Indice > Dialoghi Interconfessionali > L-R-RC > The Theology of Mariage | CONT. > sez. 7

  IV. (MARRIAGE FOR LIFE) - selez.
  V. (PASTORAL CARE) - selez.




102.1. Looking back over the course of our discussion as reflected in the present document, one may summarize matters as follows: starting from an examination of marriage as a human reality, we immediately encountered two questions that are fundamental for the theology of marriage, two questions whose importance became more and more apparent to us as we went along and to which we therefore felt bound to dedicate particular attention, i.e., the problems of the "sacramentality" and the "indissolubility" of marriage. The result of our work is therefore primarily of a theological nature, and we are convinced that it is fundamental for all further dialogue between our Churches in matters of marriage and mixed marriages. Even though it did not prove possible to obtain a complete consensus on all points, we did discover or work out agreements that have brought us decisively closer to a common understanding of marriage and also have a positive effect on the problem of mixed marriages. Undoubtedly, however, it is not the aim of an interconfessional dialogue like our own to heap up a mere series of theological agreements. It will be just as important for our Churches to translate on a broad basis theological convergences into the practical life of the Churches. In this sense we should like to place particular emphasis on the following points:

103. The particular nature of Christian marriage should be clearly stressed in the doctrine and the preaching of our Churches and an appropriate liturgical form of contracting marriage should be preserved.

The Lutheran and Reformed Churches must use the possibility of re-marrying divorcees in such a manner that this will not obscure their basic conviction and their witness that marriage is of lifelong duration.

104. Given the prospect of a theological rapprochement, our Churches should endeavor, especially in the field of the problems of mixed marriages, to abandon the mutual mistrust which still often prevails; as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, moreover, every attempt should be made -albeit without interfering with the pastoral responsibility of the competent authorities - to ensure that the possibilities opened by the Apostolic Letter Matrimonia Mixta in connection with mixed marriages between Catholics and Lutherans or Reformed will be fully utilized in all countries and not merely applied in a restrictive manner.

105.2. The Lutheran and Reformed members of our Commission felt that there were two questions that they had specially to formulate for their Catholic partners:

a) Given the theological agreements that have already been obtained, would it not be desirable to examine very seriously in each country whether a mixed marriage celebrated by a Lutheran or Reformed pastor could not be recognized as valid by the Catholic Church even in the absence of dispensation from canonical form, especially since this would correspond to the practice of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches? When examining this question, the non-Catholic members stressed it should be borne in mind that the Catholic Church in its relationship with the Orthodox Church does not make the dispensation from canonical form necessary for validity in the event of a mixed marriage, and this notwithstanding the fact that there are still serious differences between the way in which the two Churches understand marriage.
b) Moreover, would it not be desirable to examine whether the obligation of the Catholic partner of a mixed marriage to baptize and educate his children in the Catholic faith could not be safeguarded in a more pastoral and also more ecumenical manner than by exacting a formal promise? In this connection the non-Catholic members drew particular attention to the suggestion for an alternative made in the report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on the theology of marriage with special reference to mixed marriages (cf. No: 71)1.

106. The Catholic members of the Commission showed great understanding for these requests, and stressed their hope that such steps would eventually be taken. But they did feel that the present state of the dialogue could not yet justify these steps, which both sides desire2. Quite apart from the ethical questions closely connected with marriage, insufficient consideration had yet been given, above all, to the nature and the intention of the canonical form of contracting marriage. But both sides were convinced that the theological agreements attained in the course of the dialogue were of decisive importance for the treatment of these questions, and, indeed, formed a fundamental condition for tackling them.

107. Over and above this, the results of our dialogue make it possible to tackle jointly a number of questions that our Commission encountered in the course of its work and which should therefore become the subject of further discussions between our Churches; they include:

The religious function of Canon Law.
The problem of Christian ethics (justification and sanctification; law and grace).
The concept of man underlying marriage.
The understanding of revelation and the role of Holy Scripture as a binding witness.
The relationship between sociological facts and Christian norms.

[Information Service 36 (1978/I) 15-32]



  1. "It would be for the Church to require of the Roman Catholic parish priest responsible for the marriage a written assurance to his bishop that he had duly put the Roman Catholic partner in mind of his obligations concerning the baptism and upbringing of the children and, according to opportunity, satisfied himself that the other partner knew what these obligations were. He would not be empowered to exact a promise in the matter from either partner, though he might well ask formally if the obligations were understood. The bishop, if satisfied in other respects, might then issue a dispensation for the marriage on the strength of his assurance. Such a procedure would be more consistent than the present one with the spirit of Vatican II documents on ecumenical relations and religious liberty, and would, it is believed, earn more respect and so command more attention, from the non-Roman Catholic partner as well as from the Catholic."

  2. On this point one of the Catholic members, Msgr. Jozef Tomko, who already in the course of the discussion had disagreed in some respects with both proposals, has still some reserves. Being in fact unable to be present at the last session of the meeting because of another engagement, he wrote a letter to Msgr. Charles Moeller, in which he said that he could not share the hope expressed by the Catholic members. In particular he stressed that, in his opinion, it is by ius divinum that certainty is required that the Catholic side truly accepts the obligations; that is why the bishop cannot proceed without this certainty.


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