I have to say I’m a bit confused by the discussion under the “Mixed Marriage/Birth Control Question” thread. If a marriage between two baptised people is recognized by the Church as a sacrament, even if it takes place in a Protestant church, then why would the marriage as is not be acceptable? I understand that a dispensation is required if one of the parties is Catholic. The dispensation is required if the ceremony is not in a Catholic church, but no dispensation is required if the ceremony is between a Catholic and a non-Catholic and it takes place in a Catholic church. Is that because as a Catholic we have to recognize the Church’s place in our reception (or conferring?) of a sacrament?
Also, I think there is a mistake on an earlier post where a marriage is referred to as “valid (i.e. sacramental)”. I was very confused on this point and did ask about it on the apologist board. A valid marriage is not necessarily a sacramental marriage. Two non-baptised people can be in a valid marriage, as I understand it, but the marriage could not be sacramental as the spouses, as unbaptised people, cannot receive sacraments. Likewise, if a Catholic marries a non-Christian, only the Catholic as was stated in that thread receives a sacrament. Now… can a Protestant receive the sacramental grace even if his or her church does not recognize marriage as a sacrament and the person does not even know that such grace is available to him or her?
And finally, if a Protestant married couple becomes Catholic, do they have to have their marriage convalidated, or does that happen automatically when they are accepted into the Catholic Church? What if they were not married by a minister but were married civilly, which I understand is acceptable to most if not all Protestant churches? Is their marriage automatically acceptable to the Church when they convert?
I can just hear my born again friends - “what a legalistic church!” I disagree! I realize that the Church is the guardian of the sacraments and has a responisibility to ensure that they are properly received by Her members. But if anyone can clarify these questions for me, I would appreciate it!