Avoiding Offspring And Validity Of Marriage
Question: If there is an explicit intention not to have children forever, then is there a valid marriage?
Answer: It would be no marriage. No priest can assist such a ceremony nor faithful can be witnesses. If that happened, it would be a mockery.
However, an explicit intention not to have children forever is not a part of the Matrimonial Consent which can be expressed in different ways.
THE REV P CHAS AUGUSTINE explains: "For the words express precisely what they intend to convey, namely, the matrimonial consent. The same must be said concerning equivalent signs, for instance, nodding." A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW By THE REV P CHAS AUGUSTINE VOL V. p. 240
CAN. 1086.1: "The internal consent of the will is always presumed to correspond to the words or signs used in celebration of matrimony."
In MISTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI Pope Pius XII says that in Matrimony "the contracting parties are ministers of grace to each other". How after such a clear definition some say they were never married, and have the right to get married again?
The ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are husband and wife, who promise to have and to hold each other, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death. "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (ST. MARK, 10:9).
A wife's refusal to have children in marriage is evil. But, any time, God can turn evil into good. If a husband hastened to "divorce" such a wife and "marry" another woman, he commits the sin of adultery and gives his wife an occasion to commit adultery as well. Or vice versa.
After a marriage is consummated, i.e. spouses use their rights to the bodies of each other, sometimes they can live separately. However their marriage cannot be neither dissolved nor annuled, and no one of them has the right to marry another person. Otherwise they commit adultery.
Question: Wouldn't the "unopeness" to procreation by either party invalidate the marriage? Especially when a contracepted act would invalidate the marriage?
Answer: The use of contraceptives in order to avoid offspring is evil. However, the use of birth control itself is not conclusive evidence of an intention contrary to the primary purpose of marriage, i.e., "the procreation and education of offspring" (Canon 1013.1).
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS teaches: "he who intends to marry, although he" fail to direct it to the end which the Church intends, nevertheless contracts a valid marriage." THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: QUESTION XLVIII, Reply Obj. 3.
Also, Canon Law enumerates the following DIRIMENT IMPEDIMENTS which render a marriage not only illicit, but also invalid. However Canon Law does not mention avoiding offspring by artificial birth control as a diriment impediment:
- AGE, CAN. 1067
- IMPOTENCY, CAN. 1068
- LIGAMEN OR BOND OF A PREVIOUS MARRIAGE, CAN. 1069
- DISPARITY OF WORSHIP, CAN. 1070-1071
- SACRED ORDERS, CAN. 1072
- RELIGIOUS PROFESSION, CAN. 1073
- ABDUCTION (RAPTUS), CAN. 1074
- CRIME, CAN. 1075
- CONSANGUINITY, CAN. 1076
- AFFINITY, CAN. 1077
- PUBLIC PROPRIETY (DECENCY), CAN. 1078
- SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP, CAN. 1079
- LEGAL ADOPTION, CAN. 1080
Below are more explanations by pre-Vatican II Catholic authors:
A MANUAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY
FOR ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES:
"If nothing against the substance of marriage is expressed in the contract, but one or both of the parties intends to do something which is against the essence of marriage, such an intention will vitiate the contract or not, according as it excludes marital rights or only implies a determination to abuse them." (p. 272)
"The validity of marriage contracted with mutually opposed intentions will depend on which is predominant, or on which would be chosen if their mutually destructive character were known and realized." (p. 272)
"When it is doubtful whether a spouse is impotent or not the decision must be in favor of the validity of the marriage, and since all such questions belong to the forum externum, they fall under the cognizance of the bishop, nor can they be settled by the confessor.
3. Mere barrenness or sterility is not impotence, nor does it make marriage impossible or unlawful. There is a controversy among experts as to whether removal of the ovaries or of the womb or of both organs makes a woman impotent or only sterile. The decisions which have been given by the Roman Congregations in particular cases are quoted in defence of both opinions, and as yet no general solution of the question has been given. Until this happens, a woman who has undergone such operations should not marry without consulting the bishop, but if she is already married the more favorable opinion should be followed." (p. 294)
A MANUAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY FOR ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES BY REV. THOMAS SLATER, S.J., ST. BEUNO'S COLLEGE, ST. ASAPH, WITH NOTES ON AMERICAN LEGISLATION BY REV. MICHAEL MARTIN, S.J. PROFESSOR OF MORAL THEOLOGY, ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY, VOLUME II,, THIRD EDITION, NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, BENZIGER BROTHERS, Permissu Superiorum R. SYKES, S.J., Praep. Prov. Anglicae, Permissu Superiorum R. J. MEYER, S.J., Praep. Prov. Missourianae, Nihil Obstat REMY LAFORT, Censor Librorum, Imprimatur +JOHN M. FARLEY, Archbishop of New York, New York, September 19, 1908.
A Collection of Cases in Moral and Pastoral Theology:
"As a general rule marriages contracted with the understanding that the parties are to practice birth control, although sinful because of the intended abuse of marriage, are not thereby rendered invalid. The intention to become man and wife usually outweighs any opposing intention."
THE CASUIST, A Collection of Cases in Moral and Pastoral Theology, VOLUME V, PREPARED AND EDITED BY REVEREND J. A. McHUGH, O.P., Lector of Sacred Theology and Professor of Dogmatic Theology in The Catholic Foreign Mission Seminary, Ossining, N. Y., NEW YORK JOSEPH F. WAGNER, INC. p. 254, Nihil Obstat: ARTHUR J. SCANLAN, S. T. D. Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: +JOHN CARDINAL FARLEY, Archbishop of New York, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 4, 1917.
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW,
By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE:
"INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONSENT
1. Interims animi consensus semper praesumitur conformis verbis vel signis in celebrando matrimonio adhibitis.
2. At si alterutra vel utraque pars positive voluntatis actu excludat matrimonium ipsum, aut omne ius ad coniugalem actum, vel essentialem aliquam matrimonii proprietatem, invalide contrahit.
1. The internal consent of the will is always presumed to correspond to the words or signs used in celebration of marriage. ...Hence though one of the parties may deceive the other by directing his or her intention to some thing else than marriage, yet if he or she expresses his or her consent in the customary and formally valid mode, the marriage is presumed to be valid in foro exrterno, although it may be invalid in the court of conscience.44 true even if one had postulated a condition in his mind. For instance, James says to himself: "I will marry her if she is pregnant, because I want to repair the wrong I have done her." If James makes no condition when expressing his matrimonial consent before the qualified witnesses and has not made any formal stipulation with her before marriage, the latter is valid.45 For the words express precisely what they intend to convey, namely, the matrimonial consent. The same must be said concerning equivalent signs, for instance, nodding.46 (pp 239-240)
The positive act of the will may exclude marriage itself. If one would contract a union merely for the sake of carnal gratification, it would be no marriage. Or if two persons would marry purely for friendship or for literary co-operation,51 there would be no marriage.
Or the positive act of the will may exclude all right to the conjugal act, i. e., ius ad copulam, and thus deny radically the primary end of marriage. Different from the right is the exercise thereof. This is not essentially required for the validity of the marital contract and may therefore be omitted.52 Hence the purpose of "avoiding offspring" would not per se exclude marriage."
44 S. C. P. F., Oct. I, 1785, (Coll., n. 580)
45 S. C. C. ( June 23, 1907 (Anal. Eccl., t. 15, 239 ff.)
46 S. O., Aug. 22, 1860 (Coll., n. 1201)
51 S. C. C., Aug. 6, 1881
52 Cfr. cc. 26, 31, X, IV, i; c. 5, X, IV, 4; A. S. S., V, p. 553, f. (p. 242)
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law, BOOK III, De Rebus, or Administrative Law, VOLUME V,, Marriage Law (can. 1012-1143), Matrimonial Trials (can. 1960-1992), SECOND, REVISED EDITION, B. HERDER BOOK CO., 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo., AND 68 GREAT RUSSELL ST. LONDON, W. C, 1920, Cum Permissu Superiorum, NIHIL OBSTAT Sti. Ludovici, die 14. Jan. 1920. F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR Sti. Ludovici, die 15. Jan. 1920. +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus, Sti. Ludovici, pp 239-240, 242.
THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA
OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:
OF THE OBJECT OF THE CONSENT.
WHETHER MARRIAGE CAN RESULT FROM ONE PERSON'S CONSENT TO TAKE ANOTHER FOR A BASE MOTIVE?
Objection I. It would seem that marriage cannot result from one person's consent to take another for a base motive. For there is but one reason for one thing. Now marriage is one sacrament. Therefore it cannot result from the intention of any other end than that for which it was instituted by God; namely the begetting of children.
Obj. 2. Further, The marriage union is from God, according to Matth. XIX. 6, What . . . God hath joined together let no man put asunder. But a union that is made for immoral motives is not from God. Therefore it is not a marriage.
Obj. 3. Further, In the other sacraments, if the intention of the Church be not observed, the sacrament is invalid. Now the intention of the Church in the sacrament of matrimony is not directed to a base purpose. Therefore, if a marriage be contracted for a base purpose, it will not be a valid marriage.
Obj. 4. Further, According to Boethius (Topic), a thing is good if its end be good. But matrimony is always good. Therefore it is not matrimony if it is done for an evil end.
Obj. 5. Further, Matrimony signifies the union of Christ with the Church; and in this there can be nothing base. Neither therefore can marriage be contracted for a base motive.
On the contrary, He who baptizes another for the sake of gain baptizes validly. Therefore if a man marries a woman for the purpose of gain it is a valid marriage.
Further, The same conclusion is proved by the examples and authorities quoted in the text (iv. Sent. D. 30)
I answer that, The final cause of marriage may be taken as twofold, namely essential and accidental. The essential cause of marriage is the end to which it is by its very nature ordained, and this is always good, namely the begetting of children and the avoiding of fornication. But the accidental final cause thereof is that which the contracting parties intend as the result of marriage. And since that which is intended as the result of marriage is consequent upon marriage, and since that which comes first is not altered by what comes after, but conversely; marriage does not become good or evil by reason of that cause, but the contracting parties to whom this cause is the essential end. And since accidental causes are infinite in number, it follows that there can be an infinite number of such causes in matrimony, some of which are good and some bad.
Reply Obj. I. This is true of the essential and principal cause; but that which has one essential and principal end may have several secondary essential ends, and an infinite number of accidental ends.
Reply Obj. 2. The joining together can be taken for the relation itself which is marriage, and that is always from God, and is good, whatever be its cause; or for the act of those who are being joined together, and thus it is sometimes evil and is not from God simply. Nor is it unreasonable that an effect be from God, the cause of which is evil, such as a child born of adultery; for it is not from that cause as evil, but as having some good in so far as it is from God, although it is not from God simply.
Reply Obj. 3. The intention of the Church whereby she intends to confer a sacrament is essential to each sacrament, so that if it be not observed, all sacraments are null. But the intention of the Church whereby she intends an advantage resulting from the sacrament belongs to the well-being and not to the essence of a sacrament; wherefore, if it be not observed, the sacrament is nonetheless valid. Yet he who omits this intention sins; for instance if in baptism one intend not the healing of the mind which the Church intends. In like manner he who intends to marry, although he fail to direct it to the end which the Church intends, nevertheless contracts a valid marriage.
Reply Obj. 4. This evil which is intended is the end not of marriage, but of the contracting parties.
Reply Obj. 5. The union itself, and not the action of those who are united, is the sign of the union of Christ with the Church; wherefore the conclusion does not follow.
THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, THIRD PART (SUPPLEMENT) QQ. XXXIV. - LXVIII. LITERALLY TRANSLATED BY FATHERS OF THE ENGLISH DOMINICAN PROVINCE, LONDON, BURNS OATES & WASHBOURNE LTD. 28 ORCHARD STREET, W. I 8-10 PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C. 4, BENZIGER BROTHERS: NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, 1922, Nihil Obstat. Fr. INNOCENTIUS APAP, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Theol, Imprimatur. EDUS. CANONICUS SURMONT, VICARIUS GENERALIS. WESTMONASTERII. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. Fr. VINCENTIUS McNABB, O.P., S.T.M. Fr. FABIANUS DIX, O.P., B.A. Imprimatur. Fr. BEDA JARRETT, O.P., S.T.L., M.A., Prior Provincialis Angliae. LONDINI, 4 Maii, 1922. Vol. 19, pp. 140-142