In its widest sense, the term signifies a separation made between man and wife on sufficient grounds and by lawful authority. It may dissolve the marriage bond altogether, so that the man or woman is free to contract a fresh marriage; or it may simply relieve one of the parties from the obligation of living with the other. No human power can dissolve the bond of marriage when ratified and consummated between baptized persons. But

(1) The marriage bond may be dissolved, even between baptized persons, by Papal authority, if the marriage has not been consummated.

(2) It may be dissolved in similar circumstances by the solemn religious profession of either party.

(3) If two unbaptized persons have contracted marriage, this marriage, even if consummated may be dissolved, supposing one of the parties embraces the Christian religion and the other refuses to live peaceably and without insult to the Christian religion in the married state.

In all other cases the marriage bond is indissoluble, and, besides this, married persons are bound to live together, as man and wife. They may, however, separate by mutual consent, and, again if one party exposes the other to grave danger of body or soul, or commits adultery, the innocent partner may obtain a judicial separation, or even refuse to cohabit without waiting for the sentence of the judge, provided always that the offense is clearly proved:

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “divorce”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 November 2019. Web. 2 March 2021. <>