Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope St. John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


1152 x 864


1 feb 2017

Marriage Sacrament and Law (AT 746)



Special Notices


General remarks





This course presents the fundamental doctrinal and canonical aspects of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

  • Class meets: Mondays 6 PM to 9:30 PM, Room =.

  • Required texts: No texts need be purchased for this course, but students will need access to: (1) the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992/1997) 1601-1666; (2) Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Edition, New English Translation (Canon Law Society of America, 2012) ISBN: 1-932208-32-1; (3) the Scriptural and magisterial documents listed below.

  • Class format: Interactive lecture.

  • Course grading: Two exams (one emphasizing the law of marriage, one the theology of marriage) consisting of multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer questions.

Additional remarks


  • Course Description (SHMS Bulletin): This course provides an historical study of the development of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic theological tradition from biblical times until today, and an examination of marriage law with attention to the canonical and pastoral considerations involved in the preparation for marriage, the annulment and dissolution of marriage, and the ecclesial procedures used in issuing decrees of nullity. Included will be contemporary and ecumenical issues. (Prerequisites: MNS 300, AT 780, or AT 550).

  • This course focuses directly on the original sources (i.e., Sacred Scripture, Magisterium, the Code) of Catholic doctrine and law of marriage with an eye toward modeling for students how to plumb these original sources for information and inspiration in coming years.

Other Resources


In addition to the standard canonical commentaries, scholarly works useful for graduate-level study of Catholic matrimonial doctrine and law would include:


Perry Cahall, The Mystery of Marriage: a theology of the body and the sacrament (Hillenbrand Books, 2016) 490 pp.


R. Dodaro, ed., Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 2014) 324 pp.


  Adhémar Esmein (French layman, 1848-1913), Le Mariage en Droit Canonique [1891], in 2 vols., rev. by R. Génestal, (Recueil Sirey, 1929/1935).


  Ramón García de Haro (Spanish priest, 1931-1996), Marriage in the Documents of the Magisterium: a course in the theology of marriage (Ignatius, 1993) 435 pp., W. May trans. of Haro’s Matrimonio & Famiglia nei Documenti del Magisterio: corso di teologia matrimoniale (1989).


  George Joyce (English Jesuit, 1864-1943), Christian Marriage: an historical and doctrinal study (Sheed & Ward, 1933) 632 pages.


  Pietro Gasparri (Italian prelate, 1850-1934), Tractatus Canonicus de Matrimonio [1892], in 2 vols., 9th ed. (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1932).


  Urbano Navarrete [Cortés] (Italian Jesuit, 1920-2010), Structura iuridica matrimonii secundum Concilium Vaticanum II: momentum iuridicum amoris conjugalis (Gregoriana, no date) 155 pp., reprinted from Periodica 56 (1967) 357-383, 554-578, and 57 (1968) 131-167, 169-216.


  Victor Pospishil (Austrian/American Ukrainian priest, 1915-2006), Eastern Catholic Marriage Law (Saint Maron Publications, 1991) 532 pp.





  • Marriage vs. Matrimony

  • Marriage vs. Wedding

  • Divorce vs. Annulment

  • Divorce vs. Dissolution

Relationship between doctrine of marriage and canon law of marriage.


Sine matrimonio nullum Matrimonium.


Sacred Scripture

Genesis I: 27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it....'


Genesis II: 21-24. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.


Deut. XIV: 1-3. When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter husband dislikes her and writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled...


Malachi II: 14-16. ... [T]he Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.


Matthew V: 31-32. It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Matthew XIX: 3-9. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' They said to him, 'Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them, 'For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.'


Mark X: 2-12. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?' He answered them, 'What did Moses command you?' They said, 'Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.' But Jesus said to them, 'For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female [and] For this reason a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.' And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'


Luke XVI: 18. Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.


Romans VII: 2-3. Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning her husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.


1 Corinthians VII.


Ephesians V: 21-33. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleaned her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might he holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.



Council of Trent, Sess. XIV (11 nov 1563), On Marriage, Waterworth trans on-line here.


Leo XIII (reg. 1878-1903), enc. Arcanum divinae sapientiae (10 feb 1880), Acta Sanctae Sedis 12 (1880) 385-402, Eng. trans. in C. Carlen ed., The Papal Encyclicals, in 5 vols. (Pierian Press, 1990) II: 29-40, Vatican trans. on-line here.


Pius XI (reg. 1922-1939), enc. Casti connubii (31 dec 1930), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 22 (1930) 539-592, et Acta Apostolicae Sedis 22 (1930) 604, Eng. trans. in C. Carlen ed., The Papal Encyclicals, in 5 vols. (Pierian Press, 1990) III: 391-414, Vatican trans. on-line here.


Second Vatican Council, const. Gaudium et spes (7 dec 1965), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 58 (1966) 1025-1120; Eng. trans. in A. Flannery, ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents (Catholic Book Publishing, 1975) 903-1001, Vatican trans. on-line here.


Paul VI (reg. 1963-1978), enc. Humanae vitae (25 iul 1968), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 60 (1968) 481-503, Eng. trans. in C. Carlen ed., The Papal Encyclicals, in 5 vols. (Pierian Press, 1990) IV: 223-233, Vatican trans. on-line here.


St. John Paul II (reg. 1978-2005), ap. exhort. Familiaris consortio (22 nov 1981), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 74 (1982) 81-191, Eng. trans. in Origins = 11/28-29 (24 dec 1981) 437, 439-468, Vatican trans. on-line here.


USCCB, past. let. "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" (17 nov 2009), Origins 39/26 (3 dec 2009) 417-434, on-line here.


Canon Law

Canon 1055. § 1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. § 2. For this reason, a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament.


Canon 1056. The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

  • CCEO 776. § 1. The matrimonial covenant, established by the Creator and ordered by His laws, by which a man and woman by an irrevocable personal consent establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the generation and education of the offspring. § 2. From the institution of Christ a valid marriage between baptized persons is by that very fact a sacrament, by which the spouses, in the image of an indefectible union of Christ with the Church, are united by God and, as it were, consecrated and strengthened by sacramental grace. § 3. The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in a marriage between baptized persons obtain a special firmness in virtue of the sacrament.

Canon 1057. § 1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent. § 2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.


Canon 1058. All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage.


Canon 1059. Even if only one party is Catholic, the marriage of Catholics is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law, without prejudice to the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the same marriage.


Canon 1060. Marriage possesses the favor of law; therefore, in a case of doubt, the validity of a marriage must be upheld until the contrary is proven.


Canon 1061. § 1. A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh. § 2. After a marriage has been celebrated, if the spouses have lived together consummation is presumed until the contrary is proven. § 3. An invalid marriage is called putative if at least one party celebrated it in good faith, until both parties become certain of its nullity.