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Sacrament of Matrimony.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God’s values.

This sacrament, seen as a sign of the love uniting Christ and the Church, establishes between the spouses a permanent and exclusive bond, sealed by God. Accordingly, a marriage between baptised people, validly entered into and consummated, cannot be dissolved. The sacrament confers on them the grace they need for attaining holiness in their married life and for responsible acceptance and upbringing of their children. As a condition for validity, the sacrament is celebrated in the presence of the local Ordinary or Parish Priest or of a cleric delegated by them and at least two other witnesses, though in the theological tradition of the Latin Church the ministers of the sacrament are the couple themselves.

For a valid marriage, a man and a woman must express their informed and free consent to a definitive self-giving to the other, excluding none of the essential properties and aims of marriage. If one of the two is a non-Catholic Christian, permission of the competent authority of the Catholic Church must be obtained. If one of the two is not a Christian (i.e. has not been baptised), the competent authority's dispensation is necessary for validity.

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