Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent/Session XXIV/Sacrament of Matrimony

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SESSION THE TWENTY-FOURTH,

Being the eighth under the Sovereign Pontiff Plus IV., celebrated on the eleventh day of the month of November, 1563.

DOCTRINE TOUCHING THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY.

The first parent of the human race, under the instinct of the divine Spirit, pronounced the bond of matrimony perpetual and indissoluble, when he said; This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Wherefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh [1]

But, that by this bond two only are coupled and joined together, Christ our Lord taught more openly, when repeating those last words as having been uttered by God, He said, therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh;[2] and straightway confirmed the firmness of that tie, proclaimed so long before by Adam, in these words; What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.[3]

But, the grace which might perfect that natural love, and confirm that indissoluble union, and sanctity the wedded, Christ Himself, the institutor and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion; which Paul the Apostle intimates, saying: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered up himself for it;[4]adding shortly after, This is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church,[5]

Whereas therefore matrimony, in the evangelical law, excels the ancient marriages in grace, through Christ; with reason have our holy Fathers, the Councils, and the tradition of the universal Church, always taught, that it is to be numbered amongst the sacraments of the new law; against which impious men of this age raving, have not only entertained false opinions touching this venerable sacrament, but, introducing according to their wont, under the pretext of the Gospel, a liberty of the flesh, they have by writing and word asserted, not without great injury to the faithful of Christ, many things alien from the sentiment of the Catholic Church, and from the usage approved of since the times of the apostles; whose rashness the holy and universal synod wishing to meet, has thought proper, lest their pernicious contagion should draw more after it, that the more conspicuous heresies and errors of the schismatics aforesaid be exterminated, decreeing against the said heretics and their errors the following anathemas.

TOUCHING THE SACREMENT OF MATRIMONY

Canon i. If any one shall say, that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelic law, instituted by Christ the Lord; but that it has been instituted by men in the Church, and that it does not confer grace; let him be anathema.

Canon ii. If any one shall say, that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and that this is not prohibited by any divine law; let him be anathema.

Canon iii. If any one shall say, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus,[6] can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or ordain that others may hinder and dissolve it; let him be anathema.

Canon iv. If any one shall say, that the Church could not constitute impediments dissolving marriage;[7] or that she has erred in constituting them; let him be anathema.

Canon v. If any one shall say, that on account of heresy, or irksome cohabitation, or the intentional absence of one of the parties, the bond of matrimony maybe dissolved; let him be anathema.

Canon vi. If any one shall say, that matrimony contracted, but not consummated, is not dissolved by the solemn profession of religion by one of the parties married; let him be anathema.

Canon vii. If any one shall say, that the Church doth err in that she hath taught, and doth teach, according to the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties; and that both, or even the innocent party, who gave not occasion to the adultery, cannot contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other married person; and, that he is guilty of adultery, who, having put away the adulteress, shall marry another wife, as also she, who, having put away the adulterer, shall wed another husband; let him be anathema.

Canon viii. If any one shall say, that the Church errs, in that she decrees that, for many causes, a separation may take place between husband and wife, in regard of bed or cohabitation, for a determinate or for an indeterminate period; let him be anathema.

Canon ix. If any one shall say, that clerks constituted in sacred orders, or regulars, who have solemnly professed chastity, are able to contract marriage, and that being contracted, it is valid, the ecclesiastical law, or vow, notwithstanding; and that the contrary is nothing else than to condemn marriage; and, that all who do not feel that they have the gift of chastity, even though they have made a vow thereof, may contract marriage; let him be anathema; seeing that God denieth not that gift to them that ask it rightly, neither does He suffer us to he tempted above that we are able[8]

Canon x. If any one shall say, that the marriage state is to be preferred before a state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be joined in matrimony; let him be anathema.

Canon xi. If any one shall say, that the prohibition of the solemnization of marriages at certain times of the year, is a tyrannical superstition, proceeding from the superstition of the heathen; or shall condemn the benedictions and other ceremonies of which the Church makes use therein; let him be anathema.

Canon xii. If any one shall say, that matrimonial causes do not concern ecclesiastical judges; let him be anathema.

 
  1. Gen. ii. 23, 24.
  2. Matt. xix. 6.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ephes. V. 25.
  5. Ibid. 32.
  6. Levit. xviii. 6, sqq.
  7. See Matt. xvi. 19; a text used on all occasions by the Romanists to prove anything.
  8. 1 Cor. X. 13.