Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality.
Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offence is


compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and

moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing. 2390 In a so-calledfree union, a man and a woman refuse to give


juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression ‘free union’ is fallacious: what can ‘union’ mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future? The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long- term commitments.182 All these situations offend against the dig nity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law.


The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Out

side of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one


from sacramental communion.

2391 Some today claim a ‘right to a trial marriage’ where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, ‘the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim.”8~ Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of


life between a man and woman has been established. Human love

does not tolerate ‘trial marriages’. It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.’8~


2392 ‘Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being’