BACKGROUNDER PREPARED BY THE CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION
FOR LIFE AND FAMILY (COLF)
Catholic Teaching and Public Statements on Marriage
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
A communion of life and love
“#1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.
The grace of the sacrament
#1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.
The deeply personal unity of conjugal love
#1643 Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.
The Second Vatican Council - Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World no.50
From the beginning God made them male and female
“Marriage and married love are by nature ordered to the procreation and education of children. Indeed children are the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the well-being of the parents themselves. God said: ‘It is not good that man should be alone’ (Genesis 2.18), and ‘from the beginning (God) made them male and female” (Matthew 19.4); wishing to associate them in a special way with his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1.28). Without intending to underestimate the other ends of marriage, it must be said that married love and the family life which flows from it have this end in view: that the spouses would cooperate generously with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will in due time increase and enrich his family….
“But marriage was not instituted solely for the procreation of children: its nature as an indissoluble covenant between two people and the good of the children demand that the mutual love of the partners be properly expressed, that it should grow and mature. Even in cases where despite the intense desire of the spouses there are no children, marriage still retains its character of being a whole manner and communion of life and preserves its value and indissolubility.”
The Code of Canon Law
The matrimonial covenant
Canon 1055 § 1 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
*Note: The following anthropological, personal, social and religious dimensions of marriage are more fully developed in the Presentation made by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on February 13, 2003. It is on the COLF website under public statements and the CCCB website at http:www.cccb.ca
Marriage has anthropological, personal, social and religious dimensions
“We support the continued recognition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. We believe that the fundamental purposes or characteristics of marriage are the good of the couple, and also the procreation and education of children, which in turn are for the good of society. Marriage thus has anthropological, personal, social and religious dimensions.”
The anthropological dimensions of marriage
“Marriage is founded on anthropological presuppositions well established and rooted in the personal being of man and woman. Among these presuppositions are: the social condition of the human being and the desire to be in relationship, the equality of man and woman, the complementarity and mutuality of the two sexes, and the love for the other who is sexually different and complementary….”
The personal dimension of marriage
“The conjugal love of husband and wife goes beyond sentimentality by being a complementary and mutual commitment to give oneself fully to the other as man and woman. Each invites the other to become all that she or he can be, and is called to helping the other to be the man or woman that God intends….”
The social dimension of marriage
“Emerging from and rooted in marriage, the family provides a stable environment and is the best place in which to raise children and to educate future generations. Marriage ensures the psychological and emotional stability that is so essential for children. It is within a family that the men and women of tomorrow’s society become socialized and learn how to love. We believe that marriage is a unique way of life, of benefit to couples, to future children and to society….
“Marriage involves both a profound personal commitment between a man and a woman who love each other, and a deep social commitment by the couple to society and by society to the couple. Marriage between a man and a woman is the basic unit of society, the social nucleus in which most children are born and raised. In exchange for the irreplaceable role of the married couple in the upbringing of children, society in turn makes a commitment to recognize and protect them. This reciprocity has demographic, economic, social and intergenerational consequences that we as a society ignore at our peril….”
The religious dimension of marriage
“For Christians, marriage means a man and a woman creating a shared sacred history, one that began for each of them at baptism, and becoming a community of life and love, a sign of the love of Christ for his Church….
“The goodness and holiness of marriage are essentially connected with the great goods intrinsic to married love: free, faithful and permanent conjugal love, and the procreation and education of children. It is precisely in order to protect and promote these great human goods that the Catholic Church proposes the sacrament of marriage which signifies the life-giving and love-giving union of Christ with his Church….”
“We affirm that marriage is a unique and exclusive public commitment between a man and a woman whose love overflows in fruitfulness, and ultimately brings children into the world.
We believe that the transmission of marital love from generation to generation, communicated a thousand times over from one couple to another, from one family to another, is indisputable evidence of the greatness and grace of marriage. It deserves the support and protection of society and the Church.”
(In Love for Life, 2002)
Ecumenical Statement, Christian Declaration on Marriage
A loving, life-giving, faithful and fruitful relationship
“We believe that marriage is a holy union of one man and one woman in which they commit, with God’s help, to build a loving, life-giving, faithful relationship that will last for a lifetime. God has established the married state in the order of creation and redemption for spouses to grow in love of one another and for the procreation, nurture, formation and education of children.”
(Joint statement by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and three Protestant organizations in the United States, November. 14, 2000)
March 25, 2003