Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English Spanish Portuguese


Most Eminent Father Angelo,

I would like to propose a possible interpretation of the formula pronounced during the Catholic marriage rite: “I, (bridegroom’s name), take you, (bride’s name), to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you in good and bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life”

From the text I note that sexual fidelity is not contemplated and that adultery is therefore not a reason to end the sacrament, since Catholic marriage is projected towards the purest love, that of Christ, what the Greeks would call agape and the Latins caritas. (…)

What prompts the average man/woman to consider adultery as one of the main damaging causes that ruins a marriage? Shouldn’t the betrayed spouse help the other morally weaker, rather than condemn him/her? And again, among all the sins that spouses commit during their life, why is sexual fidelity considered fundamental and not the fact that the other commandments are also broken? How many people steal or kill (not only their lives, but also the dignity of their neighbors, rights, etc., as your Eminence clearly stated in a conference), or how many souls omit the good of the spouse?

Demanding the exclusivity of the spouse’s body, but accepting that he/she does not sanctify his/her life, is it not like making two weights and two measures?

I thank you very devotedly for the time you might have lost in reading this and I would very much like to know the complete and right position of the Church on this subject.

On this occasion, I offer you my warmest wishes for your ministry.


­­­­­The priest answer

Dear Paola,

1. when the spouses say “I take you, (name), as my spouse” they express a very specific will: to give themselves entirely to each other, so that in one there is nothing that is not also the other.

This is why the Creator at the beginning said: and the two of them become one body.

2. All the rest follows from the richness of this consensus. From that moment, one has ceased to be one’s own, but has become the property of the other.

3. Here is the gravity of adultery: a spouse surrenders himself/herself to a third party while he/she is not allowed to do so as he/she no longer belongs solely to himself/herself.

4. It is a blatant betrayal, one of the sins that most hurts a person.

5. You reported the Catholic marriage formula. And you did well.

I would like to emphasize that the first sentence of this formula is the most important and essential.

The other words may also be missing. One may not even be able to move forward anymore. But if he/she has said “I take you, (Name), as my spouse from that moment he is already married.”

6. Sexual fidelity is not explicitly mentioned.

However, when two become spouses, they do not establish just any friendship, but a friendship that gives to each spouse the right on the body of the other. Jurists and theologians speak of “Ius in corpus”.

This right rests on the fact that they have given such a great gift of themselves that they have expropriated themselves to deliver themselves in good times and bad times to the bride/bridegroom, to the promised person.

7. Certainly, adultery is not a reason for breaking the sacrament or even the conjugal pact.

Even if the cohabitation is put to an end (and this can be lawful for serious reasons), the union of wills remains.

The two – after marital consent – did not have any leeway to be able to revoke the gift. And this is because they donated everything

8. I omit some further and appropriate considerations that you have made because this seems to me sufficient for our visitors.

However, I agree with you in saying that sexual fidelity is important, but there is not only sexual fidelity.

You mentioned others. You are right. You were right to highlight them.

Other infidelities also hurt and sometimes destroy a marriage.

I thank you, I wish you well, I entrust you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo