The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
“The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord,
is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded
to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection.”
is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.
The fidelity of conjugal love
By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable
fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of them-
selves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive;
it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate
union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good
of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require
an unbreakable union between them.”
The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his
covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament
of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and
witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of mar-
riage receives a new and deeper meaning.
It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for
life to another human being. This makes it all the more important
to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and
irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it
supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they
can be witnesses to God’s faithful love. Spouses who with God’s
grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve
the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.
Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes
practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church
permits the physical
of the couple and their living apart. The
spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not
free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution
would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to
help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in
fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.
Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have
recourse to civil
and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the
words of Jesus Christ—“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another,
commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband andmarries
49 § 2.
48 § 1.
83; CIC, cann. 1151-1155.