impediment of marriage


The contract of marriage between certain persons and in certain cases is null and void by the law of God, natural and revealed. The Church maintains that she may institute impediments which nullify the contract of marriage. The principle on which this tenet rests is a very simple one. Marriage between baptized persons, according to the Catholic doctrine, is a sacrament, and therefore this contract falls under ecclesiastical authority. Just as the State may pronounce certain moral contracts which are lawful in themselves null and void, for example, it may for the general good nullify certain engagements made by minors, so the Church may interfere as to the validity of the marriage contract. The State, on the contrary, has no power to nullify the sacrament of marriage, because it does not fall under civil jurisdiction. But where the formalities of marriage affect the public order, and the welfare of the married parties is concerned, the State may interpose.

Impediments are of two kinds. They may render marriage merely unlawful, in which case they are called “impedient”; or they may nullify it, in which case they are known as te diriment.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “impediment of marriage”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 2 March 2021. <>