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Catechism of the Catholic Church

Divorce

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. 174 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. 175

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death." 176

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law. 177

If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself. 178

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage. 179

Notes:

174 Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10:9; Lk 16:18; I Cor 7:10-ll.

175 Cf. Mt 19:7-9.

176 CIC, can. 1141.

177 Cf. CIC, cann. 1151-1155.

178 St. Basil, Moralia 73, 1: PG 31, 849-852.

179 Cf. FC 84.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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