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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What is the status of a Catholic marriage when one person is impotent?

A. 1. Canon Law # 1084.1 states, "Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have sexual intercourse, whether on the part of the man or on that of the woman, whether absolute or relative, by its very nature invalidates marriage."

In other words, the concept of Christian marriage includes, as essential, the mutual, exclusive and perpetual right to those "acts which are of themselves suitable for the generation or children.

Canonically, impotence is an obstacle to the Sacrament of marriage, whereas one of the spouses has the inability to perform in the marriage act.

Canon Law # 1096.1 states, "For matrimonial consent to exist, it is necessary that the contracting parties be at least not ignorant of the fact that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman, ordered to the procreation of children through some form of sexual cooperation."

At this point, I wish to stress that impotence (is the inability to perform the marriage act) and sterility (is the inability to conceive or to induce conception), these being distinct concepts. The Canon Laws referred to above are in regards to impotence, not sterility.

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