Fidelity and Fairness in Marital Commitments, Covenants, and Contractual Relationships: Mulieris Dignitatem's Wisdom
Chapter 13 in American Law from a Catholic Perspective: Through a Clearer Lens, Ronald Rychlak Ed., Rowman & Littlefield (April 2015).
11 Pages Posted: 19 May 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2015
In secular terms, a contract is a “promise, or set of promises, for breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty.” In a spiritual context, the contract of marriage is both a covenant and a sacrament between a man and a woman, with inherent obligations of fidelity — the commitment to promise keeping — and to fairness — the commitment to giving from one spouse to the other their due and to equitably allocate the marital resources. With other covenants and contractual relationships guided by faith and reason, there too exists a similar commitment to fidelity and fairness.
This chapter illuminates the clarity, wisdom, and beauty expressed in the Roman Catholic Church’s magisterium relating to marital commitments, covenants, and contractual relationships, so inspirationally expressed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II some twenty years ago in his Apostolic Letter — Mulieris Dignitatem (On The Dignity and Vocation of Women). In so doing, the Supreme Pontiff acted in his capacity as magister, or teacher, fulfilling a duty towards the people of God to enlighten them, so they might serve each other, and serve the Word itself, especially in relations between men and women, in light of (and even in contrast to) American legal traditions regarding such commitments, covenants and contractual relationships.
Note: Substantial portions of this chapter have been previously published under a nonexclusive right of publication as Kevin H. Govern, “Fidelity and Fairness: Mulieris Dignitatem’s Wisdom Relating to Marital Commitments, Contractual Relationships and the Roman Catholic Church©” Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion JO.Part 2 (2009): 1-17.
Keywords: Marriage, Fidelity, Fairness, Mulieris Dignitatem, On The Dignity and Vocation of Women, Human Dignity, Apostolic Letter, Canon Law, Contracts Covenants, Women, Men, Gender Equality
JEL Classification: J10, J12, J16, K00, K12, K19, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation