The previous status of marriage Because of the weight that was given to marriage from the cultural, legal, and religious perspective, it is correct to argue that Marriage still held a special status in the early centuries. In this regard Thomas, stated that “marriage has always held a special status within the community since it is perceived as the source of generations or rather population, and hence it is a key root of the community. ”6 Hensley on his part stated that marriage has always held a special status since it is considered the basic foundation of a strong family unit and therefore, an equal strong foundation for a desirable society7.
The processes and formalities Richards stated that the decision so sanctify marriaged was obtained from the ancient Judaic notion that “sex needs to be confined within marriage” and hence, the enactment of religious rules that sex before marriage is a sin. 8 Later on, Catholicism ritualised marriage and converted it into a sacrament. Once a sacramental marriage is consumated, it is absolutely indissoluble but under certain circumstances dissolutions may be granted upon application by the parties.
This is because the Church has now authority over sacramental marrriages and it institutes diriment impediments to them, and also grants dispensations. Confirmation of the doctrine that marriage under the new law really confers grace and it is therefore encompassed among the true sacraments. The following elements belong to a sacrament of law on sacramental marriage: it needs to be a sacred religious rite, the rite needs to be a symbol of interior sanctification, it must also deliberate this interior sanctification, and lastly, this divine grace effect need to be produced in conjunction with respective religious act9.
Initially, much of the laws for Church usage were in the Canon Law. Currently, marriage has been incorporated into public law and has become part of the Western legal codes. In the European legal systems, marriage has mostly been a matter of public family law and not the law of individual contracts10. The Family law now dictates who to marry and stipulates the minimum ages for marriage. Besides, it also governs custody of children, divorce and support relationship of the married couples11.
A valid Catholic sacramental marriage results from the following core elements: the spouses are free to marry, they freely exchange their consent, in consenting to marry, they need to have the intention to marry for life and be faithful to one another as well as being open to children, and lastly, their consent is given in the presence of an authorised Church minister and two witnesses.
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