Mexico City Temporary Marriages Invalid

There is a legislative plan in Mexico City to offer legal marriage contracts that are explicitly temporary in nature.

Leonel Luna, from the leftist PRD Party, describes the proposal this way: “The marriage contract would last two years. After those two years, it can be renewed. Before that the clauses of this contract have been established including whether property is owned by both spouses or separately. If the relationship ends, it’s also previously determined who gets custody of the children.” (Source THV; See also Reuters )

This proposal has a good chance of passing. Mexico City previously legalized gay marriage, and also has the least restrictions on abortion in Mexico. These laws affect only Mexico City, not the rest of the nation. However, the city has a population of over 8.8 million persons.

Even if this type of marriage becomes legal, it cannot possibly be a valid Sacrament of Marriage. In order to have a valid Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, consent is required. But the consent is not merely the words ‘I do’. Both spouses must knowingly consent to that type of marriage relationship ordained by God, which is a lifelong commitment. If either or both spouses have no such intention, if either or both persons only intend a temporary marriage, which may or may not continue after a certain term expires, then there is no valid consent. And consequently, the marriage would not be a valid Sacrament.

The consent to a lifelong union is explicitly stated in Canon Law as necessary for validity.

Can. 1096 §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

Can. 1102 §1. A marriage subject to a condition about the future cannot be contracted validly.

If the spouses do not intend a permanent partnership, or if they only intend a permanent partnership provided that some condition occur in the future (such as if they still want to stay together after two years), then the consent is not valid, and neither is the marriage.

Casti Connubii

This proposal for a temporary marriage is not new. It has been proposed by sinful secular society, and condemned by the Magisterium, in the past.

Pope Pius XI: “And so, whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained.
[…]
“Armed with these principles, some men go so far as to concoct new species of unions, suited, as they say, to the present temper of men and the times, which various new forms of matrimony they presume to label ‘temporary,’ ‘experimental,’ and ‘companionate.’ These offer all the indulgence of matrimony and its rights without, however, the indissoluble bond, and without offspring, unless later the parties alter their cohabitation into a matrimony in the full sense of the law.”

“Indeed there are some who desire and insist that these practices be legitimatized by the law or, at least, excused by their general acceptance among the people. They do not seem even to suspect that these proposals partake of nothing of the modern ‘culture’ in which they glory so much, but are simply hateful abominations which beyond all question reduce our truly cultured nations to the barbarous standards of savage peoples.” (Casti Connubii, n. 34, 51-52)

A temporary marriage is not a true marriage, but rather “an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law” and a “hateful abomination”.

Form

A valid Sacrament of marriage also requires a valid form. But since the Bishops strongly oppose this proposal for temporary marriages, there would be no valid form for such a union. So again, the marriage would not be valid. If your only marriage ceremony is at city hall, you likely do not have the valid form necessary for a valid marriage.

Consummation

Such a couple, who lack true and proper consent, would not be married in the eyes of God, nor in the eyes of the Church. And so their sexual relations would not be the consummation of a marriage, would not be marital relations, but instead the grave sin of fornication.

Even if the couple eventually decide to renew the two-year commitment, even if they renew it repeatedly, the lack of consent to a lifelong commitment means that the marriage remains invalid.

Natural Marriage?

Most of the population of Mexico City is Catholic. Two baptized Catholics cannot have a merely natural marriage; they can only have the Sacrament of Marriage (Casti Connubii, n. 39). So it cannot be argued that such a couple, lacking the Sacrament of Marriage due to a lack of consent to a lifelong commitment, would at least have a natural marriage.

A valid natural marriage, such as between two unbaptized persons, still requires consent and consummation. Natural marriage was established by the will of God, and God intends marriage to be a lifelong union. Therefore, a temporary marriage between unbaptized persons would not even be a valid natural marriage. Again, it would be nothing other than living together in sin, with a secular marriage license as a fig leaf, to disguise the sin as if it were a marriage.

The Words of Jesus

[Matthew]
{19:4} And he said to them in response, “Have you not read that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female?” And he said:
{19:5} “For this reason, a man shall separate from father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife, and these two shall become one flesh.
{19:6} And so, now they are not two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

[John]
{4:16} Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and return here.”
{4:17} The woman responded and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her: “You have spoken well, in saying, ‘I have no husband.’
{4:18} For you have had five husbands, but he whom you have now is not your husband. You have spoken this in truth.”

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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