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‘The Laws of Marriage Cannot be Subject to Any Human Decree ’
In a time when marriage is annulled for almost any trivial reason as if it were a simple human contract, it is opportune to remind our readers of the divine nature of this Sacrament. Those who disregard this essential character it has or take it lightly go against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church. This would include the ecclesiastics who easily grant such annulments and, by so doing, jeopardize their eternal salvation.

Pius XI

And to begin with that same Encyclical [Arcanum by Leo XIII], which is wholly concerned with vindicating the divine institution of Matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that Matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God. Not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it, but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves.

This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture;[Gen. I:27-28; 2:22-23; Mt X19:3 ff.; Eph 5:23 ff.]. This is the constant tradition of the Catholic Church; this, the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness. [Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV]

Yet, although Matrimony is of its very nature of divine institution, the human will, too, enters into it and performs a most noble part. For each individual marriage, inasmuch as it is a conjugal union of a particular man and woman, arises only from the free consent of each of the spouses; and this free act of the will, by which each party hands over and accepts those rights proper to the state of marriage,[Cod. iur. can., c. 1081 & 2] is so necessary to constitute true marriage that it cannot be supplied by any human power. [Cod. iur. can., c. 1081 & 1]

This freedom, however, regards only the question whether the contracting parties really wish to enter upon matrimony or to marry this particular person; but the nature of matrimony is entirely independent of the free will of man, so that if one has once contracted matrimony he is thereby subject to its divinely made laws and its essential properties
. …

By matrimony, therefore, the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense of spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will; and from this union of souls, by God's decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises. Hence the nature of this contract, which is proper and peculiar to it alone, makes it entirely different both from the union of animals entered into by the blind instinct of nature alone in which neither reason nor free will plays a part, and also from the haphazard unions of men, which are far removed from all true and honorable unions of will and enjoy none of the rights of family life.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Pius XI, Encyclical Casti connubii, December 31, 1930, §§ 5-7.

Posted on September 16, 2023

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