.
In like manner, moreover, a law of marriage just to all and the
same for all, was enacted by the abolition of the old distinction
between slaves and free-born men and women (cf. c I de coniug.
serv.); and thus the rights of husbands and wives were made equal;
for as St. Jerome says, 'with us that which is unlawful for women
is unlawful for men also, and the same restraint is imposed on
equal conditions' (Lett. 77 ad oceano; PL XXII col. 691).
The self-same rights also were firmly established for reciprocal
affection and for the inter-change of duties; the dignity of the
woman was asserted and assured and it was forbidden to man to
inflict capital punishment for adultery (cf. Can. Interfectores
et can. Admonere, q. 2), or lustfully and shamelessly to violate
his plighted faith.
It is also a great blessing that the Church has limited, so far
as it is needful, the power of fathers of families, so that sons
and daughters wishing to marry are not in any way deprived of
their rightful freedom (c. 30, q. 3; c. III de cognat. spirit.);
that, for the purpose of spreading more widely the supernatural
love of husbands and wives, she has decreed marriages within certain
degrees of consanguinity or affinity to be null and void (c. 8
de consang. et affin.; c. 1 de cognat.; legali.) that she has
taken the greatest pains to safeguard marriage, as much as is
possible, from error and violence and deceit (c. 26, de sponsal.;
c. 13, 15, 29, de sponsal. et matrim.); that she has always wished
to preserve the holy chastity of the marriage bed, personal rights
(c. 1, de convers. infid.; cc 5, 6, de co. qui duxit in matrim.),
the honour of husband and wife (c. 3, 5, 8, de sponsal. et matrim.
Council of Trent. Sess. XXIV c. de reform. matrim.), and the security
of religion (c. 7, de divort.).
Lastly, with such power and with such foresight of legislation
has the Church guarded this divine institution that no-one who
thinks rightfully of these matters can fail to see how, with regard
to marriage, she is the best guardian and defender of the human
race; and how her wisdom has come forth victorious from the lapse
of years, from the assaults of men and from the countless changes
of public events." (Leo XIII: Encycl. Arcanum Divinae
Sapientiae, 10 Feb. 1880, M. 158-159.)
How should one feel after examining the role of the Catholic Church
in favour of the Indissolubility of Marriage?
"If the Church, fulfilling the mission received from the Divine
Founder, with powerful and fearless use of holy and invincible
energy, has always affirmed and spread abroad in the world inseparable
marriage, give praise and glory to her who so doing has greatly
contributed in safeguarding the right of the spirit before the
impulse of sense in matrimonial life, saving the dignity of the
marriage no less of the woman than of the human person."
(Pius XII: Alloc. to Newlyweds, 29 April 1942, M. 496.)
What difference is there, on the question of Marriage, between
the Ecclesiastical Judicial Order and the Civil Judicial Order?
"An (...) object, which clearly manifests the difference between
the ecclesiastical and civil judicial order, is Matrimony.
This is, according to the Creator's will, a res sacra.
Therefore, when it is a matter of the union between baptised persons,
it remains of its very nature outside the competence of civil
authority. But even marriages legitimately contracted between
non-baptised persons are a holy matter, so much so that civil
courts have no power to dissolve them, nor has the Church in similar
cases ever recognised the validity of their sentences of divorce.
This does not alter the fact that simple declarations of the nullity
of marriages themselves - relatively few in comparison to divorce
judgments - can in determined circumstances be justly pronounced
by civil courts and therefore be recognised by the Church."
(Pius XII: Alloc. to the Tribunal of the Holy Roman Rota, 6
Oct. 1946, M. 531.)
What is the Competence of the State on Marriage?
"It goes without saying, as all know, that the purely civil effects
of matrimony even between baptised persons are within the judicial
competence of the civil authority, but much wider and deeper is
the Church's competence in matrimonial questions, because on her
depends, by divine institution, what concerns the guardianship
of the nuptial bond and the sanctity of marriage." (Pius
XII: Allocution to the Tribunal of the Holy Roman Rota, October
6, 1946, M. 532.)
What authority has the Political Power on True Marriages?
"'Wherefore, it is evident (...) that even in the state of nature
and at all events long before it was raised to the dignity of
a Sacrament properly so-called, marriage was divinely constituted
in such a way as to involve a perpetual and indissoluble bond,
which consequently cannot be dissolved by any civil law.
Therefore, although a marriage may exist without a Sacrament,
as in the case of marriage between infidels, even so, being a
true marriage, it must and does retain the character of a perpetual
bond, which from the very beginning has been by divine law inseparable
from marriage and over which no civil power has any authority.
Therefore, if a marriage is said to be contracted, either it is
so contracted as to be a true marriage, in which case it carries
with it that perpetual bond which by divine law is inherent in
every true marriage or else it is deemed to be contracted without
this perpetual bond, in which case it is not a true marriage at
all but an illicit union objectively contrary to the divine law,
which consequently may not be entered upon or maintained.'
(Pius VI: Rescript. ad Episc. Agriens., July 11 1789.)
If the stability of marriage appears in some rare cases to be
subject to exception - as in certain natural marriages contracted
between infidels (can. 1120, Code of Canon Law of 1917), or between
Christians, in the category of marriages ratified but not consummated
(can. 1119, Code of Canon Law of 1917) - such exception does not
depend upon the will of man or of any merely human power but upon
the divine law, of which the Church of Christ is the sole guardian
and interpreter. But no such dissolving power can ever,
or for any cause, be exercised upon a Christian marriage ratified
and consummated. In such a marriage, the matrimonial contract
has attained its final perfection, and therefore by God's will
exhibits the highest degree of stability and indissolubility,
which no human authority can put asunder (can. 1118, Code of Canon
Law of 1917)." (Pius XI: Encyclical Casti Connubii, December
31, 1930, M. 296-297.)
What must Catholics know about Marriage?
"No Catholic is ignorant of, or can be ignorant of, the fact that
Matrimony is truly and properly one of the seven Sacraments of
the evangelical law, instituted by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
It necessarily follows that: 1) among the faithful, there cannot
be a marriage which is not at the same time a Sacrament; every
other union between Christians outside of the Sacrament, made
in virtue of any civil law, is none other than disgraceful and
base concubinage, repeatedly condemned by the Church; 2) the Sacrament
can never be separated from the marriage contract and only the
Church has the power to regulate those matters which pertain to
matrimony." (Pius IX: Consistorial All., September 27, 1852,
Some People extol the Union of Men and Women outside Marriage.
Who are they?
"As regards domestic society, here in brief is the Naturalists'
doctrine. Matrimony is only a civil contract. It can
be rescinded legitimately by the free will of the partners.
To the State belongs the power over the matrimonial bond.
(...) Now the Freemasons accept these principles without reserve.
Not only do they accept them but for a long time now, they have
studied a method which will make these principles part of custom
and the way of life. In many countries, which do not hesitate
to declare themselves Catholic, marriages which are not celebrated
according to the civil law are declared null; in other places,
divorce is allowed; again in other countries, everything is under
way to obtain this permission as soon as possible. Everything
is done in haste with the intention of altering the nature of
matrimony, to reduce it to a mutable and fleeting union which
can be formed and broken at will." (Leo XIII: Encycl.
Humanum genus, April 20, 1886, M. 200.)
"In a system which denies to human life all that is of a sacred
and spiritual nature, it follows as a matter of course that matrimony
and the family are considered to be a purely civil and artificial
institution, originating in a particular set of economic conditions;
and as the theory refuses to recognise any matrimonial bond of
the juridical and moral order not completely dependent on the
will of the individual or the community, it likewise as a necessary
consequence denies the indissolubility of matrimony. The
complete emancipation of women from any ties with home or family
is a special characteristic of the communist theory. Held
to be totally free from the protective authority of her husband,
the wife is withdrawn from the home and the care of her children
and, equally with her husband, thrust into the turmoil of public
life and communal industry, her home and her children being handed
over to the custody of the State. Parents, finally, are
denied the right to educate the children; this right is claimed
exclusively for the community and is therefore allowed to be exercised
only in its name and by its mandate." (Pius XI: Encycl.
Divini Redemptoris, March 19, 1937, M. 409.)
THE SECULAR STATE:
"When the secular State, overstepping its boundaries and the essential
scope of its power, extended its hand to desecrate the conjugal
bond, depriving it of its religious character, it (...) weakened
in various places the stability of matrimony by sanctioning the
law of divorce.
Everyone can see what are its fruits. An innumerable number
of marriages are made on the basis only of ignoble passions and
in a short time they break up or degenerate with tragic consequences
or scandalous infidelities. What then of the innocent children,
neglected and perverted by the parents' bad example, or by the
poison abundantly administered by a State officially secular?
(Pope Leo XIII: Encycl. Annum Ingressi Sumus, March 19, 1902,
How do the Enemies of Marriage proceed to Destroy its Indissolubility?
"They begin by representing matrimony as an absolutely profane
and purely civil affair, to be in no way entrusted to the care
of a religious society, the Church of Christ, but only to that
of the State. They go on to say that the nuptial contract
should be freed from any indissoluble bond and that the separation
of husband and wife by divorce ought to be not only tolerated
but legally sanctioned. The final consequence is that wedlock
is entirely stripped of its sacred character and reduced to the
level of profane and civil affairs.
They establish their first point on the ground that the civil
act itself is to be regarded as the real matrimonial contract
(civil marriage, as it is called); the religious act being a mere
accessory, or, at the most, a concession to be made to a common
and superstitious folk. Moreover, they say, no blame ought
to attach to Catholics for marrying non-Catholics without any
regard to religion and without asking the consent of religious
authority. Their second point, which is really a consequence
of the first, consists in vindicating complete divorce and in
praising and promoting legislation which favours the dissolution
of the marriage bond." (Pius XI: Encycl. Casti Connubii,
Dec. 31, 1930, M. 340-341.)
What are the Evils of Divorce?
"Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils
that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it
made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements
to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education
and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking
up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families;
the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low and women
run the risk of being deserted after having ministered to the
pleasures of men. Since, then, nothing has such power to
lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the
corruption of morals, it is easily seen that divorces are in the
highest degree hostile to the prosperity of families and States,
springing as they do from the depraved morals of the people and,
as experience shows us, opening out a way to every kind of evil-doing
alike in public and in private life.
Further still, if the matter be duly pondered, we shall clearly
see these evils to be the more especially dangerous because, divorce
once being tolerated, there will be no restraint powerful enough
to keep it within the bounds marked out or pre-established.
Great indeed is the force of example and even greater still the
might of passion. With such incitements, it must need follow
that the eagerness for divorce, daily spreading by devious ways,
will seize upon the minds of many like a virulent contagious disease
or like a flood of water bursting through every barrier."
(Leo XIII: Encycl. Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, Feb, 10, 1880,
"Among these very men who do not fully accept Catholic institutions,
or who do not recognise any of them, there are many, nevertheless,
who, moved by a desire for public welfare, fight courageously
and wisely in favour of the indissolubility of matrimony.
The lawfulness of breaking the matrimonial bond having in fact
been established, the constant and stable nature of matrimony
is upset by law. For this reason, those consequences which
We Ourselves have at another time deplored, came on in swift succession:
the weakening of mutual affection on both sides; the opportunity
for pernicious incitement towards infidelity; the endangering
of the upbringing and education of children; the fostering of
the germs of discord between families; the radical disturbing
of all things; the reducing of the status of women to the Lowest
Since both the prosperity of family life and the well-being of
the State are increased by good morals and ruined by corrupt ones,
it is easy to understand how ruinous are divorces for both public
and private order, proceeding as they do from the degradation
of morals and leading in turn to ultimate licence." (Leo
XIII: Consistorial All., Dec. 16, 1901, M. 244.)
"When there is not fixed in the will, the intention to guard perpetually
and inviolably the marriage bond, there also grows enfeebled and
decreases the consciousness of tranquility and future safety for
the father, mother and children, that sustaining feeling of unconditional
reciprocal faith, that bond of strict and unchangeable union (no
matter what happens), in which one great and essential element
of domestic happiness is rooted and nourished. Why, perhaps
you will ask, do We extend such consequences to the children?
Because they receive from their parents three great gifts: being,
nourishment and upbringing (5 Thomas Aquinas; Summa Theologica,
Suppl. 947. a7), and they need a happy atmosphere for their healthy
development; and it is certain a serene youth, a harmonious formation
and education, are inconceivable without the undoubted fidelity
of the parents. Do not the children nourish the bond of
this married love? The rupture of this bond is cruelty towards
them and contempt for their blood, a humiliating of their name,
a division of their heart and a separation of brothers and home,
a bitterness for their youthful happiness and, what is worse still,
moral scandal. How many are the wounds to the souls of millions
of youths? In many cases, what sad and lamentable ruin!
What implacable remorse is planted in souls! The Church
and civil society place their hopes in spiritually upright, morally
pure, happy and joyful men, who for the most part do not come
from homes torn with discord and uncertain affection but from
those families wherein all is based on the fear of God and inviolate
Whoever wishes to know the reasons for the decay of contemporary
morality and the poison which infects a great part of the human
family will not be long in finding out that one of the most ill-omened
and responsible sources is the legislation and practice of divorce.
God's creations and laws always have a beneficial and powerful
action; but when human neglect or malice intervenes and causes
disorder and upheaval, an incalculable process of damage sets
in, almost to the point where it seems that exasperated nature
itself turns against man's work. Who can ever doubt or deny
that the indissolubility of marriage is both a creation and law
of God, most valid support for the family, for the greatness of
the Nation, for the defense of the fatherland, which in the breast
of its courageous youth will always find the protection and strength
of its fortunes?" (Pius XII: All. to Newlyweds, Apr.
29, 1942, M. 497-498.)
Compared with the Evils caused by Divorce, what are the Blessings
resulting from Conjugal Indissolubility?
"Leo XIII clearly showed how divorce is as pregnant a source of
evils as the indissolubility of marriage is fertile in blessings.
If the bond is inviolate, we see husband and wife living in peace
and security; if it is not, the prospect of an early separation
or, still more, the danger of an eventual divorce, renders the
conjugal union precarious; at the very least these must give cause
for anxiety and suspicion. In the one case there is mutual
good will and the complete assurance of possessions shared in
common; in the other both of there suffer considerably from even
the possibility of separation. In the one case, there are
appropriate safeguards of chaste marital fidelity; in the other,
harmful temptations to a breach of conjugal faith. The willing
acceptance of children, their care and education, are in the one
case effectively secured; in the other, they are subject to the
gravest detriment. In the one case, many possibilities of
discord between families and relatives are precluded; in the other,
there are manifold occasions of it. The seeds of dissension
in the one case are easily stifled; in the other, sown more widely
and abundantly. Finally, the dignity and the function of
womankind are in the one case happily restored and rehabilitated;
in the other, humbled and degraded, wives being confronted with
the prospect that 'having served their purpose of satisfying the
desires of their husbands, they will be cast aside and abandoned.'
(Leo XIII: Encycl. Arcanum, Feb. 10, 1880, M. 143-198.)"
(Pius XI: Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930, M. 356.)
What does History teach us on the Legalisation of Divorce?
"As soon as the road to divorce began to be made smooth by law,
at once quarrels, jealousies and judicial separations largely
increased; and such shamelessness of life followed that men, who
had been in favour of these divorces, repented of what they had
done and feared that if they did not carefully seek a remedy by
repealing the law, the State itself might come to ruin.
The Romans of old are said to have shrunk with horror from the
first examples of divorce; but ere long, all sense of decency
was blunted in their soul, the meagre restraint of passion died
out and the marriage vow was so often broken that what some writers
affirmed would seem to be true - namely, women used to reckon
years not by the change of consuls but of their husbands.
In like manner, at the beginning, Protestants allowed legalised
divorce in certain restricted cases; and yet, from the affinity
of the circumstances of like kind, the cases for divorce increased
to such extent in Germany, America and elsewhere, that all wise
thinkers deplored the boundless corruption of morals and judged
the recklessness of the laws to be simply intolerable.
Even in Catholic States, the same evil existed. For whenever
at any time, divorce was introduced, the abundance of misery that
followed exceeded all that the framers of the law could have foreseen.
In fact, many set about to contrive all kinds of fraud and device
and by accusations of cruelty, violence and adultery, to feign
grounds for the dissolution of the matrimonial bond of which they
had grown weary; and all this with so great havoc to morals that
an amendment of the laws was deemed to be urgently needed.
Can any one, therefore, doubt that laws in favour of divorce would
have a result equally baneful and calamitous were they to be passed
in these, our days? There exists not, indeed, in the projects
and enactments of men, any power to change the character and tendency
which things have received from nature. Those men, therefore,
show but little wisdom in the idea they have formed of the well-being
of the commonwealth, who think that the inherent character of
marriage can be perverted with impunity and who, disregarding
the sanctity of religion and of the Sacrament, seem to wish to
degrade and dishonour marriage more basely than was done even
by heathen laws. Indeed, if they do not change their views,
not only private families but all public society will have unceasing
cause to fear lest they should be miserably driven into that general
confusion and overthrow of order which is even now the wicked
aim of Socialists and Communists.
Thus we most clearly see how foolish and senseless it is to expect
any public good from divorce when, on the contrary, it tends to
the certain destruction of Society." (Leo XIII: Encycl.
Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, Feb. 10, 1880, M. 181-183.)
What Considerations can we make at the Study of Modern Societies
where Divorce is Legal?
"Glance at modern society in the countries where divorce is rife
and ask yourself: Has the world the clear knowledge and vision
of how many times in those countries, woman's dignity, outraged
and offended, spurned and corrupted, is cast aside and almost
buried in degradation and abandonment? How many secret tears
have bathed certain thresholds, certain rooms; how many have resounded
in certain meetings, along certain streets and byways, in certain
corners and deserted haunts?" (Pius XII: All. to Newlyweds,
April 29, 1942, M. 494.)
What about the modern habit of Marrying and Divorcing repeatedly?
"It is very true that in our times, in which contempt of and carelessness
about religion have again given birth to the spirit of a new paganism,
pleasure-seeking and proud, there is manifested in not a few countries
almost a mania for divorce, aiming at contracting and dissolving
marriages with more facility and levity than is usual with contracts
of leasing and hiring.
But such a mania, thoughtless and inconsiderate, cannot be counted
as a reason why ecclesiastical courts should desist from the norms
and practice dictated and approved sane judgment and a delicate
conscience. In the Church, no other norm and practice can
have any value in the matter of the indissolubility or dissolubility
of marriage except that established by God, the Author of nature
and grace." (Pius XII: All. to the Tribunal of the Sacred
Roman Rota, Oct 3, 1941, M. 475.)
Objection: Weren't the Jews of the Old Testament allowed to Repudiate
"It is certain that Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
when questioned as to his opinion about the bill of divorce that
Moses had permitted, replied, as can be seen from the Gospel of
St. Matthew, chapter 19 and in St. Mark, chapter 10: "Because
Moses, by reason of the hardness of your heart, permitted you
to put away your wives; but it was not so from the beginning.
And I say to you, that whoever puts away his wife, except for
immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who
marries a woman who has been put away commits adultery"; and Jesus
concluded thus: "What therefore God has joined together, let no
man put asunder" (Mark X, 5-9; Matth. XIX, 5-9). Theologians
deduce from these words, the legitimate conclusion that it is
no longer permissible for the Jews to repudiate their legitimate
spouse and that the bill of divorce no longer dissolves the marriage
bond; for Jesus Christ has returned it to its primitive state,
in other words, to indissolubility. He did this, not by
promulgating a new law but rather by abolishing the ancient concessions
or dispensation made against the aforesaid indissolubility.
As the matter stands, even if the repudiation is tolerated among
the Jewish couples who persist in Jewish beliefs, it certainly
must not be permitted at all nor tolerated that a Jew converted
to the Faith and purified by sacred Baptism, should grant, according
to the Jewish rite and custom, a bill of divorce to the wife who
obstinately retains her Jewish belief." (Benedict XIV:
Apost. Const. Apostolici Ministerii, Sept. 16, 1747, M. 23.)
Objection: Many Countries have accepted Divorce, therefore it
should he allowed?
"It is vain, (...) to draw support from foreign examples in a
matter undoubtedly criminal. Can the multitude of those
who sin ever diminish sin itself or even excuse it?" (Leo
XIII: Consistorial Allocution, December 16, 1901, M. 243.)
Can we not expect a Change from the Catholic Church as regards
the Legal Freedom of Divorce?
"It is all the more obvious when one considers that divorce was
never given legal sanction without the Church having ever opposed
it whenever possible with all its authority as guardian and defender
of divine law. Let no one dare to hope that today she is
less mindful than in the past of her duties never to connive in
such evil. She will not pass over in silence nor tolerate
submissively, the injury done to God and to herself." (Leo
XIII: Consistorial Allocution, December 16, 1901, M. 243.)
SOME PARTICULAR CASES.
Where does the Catholic Church stand on the issue of Declarations
of Marriage Annulments?
"As regards declarations of nullity of marriages, no one
is unaware that the Church is hesitant and averse to granting
them. Indeed, if the tranquility, stability and safety of
human commerce in general demands that contracts should not be
declared null for every fickle reason, then all the more so must
it be demanded of a contract of such importance as matrimony,
whose firmness and stability are required by the common welfare
of human society and by the private welfare of the wedded couples
and of the children; while the dignity of the Sacrament forbids
that what is sacred and sacramental be easily exposed to the danger
of profanation. Who is unaware then, that human hearts are
frequently unfortunately inclined - for reasons of hardship of
different kinds, or through disagreement and weariness with the
other party, or to open the way to a union with another person
sinfully loved - to study means to free themselves from the marriage
union already contracted? For these reasons, the ecclesiastical
judge must not too easily be inclined to declare a marriage null
but rather to devote himself above all, to see that what has been
invalidly contracted be convalidated, especially when the circumstances
of the case particularly suggest this course." (Pius XII:
Allocution to the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, October 3,
1941, M. 471.)
What if the Convalidation of an Invalid Marriage is impossible?
"If convalidation is impossible, either because there exists a
diriment impediment from which the Church cannot or is not accustomed
to dispense, or because the parties refuse to give or renew their
consent, then the sentence of nullity cannot be denied him who,
according to canonical prescriptions, justly and legitimately
asks for it, provided there be ascertained the asserted invalidity
with a certainty which in human things goes under the name
of moral certainty - that is, it excludes every prudent
doubt and, moreover, is based on positive reasons. The absolute
certainty of nullity cannot be demanded, that is, that certainty
which not only excludes every positive probability but even the
mere possibility of the contrary. The norm of canon law,
according to which 'matrimonium gaudet favore iuris; quare
in dubio standum est pro valore matrimonii, donec contrarium probetur'
(Can. 1014, Code of Canon Law of 1917) must be understood as referring
to the moral certainty of the contrary; but this certainly must
be well established. No ecclesiastical court has the right
and the power to exact anything more. By requiring more,
the very right of the plaintiffs to marriage could be easily injured;
since, not being in reality bound by any matrimonial bond, they
enjoy the natural right to contract it." (Pius XII: Allocution
to the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, Oct. 3, 1941, M. 472.)
What about Invalid Marriages?
"Indeed, in such a case, there belongs to the married couple iure
naturae the right to accuse such a marriage - provided they
have not been guilty of causing the impediment or the nullity.
To this their right, there corresponds on the judge's part, who
shall have reached the conclusion with moral certainty ex actis
et probatis of the invalidity of the marriage, the obligation
to declare it null when passing his sentence." (Pius
XII: All. to the Tribunal of the Holy Roman Rota, Oct. l, 1940,
Which passages of Sacred Scripture give the Guide-lines for Ecclesiastical
Tribunals dealing with Marriage Cases?
"There are two passages in Holy Scriptures which in a certain
sense, indicate the limits between the dissolution of the bond
must remain and which exclude both the current laxity and the
rigorism contrary to the divine will and mandate. The first
is: 'Quod Deus coniunxit, homo non separet' (Matth. XIX.
6); that is to say, not man but God may separate the parties;
hence there is no separation where God does not loose the bond.
The other is: 'Non servituti subiectus est frater aut soror...;
in pace autem vocavit nos Deus' (1 Cor. VII. 15); which means
that there is no longer servitude or bond where God has dissolved
it and so permitted the parties to engage legitimately in a new
marriage. In every case, the supreme norm according to which
the Roman Pontiff makes use of his vicarial power to dissolve
matrimony is (...) the rule of the exercise of judicial power
in the Church, namely the salus animarum, in the attainment
of which both the common welfare of religious society and of human
kind in general and the well-being of individuals will receive
due and proportionate consideration." (Pius XII: All.
to the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, Oct. 3, 1941, M. 476.)
What did Pope Benedict XIV have to say to Ecclesiastical Judges
declaring Marriage Annulments too easily?
"Since the matrimonial contract was instituted by God, inasmuch
as it is a natural institution whose aim is the education of the
offspring and the conservation of the other benefits of marriage,
it is suitable that it be perpetual and indissoluble (Matth. XIX.
6). Inasmuch as it is a Sacrament of the Catholic Church,
it can never be dissolved by human presumption: Our Lord so ordained
it Himself with these words: "What God hath joined together, let
no man put asunder." Now We have been informed that in some
ecclesiastical chanceries, this bond has been broken through the
excessive compliance of the judges; sentences of nullity of matrimony
have been issued rashly and without due consideration and liberty
has been given to married couples to contract other marriages.
It would have been fitting for these imprudent judges to have
heeded the warning that came to them from the very qualities of
human nature and, in a certain sense, even from its very voice
not to violate with such precipitate audacity the bond of holy
matrimony; a bond that the first parent of the human race declared
perpetual and indissoluble when he declared: 'This now is bone
of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,' and when he added: 'Wherefore
a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife:
and they shall be two in one flesh' (Gen. II. 23-24)." (Benedict
XIV: Apost. Const. Dei Miseratione, Nov. 3, 1741, M. 3.)
What is the Value of Divorces made by Human Laws?
Opposed to all the errors promoting divorce "there stands one
irrefragable law of God, amply endorsed by Christ, a law against
whose force no human decree, nor ordinance of peoples, nor lawgiver's
will can prevail: 'what God hath joined together, let no man put
asunder' (Matth. XIX. 6). If anyone, in spite of that law,
makes such a separation, his act is null and void, with the consequence
which Christ Himself has clearly proclaimed: 'He that putteth
away his wife and marrieth another committeth adultery; and he
that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth
adultery' (2 Luke XVI. 18). And these words of Christ apply
to any marriage whatsoever, even to a legitimate marriage of the
natural order. Indissolubility is the attribute of every
true marriage, and therefore so far as the dissolution of the
bond is concerned, it is independent of the will of the parties
themselves and of every secular power." (Pius XI: Encycl.
Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930, M. 351.)
Can a Man remarry if his Wife has left him?
the wife of one of the faithful seeks refuge with another man
and dares to contract with him "a sinful union, it is not lawful
for the man (that is to say, her husband), to take another wife
in the place of the one who fled; for matrimony by divine law
is indissoluble while both parties are living and it is not dissolved
by a crime such as that perpetrated by the wife. Whoever
in such a case weds another woman commits adultery and, if he
does not separate himself definitively from her, he is to be excluded
from the Sacraments." (Benedict XIV: Encycl. Inter Omnigenas,
Feb. 2, 1743, M. 14.)
Can Catholics accept Civil Marriage?
"No matter what non-Catholic jurists or adherents of the autocracy
of the state may say, it is certain that those who are sincere
Catholics cannot in conscience accept this doctrine as a foundation
for a Christian law of matrimony. The reason is that this
doctrine is founded on a dogmatic error which has been condemned
several times by the Church, that is, the reduction of the Sacrament
to an extrinsic ceremony and to the condition of a simple rite.
This is a doctrine which overthrows the essential concept of Christian
marriage, in which the bond, sanctified by religion, is identified
with the Sacrament and constitutes inseparably with it but one
object and one reality. In truth, to divest marriage of
its sacred character in the midst of Christian society is the
same as to degrade it, to scorn the religious faith of the subjects
and to devise a harmful deceit, since the bare legal formality
of the civil act without the Sacrament is of no value and can
give no virtue to such unions, nor happiness to their families."
(Leo XIII: Letter, Ci Siamo, June 1, 1879, M. 132.)
What should a Catholic Hierarchy do when Divorce is about to be
"Christian matrimony, the character and dignity of which is held
in such high honour by this nation, together with the natural
and proper right of the church over Christian marriages, which
she surrounds with respect, are now the objects of iniquitous
attempts aimed at tearing away from the church this, her exclusive
right, to make way for and impose the so-called civil marriage.
Certainly, you and your people can easily see that these laws
are injurious to the church, an obstacle to good morals and virtues;
a step backwards on the road of true and salutary progress for
nations and peoples. We are sure that you have done everything
possible to avoid this scourge for your country and for your religion
and that at present, individually or collectively, you will protest
against these laws and projects." (St. Pius X: Letter,
Afflictum Propioribus, Nov. 24, 1906, M. 250.)
What should a Catholic Hierarchy do when Divorce has been Legalised?
fact, in your country a new law has been promulgated which places
the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage in grave danger.
In conformity with the duties of your office, you have done everything
possible to preserve intact the family - the foundation of all
human society and nursery of the state - the family which naturally
and by itself constitutes the place where the human being grows
and is formed as is fitting to his state. Your plea, nevertheless,
went unheeded. Devote yourselves, therefore, as your pastoral
zeal demands, to warning your faithful that the perverse decrees
enacted by men have neither abolished the divine laws nor weakened
them. The faithful must not, even if the law permits it,
invoke provisions contrary to God's commandments to dissolve the
marriage bond." (Pius XII: Letter, Czestochoviensis Beatae
Mariae, Jan. 17, 1946, M. 524.)
What are the Duties of Rulers in relation to the Unity and the
Perpetuity of Marriage?
"Let those who are principally interested in this affair consider
how dangerous and contrary to justice it is to impose on a Catholic
nation, a form of marriage condemned a thousand times by the Church.
The Heads of State have the competence and the right to regulate
the civil effects that result from marriage; but to the Church
belongs legislation about the conjugal bond, because Our Lord
Jesus Christ conferred this power on His church, elevating Matrimony
from a natural institution to the dignity of a Sacrament.
Here it is sufficient to recall the Christian dogma of the unity
and the perpetuity of marriage. When these qualities disappear,
the principal foundation on which Jesus Christ ordained the family
and the State to be established disappears. No man can hinder
the divine will of Him who came to restore and perfect both civil
and domestic society." (Leo XIII: Consistorial All.,
March 18, 1895, M. 237.)
What about those on whose Deliberations depends the Law on Divorce?
"...We do not admonish but beg all those on whose deliberation
depends the present law of divorce, that they desist from
the enterprise for the sake of all that they hold dear and sacred.
Let them not refuse to note and consider seriously, how holy,
indivisible and perpetual by divine law is the matrimonial bond
of Christians; and how such a law can never, by any human law,
be abrogated or derogated. It is a great and dangerous error
to wish to reduce Christian marriage to a matter that can be contracted
and resolved by civil law.
For the Redeemer and Restorer of human nature, Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, having abolished the use of divorce, brought Matrimony
back to the primitive state in which it had been authoritatively
constituted by God Himself. Elevating it to the dignity
and virtue of a Sacrament, He placed it above the type of ordinary
contract and above the jurisdiction of civil power, even above
ecclesiastical power itself. The civil powers may regulate
the civil effects which flow from the bond of matrimony: but to
go further is forbidden by God's will.
Every law then, that ratifies divorce, is iniquitous and openly
unjust before God, the Creator and Supreme Legislator: therefore
it can only give rise to adulterous unions, not to legitimate
marriage." (Leo XIII: Consistorial All., Dec. 16, 1901,
What Fundamental Norms should Catholic Jurists keep in mind in
Countries where Iniquitous Laws have been passed, especially Civil
"1) The principle that the judge cannot purely and simply dismiss
the responsibility of his decision by making it fall back totally
on the law and on its authors holds valid for every sentence.
Certainly, these are principally responsible for the effects of
the law itself. But the judge, who with his sentence applies
it to the particular case, is the joint cause and therefore shares
the responsibility for those effects.
2) The judge may never, with his decision, oblige anyone to commit
an act intrinsically immoral, that is to say, of its very nature
contrary to the law of God or of the Church.
3) In no case may he expressly recognise or approve an unjust
law (which indeed would never constitute the basis of a valid
judgment in conscience and before God.) Therefore he may
never pronounce a penal sentence which would be equivalent to
such an approval. His responsibility would be all the more
grave were such a sentence to cause a public scandal.
4) Nevertheless, not every application of an unjust law is equivalent
to its recognition or its approbation. In this case, the
judge can - sometimes perhaps he must - let the unjust law run
its course, whenever it is the only means to hinder a much greater
evil. He can inflict a penalty for the transgression of
an iniquitous law if it is of such a kind that he who is blameworthy
is reasonably disposed to undergo it to avoid that damage or to
assure a benefit of much greater importance and if the judge knows
or can prudently suppose that such a sanction will be accepted
by the transgressor for higher motives. In times of persecution,
Priests and lay people have often let themselves be condemned,
without opposing resistance, even by Catholic magistrates, have
paid fines or been deprived of personal liberty for an infraction
of unjust laws, when in such a way it was possible to preserve
an honest magistracy for the people and avoid greater calamities
for the Church and the faithful.
Naturally, the graver the consequences of the judicial sentence,
so much the more important and general ought also to be the good
to be achieved or the evil to be avoided. There are cases,
however, in which the concept of a compensation bringing greater
benefits or removing greater evils cannot apply, as in the case
of the death sentence. In particular, the Catholic judge
may never pronounce, except for greatly important reasons, a civil
divorce sentence (where it exists) for a marriage which is valid
before God and the Church. He must never forget that such
a sentence, in practice, does not refer to the civil effects only
but in reality gives rise to an erroneous belief that the present
bond is dissolved and the new one is valid and binding."
(Pius XII: All. to Catholic Jurists, Nov. 6, 1949, M. 560-563.)
What should be said to those Spouses who feel the weight of the
Law of the Indissolubility of Marriage?
"This law of indissolubility will appear and will be understood
as a manifestation of vigilant maternal love, especially if it
is regarded in that supernatural light in which Christ has placed
it. In the midst of difficulties, trials and inordinate
desires which will perhaps be strewn along your life's path, your
two souls inseparably joined will not find themselves alone or
helpless. God's omnipotent grace, an essential fruit of
the Sacrament, will constantly be with these souls, to sustain
them in the moments of weakness, to sweeten their sacrifice, to
comfort and console them even in the hardest and longest trials.
For if obedience to the divine law necessitates shaking off the
allurements of prospective earthly joys in the hour of temptation,
renouncing them to "begin life again," grace will still
be there to recall the teachings of the faith in all their aspects:
that is, that the only true life, that which must never be exposed
to danger, is that heavenly life, precisely that life which such
renunciations assure, no matter how difficult they be; renunciations
which are, as all events of this present life, transitory things,
designed merely to prepare the ultimate state of the future life,
which will be all the more happy and glorious as the inevitable
afflictions in life's pilgrimage here below have been boldly and
generously accepted." (Pius XII: All. to Newlyweds, April
22, 1942, M. 488.)
What is allowed by the Church when Life in Common becomes Intolerable
for Two Spouses?
"When 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.)
If life in common is unbearable, the separation between husband
and wife is allowed which leaves the bond of marriage intact;
and this is authorised in clear terms by the Church in the canons
which deal with separation from bed, board and dwelling. (Can.
1128-1132, Code of Canon Law of 1917.) Touching the grounds,
conditions and manner of this separation; the precautions to be
taken in regard to the education of the children and the security
of the family; remedies to forestall evils arising out of such
a separation for the married parties, for the children and for
the civil community itself - it will be for the laws of the church
to make provision for all this as far as possible. To a
limited extent this will rest also with the state, in regard to
the civil aspects and effects of such separation." (Pius
XI: Encycl. Casti Connubii, 31 Dec. 1930, M. 354.)
practical advice can be given to Families from all this Teaching?
"The family has primarily a need of a certain economic security.
As long, indeed, as man is compelled to lead a desolate and miserable
life and to live in repulsive and unhealthy dwellings; while he
is not assured of a certain tranquility of work, of the possibility
to marry at a young age and a salary that will permit him to save
and to acquire a small piece of property; in such conditions,
family life will always become disorganised and evermore open
to the germs of social and moral corruption. On this point
it is worth calling to mind the words of the Holy Father regarding
housing problems, which are certainly among the most affecting:
'How painful it is to see young people in those years in which
nature inclines them strongly towards matrimony, forced to wait
years and years owing to the shortage of houses, with the danger
that in this unnerving expectation they wither morally in the
end!' (Pius XII: Allocution to Women of Catholic Action,
July 24, 1949, M.543.)
It is necessary, moreover, to give back to the family its moral
sanity; for in fact it is an ethical organism no less than a social
one, because it is destined to promote the perfection of the moral
qualities of its members. The indispensable condition for
this is its stability. On this matter, His Holiness believes
that the time has come to exhort Italian Catholics to greater
vigilance before the advocates of divorce, who are preparing new
attacks and advancing always more impudent pretexts and, what
is worse still, finding less resistance than in the past in the
eyes of public opinion. True Catholics know - and when the
time arises, they must concentrate on such matters to the full
- that the bond of matrimony is of its very nature indissoluble.
To give way to these pressures in the name of a liberty which
is open rebellion to divine laws, would be, for those responsible
for public life, a launching of the country into a fearful decadence.
On the other hand, there is strictly connected with family life,
the problem of education, the hinge on which the moral sanity
of the family itself depends, and which today demands a revision
of methods, in order to be able to confront the possibilities,
difficulties and risks of the new conditions of life. How
is it possible not to take into consideration the greater autonomy
which youth today claim from their parents, their tendency to
seek outside of the family, satisfaction for those needs which
were one time entrusted to family life and, finally the increased
responsibilities in the field of education which the State nowadays
attributes to itself? This becomes more evident if woman's
social position is considered, which lately, according to the
expression of the Holy Father, 'has undergone an evolution no
less rapid than profound. She has seen herself moved from
the recollected sanctuary of the family to the vastness and excitement
of public life. She has part today in the same professions,
bears the same responsibilities, even enjoys in the field of politics
an equal footing with man' (Pius XII: Allocution, 12 May, 1946).
If therein there are undoubted perils, on the other hand it would
be unjust, even injurious, not to value the advantages that could
at times arise from these new relations.
As regards the increasing invasion of civil society in the field
of education, one can never sufficiently call to mind that 'parents
have a primary right by natural law to the education of their
children ... inviolable and antecedent to that of society and
of the State' (Pius XII: Allocution, 8 Sept. 1946).
The State must, therefore safeguard the free exercise of this
right and supply any occasional insufficiency of the family but
it must never unduly replace the family itself. Where there
is a need to intervene, instead of creating new organisations
- which could encourage in the parents a tendency to rid themselves
of the work of education originally belonging to them - the State
should rather promote such conditions of life, work and assistance
as are suitable for encouraging the family to exercise better
its function of bringing up children. This could be done
by repression of evil habits, by elevating to the level of family
morality, the means used for propagating ideas and particularly
by promoting the more frequent presence of husband and wife in
the home, both by diminishing the necessity for the woman to stay
out of the house and 'by providing a place of work not distant
from the home; otherwise the head of the family and educator of
the children will become almost a stranger in the home'.
This would also allow a deeper collaboration between husband and
wife which, if good in all fields, would be particularly so in
that of education.
The revival of the family should be begun on the religious
plane in the first place, because it is precisely from the
weakening of religious sentiment itself that there derive, as
from a main source, all the evils which afflict modern families.
Born from a contract 'essentially sacred' (Leo XIII: Encyclical
Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, 10 February, 1880, M. 148-198)
which the Redeemer has elevated to the dignity of a Sacrament,
symbolising His union with the Church, the family finds, in the
goal assigned to it by the New Law, its highest perfection and
the most secure safeguard of its unity, dignity and stability.
In this light, the life of husband and wife led in a Christian
family is not only an exchange of human rights and the performance
of natural functions but the participation in heavenly realities;
a means of spiritual elevation and sanctification, since the Sacrament
has provided so great a source of divine energies to which the
married couple can have access during their whole matrimonial
life, to draw help and comfort for the fulfilment of their duties.
This reveals the pre-eminent function that belongs to the family
in the vast reality of the Mystical Body and at the same time
opens horizons of limitless perfection to the family organisms
whenever they become more intimately united in the life of the
From all this appears the need for married couples to recognise
more and more the spiritual bond that unites them to the parish,
where their union has been blessed, in order to draw the light
of faith and heavenly strength to complete the supernatural education
of their children and to give themselves consciously to the various
forms of religious and social apostolate that form part of parish
life. Thus sanctified, the family will find once again the
peace, serenity and joy which modern materialistic and secularistic
ideas extinguish when they deprive the family of its sacred character.
Family life will develop love towards the home that will preserve
its members from dangerous accidents on the roads of life and
through the family, the Church will spread over all social life,
the beneficial gifts of the higher world of grace." (Letter
of Monsignor Montini to Cardinal Siri, Family Problems XXVII,
Social Week at Pisa, September 19, 1954, M. 726-730.)
these texts, 'M' relates to the book titled "Matrimony - Papal
Teachings" by the Monks of Solesmes, The Daughters of St. Paul