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The General Mobilization of the Catholic Church – The Council of Trent (1547-63)

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Session XXIV
November 11, 1563


The perpetual and indissoluble bond of matrimony was expressed by the first parent of the human race, when, under the influence of the divine Spirit, he said: "This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh" [Gen. 2:23f. (Matt. 19:4ff.; Mark 10:6ff.; Eph. 5:31f.)].

But that by this bond two only are united and joined together, Christ the Lord taught more plainly when referring to those last words as having been spoken by God, He said: “Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh” [Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:8], and immediately ratified the firmness of the bond so long ago proclaimed by Adam with these words: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” [Matt., 19:16; Mark 10:9].

But the grace which was to perfect that natural love, and confirm that indissoluble union, and sanctify the persons married, Christ Himself, the institutor and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion, which Paul the Apostle intimates when he says: "Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it" [Eph. 5:25]; adding immediately: "This is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church" [Eph., 5:32].

Since therefore matrimony in the evangelical law surpasses in grace through Christ the ancient marriages, our holy Fathers, the councils, and the tradition of the universal Church have, with good reason, always taught that it is to be numbered among the sacraments of the New Law; and since, with regard to this teaching, ungodly men of this age, raving madly, have not only formed false ideas concerning this venerable sacrament, but, introducing in conformity with their habit under the pretext of the Gospel a carnal liberty, have by word and writing asserted, not without great harm to the faithful of Christ, many things that are foreign to the teaching of the Catholic Church and to the usage approved of since the times of the Apostles, this holy and general council, desiring to restrain their boldness, has thought it proper, lest their pernicious contagion should attract more, that the principal heresies and errors of the aforesaid schismatics be destroyed by directing against those heretics and their errors the following anathemas.

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