Full Text for Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages (Text)

Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages. 751 lliecfjt fragen: m5elcfjei$ ift Die t i cfj t i g e ~otmer? S\)enn valb tuat fie cine ®dfiirung, valb ein ~efenn±niS, valb eine ~cnebiftion. ®in~ ift bem Iutfjerifcfjen .2iturgen nat, niimHef; ban et bie ~otmer nief;± in bet @eftart, toie fie bon bem SjeHanbe gevrauef;t toutbe, antoenben fann, 1tJenigften~ nidjt ofjne bie einleitenben m5orte: ;;S®fu~ fpraef;. S\)enn bann rommen toit in ba~ iJafjrtualler bet Uniet:±en (unb bielet mefotmiet:±en), bie fief; bet iJotme1 in bicfen m5ot:±en vebienen unb bamit ba~ ganae €Saftamen± ungetoin maef;en. iJitr un~ follte bet fitef;Iief;~Iitutgifef;e @evtauef; au~fdjlaggevenb fein, bet niimlief; bie @lpenbefotmeI n i ef; ± au e in e m to e fen b r i ef; en :it c i I b e ~ @l a It a men t ~ m a ef; t, bavei aver boef; f ei ~ n c n @ e v r a u ef; v e f it rill 0 t ± e ±, ja un±et Umf±anben barauf veftefjt. S\)enn bie @lpenbeformeI bet Iutfjerifef;en Sl!itef;e ift au einem ~efenntni~ getoorben, bornefjmIief; aUen refotmiet±en Sl!itcfjengemeinf ef;aften gegen~ llvet, bie bie toal)te @egentuat:± be~ Bettie£; unb lBlute§ \Ifjtif±i im ~roettb~ mafjI Ieugnen, inff. be~ Uniet:±en. WCit bem ~efcnntni~ obel: bcr 2efjt~ barfegung aoer bervinbet fief; bie fef;on in ber mi±±elartedief;en Sl!itdje frvIicfje menebiftion, bie augleief; eine Wlafjnung an bie Sl!ommunifan±en entfjiirt, ban boef; fetnet ben @legen be~ @lahameng betfef;etae. ~. ®. Shetmann. Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages. * The Papal Encyclical and Its Roman Interpretation. A. What Pope Pius XI Says on Mixed Marriages. "The religious character of marriage, its sublime signification of grace, and the union between Ohrist and the Ohurch evidently re­quires that those about to marry should show a holy reverence towards it and zealously endeavor to make their marriage approach as nearly as possible to the archetype of Ohrist and the Ohurch. "They therefore who rashly and heedlessly contract mixed mar­riages, from which the maternal love and providence of the Ohurch dissuades her children for very sound reasons, fail conspicuously in this respect, sometimes with danger to their eternal salvation. This * The two documents here printed from authentic sources present the subject of mixed marriages according to official declarations of the present Pope, Pius XI, and its interpretation by an acknowledged Roman Catholic spokesman. The section of the encyclical of December 31, 1930, is taken from the book Four Great Encyolioals of the Paulist Press, 101 f., and the discussion of mixed marriages on the basis of this encyclical and previous statements, by W. 1. Lonergan, S. J., is taken from the periodical America, April 23, 1932. Cf. Readers' Digest of June, 1932, pp. 66 and 69. The italicized sections are so indicated by us. Every reader may readily make his own applications. -Edit. Oomm. 752 Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages. attitude of the Church to mixed marriages appears in many of her documents, all of which are summed up in the Code of Common Law: 'Everywhere and with the greatest strictness the Church forbids mar­riages between baptized persons one of whom is a Oatholic and the other a member of a schismatical 01' heretical secto' and if there is added to this the danger of the falling away of the Catholic party and the perversion of thel children, such a marriage is forbidden also by the divine Law.' (Cod. Itel'. Can., c. 1060.) If the Church occa­sionally, on account of circumstances, does not refuse to grant a dis­pensation from these strict laws (provided that the divine Law re­mains intact and the dangers above mentioned are provided against by suitable safeguards), it is unlikely that the Catholic party will not suffer some detriment from such a marriage. "Whence it comes about not unfrequently, as experience shows, that deplorable defections from religion occur among the offspring or at least a headlong descent into that religious indifference which is closely allied to impiety. There is this also to be considered that in these mixed marriages it becomes much more difficult to imitatc by a lively conformity of spirit the mystery of which We have spoken, namely, that close union between Ohrist and His Ohurch. "Assuredly also will there be wanting that close union of spirit which, as it is the sign and mark of the Church of Ohrist, so also should be the sign of Ohristian wedlock, its glory and adornment .... " B. The Exposition Given by Wm. I. Lonergan, S. J. "A bit of legislation on mixed marriages, promulgated by the Holy Office early in the year, was given wide-spread publicity by the American press, which for the most part misunderstood or mis­interpreted it. Hence a restatement of the whole position of the Oatholic Church in the matter of mixed marriages is timely and badly needed. In a country such as the United States, which is largely non -Oatholic and where the tendency to mixed unions is more fre­quent than in places like France, Italy, Austria, Ireland, Spain, etc., where the population is mostly Catholic, there is grave danger lest, misled by appearances, Catholics may come to look lightly on mixed marriages or to forget how decisively the Ohurch condemns them and with what reluctance she tolerates them, and danger, too, that the Ohurch's position will easily be misconstrued by those not of the fold. "Without going too minutely into the technicalities of Oanon Law, a mixed marriage is popularly understood to be the union of a Oatholic with one not of the faith. All such unions the Catholic Church severely reprobates, though where the non-Oatholic party has been baptized and is in consequence merely a heretic or schis­matic, the ecclesiastical prohibition is les8 severe. In this latter case Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages. 753 (assuming that the proper f01'malities have been gonel through and that there are no diriment impediments standing in the way of the contract) the marriage, even if contracted without a dispensation,. while gravely sinful, would be valid; whereas, under similar con-' ditions, a marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person. would be absolutely null and void. "However, nO/;1I'ithstanding this distinction papal documents em­ploy the same hanh lang1ta!7c when speaking of mixed rna;rria!7cs of either soTt. They are habitually characterized as 'pernicious' and 'detestable' unions; sOInethiug to be 'abhorred,' 'deplored,' 'abomi­nated.' Because of the grave danger to faith and morals always to some extent involved in them, they may not be contracted except there be 'just and weighty reasons.' 'What causes are deemed suf­ficient may be gaged from the strictness of the Hierarchy in grant­ing dispensations. The good of the Church or of society or the avoidance of some grave evil is presupposed. Mere convenience or one's emotional satisfaction or purely material advantages do not suffice, and theologians generally agree that dispensations on such flimsy pretexts would be invalid. "The Church's legislation is based on the presumption that there is a peril in marriages where the parties lack a common faith. Dis­cord is almost inevitable; for there cannot be a perfect union of wills and mutual accord uuder such circumstances. Moreover, and this is of most serious moment, there is always the possibility of the Catholic party's being weaned away from, 01' weakened in, his 01' her belief or of the offspring's not being baptized and brought up in the true religion. Experiecnce proves that loss of faith and re­ligious indifferentism are often the consequences of mixed marriages. Where there is proximate danger of this, the divine Law prohibits such unions, and so long as the danger remains that way, even the Pope cannot allow them. "The Ohurch may never per'mit Oatholics to marry those of other religious professions except UNDER THE TWOFOLD CONDITION that the Oatholic party will be undisturbed in the free exercise of his or her religion AND THAT ALL THE OFFSPRING SHALL BE BROUGHT UP IN OATHOL­ICISM. Were she to marry her children on any other basis, she would be faithless to her divine mission and to the maternal care she should manifest for them. "To insure the fulfilment of these conditions, ecclesiastical law has long exacted that before the impediments arising from differences in belief be dispensed from, guaracntees be given by the non-Oatholic party that all danger of perversion in his or her faith will be re­moved for the Catholic party and PLEDGES BY BOTH PARTIES that ALL the; children will be baptized and brought up only in the Oatholic faith. As an ordinary practise these guarantees are to be demanded 48 754 Roman Church Law and Mixed Marriages. in writing. Oanon Law also provides that the Oatholic spouse should endeavor to convert the non-Oatholic partner and that the marriage may not be celebrated before a non-Oatholic minister, but, except diocesan regulations provide otherwise, it does not impose a formal promise on these la,uer points. "It should be noted that the non-Oatholic's guarantee that the danger of perversion for the Oatholic party will be removed does not merely mean that no attempt will be made directly and positively to turn the Oatholic from the faith, but that nothing' will be done towards bringing this about, even indirectly, as, for example, by in­considerate remarks, by a general way of acting and speaking, through one's friends or parents, or through baneful books and newspapers to whose influence they will expose the Oatholic. "As for the promises to educate the children Oatholic, this im­plies not only that they will be baptized, be taught their prayers, be brought up to attend Mass, be prepared for Oonfession, Oommunion, and Oonfirmation, and, in general, learn the r~tdiments of religion, but that they will be so grounded in their faith and its pmciises that it may be anticipated that they will contimwi steadfast. "Obviously these promises are of major moment. They must be honestly given and honestly observed. They cannot be a mere for­mality. Theologians, however, until the recent decree of the Holy Office, were commonly agreed that, provided they were demanded and made, even if the parties signed them in bad faith, the insincerity did not nul1ify the dispensation; its validity was safeguarded. "Because of the supreme importance attached to these guarantees, papal decrees and the Oode of Oanon Law both provide that there must be a moral certainty that they will be fulfilled. While obviously not easy to have, this was generally got by estimating the characters and seriousness of the parties being married. UThe force of the recent le,gislation is that it aims further to secure this c81·tainty and to remove the danger of abuses that may have accompanied the making of these promises, particularly as re­gards the Oatholic education of the children. Sometimes even when the guarantees were given in all honesty, it could be reasonably fore­seen that despite the good will of the contracting parties, they would be rendered nugatory because of civil laws prevailing where they resided or intended to reside. Thus some Protestant countries have legislation that children born of mixed marriages must follow the belief of their parents; if the father be a Oatholic and the mother a non-Oatholic, all the boys would take the father's religion and the girls, the mother's. "To meet this contingency, Rome calls the attention of those empowered to disp'ens8 from impediments regarding mixed marriages to their obligation in conscience never to do so unless, in arriving at SDie ~au1JtfdJtiften £ut~ets in dJronoIogifcl)er jRei~enfoIge. 755 the moral certainty abou,[ the fulfilment of the guarantees, they also ha1Je 1'egard for the circumstanms and conditions 1mder which the couple will find themselves. They are instructed that they are not to accept guarantees the fulfilment of which can likely be impeded, especially by civil magistrates or heretical ministers, by virtue of laws providing for a different arrangement regarding the religious u,pbringing of childj'en and in effect where the parties live or are later going to take up their residence. "The decree in no sense suggests the absul'dity commonly reported in the American press that, if the promises are sincerely given, but later violated, the marriage, valid in its inception, would subsequently be rendered null. Nor does it obligate those granting dispensations to make the promises legally enforceable, a procedure of very doubtful value in a country like ours and that might well serve as a boomerang. It does forbid them, however, if the laws, by anticipation, actually make their observance impossible. Its principal significance is that it lays stress again on the need for moral certainty that the guarantees are going to be effective by calling attention to one common situation militating against this certainty. "To emphasize its seriousness, the Holy Office adds that, if the dispensation be granted without these guarantees being thus secured, it [the dispensation] shall be 'wholly null and invalid.' As A COROL­LARY, if it be necessary for the validity of a ma'ITing8, as in projected unions between Catholics and those not baptized, the nwrriage itself would also be null -no I1Ul1"1'iage. In matrimony, however, between Catholics and baptized non-Calholics, where the dispensati.on itself is not essential for vnlidity, the marringe wonld be valid, BUT GRAVELY SINFUL AND ILLICIT." ~ic {Ja1t~tfdjtiftcn £ut~cr~ in djronologtf djcr 9tciijcnfoIgc. \))lit SUnmerfungen. (G'ottfetung.) 1523. ",orbnung cines gemeinen .Rnftens bet