, Casti Conubii
and the Baltimore Catechism -



THE Interrelationship between the unitive and procreative dimensions of human sexuality first appears in modern magisterial texts in Leo XII's Encyclical, Arcanum. His overarching purpose in this text is to object to the concept of civil marriage and the intrusion of the state into what (in pre-Napoleonic Western Europe) had traditionally been the right of the Church to define and regulate marriage. Pius XI's encyclical, Casti Conubii was similarly influenced by political and social issues, most notably eugenics and civil divorce.

    In both these texts the insights of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas coalesce into what will come to be called the procreative and unitive ends (purposes) of the sexual act in marriage.  In these texts the procreative aspect is generally listed first and described as primary.  Also of interest is popular catechesis, exemplified in the Baltimore Catechism, that strongly stressed the superiority of consecrated celibacy over marriage. Both of these emphases would be more carefully nuanced and their interrelationship better articulated in subsequent magisterial teaching.


 On Christian Marriage, Feb 10, 1880 (selections)

 Pope Leo XIII





5. [...]THIS union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties-deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it-namely,

Atque ilia viri et mulieris coniunctio, quo sapientissimis Dei consiliis responderet aptius, vel ex eo tempore duas potissimum, easque in primis nobiles, quasi alte impressas et insculptas prae se tulit proprietates, nimirum

[1] unity and

[2] perpetuity.

unitatem et


From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution,

—Idque declaratum aperteque confirmatum ex Evangelio perspicimus divina lesu Christi auctoritate; qui ludaeis et Apostolis testatus est, matrimonium ex ipsa institutione sui dumtaxat

[1] should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh;

[2] and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”(2)

 inter duos esse debere, scilicet virum inter et mulierem; ex duobus unam veluti carnem fieri;

et nuptiale vinculum sic esse Dei voluntate intime vehementerque nexum, ut a quopiam inter homines dissolvi, aut distrahi nequeat. Adhaerebit (homo) uxori suae, et erunt duo in carne una. Itaque iam non sunt duo, sed una caro.• Quod ergo Deus coniunxit, homo non separet.









10. FURTHERMORE, the Christian perfection and completeness of marriage are not comprised in those points only which have been mentioned. Neque iis dumtaxat quae commemorata sunt, christiana eius perfectio absolutioque continetur.
For, first, there has been vouchsafed to the marriage union a higher and nobler purpose than was ever previously given to it. Nam primo quidem nuptiali societati excelsius quiddam et nobilius propositum est, quavn antea fuisset;

By the command of Christ, it not only looks to the propagation of the human race, but to the bringing forth of children for the Church, “fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God”;16 so that “a people might be born and brought up for the worship and religion of the true God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”17

ea enim spectare iussa est non modo ad propagandum genus humanum, sed ad ingenerandam Ecclesiae sobolem, cives Sanctorum et domesticos Dei;^i ut nimirum populus ad veri Dei et Salvatoris nostri Christi cultum et religionem procrearetur atque educaretur.*



[Union/Communion of the Couple]


11. SECONDLY, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help.

—Secundo loco sua utrique coniugum sunt officia definita, sua iura integre descripta. Eos scilicet ipsos necesse est sic esse animo semper affectos, ut amorem maximum, constantem fidem, sellers assiduumque praesidium alteri alterum debere intelligant.





 26. IF, then, we consider the end of the divine institution of marriage, we shall see very clearly that God intended it to be a most fruitful source of individual benefit and of public welfare,

Si consideretur quorsum matrimoniorum pertineat divina institutio, id erit evidentissimum, includere in illis voluisse Deum utilitatis et salutis publicae uberrimos fontes.

Not only, in strict truth, was marriage instituted[:] Et sane, praeter quam quod

[1] for the propagation of the human race,

[2] but also that the lives of husbands and wives might be made better and happier.

 propagationi generis humani prospiciunt,

 illuc quoque pertinent, ut meliorem vitam coniugum beatioremque efficiant;

This comes about in many ways:

idque pluribus caussis,

[1] by their lightening each other’s burdens through mutual help;

[2] by constant and faithful love;

[3] by having all their possessions in common;

[4] and by the heavenly grace which flows from the sacrament.

 nempe necessitates sublevandas adiumento,

amore constanti et fideli,

communione omnium bonorum,

gratia caelesti, quae a sacramento proficiscitur.






On Christian Marriage, Dec. 31, 1930 (selections)


 Pope Pius XI





7. By matrimony, therefore, the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense of spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will; and from this union of souls by God’s decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises. Hence the nature of this contract, which is proper and peculiar to it alone, makes it entirely different both from the union of animals entered into by the blind instinct of nature alone in which neither reason nor free will plays a part, and also from the haphazard unions of men, which are far removed from all true and honorable unions of will and enjoy none of the rights of family life.

Coniugio igitur animi iunguntur et coalescunt, hique prius et arctius quam corpora, nec fluxo sensuum vel animorum affectu, sed deliberato et firmo voluntatum decreto: et ex hac animorum coagmentatione, Deo sic statuente, sacrum et inviolabile vinculum exoritur. Quae contractus huius natura propria omnino et singularis, eum toto caelo diversum facit cum a coniunctionibus pecudum solo naturae caeco instinctu factis, in quibus nulla ratio est nec voluntas deliberata, tum ab iis quoque hominum vagis coniugiis, quae ab omni vero honestoque voluntatum vinculo remota sunt et quovis domestici convictus iure destituta.





8. [...] no less certain is the teaching of Our predecessor, Leo XIII of happy memory:[7] “In choosing a state of life there is no doubt but that it is in the power and discretion of each one to prefer one or the other: either to embrace the counsel of virginity given by Jesus Christ, or to bind himself in the bonds of matrimony. To take away from man the natural and primeval right of marriage, to circumscribe in any way the principal ends of marriage laid down in the beginning by God Himself in the words ‘Increase and multiply,’[8] is beyond the power of any human law.”

[...] non minus certo constat id quod fel. rec. Leo XIII decessor Noster palam monuit (8):  «In deligendo genere vitae non est dubium, quin in potestate sit arbitrioque singulorum alterutrum malle: aut Iesu Christi sectari de virginitate consilium, aut maritali se vinclo obligare. Ius coniugii naturale et primigenum homini adimere, causamve nuptiarum praecipuam, Dei auctoritate initio constitutam, quoquo modo circumscribere lex hominum nulla potest : Crescite et multiplicamini» (9).





9. Therefore the sacred partnership of true marriage is constituted both by the will of God and the will of man. From God comes the very institution of marriage, the ends for which it was instituted, the laws that govern it, the blessings that flow from it; while man, through generous surrender of his own person made to another for the whole span of life, becomes, with the help and cooperation of God, the author of each particular marriage, with the duties and blessings annexed thereto from divine institution.

Itaque germani connubii sacrum consortium divina simul et humana voluntate constituitur: ex Deo sunt ipsa matrimonii institutio, fines, leges, bona; Deo autem dante atque adiuvante, ex hominibus est, per generosam quidem propriae personae pro toto vitae tempore factam alteri traditionem, particulare quodlibet matrimonium cum officiis ac bonis a Deo statutis coniunctum.





Marriage in the Teaching of the Catholic Church




10. Now when We come to explain, Venerable Brethren, what are the blessings that God has attached to true matrimony, and how great they are, there occur to Us the words of that illustrious Doctor of the Church whom We commemorated recently in Our Encyclical Ad salutem on the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of his death:[9] “These,” says St. Augustine, “are all the blessings of matrimony on account of which matrimony itself is a blessing;

Quae vero quantaque sint haec veri matrimonii bona divinitus data dum exponere aggredimur, Venerabiles Fratres; illius Nobis praeclarissimi Ecclesiae Doctoris verba occurrunt, quem non ita pridem, Nostris Encyclicis Litteris Ad salutem pleno ab eius obitu saeculo XV datis (10), celebravimus: «Haec omnia, — inquit S. Augustinus, — bona sunt, propter quae nuptiae bonae sunt:

[1] offspring,


[2] conjugal faith


[3] and the sacrament.”[10]


And how under these three heads is contained a splendid summary of the whole doctrine of Christian marriage, the holy Doctor himself expressly declares when he said:

Quae tria capita qua ratione luculentissimam totius de christiano connubio doctrinae summam continere iure dicantur, ipse Sanctus Doctor diserte declarat, cum ait:

[1] “By conjugal faith it is provided that there should be no carnal intercourse outside the marriage bond with another man or woman;

«In fide attenditur ne praeter vinculum coniugale cum altero vel altera concumbatur; i

[2] with regard to offspring, that children should be begotten of love, tenderly cared for and educated in a religious atmosphere;

n prole, ut amanter suscipiatur, benigne nutriatur, religiose educetur;

[3] finally, in its sacramental aspect that the marriage bond should not be broken and that a husband or wife, if separated, should not be joined to another even for the sake of offspring.

in sacramento autem, ut coniugium non separetur, et dimissus aut dimissa, nec causa prolis, alteri coniungatur.

This we regard as the law of marriage by which the fruitfulness of nature is adorned and the evil of incontinence is restrained.”[11]

Haec est tamquam regula nuptiarum, qua vel naturae decoratur fecunditas vel incontinentiae regitur privatas» (12).





11. Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the CHILD HOLDS the FIRST PLACE. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wishes to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.”[12

Itaque primum inter matrimonii bona locum tenet PROLES. Et sane ipse humani generis Creator, qui pro sua benignitate hominibus in vita propaganda administris uti voluit, id docuit cum in paradiso, matrimonium instituens, protoparentibus et per eos omnibus futuris coniugibus dixit: «Crescite et multiplicamini et replete terram» (13).

] As St. Augustine admirably deduces from the words of the holy Apostle Saint Paul to Timothy[13] when he says: “The Apostle himself is therefore a witness that marriage is for the sake of generation: ‘I wish,’ he says, ‘young girls to marry.’ And, as if someone said to him, ‘Why?,’ he immediately adds: ‘To bear children, to be mothers of families’.”[14]

Quod ipsum Sanctus Augustinus ex Sancti Pauli Apostoli verbis ad Timotheum (l4) perbelle eruit, dicens: «Generationis itaque causa fieri nuptias, Apostolus ita testis est: «Volo, inquit, iuniores nubere. Et quasi ei diceretur: «Utquid?, continuo subiecit: Filios procreare, matres familias esse» (15).





13. But Christian parents must also understand that they are destined not only to propagate and preserve the human race on earth, indeed not only to educate any kind of worshippers of the true God, but children who are to become members of the Church of Christ, to raise up fellow-citizens of the Saints, and members of God’s household,[16] that the worshippers of God and Our Savior may daily increase.

Christiani vero parentes intelligant praeterea se non iam solum ad genus humanum in terra propagandum et conservandum, immo vero, non ad quoslibet veri Dei cultores educandos destinari, sed ad pariendam Ecclesiae Christi subolem, ad cives Sanctorum et domesticos Dei (17) procreandos, ut populus Dei et Salvatoris nostri cultui addictus in dies augeatur.





Contraception and the "Primary End of Marriage"


53. And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances.

Sed, ut ad singula iam, Venerabiles Fratres, tractanda accedamus, quae singulis matrimonii bonis opponuntur, primum de prole sit sermo, quam multi molestum connubii onus vocare audent, quamque a coniugibus, non per honestam continentiam (etiam in matrimonio, utroque consentiente coniuge, permissam) sed vitiando naturae actum, studiose arcendam praecipiunt. Quam quidem facinorosam licentiam alii sibi vindicant, quod prolis pertaesi solam sine onere voluptatem explere cupiunt, alli quod dicunt se neque continentiam servare, neque ob suas vel matris vel rei familiaris difficultates prolem admittere posse.





54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature [or is by its very nature destined] for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

At nulla profecto ratio, ne gravissima quidem, efficere potest, ut quod intrinsece est contra naturam, id cum natura congruens et honestum fiat. Cum autem actus coniugii suapte natura proli generandae sit destinatus, qui, in eo exercendo, naturali hac eum vi atque virtute de industria destituunt, contra naturam agunt et turpe quid atque intrinsece inhonestum operantur.








Official Revised Edition, 1963, Explained by Fr. Bennett Kelley, C.P.





The Baltimore Catechism was the principal catechetical text used in the United States prior to the Second Vatican Council.  The official text of the catechism is reproduced here in black; the commentary is in red.

 197. What does Our Savior especially recommend that is not strictly commanded by the law of God?

Our Savior especially recommends the observance of the Evangelical Counsels — voluntary poverty, perpetual chastity, and perfect obedience.


VOCATIONS — To the Religious Life



When we say “Evangelical Counsels,” we mean following the recommendations for perfect love of God found in the Gospel of Christ. Those who follow these counsels take vows to keep each one. They are called religious. Their vows consecrate them to Our Blessed Lord and give them the best possible helps to reach perfect love of Him.

Taking the vows of the religious life is the best way to walk in the footsteps of Christ and Mary.

PRIESTS in religious institutes take vows and also receive Holy Orders. (See pages 211-214.) They may engage in all the works of the priesthood, but usually do missionary work of some kind.

BROTHERS take vows (but do not receive Holy Orders) and do a man’s work for Christ, like St. Joseph, such as teaching young men, acting as medical aides, doing mechanical work, carpentry, etc.

SISTERS take vows and do a woman’s work for Christ, teaching children and young women, nursing, social work, etc.

The life of those who take vows is called THE RELIGIOUS LIFE. The life of those who do not is called secular life. The comparison between the religious life and secular life is not a comparison between good and evil, but between good and better.



Our Lord's words: "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19, 21).


Words of the Church: “The doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy, and of their superiority over the married state, was . . . revealed by our Divine Redeemer . _ . ; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy Council of Trent” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical on Sacred Virginity).




Words of Christ to all those who exercise authority in His name: “He who hears you, hears Me” (Luke 10, 16). By obedience, a religious hears the voice of Christ speaking through the superior. He wants to please God perfectly in every detail of the day’s activities, and obedience always shows him how. Those not under obedience serve God in their own way, but cannot always be sure that what they are doing is what is most pleasing to Him.



1. Suitability (physical, mental, and moral)

2. Right intention (desire to please God)

3. Freedom from impediments (such as sick parents needing support)


Since most do not have all these signs and the majority do not have religious vocations, see page 220 for signs of vocations to the single and married states.

A vocation is God’s call: “What would God prefer me to be?” — not “What would I prefer to be?” The big obstacle is selfishness, lack of generosity with God in little things: frequent Communion, daily Rosary, obedience, kindness to others we don’t like, etc. Selfishness in little things results in selfishness concerning one’s vocation. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22, 14). Pray daily and seek the advice of a priest to know your vocation.




 467. What should Catholics do to prepare for a holy and happy marriage?

To prepare for a holy and happy marriage, Catholics should:

first, pray that God may direct their choice;

second, seek the advice of their parents and confessors;

third, practice the virtues, especially chastity:

fourth, frequently receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist.

Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear him in your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)



They should first seek advice from a priest to make sure marriage is their vocation. There are three signs of a marriage vocation:

1. Absence of a religious vocation. If they have a religious vocation that is a call to give to God a gift even more pleasing to Him than marriage.  They should not prepare for marriage until they are sure God does not have even greater plans for them.

2. The qualities needed for marriage ,

3. Meeting a suitable partner. (If a girl, for example, has no religious vocation and the only possible partners she meets are not suitable ones, such as non-Catholics or bad Catholics, then that is usually a sign of vocation to the single state.  She could marry an unsuitable partner, even though God would not prefer it, but she would find it harder to be happy and even to save her soul.)

This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....   “”.