Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Form of marriage

1054. I have always heard that the consent of the contracting parties is really the all-important factor in marriage, and that the Church merely blesses the union.

It is true that the Church merely blesses the marriage celebrated according to her rites, and that the mutual consent of the parties actually makes the marriage contract. In that sense the consent of the parties is of supreme importance. But it is not the all-important factor. For there are other factors so important as to be absolutely necessity for a valid marriage. Mutual consent makes a valid marriage provided the parties are free in the sight of God to contract it, and provided they comply with necessary conditions regulating the way in which they contract it.

1055. If consent is the all-important thing, then any solemn promise made before any witnesses should constitute a valid marriage.

What if an already married man, concealing the fact of his first marriage, entered into such a contract with another woman? Even the State would declare that second marriage bigamous, and null and void. The Church would say the same. If you say that you did not mean your theory to apply in such a case as that, you are admitting that mutual consent is not enough, independently of other conditions, to make a valid marriage.

1056. The Catholic Church recognizes this in the case of non- Catholics, whether the ceremony takes place in a Protestant Church or before a Justice of the Peace.

The Catholic Church does not say that mutual consent alone, independently of all other conditions, is enough to make a valid marriage even between two non-Catholics. Diriment impediments are possible even in their case, making such marriages null and void. What the Catholic Church does say is that, if two non-Catholics are free to marry from all other points of view, then their marriage is valid whether they marry in a Protestant Church or before a Justice of the Peace. Obviously that is concerned only with the manner in which the marriage is celebrated, declaring such non-Catholics to be in no way bound to the observance of the form of marriage prescribed by the Catholic Church for Catholics.

1057. Why, then, is not the marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church regarded as valid?

Because Catholics are subject to the laws of the Catholic Church in this matter which the Church does not intend to apply to non-Catholics, She tells Catholics that, in whatever way non-Catholics may contract valid marriages amongst themselves, no Catholic can contract a valid marriage in the sight of God and the Church unless he or she does so according the rites of the Catholic religion, before a parish priest and two witness** We cannot argue that because the Catholic Church does not regard non Catholics as bound by the laws of the Catholic religion, therefore she ought not to regard Catholics as bound by them.

1058. Even if the Catholic committed a sin by ignoring the authority of his Church, surely the marriage ought still to be valid.

Once one admits the authority of the Catholic Church in matters of religion, one has to acknowledge all that follows upon the official decisions of that authority, in virtue of Christ's words to His Church: "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven." Matt., XVI. If the Catholic Church, in virtue of her divine authority, forbids Catholics to marry outside the Church, but not under pain of nullity, then a Catholic who would disobey that law would be guilty of serious sin, but the marriage would be valid. Such was the position in this country until April 19, 1908. But from that time onwards the Catholic Church made it the law that Catholics not only may not marry outside the Church, but that they cannot contract a valid marriage in such a way. That new law being still in force,. follows that any attempted marriage by a Catholic outside the Church is not a marriage at all according to the laws of the Catholic religion and in the sight of God.

1059. It seems to me that Catholics are forbidden to marry outside their Church because the Catholic Church does not want to lose any of her members.

That can be understood in a right sense, or in a wrong sense. You would understand it in a wrong sense if you thought the Catholic law merely a matter of expediency and that the Church were thinking only of her own good. In reality the Church, in obliging Catholics to marry according Catholic rites under pain of nullity, is thinking of their good, making sure that they receive the Christian Sacrament of Matrimony in accordance with the religion in which they believe. It is true that the Catholic Church does not want to lose any of her members, but that is because she dreads the thought that they should lose their faith and their own souls. Christ Himself did not want to lose any of His disciples. Is the Catholic Church to be blamed for adopting the same attitude? Keep in mind that everyone with the Catholic Faith believes that to forsake Our Lord's Church is to forsake Our Lord Himself.

1060. If your Church teaches that when a Catholic marries a Protestant outside the Catholic Church such a marriage is null and void, such teaching is an insult to the Protestant.

It is no more an insult to the Protestant than any other Catholic teaching in which the Protestant does not happen to believe. One who does not believe in the truth of the Catholic religion simply dismisses such teachings as unimportant. He does not believe that it reflects God's attitude to his marriage, and is quite content with it. It is only the Catholic, who does believe in the truth of the Catholic religion, who believes that a marriage not valid in the sight of the Catholic Church is not valid in the sight of God, and worries accordingly.

1061. You tell the Catholic party that such a marriage is a sinful alliance.

The Protestant party, who does not believe in the Catholic religion, is not conscious oŁ any violation of conscience, and from his point of view the alliance is not sinful. Nevertheless the alliance, from the Catholic point of view can be called sinful. If a law-breaker gets an innocent taxi-driver to take him to the place he intends to rob, the taxi-driver would not feel insulted were he told that the had taken part in a sinful expedition. He would simply explain that he intended no wrong and acted in quite good faith. So the Protestant party to a marriage with a Catholic outside the Catholic Church is in quite good faith and without blame. But the Catholic party is not in the same position.

1061. If Catholics contract an invalid marriage in the first place, and then find someone whom they feel to be the right partner with whom they can live happily for the rest of their lives - then the problem becomes simple.

You are really talking foolishly. The normal man who wants to marry feels that he has already met the right partner with whom he can live happily for the rest of his life. He does not want to go through an invalid form of marriage with her and thus not be married to her at all, so that he will be free to marry later on the suitable partner he has not yet met! A bad Catholic may marry outside the Church and thus not be validly married at all. But it will not be for the reason you suggest. It will be simply because he is a bad Catholic, indifferent to his religion in practice and unconcerned about the sinful position he has adopted, with the consequent risk to his eternal salvation.

1062. Don't you think that the Protestant Churches, without any hard and fast laws like your own, stand the test of the Golden Rule better than the Catholic Church?

No. The Golden Rule demands that the Church should be what Christ intended her to be and what her members have the right to expect her to be, the guardian of the ideals of the Christian Sacrament of Marriage. The abolition of law and discipline, loss of reverence for a Sacrament instituted by Christ, allowing people to be comfortable in whatever they wish to do whether it be right or wrong—these things are not required by the Golden Rule. Leading Protestant ministers have again and again expressed misgivings about the free and easy ways prevailing in their Churches in regard to marriage, declaring such celebrations to be very often sheer mockery, and pleading for discipline instead of a laxity based on misguided sentiment. The Golden Rule of Charity towards her subjects is exemplified by the Catholic Church as by no other in the definite guidance she offers them, and in the wise laws she has made to ensure their happiness in marriage. And any unhappiness experienced by any Catholic through the violation of such laws is no argument against those laws.

1063. Have you realized that the Catholic law making it invalid for a Catholic to marry outside his Church provides most Catholics with an easy way out?

Most Catholics obviously do not think so, for most Catholics do not take What you call the easy way out. And if a Catholic has any faith at all, it would rather be a cause of great uneasiness to him to know that, by marrying outside his Church, he commits mortal sin by so serious a violation of his religious obligations, forfeits any right to further reception of the Sacraments of the Church, and lives in a state of continual risk of the eternal loss of his soul should he meet with a sudden and unprovided death. Also, how many normal people are thinking at the time of their marriage, not of getting a wife, but of getting rid of her in the easiest way possible?

1065. They can then marry again in their own faith, with the certainty of having made peace with the Church and having the blessing of God on their later marriage.

The bad Catholic who was not in the least worried about not having peace with the Church or the blessing of God on his first so-called marriage, is not likely to be at all anxious about those things in regard to any further marriage he wants to contract. It is true that, since his first marriage outside the Church was invalid, he could, granted a civil divorce, marry according to Catholic rites some other woman, should he meet a good Catholic woman willing to marry him despite his previous behavior, and one determined not to marry elsewhere than in a Catholic Church. But that the Catholic Church should permit such a man to enter at last into a truly Christian marriage despite his previously sinful conduct can by no stretch of the imagination be regarded as in any way sanctioning that previously sinful conduct; nor has the fact that the Catholic Church declares the marriage of a Catholic apart from Catholic rites to be invalid ever yet proved an inducement to Catholics deliberately to contract such invalid marriages, with all their sinful consequences.

1066. Do you not think it a dreadful social injustice that, if a Catholic marries outside the Catholic Church, all children of such a marriage have to be treated by Catholics as illegitimate.

The social injustice you imagine does not arise. No Catholic has to treat such children as illegitimate. In fact, socially, Catholics are obliged to treat such children in exactly the same way as any other children.

1067. I heard a priest say that Rome had decided, in 1949, that such children are illegitimate in the eyes of the Church.

Such a declaration could be quite misleading, unless duly explained. It should be made clear that no question of civil legitimacy or illegitimacy is here involved. For in our ordinary social relationships we accord to our fellow citizens all the civil privileges to which they are entitled. If people have complied with the requirements of civil law where their marriage is concerned, the children are to be accepted as legitimate in the civil order by everybody, Catholics included. From that point of view, and for all practical purposes that is the point of view which prevails in our ordinary external social relationships, no one has any right to say that such children are illegitimate.

1068. The priest quoted a reply from some Commission in Rome.

The Commission he quoted is that for the "Authentic Interpretation of Canon Law." Now in the Code of Canon Law, Canon 1015 says that, invalid marriages where one party at least is in good faith are to be regarded as "putative" marriages. Canon 1114 says that children of such putative marriages are to be regarded as legitimate even in Canon Law. Since discussion arose amongst theologians and canonists as to whether the marriage of a Catholic outside the Church could be regarded as a putative marriage, on the score that the Protestant party at least would be in good faith, the question was put to the Commission as to whether Canon 1015 applied to such a marriage in the technical canonical sense of the word. On Jan. 26, 1949, the Commission said that Canon 1015 was not intended to apply to such a case, but only to a marriage of a Catholic according to Catholic rites, but which for some other reason unknown to at least one of the parties happened to be invalid. That decision means that, if a Catholic marries outside the Church, the children lack the canonical status which is reserved for those children only who are born of Catholics married according to Catholic rites. But this in no way affects the civil status of such children. And in our ordinary social relationships it would be not only uncharitable, but quite unjust for any Catholic to deny to such children their civil privileges, branding them as illegitimate.

1069. Do you think such teaching makes for social peace and harmony?

The teaching of the Church in this matter is in no way detrimental to social peace and harmony. The decision of the Commission in Rome concerned a purely technical point affecting the interpretation of one particular element of Canon Law in its relationships with other canonical statutes. It had no bearing whatever on the civic relationships between Catholics and their fellow citizens. If a child is legitimate in civil law, it would be both untrue to say that the child is not legitimate in civil law, and unjust to treat the child in any way socially, whether in word or in deed, as if that child were not legitimate. A person's canonical status and his civil status are not necessarily the same thing at all. Should he seek ecclesiastical privileges regulated by Canon Law, then his canonical status would have to be considered. But in the social order the civil privileges to which he is entitled must always be respected.



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