Are they married?

A friend of mine left the Catholic Church, became a Protestant, and married in that denomination. Fifteen years later, she and her husband *both *came into the Church.

Because their Protestant marriage was invalid, they were required to marry in the Catholic Church. My friend (in her late forties) recently confided to me that she and her husband have not had intercourse since their Catholic wedding 7 years ago, and likely never will again. None of this information was ever brought up prior to the Catholic wedding. My friend suspected her husband’s illness might prevent their having intercourse ever again but at the time, the medical verdict was still out. Two questions:

  1. Are they considered married?

  2. Did the husband’s possible future impotence constitute an impediment to marriage when he converted?

Dear Mercy,

The fact that the marriage has not been consumated does not in itself invalidate the marriage. Insofar as they did not know for sure that he was going to be impotent, the marriage is valid. There are several new means of aiding him in the possilbe performance of the marriage act–which would constitute the consumation of the marriage. You didn’t mention if the woman is hoping to annul the marriage.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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