The following authorities (found in the old Catholic Encyclopedia article "Divorce (in Moral Theology)") teach expressly that the marriage bond is indissoluble (i.e. only death can end a consummated marriage)
St. Moses the God-Seeing Prophet says, Dt 24:4: The former husband cannot take her again to wife: because she is defiled, and is become abominable before the Lord: lest thou cause thy land to sin, which the Lord thy God shall give thee to possess.St. Matthew the Evangelist says, Mt 19:4-9:
Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that He who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And He said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. They say to Him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away? He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.Patriarch St. John Mark I the Evangelist of Alexandria says, Mk 10:11-12: "And He saith to them: Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband and be married to another, she committeth adultery."St. Luke the Evangelist says, Lk 16:18: "Every one that putteth away his wife and marrieth another committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."St. Paul the Apostle says, 1 Cor 7:10-11: "But to them that are married, not I, but the Lord, commandeth that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife."2 Cor 12:14: "Behold now the third time I am ready to come to you and I will not be burdensome unto you. For I seek not the things that are yours, but you. For neither ought the children to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children."
Fathers and Doctors
East: St. Justin Martyr the Philosopher of Caesarea: Apolog. 1:15 in PG 6:349:
And, Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced from another husband, commits adultery. And, There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake; but all cannot receive this saying [Matthew 19:12]. So that all who, by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her. For not only he who in act commits adultery is rejected by Him, but also he who desires to commit adultery: since not only our works, but also our thoughts, are open before God.East: Athenagoras of Athens (177): In Legatio pro Christi 33 in PG 6:965:
For we bestow our attention, not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions,— that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery. For whosoever puts away his wife, says He, and marries another, commits adultery [Matthew 19:9]; not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again. For he who deprives himself of his first wife, even though she be dead, is a cloaked adulterer, resisting the hand of God, because in the beginning God made one man and one woman, and dissolving the strictest union of flesh with flesh, formed for the intercourse of the race.East: St. Clement of Alexandria: Stromata 2:23 in PG 8:1096:
Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, You shall not put away your wife, except for the cause of fornication; and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion, while she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling. He that takes a woman that has been put away, it is said, commits adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an adulteress, that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her husband. What, then, is the law? [Lev 20:10; Dt 22:22] In order to check the impetuosity of the passions, it commands the adulteress to be put to death, on being convicted of this; and if of priestly family, to be committed to the flames [Lev 21:9]. And the adulterer also is stoned to death, but not in the same place, that not even their death may be in common. And the law is not at variance with the Gospel, but agrees with it. How should it be otherwise, one Lord being the author of both? She who has committed fornication lives in sin, and is dead to the commandments; but she who has repented, being as it were born again by the change in her life, has a regeneration of life; the old harlot being dead, and she who has been regenerated by repentance having come back again to life. The Spirit testifies to what has been said by Ezekiel, declaring, I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn [Ek 33:11]. Now they are stoned to death; as through hardness of heart dead to the law which they believed not. But in the case of a priestess the punishment is increased, because to whom much is given, from him shall more be required [Lk 12:48].West: Tertullian of Carthage: De monogamia 100:9 in PL 2:991.
East: Bishop St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (Doctor): Epist. can. 2 and Ad Amphilochium can. 48 in PG 32:732.
East: Bishop St. Epiphanius of Salamis: Haeres. 59:4 in PG 41:1024.
West: Bishop St. Ambrose the Great of Milan (Doctor): in Luc. 8:5:18 in PL 15:1855: "You dismiss your wife, therefore, as if by right and without being charged with wrongdoing; and you suppose it is proper for you to do so because no human law forbids it; but divine law forbids it. Anyone who obeys men ought to stand in awe of God. Hear the law of the Lord, which even they who propose our laws must obey: 'What God has joined together let no man put asunder.'"
East: Patriarch St. John Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor): De libello repud. in PG 51:218:
"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him. But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many Women. But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her.West: Hieromonk St. Jerome the Great of Strido (Doctor): Epist. 60 ad Amand. n. 3 in PL 22:562.
West: Bishop St. Augustine the Great of Hippo (Doctor of Grace): De adulterinis conjugiis 2:4 in PL 40:473.
East: Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus: on 1 Cor 7:39-40 in PG 82:275.
Pope St. Gregory I the Great (Doctor): Ep. ad Urbicum Abb. in PL 77:833.
Pope St. Leo I the Great (Doctor): Ep. ad. Nicetam Aquil. in PL 54:1136.
Pope St. Innocent I: Epist. ad Exsuper n. 12 in PL 20:500: "The practice is observed by all of regarding as an adulteress a woman who marries a second time while her husband yet lives, and permission to do penance is not granted her until one of them is dead."
Pope St. Zachary (1/5/747): Ep. Merovingici et Karolini ...
Synod of Elvira (300): Can. 8: "Likewise, women who have left their husbands for no prior cause and have joined themselves with others, may not even at death receive communion." Can. 9: "Likewise, a woman of the faith [i.e., a baptized person] who has left an adulterous husband of the faith and marries another, her marrying in this manner is prohibited. If she has so married, she may not at any more receive communion--unless he that she has left has since departed from this world." Can. 10: "If she whom a catechumen has left shall have married a husband, she is able to be admitted to the fountain of baptism. This shall also be observed in the instance where it is the woman who is the catechumen. But if a woman of the faithful is taken in marriage by a man who left an innocent wife, and if she knew that he had a wife whom he had left without cause, it is determined that communion is not to be given to her even at death."
Synod of Arles (314)
Second Council of Mileve (416)
Council of Heveford (673), Can. 10.
Notes and References