Marriage and Family

Marriage as a Sacrament

Catholics view marriage as a sacrament in that it signifies and makes present Christ’s love in the world. The special grace of marriage is to sanctify the bond between a man and a woman so that it becomes, through the Holy Spirit, “an even richer union... on all levels” The Christian Family in the Modern World, paragraph 18, 1981.

Marriage offers a means of participating in the infinite love of Christ for his Church. The sacrament binds a couple together and endows them with the grace to grow in faith, to welcome children, and to support each other through times of difficulty and change. Catholics also recognize that, because of its prominence as an institution, marriage is a uniquely powerful means of demonstrating the love of Christ to the wider world. It is thus charged with immense social significance as the basis for strong families, strong relationships, and a strong society.


"The Church has consistently argued that the meaning of marriage is not set by society alone. The essential meaning of marriage is given in God’s plan of creation. In the beginning God created human beings ‘male and female’ (Genesis 1:27). It is from the personal union of man and woman that new life is born and it is within the loving context of such a relationship that a child can be welcomed and nurtured. Marital love involves an essential complementarity of male and female."

Cherishing Life - 2004 514.16 kB
The Bishops' document on the moral and spiritual well-being of the human person in society


The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a section on the Sacrament of Marriage.

Vatican Document

Familiaris Consortio 585.14 kB
Pope John Paul II’s 1981 Apostolic Exhortation on the family