Development of Primary and Secondary Ends of Marriage into The Good of the Spouses Who, as Self Gift, are Constitutively Open to Procreation
Marriage, Annulment, and the Quest for Lasting Commitment
Msgr. Cormac Burke (The Catholic World Report, January 1966, 54-61
Anonymous writings do not appeal to me, since I feel that each one should have the
courage of his convictions. So while Polonaise involves me in his animadversions, I
would probably have let that pass. But since he also misrepresents the teaching of the
magisterium (partly by ignoring it), I think your readers are entitled to some comments
which hopefully can clarify some important points.
A preliminary remark however seems called for. Polonaise chose to write his article
anonymously "in order to avoid giving offense to parishioners who have, in good
conscience, sought and received annulments." Is he implying that all those who have
had their marriages declared null should
be in good conscience? Or that
declarations of nullity are a bad thing in themselves? As an ecclesiastical judge, I cannot
accept this, among other reasons because many of the declarations of annulment I have
had to review at the
Rotahave seemed to me perfectly just and rightly given. It may
well be that we have more declarations of nullity than are justified, or too many
nullities declared just on one particular grounds (consensual incapacity); but these are
questions which could only be answered by examining each case on an individual
Polonaise seems to limit his concern to one point: there are too many declarations of
nullity, and the number must be reduced. To my mind, he is missing the real
underlying problem, which is not the number of declarations of nullity but the number
of failed marriages. Not all failed marriages are entitled to be declared null; but it is
fairly evident that if we can reduce the number of marital failures, we are going to have
less petitions for nullity. I wish Polonaise had sought to investigate the roots of these
failures, instead of putting the blame for the problem he sees on the new Code of
Canon law. For this is in effect what he does.
In the last analysis, he says, "There is a problem with the law itself, a problem with the
new Code." And he pinpoints this problem: it "has to do with the definition of marriage
and the object of consent in the new Code." It is peculiar that, having echoed the Pope's
plea for a sound anthropology in our approach to marriage, he chooses to criticize in
particular the two canons which, to my mind, best reflect the Christian anthropology
and personalism characterizing the teaching on marriage of the present Pope as well as
that of Vatican II: a teaching which, if properly understood and properly applied in
pastoral and canonical work, can powerfully facilitate the renewal of married life. If it
is not properly understood (as I think Polonaise has not understood it), or properly
applied (as perhaps happens in some pastoral areas), then certainly the results can be
Polonaise seems clearly convinced that the explosion of annulments is mainly the
result of the abandoning of the concept of the hierarchy of the ends of marriage; that is,
the teaching embodied in 1013 of the Code of Canon Law of 1917, that marriage has a
"primary" end (procreation and education of offspring) and two "secondary" ends
(mutual aid and the remedy of concupiscence). "The denial of this hierarchy of ends
opens the door to the flood of annulments we see today." I happen not to agree with
this view, but do not question Polonaise's right to hold or present it. What I do question
denial that there has been a change (or a , as I hold) in the
Church's teaching on the ends of marriage.
Here he involves me rather heavily. I would not be bothered at this, except that I feel
he is utterly misleading your readers about the true position of current magisterium on
the point. Polonaise correctly interprets me when he states, "There is little doubt that
Cormac Burke now accepts that the Church today defines marriage with two equal and
interrelated primary ends." This is true. However, if he had quoted one passage from
my article in the March 1995 issue of the
, I think he
would have reflected more justly not only my opinion, but also why I hold it to be
grounded in the magisterium. I wrote:
For long in Catholic teaching a hierarchical presentation was made of the ends of
marriage, with procreation being the principal end. Vatican II, which twice emphasizes
that marriage is of its nature ordered to procreation, does not use the term "primary"
end. In two major documents of the post-conciliar magisterium a clear and integrated
view of the ends of marriage has been articulated. The
Church> declares that these ends are twofold: "the good spouses themselves, and the
transmission of life," which is identical to what was already stated in the 1983
Canon Law> .... Rather than any hierarchy between them, it is their mutualinterdependence and inseparability which are now emphasized.
As I said above, I consider the new emphasis here to be a
from theteaching of Pius XI and Pius XII. If Polonaise chooses to see a contradiction rather thana development, he should not mislead your readers by claiming that nothing hashappened in magisterial teaching at this point. In support of his claim, all he canadduce from the last 35 years is a single reference, made in parenthesis and in passing,in a Wednesday address of Pope John Paul II in 1984. He admits that Vatican II makesno mention of any hierarchy. He fails to mention that neither doesConsortio>. He apparently either does not regard the 1983 Code of Canon Law as amagisterial document (John Paul II refers to it as "the last document of the Council"), orattaches no importance to its clear statement of two ends standing equally together:marriage "is by it nature ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation andeducation of offspring" (1055). But where he most misleads readers who wish toachieve an objective view of this question is by his total omission of any reference to thenew<>, silencing completely the passages which I quote in thePastoral Review>.
When Polonaise writes: "However, there is no need for anyone to defend theorthodoxy of the [new] Code," one gets the feeling he is perhaps trying to calm his ownmisgivings. I trust he does not so doubt the orthodoxy of the new
as notto quote it.
THE "GOOD OF THE SPOUSES"
Polonaise evidently dislikes the expression
, or "good of thespouses," and suggests that if it has any meaning, it can only be found within thenotion of the hierarchy of the ends, and that of the " ." Having failed tounderstand the meaning of the term " "--having in fact got itsmeaning wrong--he of course cannot see its richness or the importance of the horizonsfor renewal that it opens up.
That this failure of understanding here is radical becomes apparent when he objectsthat "it is simply not very easy to identify this good of marriage with an end ofmarriage." Here he is indeed creating his own difficulty. Of course it is not easy (in factit is impossible), to make this identification, for the simple reason that theconiugum> is not a
, in the proper sense in which this term isused in Canon Law.
Technical as the point may be, it is nevertheless an elementary error (and inexcusable ifone wishes to write seriously on this subject) to treat
"good of the spouses" as if itwere in the line of the traditional three formulated by . As the St. Augustinewell known Italian canonist, F. Bersini, writes, "the has nothing todo with the Augustinian <'bona>.'"
In the Augustinian view, the three traditional bona are "goods" or values of marriagewhich particularly show its dignity and goodness. They are the
(thefaithful exclusiveness of the martial commitment), the (itspermanence) and the (its procreative orientation). The Augustinian refer to positive and essential features of matrimony that give it dignity.Marriage is good because it is characterized by faithfulness, permanence, and opennessto having children. Each is predicated or or attributed tomariage. Offspring is a and so is exclusiveness or permanence. Itis evident, then, that Augustine is speaking of the values or essential properties ofmarriage, not of its ends or finalities. The term does not express avalue or property of marriage in any sense parallel to that of the Augustinian "goods."The of this new term is not predicated of, or attributed to, marriage; it isreferred not to marriage (as if it were a value that makes marriage good), but to the (as involving something that is good for them). It denotes not a property ofmarriage (a ), but something--the "good" or welfare or maturingof the spouses--which marriage should cause or lead to. This confirms that theconiugum> is in the line not of property, but of finality or end.
Confused ideas generate confused ideas. I do hold, as Polonaise asserts, that theChurch presents marriage today as having "two equal and interrelated ends." It is he,however, not I, who creates further confusion for himself when he goes on to assert (inorder to criticize my position) that these two ends "are the two goods mentioned in thedefinition of marriage in the new Code... the
, the good of thecouple, and the , the good of offspring." But canon1055 does not saythat the is an end of marriage; rather it says this of theprocreation/education of children.
The distinction between
and "procreation" may again seem over-technical or abstruse, but I can assure your readers that it is of no small importance. The (or "openness to procreation") is an essential feature of the maritalrelationship; no true marriage can be constituted if it is absent. Procreation is an of marriage; a marriage can be valid even if that end is not achieved. The reason isclear. It lies within a person's power to share his procreative potential with another; andto be prepared to do so is necessary for valid marital consent. There is therefore aad bonum prolis>, a right that the other accepts the "procreativity" of the conjugalrelationship; to exclude the from one's marital consent invalidates it.However, there is no right to actual procreation--for that does not lie totally under aperson's will, it depends ultimately on God.
It is true that some canonists have used the term
as equivalent toprocreation. This has always been incorrect (confusing a property with an end); it hasbecome especially important today to avoid such incorrection. There is just one stepfrom saying, correctly, that there is an -- a right to openness tooffspring--to incorrectly positing a ius ad prolem, a right to actually a child.Questions related to fertilization, for example, are seen by many people interms of such a "right." The new (2378) grasps the issue very firmly: "Achild is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The 'supreme gift of marriage' is ahuman person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which analleged 'right to a child' would lead." There is a right that one's partner in the marriedcovenant does not exclude what God may give; but each child in the end is a gift ofGod.
Since it is probably of little interest here to go further into these important thoughsubtle distinctions, I would refer any reader wishing for a more developed exposition,to a canonical article of mine, "The
and the ; Endsor Properties of Marriage?" in of 1989.
Polonaise takes Canon 1057 of the new Code to task, with its new description of the"object of matrimonial consent." He says that the object of the act of consent and the
"are now legal concepts about as broad as one can imagine, andthis is the key to understanding the explosion of annulments." If he feels so, why doeshe not try to give concrete juridic content to these concepts, instead of dismissing themas aberrations? It may be that in certain tribunals, as he suggests, "theconiugum> and the mutual gift of self that constitutes the object of consent are definedas including the right to a happy marriage, to a partner with a mature personality andto whatever else pertains to this dimension of conjugal communion." If so, then thesetribunals have not formed a correct idea of the meaning of these terms; but I do not feelthat Polonaise's criticism will help them to see their actual positive content, andtherefore also their proper application for juridic purposes (which is the reason for theirinclusion in the Code).
Here, it could be noted, Polonaise tends to confuse three distinct concepts: the "good ofthe spouses," the "self-giving and accepting" of marital consent, and the "communion oflife and love." The first two of these terms have been fully incorporated into the newCode. The third--the
--has not. It remains a very beautifulphrase from , with great pastoral value, but without juridicstanding. So while married personalism certainly did find its way into the new Code, itdid so not in the phrase, , but most notably (along with the ) in the expression, , by whichcanon 1057 describes marital consent.
Polonaise seems to regret the new Code, and to be particularly suspicious of theconcepts of "good of the spouse" and of "self-giving/accepting" as the object of conjugalconsent. I think we have an excellent Code (so long as it is understood and observed),and find in these two phrases keys to a deeper and more human understanding of themarital covenant which should have the effect of strengthening people's approach tomarriage and their way of living it. I have written on several aspects of this elsewhere,and will limit myself to some brief ideas here. I would like to do so in the context ofthat other problem which seems to me more important than the question ofannulments; the growing number of failed marriages.
SKEPTICISM ABOUT BINDING COMMITMENTS?
Some significant factors underlying this critical phenomenon can be suggested. Onethat seems peculiar to our times is the growing rift between men and women. Therelationship between the sexes is marked more and more by suspicion and tension,division, and even antagonism. The idea that man and woman are somehow made foreach other, and made for that particular type of union called marriage--an idea that hascome down the centuries--is under threat. Unions still occur or are attempted--in somemarital or quasi-marital form--but they tend not to last.
People, at least in Western countries, have become deeply skeptical about a permanenthusband-wife relationship. They are no longer convinced that it is worth making andcan be stuck to. This loss of faith in marriage, with the fundamental pessimism itdenotes about the possibilities of finding a happy and lasting love in life, implies amajor crisis for humanity.
Catholics too, in ever larger numbers, are coming to think that marriage-open-to-divorce is better than marriage-bound-to-indissolubility. In theological terms, thiscould be seen as a temptation against faith, since indissolubility is a defined dogma. Assuch, it is no small temptation. Yet its possible occurrence should come as less of asurprise when we recall the reaction provoked by Jesus when he insisted that accordingto the original divine plan, the marriage bond is unbreakable. If things are so--his veryApostles felt--then it is better not to marry (Mt 19,10). But of course they were wrong.Things are so; and it is still good--a great good--to marry.
Current misgivings about the value of indissolubility have no less seriousanthropological implications, reflected in the idea that faithfulness to a lastingcommitment, however, freely undertaken, is not reasonably to be expected; it issomething beyond human nature and people are not capable of it. As this viewspreads, it creates a mindset hostile to any type of permanent commitment: thepriesthood and religious life included, as well as marriage. This is another major andgrowing crisis of our days.
The idea that indissolubility is a bad thing--for which there must be a way out--haseffects on both people and pastors. Those contemplating marriage approach it lessseriously; and when they do marry, strive less to keep their marriage going, as it lateron becomes subject to stress. For their part, pastors and counselors may in pre-marriageinstruction tend to prepare couples less for the difficulties they are going to meet, andmay not be sufficiently positive and supportive with couples who are going throughthe actual experience of difficulty. We are going way off track when the 'solution' beingoffered for difficult marital situations is not, "try to make a go of it, pray, rely on grace,"but more and more: "seek a way out, a 'good faith' solution, an annulment..." Thingswill continue to deteriorate unless we can achieve a re-evaluation of the commitment ofmarriage, which brings out especially the goodness and appeal of the permanent natureof the conjugal covenant.
CHRISTIAN ANTHROPOLOGY AND MARRIED PERSONALISM
Vatican II sought to offer a renewed vision of marriage, of marital love andcommitment. How is it that this renewed vision seems so infrequently to have beentranslated into practice? A main reason, I feel, is that much post-conciliar reflection onmarriage has not always grasped the Christian anthropology which is a key to conciliarthinking about human realities, especially as applied to the marital covenant. The resultis that the understanding and presentation of marriage has been largely, though nodoubt unconsciously, colored by the secular anthropology dominant in today's world,with its individualistic view of the human person, seeing the key to fulfillment in self:self-identification, self-assertion, self-concern.
The current crisis about indissolubility--the tendency to look on it as an "anti-value"--finds much of its explanation in this individualism, which is present outside and insidethe Church. Individualism fosters a fundamentally self-centered approach to marriage,seeking to get from it rather than being prepared to give in it: will this--this union, thisliaison, this arrangement--make me happy? Then marriage becomes at best a tentativeagreement between two individuals, each inspired by self-interest, rather than a sharedendeavor of a couple who together want to build a home for themselves and for theirchildren. With that approach no marriage is likely to last.
Contrasted with this individualistic view, we have the distinctive anthropology ofVatican II which includes the Christian personalism mentioned earlier. Developed ingreat power by Pope John Paul II, it is fundamental to a deeper human understandingof Christian life and of marriage in particular.
The essence of true personalism is expressed in
(24): "Man canfully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself." We can only realize orfulfill our self, by giving our self. Here is a Gospel program of life in direct contrastwith the prescription for living so commonly offered by contemporary psychology:seek self, find self, identify self, care for self, hold on to yourself, don't let go ofyourself.
While Polonaise may not like canon 1057 of the new Code, it does nevertheless seek tofind a valid juridic way of expressing this Christian personalism as it applies tomarriage. The Canon describes matrimonial consent as the act by which the spouses"mutually give and accept each other in order to establish a marriage." The very objectof conjugal consent is thus presented in terms of mutual self-donation--in most strikingcontrast with the
phrase with which the 1917 Code expressed the sameobject. The man gives self as man and husband, the woman as woman and wife; andeach receives the other as spouse. There is a scope and power in this new formula; thereis also a challenge to generosity, which seeks not just to receive but especially to give.As Paul VI puts it in one of the less remembered passages of (9):"Whoever really loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but forthe partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself." It ispossible that the beauty and the demands of what is expressed in all of this have yet tobe fully appreciated in areas of seminary training and marriage counselling, andperhaps also in some tribunal work on marriage cases (including psychologicalassessments).
Married personalism equally characterizes canon 1055 when it speaks of the ends ofmarriage. Both ends expressed--good of the spouses and procreation--are personalist;just as both are institutional. This latter point should be stressed, for (contrary to someideas circulating) the
is not presented as a personalist end, incontrast with the institutional end--which would be procreation. The good of thespouses is equally an institutional end, just as much as procreation. This is evident fromthe dual account given by Genesis of the creation of man and woman. The first account--"God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male andfemale he created them... and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply'" (Gen 1:27-28)--isclearly procreational. The second--"then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the manshould be alone: I will make him a helper fit for him'" (Gen 2:18)--is clearly personalist.Therefore, while the two ends can be distinguished, they should not be over-contrasted,for both are institutional ends. That is why I hold that, more than any possiblehierarchy between them, it is their inseparability which needs to be understood andstressed.
To me, perhaps the major need and challenge today is to see and presentindissolubility as an element that, corresponding to the nature of genuine human love,makes (if its demands are lived up to) for the good of the spouses and for theirhappiness and fulfillment as persons.
INDISSOLUBILITY AND THE 'GOOD OF THE SPOUSES'
God could have created the human race in a unisex or sexless pattern, and providedfor its continuation otherwise than by sex. Genesis seems to make it clear that creationwould have been less good if he had done so; "it is not good for man--or woman--to bealone." So sexuality appears in the Bible as part of a plan for personal fulfillment, afactor meant to contribute to the perfecting of the human being. The basicanthropological point is that the human persona is not self-sufficient, but needs others,with a special need for an "other," a partner, a spouse.
Each human person, in the awareness of his contingency, wishes to be loved: to be insome way unique for someone. Each one, if he does not find anyone to love him, ishaunted by the temptation to feel worthless. Further, it is not enough to be loved; it isnecessary to love. A person who is loved can be unhappy if he is unable to love.Everyone is loved (at least by God); not everyone learns to love. To learn to love is asgreat a human need as to know oneself loved; only so can a person be saved from self-pity or self-isolation, or from both.
To learn to love demands coming out of self: through firm dedication--in good timesand bad--to another, to others. What a person has to learn is not passing love, butcommitted love. We all stand in need of a commitment to love. Such is the priesthood,or a life dedicated directly to God. And such is marriage, the dedication to which Godcalls the majority. To bind people to the process of learning to love was God's originaldesign for marriage, confirmed by Our Lord (Mt 19:8). The married commitment is bynature something demanding. This is brought out by the words with which the spousesexpress their mutual acceptance of one another, "for better or for worse, for richer or forpoorer, in sickness and in health... all the days of my life."
Therefore, one can and should find a natural and vital connection between the twoideas--"good of the spouses" and marital "giving/accepting," although certainly not inthe way Polonaise connects them. Marital consent means not just to "give" oneself, butalso to accept one's partner--with his limitations. This is not easy, least of all for alifetime, but if tackled with the help of grace it can be achieved. And such a mutual anddemanding commitment powerfully matures the spouses--from which develops thegood implied in the
. This is where Polonaise (and perhaps manyothers) seem to pay insufficient attention to the precise wording of the canon indescribing the scope of marital consent: " "-"thespouses give and accept each other." The giving of self proper to marriage iscomplemented by the acceptance of the self of the other.
Each one gives as he is, defects and all; and has the conjugal right to be accepted so.Just as the commitment of each involves the conjugal duty to accept the other as he orshe is, defects and all. The gift of a defective self has its noble marital complement andcorrespondence in the acceptance of a defective other.
Human love, made faithful with God's grace, can turn the meeting and union of twoimperfect selves to great good for both. It is in learning to love each other in theirimperfection, that they can achieve perfection. No other realistic way of learning to loveis open.
SEXUAL INSTINCT: CONJUGAL INSTINCT
While this commitment is indeed demanding, it is also deeply natural and attractive.Real love means it when it says, "I'll love you for always." Proper anthropology shouldplace clearer stress here on the fact that human beings, in distinction to animals, arecreated not just with a sexual instinct, but with a conjugal instinct--that is super-addedon the human level to the mere sexual instinct. Animals seek a mate. Man and woman,if they understand their own nature, seek a spouse.
The sexual instinct is natural, developing by itself and quick to make itself present.More than development, it needs control; it is often more intense toward one person,but not normally limited to one. The conjugal instinct is also natural, though slower tomake itself present; it needs to be developed; it scarcely needs to be controlled; it isgenerally limited to one person.
The conjugal instinct draws man and woman to total commitment to one person, to apermanent association or covenant of love, and to be faithful to that freely assumedcommitment. The widespread frustration in the area of sex which people sense today, isa frustration of conjugality rather than of mere sexuality. As the conjugal instinct isunderstood, developed and matured, it tends strongly to facilitate sexual control, byinducing sexual respect. It is normal for a young couple in love to have an ideal ofmarriage before them: each sees the other as possible life-companion, and mother orfather of one's future children: someone therefore who can be absolutely unique inone's life. These are primary truths of conjugal sexuality which our modern worldseems to be losing sight of; hence the gradual loss of mutual esteem between the sexes.While this applies reciprocally in the sexual relationship, it has a particular applicationin how a man relates to a
. If nothing so much as motherhood or potential omanmotherhood makes a man respect a woman, this is because it raises her above thecategory of an object to be possessed and establishes her in that of a subject to berevered.
MARITAL LOVE AND MARITAL DEFECTS
It is easy to love good people. The program of Christianity is that we also learn to love"bad" people--people with defects. Within the context of marriage, its particularprogram is that whoever freely enters the marital covenant of love and life withanother--no doubt because he or she sees unique goodness in that person--should beprepared to remain faithful to the covenant, even if later on objective or subjectiveconsiderations make the other seem to have lost any exceptional goodness and to becharacterized rather by a series of maddening defects. That is, I repeat, what lend aparticular force to canon 1057, with its insistence that true marital consent means notonly giving self, but also accepting the other: as each one is.
The discovery of mutual defects in marriage is inevitable; however, it is notincompatible with the fulfillment of the good of the spouses. On the contrary, one cansay that the experience of mutual defects is essential if married life itself is to achievethe true divine idea of the
. As effortless romance fades, the stage isset for each of the spouses to get down to the business of learning to love the other as heor she really is. It is then that they grow as persons. Here lies the seriousness andbeauty of the challenge contained in marriage: this remains a central point to bestressed in education and counselling.
Romance is almost sure to die; love however does not have to die with it. Love ismeant to mature, and can do so if that readiness for sacrifice implied in the originalself-giving of marital consent is alive or can be activated. "The idea that true love isprepared for sacrifice strikes a chord which perhaps our catechesis, counselling andpreaching need to touch on more. As Pope John Paul II stated in a 1982 generalaudience: "It is natural for the human heart to accept demands, even difficult ones, inthe name of love for an ideal, and above all in the name of love for a person." And
(34) says: "sacrifice cannot be removed from family life, butmust in fact be wholeheartedly accepted if the love between husband and wife is to bedeepened and become a source of intimate joy."
Human nature is a mixture and conflict of good and bad tendencies. Are educators,pastors, counselors, appealing sufficiently to the good tendencies? Or do we yield attimes to the temptation to think that the bad are more powerful? We need to strengthenour faith not only in God, but also in the goodness of his creation, recalling what St.Thomas Aquinas teaches, "
." Good is morepowerful than evil, and its appeal strikes deeper into our nature, for goodness rooted intruth remains the most fundamental need of the human person.
Contrary tendencies can be natural. In the face of danger it is natural to feel tempted tobe a coward and run away. But it also natural to want to be brave and face the danger.A mother or father may have a natural tendency towards selfishness; yet they have a noless natural tendency to care for their children: a maternal or paternal instinct.Similarly, while it is natural for stains to develop between husband and wife, it is alsonatural for them to want to preserve their love from the threat of these strains. What wehave called the conjugal instinct calls them to be faithful; whereas a person sensessomething soft, mean and selfish, in a refusal to face up to the challenge of fidelity.
As against this, there would seem to be little that is natural, and nothing that isinevitable, in the phenomenon that two people who at one moment thought each otherabsolutely unique, should end up five or ten years later unable to stand one another."My love for him has died..." If such were to happen, it would have been a gradualdeath and one that could often have been prevented by good counsel from relatives,friends, pastors.
It is easy to make the marital commitment. It is not easy to maintain it, to perfect it, soreaching, as
says, "that maturity in self-giving to which humanfreedom is called." Along with prayer and the sacraments, people need to be remindedof a main key to success in conjugal love (the love, I repeat, that binds together twodefective persons); learning to forgive and asking for forgiveness. Each time husbandand wife acknowledges his defects to the other, hebecomes more human, and thereforemore lovable. The husband and wife who denies his defects or seeks to justify them,becomes more proud, more isolated; less loving and less lovable.
Not only the spouses themselves, but their relatives and friends need to be taught tounderstand and respect the demanding beauty of the conjugal relationship, in the life-long task of learning to love. People need support: from relations and friends first; andthen from pastors and counsellors. There is need for a constant catechesis which showsa new appreciation of the commitment involved in marriage, especially of the goodnessof the bond; so that the very beginnings of trouble are met with positive help andadvice, not with encouragement to seek an annulment (which may not be granted inthe end). Friends and neighbors need all to be reminded of their grave responsibility tobe a help and not a hindrance to the perseverance of married persons.
In conclusion then, and to return to Polonaise, the real problem, as he sees it, is thatsome irresponsible people (including myself) are suggesting that the Church has in factabandoned the older teaching of "primary/secondary" ends n favor of two equallyranked ends, and are making the matter worse with meaningless personalistphraseology.
For me, the real problem is that we have lost sight of the full value and purpose ofmarriage, which is not only the begetting of children, but also (in very close connection)the growth and maturing of the spouses--their good--in mutual and faithful self-giving,and in shared parental dedication to their children.
For me too, the Christian personalism--also and very particularly as incorporated intoCanon Law on marriage--is far from meaningless, and also far from "lax." It does notopen the doors to a flood of annulments, as Polonaise claims (although it certainlyseeks to cover all the cases in which in justice a nullity should be declared), but it doespresent a much more appealing, though no less exacting, idea of the covenant ofmarriage.
At the heart of this problem is a growing loss of faith in love, and in the possibility ofany permanent commitment to the task of loving. A loss of faith in love, threatening notonly couples, but also at times counselors and pastors. I doubt, however, that peoplecan disbelieve in love for long; or that it is so hard to restore that belief, where it hasbeen lost. Nevertheless that must still be classified as a theoretical consideration. Andwhen facing a problem of these dimensions, theoretical analyses of it or theoreticalanswers to it, are not enough. It will only be solved by those who, supported by God'sfaithful love, learn to love faithfully. Their practical example can restore belief,emulation, and happiness in others.
Msgr. Cormac Burke is a judge of the Roman Rota, the highest appeals court within theCatholic Church. Raised in
, and trained in both civil and canon law, he has Irelandtaught in schools in Europe, North America, and Africa. A prolific author, he is the1995 recipient of the Linacre Award of the National Federation of Catholic Physicians.
 Can. 1055 §1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.