Today’s Sunday Pope Quote from a letter Pope Leo XIII sent to the bishops of Peru in 1898. In the letter, Pope Leo reminds the bishops that no human law can change the meaning of marriage, which is established by God. At the same time, civil law can regulate what are often called the “civil effects” of marriage: the rights and duties given to married couples in light of their role in society. The Pope also speaks eloquently of the many fruits of the sacrament of marriage.
Pope Leo XIII: We are concerned about the whole Christian flock, as Our apostolic duties require, for We have given frequent instruction concerning the sanctity of marriage. Jesus Christ, the author of the new covenant, translated the duty of nature into sacraments, and this duty cannot be divorced from religion and immersed in worldly [affairs]. Preceded by sacred rite, it can bring about a more tranquil and happy life for the spouses, strengthen family harmony, raise children more correctly, and suitably provide for the welfare of its community. Indeed, We have treated this matter in greater detail in Our apostolic letter Arcanum divinae sapientiae consilium. In that letter We wanted to remind the faithful of the vigilant cares which the Church has shown for preserving the honor and sanctity of marriage, for the Church is the best guardian and avenger of mankind. We also reminded the civil authorities of what matters they could rightfully regulate. It is not necessary for Us to bring each of these examples to your attention. It is, however, relevant to mention again that the leaders of the state have authority in human affairs which led to marriage and generally concern civil matters. However, in the truly Christian marriage, they have no authority, for this matter should be left to the jurisdiction of the Church, which is not established by men.
-Quam religiosa, no. 4 (August 16, 1898), emphasis added