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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

411

1645

“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.”

155

Polygamy

is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive.

156

The fidelity of conjugal love

1646

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.”

157

1647

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.

1648

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.

158

1649

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

separation

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.

159

1650

Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have

recourse to civil

divorce

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

155

GS

49 § 2.

156 Cf.

FC

19.

157

GS

48 § 1.

158 Cf.

FC

20.

159 Cf.

FC

83; CIC, cann. 1151-1155.

369

2364-2365

2383

2384