The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a
marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the
Church and gives the blessing of the Church. The presence of the
Church’s minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the
fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.
This is the reason why the Church normally requires that
the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form.
Several reasons converge to explain this requirement:
—Sacramentalmarriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate
that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
—Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial
and creates rights
and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their
— Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is
necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
—The public character of the consent protects the “I do” once given
and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.
So that the “I do” of the spouses may be a free and respon-
sible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and
lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for mar-
riage is of prime importance.
The example and teaching given by parents and families remain
the special form of this preparation.
The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the “family
of God” is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian
values of marriage and family,
and much more so in our era when many
young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently
assure this initiation:
It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to
young people, above all in the heart of their own families,
about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so
that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able
at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter
upon a marriage of their own.
Mixed marriages and disparity of cult
In many countries the situation of a
between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires
134 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1813-1816; CIC, can. 1108.
135 Cf. CIC, can. 1063.
49 § 3.