As I understand it, the Catholic Church teaches that there are 3 purposes to a marriage: (According to http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5822)

  1. Procreation and education of children
  2. Mutual help and support of the spouses
  3. The remedy for concupiscence (lust)

According to this doctrine, would it be considered a flawed marriage if one spouse was infertile and therefore unable to procreate or educate natural children? Or if one spouse was physically unable to make love?

  • It appears that this is a question for the Catholic Church to answer and not a secular web site. May I suggest that you talk with your parish Priest about this if it is something which can effect your marriage. We do not trust ourselves to give Pastoral advice, and your Parish Priest will be more than glad to advise you in this matter. – BYE Apr 19 '14 at 23:52
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    @Bye While this may have a personal pastoral dimension, even a secular site can quote canon law. – Andrew Leach Apr 20 '14 at 9:44
  • @AndrewLeach Of course you are correct, my point was that even though laymen may know and even understand the Canon, if this is something with marital consequence it needs personal attention. No two people will agree on how each should react to the situation. For instance I am aware that the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce only a Church annulment, so that need be taken into account in any such decision. – BYE Apr 20 '14 at 13:29
  • @AndrewLeach Happy Easter. – BYE Apr 20 '14 at 13:32
  • I am not actually Catholic. Is there a Catholic doctrine that teaches on this or would it be up to the priest's interpretation? – user2956947 Apr 20 '14 at 18:55

Roman Catholic Canon Law explicitly covers this.

1084 §1. Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature.

§2. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether by a doubt about the law or a doubt about a fact, a marriage must not be impeded nor, while the doubt remains, declared null.

§3. Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1098.

1098 A person contracts invalidly who enters into a marriage deceived by malice, perpetrated to obtain consent, concerning some quality of the other partner which by its very nature can gravely disturb the partnership of conjugal life.

Thus sterility does not invalidate a marriage, although impotence does. If one partner deceives the other into believing that children are possible when they are not, the marriage is invalid on the grounds of the deception, not the sterility.

Canon 1084 | Canon 1098

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  • So impotence is grounds for nullification even if both spouses were aware of it before the marriage? – user2956947 Apr 20 '14 at 18:58
  • It sounds to me like the final sentence is saying only when there is deception to get the other person locked in can there be a nullification. But I'm no canon-lawyer. I'm not even Catholic. – david brainerd Apr 20 '14 at 20:01
  • I agree, but then the 1084-1 reference says that impotence nullifies marriage by its very nature – user2956947 Apr 20 '14 at 20:12
  • To answer the first question: yes. 1084.1 is quite explicit. I can't remember what "absolute"/"relative" mean, but it appears not to matter. Note that the marriage is only canonically nullable: it is grounds for an annulment on civil divorce. It doesn't mean that the state's recognition of the putative marriage is incorrect. – Andrew Leach Apr 20 '14 at 22:43
  • I've found a full treatment of this question in a blog by a real canon lawyer. – Andrew Leach Apr 24 '14 at 17:58

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