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
Today’s Sunday Pope Quote is another oldie-but-goodie. It comes from Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, well known as the first modern “social encyclical.” Perhaps lesser known is the fact that Pope Leo spoke in this encyclical of marriage as a “right” not able to be tampered with by the State, and as playing a key role vis a vis the State. His latter point is picked up at length in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which spills much ink discussing “the family, the first natural society” (see nos. 209ff, esp. 216).
Pope Leo XIII: “In choosing a state of life, it is indisputable that all are at full liberty to follow the counsel of Jesus Christ as to observing virginity, or to bind themselves by the marriage tie. No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: ‘Increase and multiply.’ [Gen 1:28] Hence we have the family, the ‘society’ of a man’s house – a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any State. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.”
- Rerum Novarum, no. 12 (emphasis added)
Today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from the Encyclical Arcanum Divinae (On Catholic Marriage) by Pope Leo XIII, published in February of 1880.
Pope Leo XIII: If, then, we consider the end of the divine institution of marriage, we shall see very clearly that God intended it to be a most fruitful source of individual benefit and of public welfare, Not only, in strict truth, was marriage instituted for the propagation of the human race, but also that the lives of husbands and wives might be made better and happier. This comes about in many ways: by their lightening each other’s burdens through mutual help; by constant and faithful love; by having all their possessions in common; and by the heavenly grace which flows from the sacrament. Marriage also can do much for the good of families, for, so long as it is conformable to nature and in accordance with the counsels of God, it has power to strengthen union of heart in the parents; to secure the holy education of children; to temper the authority of the father by the example of the divine authority; to render children obedient to their parents and servants obedient to their masters. From such marriages as these the State may rightly expect a race of citizens animated by a good spirit and filled with reverence and love for God, recognizing it their duty to obey those who rule justly and lawfully, to love all, and to injure no one.
- Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum Divinae, no. 26 (emphasis added).
Today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from the Encyclical Arcanum Divinae (On Catholic Marriage) promulgated by Pope Leo XIII in February of 1880.
“Our wish is rather to speak about that family union of which marriage is the beginning and the foundation. […] God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties – deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it-namely, unity and perpetuity. From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God bath joined together, let no man put asunder.’”(Matt 19:5-6)
- Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum Divinae, no. 5.