Leviticus & "The King's Great Matter"
Was Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon contrary to the teachings of Leviticus?

The Texts
Leviticus 18:16
"Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness."
Leviticus 20:21
"If a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing...they shall be childless."
The Questions
Did Arthur and Catherine have sexual relations during their brief marriage and, if they did not, does the injunction of Leviticus still apply? (Catherine claimed the marriage was never consummated.)
Did the Pope have the power to waive the injunction in 1509, or is the injunction of Leviticus a matter of divine law?  (Henry suggested that the Pope had no power to waive the injunction; Thomas More, a strong believer in Papal primacy, disagreed.)

The marriage of Henry VIII's brother, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

Arthur, Prince of Wales

Catherine of Aragon
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales and the older brother of Henry, married Catherine of Aragon in November 1501.  Four months later, Arthur, who had been the next in line to become King of England, died.  Catherine maintained that because of Arthur's poor health during their brief marriage that the marriage was never consummated.

The marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine

Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon
With the death of his brother, Arthur, Henry Tudor (only 10 at the time of Arthur's death) became the likely future King of England.  That happened with the death of his father, Henry VII, in April 1509.  Two months after becoming king, Henry VIII married his brother's former wife, Catherine of Aragon.  The injunction in Leviticus about "taking" a "brother's wife" raised concerns.  Prior to Henry VIII's marriage, permission to marry Catherine had been sought and received from the Pope.

The marriage of Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn

Henry VIII

Anne Boleyn
By 1526, Catherine had produced only one child that survived past infancy, a girl.  (The girl, Mary, would later be known as "Bloody Mary.")  Wanting a male heir to the throne, and believing Catherine to be past prime child-bearing years (and perhaps for other reasons), Henry VIII had his eye on Anne Boleyn.  Henry VIII told Catherine in 1527 that he believed their eighteen-year-old marriage had been unlawful.  He instructed Cardinal Wolsey to begin efforts to secure an annulment of his marriage to Catherine that would allow him to marry Anne Boleyn.  [Thomas More's involvement in this matter, which would eventually lead to his trial and death, is a story told elsewhere on this website.] Shortly after obtaining an annulment in 1533, Henry married Anne.  Three years later, Henry had Anne beheaded in the Tower of London--and then he was off to the third of his six wives.

Trial of Sir Thomas More