Expert Answer Forum

Second marriage and Children QUESTION from Larry Lottier May 7, 2000 Dear Bro. Ignatius...
Recently while administering the FOCCUS feedback session for a couple I cam across this issue. Both were married before - one a widow and the other marriage decreed null. Together they both had eight children from their previous marriages. Thjey were told that on the question about agreeing to have children not to worry as eight was enough - so they planned to have no children together. The couple were in their forties. I was concerned about this issue and since this is what the pastor had told them (according to them) I did not confront the issue. Was this marriage valid since aas I believe you rightly stated that amarriage is invalid if the couple marries with the expressed desire, intent and determination to never have children. Is age a consideration in this situation?
Thanks and blessings on you and your work,
Deacon Larry Lottier
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on June 9, 2000 Dear Deacon:
Your relating my previous comment about this is correct as I understand it.
If a couple DELIBERATELY and with FORE-THOUGHT and SPECIFIC INTENT make POSITIVE steps to not have children within their marriage, then the marriage in invalid.
Canon Law # 1101 states:
.2 But if either or both parties through a positive act of the will should exclude marriage itself, some essential element or an essential property of marriage, it is invalidly contracted. To those couples who choose deliberately to not have children their consent to marriage is an invalid consent because it is consenting to something that is contrary to the very nature of marriage.
Since the consent is invalid, the marriage is invalid.
Where does God say eight is enough? Where does GOd say, You shall not practice contraception until you have eight kids?
Unless this couple plans to NOT have intercourse to avoid children (which would make their marriage invalid too, by the way), how will they ensure no children as long as they are fertile? Most likely, from contraception. (which means not only do they have a invalid marriage, but are committing the sin of contraception.)
Using Natural Family Planning may be used properly to limit family size or spacing of children WHEN there is proper reason (NFP cannot be used with a contraceptive mentality). But NFP is a method that ALWAYS leaves the prospect of life open.
We cannot TELL GOD we refuse to have any more children whether we have 8 or 25 children and we cannot TELL God that we refuse to have children regardless of whether we are 40 or 80.
We don't TELL God anything.
From my understanding of these issues, and from your description, I think this couple may indeed have an invalid marriage. This would need to be submitted to Church authorities (Marriage Tribunal) for official determination.
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