(Latin in , not, and castus , chaste).
Incest is sexual intercourse between those who are related by blood or marriage.
Its specific malice is contracted by such unlawful commerce between those related within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity, as computed by canonists. The guilt is incurred not only by those sinful acts which are, as theologians say, fully consummated, but also by incomplete acts.
The particular deformity of incest comes not merely from the violation of the virtue of chastity, but also from the offence against the mingled affection and reverence with which parents and, proportionately, other relatives should be regarded.
It is certain that this crime has its distinctive enormity from the prohibition of the natural law, where there is question of the first degree in the direct line, for instance, between parents and children. For the other degrees it is probable that recourse must be had to the ecclesiastical law which invalidates marriage within those limits.
It is commonly held, with regard to those related by consanguinity or affinity, that with the exception of the first degree in the direct line all forms of incest are, morally speaking, of the same species, and therefore for the integrity of confession there is no necessity to distinguish between them. It must be noted, however, that carnal sins between those who are spiritually or legally related within the degrees that would render their marriage invalid, are separate species of incest.
A decree of the Holy Office, 25 June, 1885, declares that in applications for matrimonial dispensations it is no longer necessary to make mention of the circumstance of incest relations between the petitioners.
25th Jubilee Holy Card
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online