The Indissolubility of Marriage

The Wedding Feast at Cana

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Pope John Paul II:

It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly… the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. To all those who, in our times, consider it too difficult, or indeed impossible, to be bound to one person for the whole of life, and to those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity, it is necessary to reconfirm the good news of the definitive nature of that conjugal love that has in Christ its foundation and strength.

(Familiaris Consortio # 20, 1981)

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Pope Benedict XVI:

You have reason to uphold firmly, even at the cost of opposing prevailing trends, the principles which constitute the strength and the greatness of the sacrament of marriage. The Church wishes to remain utterly faithful to the mandate entrusted to her by her Founder, her Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. She does not cease to repeat with him: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder!” (Mt 19:6). The Church did not give herself this mission: she received it. To be sure, none can deny that certain families experience trials, sometimes very painful ones. Families in difficulty must be supported, they must be helped to understand the greatness of marriage, and encouraged not to relativize God’s will and the laws of life which he has given us. A particularly painful situation, as you know, concerns those who are divorced and remarried. The Church, which cannot oppose the will of Christ, firmly maintains the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, while surrounding with the greatest affection those men and women who, for a variety of reasons, fail to respect it.

(Address to Bishops in Lourdes, France, September 2008)

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Pope Francis, indirectly, via his Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-Elect Müller:

Above all, it was his controversies with the Pharisees that gave Jesus occasion to address this theme. He distanced himself explicitly from the Old Testament practice of divorce, which Moses had permitted because men were “so hard of heart”, and he pointed to God’s original will: “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and … the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:5-9; cf. Mt 19:4-9; Lk 16:18). The Catholic Church has always based its doctrine and practice upon these sayings of Jesus concerning the indissolubility of marriage. The inner bond that joins the spouses to one another was forged by God himself. It designates a reality that comes from God and is therefore no longer at man’s disposal.

(“Testimony to the Power of Grace“, published in L’Osservatore Romano, October 2013)

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Pope Francis, today, speaking to Engaged Couples in St. Peter’s Square (my translation):

Dear engaged couples, you are preparing yourselves to grow together, to construct an edifice [of love], in order to live together forever. You do not wish to build it upon the sand of feelings that come and go, but upon the rock of true love – the love that comes from God… Just as God’s love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love upon which a family is built to be stable and to last forever. Please, we must not let ourselves be conquered by the “throwaway culture”! This culture, which today inundates us all – this throwaway culture – it doesn’t work!

(Address to Engaged Couples, February 2014)

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