III. Coniugum amor

 Giotto, The Marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary





2360. Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

2360 Sexualitas ad coniugalem ordinatur amorem viri et mulieris. In matrimonio, corporalis coniugum intimitas signum et pignus fit spiritualis communionis. Inter baptizatos, matrimonii vincula sacramento sanctificantur.





2361. Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death (FC 11).

2361 « Sexualitas [...], per quam vir ac femina se dedunt vicissim actibus coniugum propriis sibi ac peculiaribus, minime quiddam est dumtaxat biologicum, sed tangit personae humanae ut talis veluti nucleum intimum. Sexualitas modo vere humano expletur tantummodo, si est pars complens amoris, quo vir et femina sese totos mutuo usque ad mortem obstringunt »: 240

Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying, “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers. . . . You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together.” And they both said, “Amen, Amen.” Then they went to sleep for the night (Tob 8:4-9).

« Exsurrexit Thobias de lecto et dixit [...] [Sarae]: “Surge, soror! Oremus et deprecemur Dominum nostrum, ut faciat super nos misericordiam et sanitatem”. Et surrexit, et coeperunt orare et deprecari Dominum, ut daretur illis sanitas. Et coeperunt dicere: “Benedictus es, Deus patrum nostrorum [...]. Tu fecisti Adam et dedisti illi adiutorium firmum Evam, et ex ambobus factum est semen hominum. Et dixisti non esse bonum hominem solum: Faciamus ei adiutorium simile sibi. Et nunc non luxuriae causa accipio hanc sororem meam, sed in veritate. Praecipe, ut miserearis mei et illius, et consenescamus pariter sani”. Et dixerunt: “Amen, amen!”. Et dormierunt per noctem » (Tb 8,4-9).





2362. “The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude” (GS 49 # 2).  Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:

2362 « Actus [...], quibus coniuges intime et caste inter se uniuntur, honesti ac digni sunt et, modo vere humano exerciti, donationem mutuam significant et fovent, qua sese invicem laeto gratoque animo locupletant ». 241 Sexualitas fons est gaudii et delectationis:

The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation (Pius XII, Discourse, October 29,1951).

« Idem Creator [...] etiam disposuit coniuges, pro hoc munere [generationis], in corpore et in spiritu delectationem invenire et felicitatem. Coniuges igitur, hanc delectationem quaerentes istaque fruentes, nihil operantur mali. Ipsi id accipiunt quod Creator eis destinavit. Tamen etiam coniuges scire debent, se intra limites iustae moderationis tenere ». 242





2363. The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage:

[1] the good of the spouses themselves and

[2] the transmission of life.

These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. 

2363 Coniugum unione, duplex matrimonii finis ducitur in rem: ipsorum coniugum bonum et vitae transmissio. Hae duae significationes seu valores matrimonii separari non possunt, quin vita spiritualis coniugum alteretur et matrimonii bona atque familiae futurum in discrimen adducantur.

The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

Sic amor coniugalis viri et mulieris sub duplici exigentia fidelitatis et fecunditatis est positus.








Coniugalis fidelitas











2364. The married couple forms “the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent” (GS 48 # 1).  Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble (Cf. CIC, can. 1056). “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 109; cf. Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7: 10-11).

2364 Ab utroque coniugum constituitur « intima communitas vitae et amoris coniugalis, [quae] a Creatore condita suisque legibus instructa, foedere coniugii seu irrevocabili consensu personali instauratur ». 243 Uterque, alter alteri, se donat definitive et totaliter. Amplius duo non sunt, sed unam iam constituunt carnem. Foedus libere a coniugibus contractum eis imponit obligationem illud unum et indissolubile conservandi. 244 « Quod [...] Deus coniunxit, homo non separet » (Mc 10,9). 245





2365. Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one’s given word. God is faithful. The Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ’s fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world.

2365 Fidelitas constantiam exprimit in verbo dato servando. Deus fidelis est. Matrimonii sacramentum virum et mulierem introducit in fidelitatem Christi erga Eius Ecclesiam. Castitate coniugali coram mundo testimonium praebent huius mysterii.

St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives:

 I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us. . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. 20, 8: PG 62, 146-147).

Sanctus Ioannes Chrysostomus iuvenibus uxoratis suggerit ut suis uxoribus hos proferant sermones: « Te sum amplexus et te diligo, et meae etiam animae praefero. Nihil est enim vita praesens, oroque et hortor et omnia facio, ut nos ita digni habeamur qui praesentem agamus vitam, ut illic etiam possimus in futuro saeculo cum magna securitate simul versari. [...] Ego dilectionem tuam praefero omnibus; neque est quidquam mihi aeque molestum quam a te umquam dissidere ». 246








Matrimonii fecunditas











2366. Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life” (FC 30) teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life” (HV 11). “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act” (HV 12; cf. Pius XI, encyclical, Casti connubii).

2366 Fecunditas quoddam est donum, quidam matrimonii finis, quia amor coniugalis naturaliter ad id tendit ut fecundus sit. Filius mutuo coniugum amori extrinsece addendus non accedit; surgit in ipso corde huius mutui doni, cuius ipse fructus est et adimpletio. Sic Ecclesia, quae « a vitae parte consistit », 247 docet « necessarium esse, ut quilibet matrimonii usus ad vitam humanam procreandam per se destinatus permaneat ». 248 « Huiusmodi doctrina, quae ab Ecclesiae Magisterio saepe exposita est, in nexu indissolubili nititur, a Deo statuto, quem homini sua sponte infringere non licet, inter significationem unitatis et significationem procreationis, quae ambae in actu coniugali insunt ». 249





2367. Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God (Cf. Eph 3:14; Mt 23:9). “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility” (GS 50 # 2).

2367 Coniuges, ad vitam dandam vocati, potentiam creatricem et paternitatem participant Dei. 250 « In officio humanam vitam transmittendi atque educandi, quod tamquam propria eorum missio considerandum est, coniuges sciunt se cooperatores esse amoris Dei Eiusque veluti interpretes. Ideo humana et christiana responsabilitate suum munus adimplebunt ». 251





2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

2368 Peculiaris huius responsabilitatis ratio ad procreationem regulandam refertur. Coniuges, iustis de causis, 252 possunt suorum filiorum procreationes intervallis separare velle. Ad eos pertinet comprobare eorum optatum ex caeco sui amore (ex « egoismo ») non promanare, sed illud iustae generositati paternitatis responsabilis esse conformem. Praeterea suum agendi modum secundum criteria moralitatis regulabunt obiectiva:

When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart. (GS 51 # 3)

« Moralis [...] indoles rationis agendi, ubi de componendo amore coniugali cum responsabili vitae transmissione agitur, non a sola sincera intentione et aestimatione motivorum pendet, sed obiectivis criteriis, ex personae eiusdemque actuum natura desumptis, determinari debet, quae integrum sensum mutuae donationis ac humanae procreationis in contextu veri amoris observant; quod fieri nequit nisi virtus castitatis coniugalis sincero animo colatur ». 253

2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood” (Cf. HV 12).

2369 « Quodsi utraque eiusmodi essentialis ratio, unitatis videlicet et procreationis, servatur, usus matrimonii sensum mutui verique amoris suumque ordinem ad celsissimum paternitatis munus omnino retinet ». 254

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. (HV 16) These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil (HV 14):

2370 Continentia periodica, methodi ad procreationem regulandam fundatae super auto-observationem et recursum ad periodos infecundas, 255 sunt criteriis obiectivis moralitatis conformes. Hae methodi corpus verentur coniugum, teneritudinem promovent inter eos et educationi favent authenticae libertatis. E contra, est intrinsece malus quivis « actus qui, cum coniugale commercium vel praevidetur vel efficitur vel ad suos naturales exitus ducit, id tamquam finem obtinendum aut viam adhibendam intendat, ut procreatio impediatur »: 256

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality (FC 32).

« Naturali verbo, quod reciprocam plenamque coniugum donationem declarat, conceptuum impeditio verbum opponit obiectivae contradictionis, videlicet nullius plenae sui donationis alteri factae: hinc procedit non sola recusatio certa ac definita mentis ad vitam apertae, verum simulatio etiam interioris veritatis ipsius amoris coniugalis, qui secundum totam personam dirigitur ad sese donandum. [...] Discrimen anthropologicum simulque morale, quod inter conceptuum impeditionem et observationem intervallorum temporis intercedit [...], implicat duas personae ac sexualitatis species, quae inter se nequeunt conciliari ». 257





2371 “Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of transmitting it are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full significance can be understood only in reference to man’s eternal destiny (GS 51 # 4).

2371 « Omnibus vero compertum sit vitam hominum et munus eam transmittendi non ad hoc saeculum tantum restringi neque eo tantum commensurari et intelligi posse, sed ad aeternam hominum destinationem semper respicere ». 258





2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children (Cf. HV 23; PP 37). In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law.

2372 Status responsabilis est prosperitatis civium. Hoc titulo, legitimum est eum intervenire ad incolarum incrementum ordinandum. Id obiectiva et observanti informatione facere potest, sed nequaquam via imperiosa et constringenti. Legitime non potest se substituere pro incepto coniugum, qui primi sunt responsabiles procreationis et educationis suorum filiorum. 259 In hoc dominio, auctoritate caret ut mediis interveniat quae legi morali sunt contraria.








Donum filii















2373 Sacred Scripture and the Church’s traditional practice see in large families a sign of God’s blessing and the parents’ generosity (Cf. GS 50 # 2).

2373 Sacra Scriptura et traditionalis praxis Ecclesiae in familiis numerosis signum vident benedictionis divinae et generositatis parentum. 260





2374 Couples who discover that they are sterile suffer greatly. “What will you give me,” asks Abraham of God, “for I continue childless?”(Gen 15:2) And Rachel cries to her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!”(Gen 30:1)

2374 Magnus est dolor matrimonio coniunctorum qui se steriles detegunt. « Quid dabis mihi? », quaerit Abram a Deo. « Ego vadam absque liberis... » (Gn 15,2). « Da mihi liberos, alioquin moriar », clamat Rachel ad suum maritum Iacob (Gn 30,1).





2375 Research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged, on condition that it is placed “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God” (CDF, Donum vitae intro. 2).

2375 Investigationes quae humanam minuere intendunt sterilitatem, fovendae sunt, si deserviant « personae humanae, eius iuribus inalienabilibus eiusque vero atque integro bono, secundum Dei consilium ac voluntatem ». 261







2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral.

2376 Technicae artes, quae parentum provocant dissociationem per interventum personae a matrimonio alienae (spermatis vel ovocyti donum, uteri commodatum) graviter sunt inhonestae.

These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right

Hae technicae artes (inseminatio vel fecundatio artificiales heterologae) filii laedunt ius

[1] to be born of a father and mother known to him

nascendi e patre et matre ab ipso cognitis

[1] and bound to each other by marriage.

et inter se matrimonio coniunctis.

They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other (CDF, Donum vitae II, 1).

Ius produnt « ad hoc ut alter pater aut mater fiat solummodo per alterum ». 262







2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization)

2377 Hae technicae artes intra matrimonium exercitae (inseminatio et fecundatio artificiales homologae)

[1] are perhaps less reprehensible,

fortasse minus sunt damnosae,

[2] yet remain morally unacceptable.

sed moraliter manent inacceptabiles.

They dissociate the sexual act
from the procreative act.

Actum sexualem
ab actu dissociant procreativo.

 The act which brings the child into existence is

Actus, filii fundans exsistentiam,

  no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another,

iam non est actus quo duae personae se mutuo donant,

but one that[:]


[1]entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and

« vitam identitatemque embryonum humanorum in potestatem redegit medicorum atque biologorum,

[2] establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.

sicque rei technicae dominatum quemdam in personae humanae originem et sortem instaurat.

Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary

Huiusmodi dominatus suapte natura contradicit

to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children (CDF, Donum vitae II, 5).

dignitati et aequalitati, quae parentibus et filiis communes esse debent ». 263

 “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person” (CDF, Donum vitae II, 4). 168

« Eadem vero procreatio tunc debita sua perfectione destituitur sub aspectu morali, cum animo non intenditur ut fructus coniugalis actus seu illius gestus qui est proprius unionis coniugum. [...] Praeterea solummodo observantia erga vinculum quod inter significationes actus coniugalis intercedit, et observantia erga viventis humani unitatem id efficiunt, ut procreatio habeatur, quae congruat cum humanae personae dignitate ». 264







2378 A child is not something

2378 Filius non est

owed to one,

quid debitum,

but is a gift.

sed donum.

is a H

« Donum [...] praestantissimum [...] matrimonii »
persona humana.

A child may not be considered a piece of property [object of ownership],

Filius nequit considerari quasi proprietatis obiectum,

an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead.

ad quod induceret agnoscere ambitum « ius ad filium ».

In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights:

In hoc campo, solummodo filius vera possidet iura:

[1] the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and

illud « ad exsistendum tamquam fructus proveniens ex actu coniugalis amoris proprio suorum parentum,

[2] “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception (CDF, Donum vitae II, 8).

idemque ius habet ad observantiam sibi tamquam personae tribuendam inde a momento conceptionis ». 265





2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

2379.  Evangelium ostendit physicam sterilitatem malum absolutum non esse. Coniuges, qui, exhaustis legitimis ad medicinam recursibus, infecunditatem patiuntur, se Domini sociabunt cruci, quae omnis fecunditatis spiritualis est fons. Suam significare possunt generositatem, filios relictos adoptando et aspera pro aliis adimplendo servitia.