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'Quick Help' Page: Why Can't Catholics Remarry After Spouse Cheats?

 

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Why can't a Catholic remarry after a spouse cheats?"

 

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If a spouse is unfaithful, this is very unfortunate but it CANNOT end a valid marriage, regardless even of any "divorce" under civil law that may have followed. The Lord Jesus was very clear that those who divorce and "remarry" commit adultery...

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 16:18)

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 5:31-32)

"The Pharisees approached and asked, 'Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?' They were testing him. He said to them in reply, 'What did Moses command you?' They replied, 'Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.' But Jesus told them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his 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. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.' In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. [Jesus] 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.'" (Mk. 10:2-12, emphasis added)

Remember that someone cannot commit adultery unless they are already married. Therefore, one who is "divorced" is actually still married in the eyes of God. The fact that one is still married – even if a spouse cheats – is why it is not possible remarry.

Note that not even the Church can break the indissoluble bond of marriage...

"A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death." (1983 Code of Canon Law, Can. 1141)

Note: The above assumes that both spouses are still alive and that the marriage was valid. If the marriage was not valid or if one of the spouses is deceased, it may be possible to marry. For assistance, consult a good priest.


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Other Resources:

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Marriage (Topic Page)

Divorce (Topic Page)

Annulment (Topic Page)

 

  

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