ON INDISSOLUBILITY AND
For the benefit of readers who may have lately been confused
about the Catholic Church's teaching on the indissolubility
of marriage and about divorce, I would like to quote
extensively and verbatim from an address of Pope John Paul
II to the officials of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on
Monday, 28 January, 2002 (official translation).
text of Pope's message to Sacra Rota, click here
* I want to examine indissolubility (of marriage) as a good
for spouses, for children, for the Church and for the whole
* A positive presentation of the indissoluble union is
important, in order to rediscover its goodness and beauty.
First of all, one must overcome the view of indissolubility
as a restriction of the freedom of the contracting parties,
and so as a burden that at times can become unbearable.
Indissolubility, in this conception, is seen as a law that
is extrinsic to marriage, as an 'imposition' of a norm
against the 'legitimate' expectations of the further
fulfilment of the person. Add to this the widespread notion
that indissoluble marriage is only for believers, who
cannot try to 'impose' it on the rest of civil society.
* It is the natural dimension of the union and, more
concretely, the nature of man created by God himself that
provides the indispensable key for interpreting the
essential properties of marriage. The further reinforcement
that the properties obtain by virtue of the sacrament, is
based on a foundation of natural law that, if removed, would
the very work of salvation and elevation of the conjugal
reality that Christ effected once and for all.
* To treat indissolubility not as a natural juridical norm
but as a mere ideal, empties of meaning the unequivocal
declaration of Jesus Christ, who absolutely refused divorce
because 'from the beginning it was not so" (Mt 19, 8 ).
* One cannot give in to the divorce mentality: confidence in
the natural and supernatural gifts of God to man prevents
* It could perhaps seem that divorce is so firmly rooted in
certain social sectors, that it is almost not worth
continuing to combat it, by spreading a mentality, a social
custom and a civil legislation in favour of the
indissolubility of marriage. Yet it is indeed worth the
effort! Actually this good is at the root of all society, as
a necessary condition for the existence of the family. Its
absence therefore has devastating consequences that spread
through the social body like a plague - to use the term of
the Second Vatican Council to describe divorce (Gaudium et
Spes n.47) - and that have a negative influence on the new
generations who view as tarnished the beauty of true
* The value of indissolubility cannot be held to be just the
object of a private choice: it concerns one of the
cornerstones of all society.... One must avoid the risk of
permissiveness on fundamental issues concerning the nature
of marriage and of the family.