Coniugalis fidelitas







[2388 incest and 2389 pederasty]

IV. Offensae contra matrimonii dignitatem









2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire (Cf. Mt 5:27-28). The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely (Cf. Mt 5:32; 19:6; Mk 10:11; 1 Cor 6:9-10). The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry (Cf. Hos 2:7; Jer 5:7; 13:27).

2380 Adulterium. Hoc verbum infidelitatem designat coniugalem. Cum duo, quorum saltem alter est matrimonio coniunctus, relationem sexualem, etiam fugacem, nectunt inter se, adulterium committunt. Christus adulterium damnat, etiam illud simplicis optati. 266 Sextum praeceptum et Novum Testamentum absolute adulterium proscribunt. 267 Prophetae eius denuntiant gravitatem. In adulterio perspiciunt figuram peccati idololatriae. 268



2381 Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents’ stable union.

2381 Adulterium quaedam est iniustitia. Qui illud committit, a suis deficit obligationibus. Foederis frangit signum quod vinculum est matrimoniale, alterius coniugis laedit ius et matrimonii attentat institutionem, contractum violans qui illam fundat. Bonum generationis humanae adducit in discrimen atque filiorum qui unione parentum egent stabili.







2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble (Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10 9; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-ll). He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law (Cf. Mt 19:7-9).

2382 Dominus Iesus originali institit intentioni Creatoris qui matrimonium volebat indissolubile. 269 Abrogat tolerantias quae in Legem veterem irrepserant. 270

Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death” (CIC, can. 1141).

Inter baptizatos, « Matrimonium ratum et consummatum nulla humana potestate nullaque causa, praeterquam morte, dissolvi potest ». 271





2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law (Cf. CIC, cann. 1151-1155).

2383 Coniugum separatio, vinculo matrimoniali permanente, quibusdam in casibus iure canonico praevisis, potest esse legitima. 272

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.

Si divortium civile unus restat modus ad quaedam iura legitima praestanda, filiorum curam vel patrimonii defensionem, potest tolerari quin culpam constituat moralem.





2384 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:

2384 Divortium gravis est contra legem naturalem offensa. Contractum simul usque ad mortem vivendi, libere a coniugibus initum, frangere conatur. Divortium iniuriam infert salutis Foederi, cuius sacramentale Matrimonium est signum. Novam contrahere unionem, etiamsi haec a lege civili agnoscatur, rupturae addit gravitatem: coniux iterum matrimonio iunctus tunc in statu versatur publici et permanentis adulterii:

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 (St. Basil, Moralia 73, 1: PG 31, 849-852).

« Non licet viro, uxore dimissa, aliam ducere: neque fas est repudiatam a marito, ab alio duci uxorem ». 273





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.

2385 Divortium suam indolem pravam etiam habet ex inordinatione quam in familiarem cellulam introducit et in societatem. Haec inordinatio damna gravia secum fert: pro coniuge, qui se derelictum invenit; pro filiis, parentum separatione profunde vulneratis, et saepe subiectis contentione inter eosdem; propter suum contagionis effectum, qui ex eo veram plagam efficit socialem.





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).

2386 Fieri potest ut alter ex coniugibus victima sit innocens divortii lege civili declarati; hic tunc praeceptum morale non infringit. Notabilis est differentia inter coniugem qui cum sinceritate nisus est ut Matrimonii sacramento esset fidelis et se iniuste videt derelictum, et illum qui, gravi culpa e parte sua, canonice validum destruit Matrimonium. 274





Other offenses against the dignity of marriage

Aliae contra dignitatem matrimonii offensae

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.

2387 Tragoedia intelligitur illius qui, ad Evangelium volens converti, se perspicit obligatum ad unam vel plures repudiandas mulieres, cum quibus vitae coniugalis particeps fuit per annos. Attamen polygamia cum lege morali non concordat. Coniugali « communioni funditus polygamia adversatur: haec enim directe recusat Dei propositum, sicut ipsis initiis revelatur, quoniam pari personalique dignitati viri et mulieris repugnat, qui in matrimonio alter alteri se dant amore integro ideoque ex se unico et exclusorio ». 275 Christianus, qui prius fuit polygamus, graviter iustitia tenetur ad obligationes relate ad suas antiquas uxores et suos filios contractas honorandas.





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.

2388 Incestus relationes indicat intimas inter consanguineos et propinquos, in gradu qui matrimonium vetat inter illos. 276 Sanctus Paulus huic culpae speciatim gravi inurit notam: « Omnino auditur inter vos fornicatio et talis fornicatio [...] ut uxorem patris aliquis habeat. [...] Iam iudicavi [...], in nomine Domini nostri Iesu, [...] tradere huiusmodi Satanae in interitionem carnis... » (1 Cor 5,1.3-5). Incestus relationes corrumpit familiares et ad animalitatem obsignat regressionem.





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.  [see 2353]

2389 Ad incestum referri possunt abusus sexuales ab adultis patrati in pueros et adulescentes eorum custodiae concreditos. Culpa tunc duplicatur scandaloso facinore peracto contra psychicam et moralem integritatem iuvenum, qui illo, sua vita perdurante, manebunt signati, et violatione responsabilitatis educativae.





2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

2390 Libera iunctio habetur, cum vir et mulier recusant iuridicam et publicam dare formam relationi intimitatem sexualem implicanti.

The expression “free union” is fallacious: what can “union” mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

Locutio fallax est: quidnam potest significare iunctio in qua personae invicem non obligantur et sic defectum testantur fiduciae in alteram, in se ipsam vel in futurum?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments (Cf. FC 81). All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.

Locutio ad diversas extenditur condiciones: concubinatum, reiectionem matrimonii qua talis, incapacitatem se obligationibus vinculandi ad longum tempus. 277 Omnes hae condiciones dignitatem offendunt matrimonii; ipsam familiae destruunt ideam; sensum fidelitatis debilitant. Eaedem contrariae sunt legi morali: actus sexualis locum habere debet solummodo in matrimonio; extra illud, grave semper constituit peccatum et a communione excludit sacramentali.





2391 Some today claim a “right to a trial marriage” where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, “the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim” (CDF, Persona humana 7). Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate “trial marriages.” It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another (Cf. FC 80).

2391 Plures hodie speciem quamdam « iuris ad experimentum » tunc postulant, cum intentio habetur matrimonium contrahendi. Quaecumque est propositi firmitas eorum qui se his praematuris vinciuntur relationibus sexualibus, « hae iunctiones non sinunt, ut sinceritas ac fidelitas mutuae necessitudinis inter viri et mulieris personas in tuto ponantur, nec praesertim ut haec necessitudo a cupiditatum et arbitrii mobilitate protegatur ». 278 Unio carnalis moraliter est solummodo legitima, cum vitae definitivae inter virum et mulierem instaurata est communitas. Amor humanus « experimentum » non tolerat. Totale et definitivum exigit donum personarum inter se. 279













2392 “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC 11).

2392 « Amor est princeps et naturalis cuiusque hominis vocatio ». 280





2393 By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.

2393 Deus, creaturam humanam virum creans et mulierem, utrumque pari donavit personali dignitate. Ad unumquemque pertinet, ad virum et mulierem, suam sexualem agnoscere et acceptare identitatem.





2394 Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.

2394 Christus est castitatis exemplar. Omnis baptizatus vocatur ad vitam castam ducendam, unusquisque secundum suum proprium vitae statum.





2395 Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.

2395 Castitas integrationem sexualitatis significat in persona. Dominii personalis secum fert tirocinium.





2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

2396 Inter peccata graviter castitati contraria, notare oportet masturbationem, fornicationem, pornographiam et homosexuales usus.

2397 The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.

2397 Foedus, quod coniuges libere contraxerunt, amorem implicat fidelem. Ipsum eis obligationem infert matrimonium suum custodire indissolubile.





2398 Fecundity is a good, a gift and an end of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God’s fatherhood.

2398 Fecunditas quoddam est matrimonii bonum, donum, finis. Coniuges, vitam donantes, Dei participant paternitatem.





2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

2399 Nativitatum regulatio quemdam responsabilium paternitatis et maternitatis repraesentat aspectum. Legitimitas intentionum coniugum recursum non iustificat ad media moraliter inacceptabilia (exempli gratia ad sterilizationem directam vel ad contraconceptionem).





2400 Adultery, divorce, polygamy, and free union are grave offenses against the dignity of marriage.

2400 Adulterium et divortium, polygamia et libera iunctio graves sunt offensae contra matrimonii dignitatem.