Church restrictions on dating and marriage
This should certainly be no surprise to anyone, because we are quite comfortable with the notion, founded in natural law, that such marriages are forbidden.(Natural law is, incidentally, the rationale behind the fact that these marriages are against the civil law as well.) While direct-line consanguinity is pretty easy to calculate, figuring other blood relationships can quickly become rather complex.
To make the picture even more confusing, the Code of Canon Law is based on old Roman law when it comes to family relationships, so it doesn’t use our common terminology.Since Bill and Susan are related in the third degree, they cannot marry validly.This brings us now to the relationship addressed in Jeremy’s question: what is the degree of consanguinity between two cousins? Jenny’s mother, Beth, is the sister of Mike’s father, David.To begin with, it would be helpful to clarify some terms.“Consanguinity” refers only to biological, blood relationships (and not to relationships created through marriage, such as that between a mother-in-law and her son-in-law).A: When it comes to the biological relationship between prospective spouses, the Church has laws which are based on natural law.
We all know that genetic problems tend to arise in children whose parents are too closely related by blood.
Canon law is therefore simply reflecting what nature (i.e., God) intended.
A casual reader of canon 1091, the canon which directly addresses Jeremy’s question, will most likely find it hopelessly confusing.
And unfortunately, there’s one more added twist to complicate things even further.
We saw in the March 28, 2008 column that some of the Church’s laws are held to be divine laws, while others are “merely” ecclesiastical laws.
The latter have been established by human authority, but the former were instituted by God Himself.