Binding and Loosing? looking for clarification


Hi all,

I would submit this verse.

Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


What do Catholics think this power to ‘bind’ and ‘loose’ are?




From the Cathecism of the Catholic Church
Reconciliation with the Church

1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.44

1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."45 "The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head."46

1445 The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

You may be interested in this as well.


I would only add an extension, about the EXCLUSIVENESS, of the specific passage above in the OP.

The Keys are given to Peter, ONLY!! he is the sole and singular person, being addressed!

This is where the Pontiff receives his Primacy.

My opinion also, is that whatever you bind… here is not exclusive to sins, but CAN INCLUDE any other matter the keeper of The Keys decides; including, abortion, divorce, priesthood gender, or what becomes DOGMA for The Church.

‘Part’ of the same authority was given to the Apostles, to forgive sins, but NOT the role of “The Keys.”

Of course, I could always be wrong…



Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom with the power to bind and loose. With this action, Jesus established the Church. The power to bind and loose is the authority to given to Peter as the Vicar of Christ to govern the Church.


Would the power of binding and loosing give the Church the power to loosen or dissolve a valid marriage?


A “valid” marriage? No. But it would give the authority to determine if the marriage was valid, and therefore annul an invalid one.


A valid sacramental marriage no. In the Pauline and Petrine Privileges, the Church has the power to dissolve a non-sacramental marriage [one where one or both parties were not baptized] if it will result in spiritual benefit to someone.


I have always found the verse to be one of the more difficult Scriptures. It seems there are a lot of opinions as to what those terms mean.

the links were very helpful
Just wanted to say thanks,



Look at the OT for some insight as to the meaning of holding the “keys of the kingdom.”

Isaiah 22:20-22
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.


You always have the Pauline and Petrine Previledges, so in certain cases, yes. In general, no. I doubt that any thinking person would accept that Peter and his successors were given the power to bind or to loose in frivolous situations or on a whim.


So the Church could never claim at a future date that the power of binding and loosing could be applied to sanction divorce?


Has the Church always taught that divorce was not permisssible? I think so. So no the Church could never sanction divorce. I don’t think invoking the Pauline or Petrine Previliges meets the common definition of divorce. They are very special cases and are rarely invoked.


So the Church could never claim at a future date that the power of binding and loosing could be applied to sanction divorce?

The Church never has ‘sanctioned’ divorce before. It doesn’t now. It never will.

Decrees of nullity are not ‘divorce.’ The Petrine and Pauline privileges are not ‘divorce’. The Church is very strict in determining (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit) what constitutes a ‘valid’ marriage. While the tribunals are not ‘infallible’ as individuals can lie and thus the data given to the tribunal would be ‘false’ from the start, that doesn’t mean that the tribunals themselves are at fault or that the teaching of the Church is faulty if a decision is rendered incorrectly due to human ‘error.’


what exactly does that mean to bind and to loose. what do they refer to?
i was never sure what that piece of scripture meant.


I don;t think it is true that the Church has never sanctioned divorce. I read somewhere that divorce was allowed in the Eastern Churches before the split of 1054, and Rome did not issue any declaration to stop it.


Idon;t think it is true that the Church has never sanctioned divorce. I read somewhere that divorce was allowed in the Eastern Churches before the split of 1054, and Rome did not issue any declaration to stop it.

You read this somewhere?

The burden of proof is on you then.

First, you must provide documentation that not only did the Eastern Churches allow divorce before the split, but also that “Rome”'s ‘not issuing a declaration to stop it’ was tantamount to ‘accepting it’. Hint: The two are not the same.

So --let’s see what you find!


I think that I read it on CAF and also please see the book:
A History of Divorce By S. B. Kitchin




Well, Bob, I’m in the middle of moving and don’t have the time to pick up that book from the library right now.

However. . .what you ‘read’ on CAF you need to show, in context (link to the thread or to wherever you saw it, please).

Furthermore, what you read in that book does not necessarily reflect the accuracy of what the Church teaches.

Now if you could show me in the Catechism, or in Canon Law, or in, say, some authoritative document from the Church that, again, not only were the “Eastern Churches” permitting divorce --and I mean by this not the Petrine or Pauline privilege or but divorce from what was known to be a valid marriage, AND that after this the parties were ‘free to remarry in the church’ --AND that “Rome” not only knew it but approved it, and actually sent documentation to the Eastern Churches confirming the practice. . .

But I do not think you will find anything of the kind.

Even today, while the Church does not ‘accept’ divorce in the sense that a person can divorce a spouse in a valid marriage and go on to remarry somebody else–the Church does understand that for the protection of a spouse and/or children, a civil divorce might not be gravely sinful in such case–BUT the spouse is to live ‘separate’ and not to consider himself/herself as ‘free to marry’.

That is the difference between ‘accepting divorce’ as something which is either morally neutral or even ‘good’, and accepting ‘remarriage’ as perfectly fine–which many of our separated brethren do, along with secular people. . .

and the Church’s position that divorce is a grave evil which only in very specific circumstances can be sought by an innocent party for their and their children’s protection from an abusive spouse, in which while the spouses live ‘separately’ they are still considered legally ‘married’ to each other and may not ‘remarry’ other people after the CIVIL divorce.

I hope I have made things clear?


thanks Deconi. that is what i was looking for!

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