Part 1 Introduction

Chapter 18 Glossary of Terms Relating to Marriage

Note:  This is not a finished page.  This is a class project in progress for 12:535 Sacrament of Marriage

Please help me construct a "Glossary" of terms that you will need to know to exercise your priestly ministry regarding the sacrament of marriage. I would like to improve these definitions and to reference them to appropriate numbers of the Catechism, and/or the Code of Canon Law where the definition may be found. Your definitions and suggestions for this "Glossary" are welcome at

Canonical form of marriage The "form" of Roman Catholic marriage requires that the exchange of consent take place before a priest and two witnesses for validity.. 

Conjugal living  Living together as husband and wife and having sexual intercourse.

Consanguinity / Affinity Consanguinity refers to "blood" relationship (e.g. brother and sister, etc). Affinity refers to relationships brought about by valid marriage (e.g. brother and sister-in-law).  Canon law determines the degrees of consanguinity and affinity which invalidate a marriage. 

Convalidation is to convalidate a marriage which is invalid because of a diriment impediment, it is required that the impediment creases or is dispensed and that at least the party conscious of the impediment renews consent.

Covenant is the bond, contract, or "testament" between God and Israel in the Old Testament, and between God and the whole human community in the New Testament, established by the blood of Christ.

Diriment impediment renders a person unqualified to contract marriage validly. 1073.

Disparity of cult is marriage impediment of 1086 & 1129. Baptized Catholic marries an unbaptized person, requires a dispensation otherwise the marriage is invalid.

Divorce   is a legal separation of husband and wife, or the release by civil authority from any one or more of the bonds of matrimony between them.

Invalid marriage is a marriage tried or attempted by those who lawfully or mentally can not give full consent and enter freely into marriage. One or more of the parties has a diriment impediment.

Legitimate children are children conceived or born of a valid or putative marriage.

Illegitimate children are children born before 180 days after a wedding or after 300 days from the dissolution are illegitimate.

Legitimated children are illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent valid or putative marriage of their parents or by a rescript of the Holy see 1139.

Ligamen is Latin for bond.  Ligamen (existence of the bond of previous valid marriage) invalidates an attempted second marriage. 

Marital Unity is an essential property of marriage, which in Christian marriage obtains a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Marital Indissolubility is an essential property of marriage, which in Christian marriage obtains a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.

Marriage is the sacrament by which a man and a woman are united for whole of life in a covenantal relationship modeled on the union of Christ and the Church.

Matrimonial Consent Matrimonial consent an act of the will by which a person freely gives themselves in marriage to another, exclusively and until death. 

Mixed marriage (Interfaith marriage) is a marriage between two baptized Christians, only one of whom is Roman Catholic.  (A mixed marriage requires the permission of the local ordinary for liceity.)

Occult impediment  An impediment which cannot be proven in the external forum.

Pauline privilege The principle which allows a convert to the Church to remarry if his or her unbaptized spouse does not also become a Christian.

To the married I give this command--not I but the Lord--that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say--I and not the Lord--that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-16 NRSV)

Privilege of the Faith possesses favor of the law in a doubtful matter concerning dissolution of marriage 1150.

Public impediment is an impediment which can be proven in the external forum.  otherwise it is occult. 1074-a public impediment can be dispensed in danger of death 1079.

Putative marriage A marriage in which at least one of the marriage partners believed the marriage to be valid even though it was later proven invalid. 

Radical Sanation 1161-Code The radical Sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal for consent, which is granted by ecclesial authority and entails the dispensation from an impediment, if there is one, and from canonical form, if it was not observed, and the retroactivity of canonical effects.

Ratum tantum / ratum et consumatum is a valid marriage between the baptized. Valid marriage between the baptized and not yet consummated. Valid marriage between parties who have performed between themselves the conjugal act in a human fashion which can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death.

Secret Marriage for a grave and urgent cause, the local ordinary can permit a marriage to be celebrated in secret. 1130. Investigations are done in secret as well as the ceremony and the couple agrees to keep the marriage a secret. If there is the possibility of grave scandal or harm to the holiness of marriage, the observance of the secret is not to be held by the ordinary and the couple is to be told.1132.

Separation is usually done when one spouse has committed an act that disrupts conjugal living. An innocent spouse has the right to sever conjugal relations but should be encouraged to forgive out of Christian charity.

Simple convalidation is to convalidate a marriage which is invalid because of a diriment impediment, it is required that the impediment ceases or is dispensed and that at least the party conscious of the impediment renews consent.

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/08/10 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at