Chapter VI. Remarriages
We have seen that marriage is intended to be an eternal union consequent on the development of conjugial love. It follows, therefore, that in all cases where such a development has taken place, a second marriage after the decease of one of the partners can be excused only on the grounds of very strong external reasons, such as the following passage states:
Those who have lived together in truly conjugial love are unwilling to marry again, except for reasons separate from conjugial love. . . . If they afterwards contract something like marriage, they do so for reasons apart from conjugial love, and these reasons are all external; as when there are little children in the house who require to be cared for, or if the house is large and full of servants of both sexes; or if the calls of business divert the mind from domestic concerns; or if mutual help and services are required as in the case of many kinds of employments and handicrafts. CL 321
But with those who have not been in conjugial love, we read:
There is no obstacle or hindrance to their contracting marriage again. CL 320.
It is obvious that in the case of a husband or wife who has been bound by internal bonds of affection in the first marriage, the second marriage will be merely a "mariage de convenance"; wherefore, on entering the spiritual world, this second marriage will automatically cease and the first marriage will be resumed. On the other hand, with those whose first marriage was merely natural, there will be either another external association like the first or, possibly, a true internal union to take the place of the former unsatisfactory affair. But it would seem that second marriages are rarely internal, for we read: The state of the marriage of a bachelor with a maiden is different from that of a bachelor with a widow . . . for with the former conjugial love is able to proceed in its proper order from its first heat to its flame. . . . But between a bachelor and a widow there is not such an initiation into marriage from first beginnings, nor a like progression in marriage, since a widow is more independent and at her own disposal than is a maiden. Wherefore, a bachelor addresses himself differently to his wife if she has been a widow from what he would if she were a maiden. CL 322.
So, too, in the case of a widower and a maiden.
For a widower has already been initiated into conjugial life, and a maiden has yet to be initiated. And yet conjugial love perceives and feels its pleasantness and delight in mutual initiation. A bachelor-husband and a maiden-wife perceive and feel things ever new in whatever occurs, whereby they are in a kind of continual initiation and consequent loving progression. It is different with the marriage of a widower with a maiden; for the maiden-wife has an internal inclination (to union), whereas with the man that inclination has passed away. CL 323.
However, these statements do not necessarily imply that second marriages cannot be of a truly conjugial kind, but only that they are rare. That truly conjugial love is possible with different types of marriage is definitely stated as follows:
There are infinite varieties with those who are in conjugial love - . . hence the varieties and diversities in marriages of every kind, whether of a bachelor and a maiden, or of a bachelor and a widow, or of a widower and a maiden, or of a widower and a widow. CL 324.
Concerning what happens after death in the case of remarriages, we read:
If a man has had several wives he allies himself with them successively (after death) while he is in the external state (that is, in the first state in which man is after death, similar to his state on earth). But when he enters upon the internal state (that is, the state of his interior self, whereby man is "judged" as to his fitness for heaven or hell) in which he perceives the inclinations of his love, as to their quality, he then either adopts one or else he leaves them all. . . . It is the same with a woman who has had several husbands.
As regards the remarriage of a divorced person, there can be no objection to this when the marriage has been completely annulled for the just and weighty causes given in the teaching on divorce, and when the guilty party has sincerely repented of his sin; wherefore it is said:
By divorce is meant the abolition of the conjugial covenant, and a consequent full separation, and after this full liberty to marry again. CL 468.
But if divorce is allowed by the State for all manner of lesser reasons, as is the case in some countries, the Church may rightly draw the line at consenting to remarry people who to all appearances are incapable of undertaking the duties and responsibilities, public and private, which the matrimonial state requires: each case, of course, being judged on its merits.