- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On January 1, 1997
Article 7 THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
V. The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love
1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love. Spouses who with God’s grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community (note 156. Cf FC 20).
1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. the Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble (note 157. 157 Cf. FC 83; CIC, cann. 1151-1155.).
Article 6 THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT, IV.
Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage
2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.173 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. 174 Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.” 175
2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. 176 If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.
Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.177
2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.
2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law.
There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.178
176 Cf. CIC, canons 1151-1155.
Mary’s Advocates’s note:
FULL KNOWLEDGE, or the lack thereof, should not be misunderstood as an excuse of sinful actions. #1859 of the Catechism clarifies “ignorance” stating that “feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of sin.” And #1860 clarifies “ignorance” even further: “But no one is deemed ignorant of the moral law, which is written in the conscience of every man.”
While canon law shows the grounds for separation in canon 1151-1155, the procedural norms for separation cases are in canon 1692-1696.