Daily Series on the Catechism


Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter 2:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”

Article 6,  The Sixth Commandment

IV.  Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage

Divorce (cont’d)

§ 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 (cf. FC 84).

[Editorial note: An ecclesiastical Decree of Nullity (an annulment) of the marital bond was covered in a previous posting in § 1629.]

Other offenses against the dignity of marriage

§ 2387  The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law.

“[Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive” (FC 19; cf. GS 47 § 2). The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.

§ 2388  Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them (cf. Lev 18:7-20). St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you…for a man is living with his father’s wife…In the name of the Lord Jesus…you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh…” (1 Cor 5:1, 4-5). Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality [unrestrained carnal interests over spiritual].

§ 2389  Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.

Tomorrow – Other offenses against the dignity of marriage (to be continued) & In Brief

(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 6 – to be continued)

[Editor’s Note:  The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]

  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “FC” – Pope St. John Paul II (Nov 1981), “Familiaris Consortio [At the Service of the Family]”
  • “GS” – “Gaudium et Spes [Joy and Hope]”, Vatican Council II
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