Statement on the Doctrine of the Church on Christian Marriage


The campaign for the legalization of divorce has been resumed with vigour through all the avenues of mass media, sowing confusion and disturbance in the minds and hearts of our people. In this state of affairs the People of God have the right to turn for light and comfort to those whom the Heavenly Father has set to teach, rule, and sanctify his flock. We are cognizant of this our sacred duty and mission to give unambiguous witness to the clear teaching of Christ on this matter and to express our sympathy and solicitude for the seemingly helpless plight in which many of God’s children find themselves.

The Bible plainly teaches that the first and fundamental form of human society is the marital society. So fundamental, indeed, that God did not leave it to human wisdom alone; because it is “a relationship which, by Divine Will and in the eyes of society too, is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their offspring, as well as of society, the existence of this sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone” (Vat. II – The Church in the Modern World, n. 48).

When God brought Eve to Adam, He commanded them: “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). In giving them to each other, He instituted such a close and intimate bond between them: “For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two became one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) The meaning of this expression was given by Our Blessed Lord in these clear terms: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” And when the Pharisees objected, “why then did Moses command to give a written notice of dismissal, and to put her away?”, Our Lord replied, “it was not so from the beginning.” And added immediately: “And I say to you, that whoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a woman that has been put away, commits adultery” (Mt. 19:6-9).

Thus, on the express interpretation of Our Lord of the account of Genesis, it is clear that marriage by its nature is a union of one man and one woman for life.

Furthermore, in the New Testament, Christ raised the natural institution of marriage into a Sacrament which signifies the great mystery of the permanent union of Christ and the Church (cf. Eph. 6:25-32), and through this Sacrament “the Savior of men and the Spouse of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians… [and] abides with them thereafter so that, just as He loved the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf, the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.” (Vat. II, The Church in the Modern World, n. 48).

Marriage therefore is regulated fundamentally by both natural and divine laws. Our Holy Father Paul VI says: “Marriage is not the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces; it is the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind His design of love… For baptized persons, moreover, marriage invests the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, inasmuch as it represents the union of Christ and of the Church” (Humanae Vitae, n. 8). To dissolve the marriage bond is beyond the competence of any human power.

This is the doctrine gathered by the Church from the Bible and uninterruptedly taught by her from the beginning up to the present. We will present it at greater length in a forthcoming Pastoral Letter, in which we will also explore the pastoral solutions and remedies to the problems that afflict family life in our country today. We assure our people that it is with deepest sympathy, concern, and feeling that in this past meeting we have given serious thought to these problems and difficulties.

Those who are happily married, let them be an eloquent witness of the beauty and dignity of Christian married life. At the same time, let this Christian witness be a source of hope for those less fortunate, a living assurance of the efficaciousness of human cooperation with the sacramental grace effected within them at the foot of the altar by taking each other in mutual love as Christ and His Church. Christ was conscious of the weakness and frailty of human love, of the many trials that threaten to quench the fire of charity in married life. Precisely for this reason He willed to invest matrimony with the dignity of a sacrament of grace, so that human “married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and enriched by Christ’s redeeming power and the saving activity of the Church.” (The Church in the Modern World, n. 48).

We invite our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, both the married and unmarried, the young and the old, the healthy and the sick, to exercise this saving activity of the Church, by offering the trials and hardships we all have to endure in our respective states of life for the relief and redemption of the ills that afflict family life everywhere.

We ask our people to pray that the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with understanding, gentleness, and love in the discharge of our pastoral concern.


For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:



Archbishop of Cebu


Baguio City

January 30, 1976



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Statement on the Doctrine of the Church on Christian Marriage