In the great mass of writings which we have of the Fathers of any note in the Church, there is no sanction given to such marriages; but, on the contrary, when the Fathers have occasion to mention anything about such a union, they distinctly say that it is their custom, and that of the Church, not to consider such marriages as legal by the Word of God. Basil in the fourth century says, "Our custom has the force of law, because it has been handed down to us, i.e.
Under ecclesiastical law, a marriage within the prohibited degrees was not absolutely void but it was voidable at the suit of any interested party.
Matthew Boulton married his deceased wife's sister in 1760.
My wife, the mother of my young children, died in tragic circumstances nearly two years ago.
Illness came upon her almost without warning; her decline was rapid and shocking. After that, any emotional space that developed I reserved for my kids.
Initially I blustered around and did nothing about it.
Both were single at the time, so no one else would be hurt, or so I convinced myself.
The Catholic Church, or the Church of Christ, always teaches us by the Spirit of the Word of God.
Now, the Church has ever taught, does and will to the end teach from Scripture, that "a man may not marry his deceased wife's sister," or, which is the same thing, "a woman may not marry her sister's husband." The Church consists of two great parts—the Eastern and the Western.
In the meantime, the family and friends of my dear wife had stepped into the breach, helping out in all sorts of ways. With all the practicality of offering to do a load of laundry or cook up a casserole, a couple of women from that group offered independently to see to my needs.