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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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98.

 Whoever takes by way of matrimonial union any woman betrothed to another man, while the man to whom she has been betrothed is still alive, shall be deemed liable to the penalty provided for the crime of adultery.

 

Interpretation.

An engagement which is entered into in accordance with laws, at the legal age, that is to say, of a man and of a woman, and which has been duly signaled by a gift of wedding rings or other earnests, and solemnized in church, and accompanied by the usual exchange of kisses on the part of the engaged — such an engagement, I say, has the same force and effect as a complete wedding (and see the Footnote to Ap. c. XVII). For this reason the present Canon decrees that anyone taking to wife a woman who has been engaged in such a manner as this to another man, who, as her betrothed, is still alive, let him be penalized as an adulterer, precisely, that is to say, like a man who takes to wife a woman married to another. That is why a man betrothed to a woman is also called the conjugate of his own fiancee, in the same way, for instance, that just Joseph the Bridegroom is called in the Gospels the husband of the holy Virgin, and conversely the holy Virgin is called the wife of Joseph, because even in the old Law a betrothal had the force of a marriage.[250]

 

 




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