Difference Between Marriage of Infertile and Elderly


#1

I am hoping someone can explain why it is not acceptable for a (knowingly) infertile couple to get married in The Church but it is acceptable for an elderly couple past the age of child-bearing to become married.

Thanks to anyone who can enlighten me on this issue.


#2

I think you are confused on the matter.

There is no difference, nor does the Church prohibit an infertile couple from marrying.

Canon 1084 §3. Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1098.


#3

I heard it on the radio and have been perplexed by it ever since. A young man called to say his girlfriend could never have children and he asked if they could get married and the gentleman replied “no”. And that was on a Catholic radio station.


#4

[quote="Springkeeper, post:3, topic:287207"]
I heard it on the radio and have been perplexed by it ever since. A young man called to say his girlfriend could never have children and he asked if they could get married and the gentleman replied "no". And that was on a Catholic radio station.

[/quote]

Well, I cannot speak to what you may or may not have heard on the radio. Perhaps you misunderstood what was said, or the person answering the question misunderstood the question, or the person simply gave an inaccurate reply. I can offer no explanation other than what Church teaching is.


#5

I heard a similar thing last week on Catholic Answers radio. A gentleman called & asked a hypothetical question: if two paraplegics wanted to get married, would the Church forbid it? The Sr. apologist, Jimmy Akin, said that is correct because there is no possible way that they could procreate children.

Yes, I admit that I'm totally paraphrasing because Mr. Akin did give a full blown explanation but I'm just repeating what I remember. I'm sure there's many knowledgeable ppl on this forum that will respond accordingly.

The caller, who was a non-Catholic, said that was sad but it wasn't part of his "handbook" so he didn't need to play by those rules but he felt bad for those that did.

I'm grateful to God that I wasn't played that hand in life....

Peace be with you.


#6

[quote="journey00, post:5, topic:287207"]
if two paraplegics wanted to get married, would the Church forbid it?

[/quote]

This is an entirely different question. This is a question of impotence, not infertility. Whether or not they can marry depends upon their ability to have intercourse, not their ability to have children. There can be no blanket answer to this question because paraplegics are not all the same. Some can have intercourse, some cannot. The prenuptial investigation would have to rule out permanent impotence.


#7

[quote="Springkeeper, post:1, topic:287207"]
I am hoping someone can explain why it is not acceptable for a (knowingly) infertile couple to get married in The Church but it is acceptable for an elderly couple past the age of child-bearing to become married.

Thanks to anyone who can enlighten me on this issue.

[/quote]

The prohibition is not against an infertile couple marrying since we know through Scripture that apparently infertile people do conceive occasionally (Abraham & Sarah - parents if Isaac, Hannah - Samuel's mother and Zechariah and Elizabeth - parents of St. John the Baptist).

The prohibition is against permanently impotent persons. That is: people who cannot have intercourse. The reason for the prohibition is that such a couple are physically incapable of consummating their marriage. (this is not to be confused with a Josephite marriage where a couple are physically capable but choose not to)


#8

[quote="journey00, post:5, topic:287207"]
I heard a similar thing last week on Catholic Answers radio. A gentleman called & asked a hypothetical question: if two paraplegics wanted to get married, would the Church forbid it? The Sr. apologist, Jimmy Akin, said that is correct because there is no possible way that they could procreate children.

Yes, I admit that I'm totally paraphrasing because Mr. Akin did give a full blown explanation but I'm just repeating what I remember. I'm sure there's many knowledgeable ppl on this forum that will respond accordingly.

The caller, who was a non-Catholic, said that was sad but it wasn't part of his "handbook" so he didn't need to play by those rules but he felt bad for those that did.

I'm grateful to God that I wasn't played that hand in life....

Peace be with you.

[/quote]

The answer may be correct in that the couple cannot have sexual intercourse. It has nothing to do with the ability to conceive. If Jimmy said "they could not procreate children" then this is the wrong reason. They must be able to have intercourse, not get pregnant.


#9

[quote="1ke, post:4, topic:287207"]
Well, I cannot speak to what you may or may not have heard on the radio. Perhaps you misunderstood what was said, or the person answering the question misunderstood the question, or the person simply gave an inaccurate reply. I can offer no explanation other than what Church teaching is.

[/quote]

It must have been impotence (inability to perform the act) vice infertility (inablility to conceive) that was the issue.


#10

[quote="SonCatcher, post:7, topic:287207"]
The prohibition is not against an infertile couple marrying since we know through Scripture that apparently infertile people do conceive occasionally (Abraham & Sarah - parents if Isaac, Hannah - Samuel's mother and Zechariah and Elizabeth - parents of St. John the Baptist).

The prohibition is against permanently impotent persons. That is: people who cannot have intercourse. The reason for the prohibition is that such a couple are physically incapable of consummating their marriage. (this is not to be confused with a Josephite marriage where a couple are physically capable but choose not to)

[/quote]

I must have misunderstood the radio host (whom I believe was Fr. Pacwa). Your explanation makes sense.


#11

Yes, it must have been because of not being able to consumate the marriage, not because of infertility....like I said, I was completely paraphrasing Mr. Akin's answer and in retrospect I'm almost positive he did mention ability to consumate the marriage.

Very interesting! Thanks! :thumbsup:


closed #12

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