Expert Answer Forum
Invalid Marriage - Follow up QUESTION from Carole Keown May 4, 2000 Your reply held the following statement:
The reasons for this Canon Law relates to the purpose of marriage which it NOT mere companionship. The fundamental nature of marriage is described in Canon 1055: º1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring...
How does this affect the marriage of elderly persons? For instance, my widowed grandmother remarried at the age of 70. Obviously there is/was no intent (all children from prior marriages are 55+ years of age) or ability to have children, as my grandmother is post-menopausal.
Or the marriage of an individual capable of engaging in sexual relations, but not able to have children (this being known prior to the marriage)?
Are these types of marriages considered valid since there is no intent or ability to have children. Assuming that the ability to engage in sexual relations is not impaired.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on June 7, 2000 Dear Mrs. Keown:
In the case of the elderly the law still applies. Each act of sex must be open for life -- even at 70. Sarah, Abraham's wife was 80 when she became pregnant.
In intent is to do God's will. Thus a 70 year old must still have sex that is open to children. Only God can determine that a person will not have children.
And should children not be forthcoming, which is likely the case in a 70 year old, the other purpose of marriage (the unitive factor) still applies.
If a person reveals that they are sterile before marriage, they may have a valid marriage. If they hide that fact then the marriage may be invalid not due to sterility, but due to fraud.
Sterility does not impede a valid marriage. But as it is with the elderly, sex must be performed always with the openness to life. God CAN cause the pregnancy of a sterile person.... and such as happened many times.
Thus in both cases, it is not intention to not have kids. Rather it is there is no choice outside of a miracle to have kids.
But if a couple is capable of having kids and intends deliberately to not have kids, then the marriage is invalid.
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