Convalidation


#1

Hi everyone, I am new here and decided to sign up because I really need some advice. My husband and I were both baptized Catholic. We have been married just over 2 years, and we were married outside the Church by a non-denominational Christian minister. I am coming back into the Church after a very long absence and was very sad when I found out I could not receive communion because I am in an “irregular marriage.” When I told my husband this, he said he would do whatever it takes in order for us to be "re"married in the Church. He is not very into the “Catholic thing” (but is obviously very supportive of me) and has no real desire to come back into the faith at this time.
So I asked the lady at my parish about how we would go about it. I had asked my priest awhile back and he actually said “oh, that’s easy, I can do that for you anytime.” I also read this article posted on my Archdiocese website that sounds like it just takes some paperwork. But she is telling us we need to go through all the prenuptial arrangements as if we were getting married from the start. I guess my real hang up here is my husband. While he wants to do what will make me happy, I feel guilty about pushing him into something that he has no interest in and will most likely resent (either the Church, or me, or both). I just want to be able to receive communion again.

In an effort to be completely honest, I also feel a little bit of resentment here. I mean, if I understand it correctly, when two Protestants get married outside the Church and come into the faith, they automatically have a Sacramental Marriage. And while I understand that “we knowingly did something wrong,” I wasn’t married by a Justice of the Peace. It was an ordained minister who said the right words and everything (we had a service with Catholic vows). This is the kind of archaic annoyance that kept me away from the Church for so long. I want my marriage (which is a very good, stable marriage) to be seen as valid, I wand my husband not to resent me or the Catholic Church, and I want to be able to grow in my faith and receive communion while doing it (I feel like it would be stunted if I couldn’t).

Is there an easier way??
Paige


#2

Your marriage is valid, but is not a sacrament in the eyes of the Church. The validation would make it a sacrament. I would get clarification if I were you regarding this process, as each diocese may handle it differently.


#3

Why did you ask some lady if the priest already told you "No Problem"?

I inquired about this from my priest on behalf of some shy parishioners and my priest said: little more than a tiny bit of paperwork and a blessing with a single witness.

Go to the priest. Blessings and good luck trying to do the right thing.

BTW: I understand your annoyance at the unfairness of everything. I recently found out that if a man is baptized outside the Catholic faith, he may be married as a priest, but if he's baptized Catholic, celibacy is his only option. How does THAT make any kind of sense? :shrug:


#4

EnchantedEve, why did you tell this poor woman that her marriage is valid? Baptized Catholics must marry according to the regulations of the Church, and this couple could not be validly married by a Protestant minister without a dispensation from their bishop. Since neither Paige nor her husband were ever married before, they can easily rectify this situation by going to their local pastor, and following his instructions. They can have a quiet ceremony or a big wedding, but they need to complete the preparations that are required in their diocese. Priests are thrilled to help people who have been away from the Church to come home.


#5

[quote="EnchantedEve, post:2, topic:209662"]
Your marriage is valid, but is not a sacrament in the eyes of the Church. The validation would make it a sacrament. I would get clarification if I were you regarding this process, as each diocese may handle it differently.

[/quote]

No, the marriage is invalid. The convalidation will make it valid.

[quote="pkdsquared, post:1, topic:209662"]
I also read this article posted on my Archdiocese website that sounds like it just takes some paperwork.

[/quote]

Well, it's not just paperwork. You have a new ceremony and new vows. But it does just take 20-30 minutes.

But she is telling us we need to go through all the prenuptial arrangements as if we were getting married from the start.

I cannot count how many times I've seen church secretaries give wrong information. Ask the priest, he will tell you what's involved.

For an already happily married couple, you usually don't have to do the pre-marital counseling. But that's up to the priest's discretion.

In an effort to be completely honest, I also feel a little bit of resentment here. I mean, if I understand it correctly, when two Protestants get married outside the Church and come into the faith, they automatically have a Sacramental Marriage.

It's not really that unfair when you think about it. To be valid, they have to meet all of the same criteria as Catholics (they can't be previously married without an annulment, for example). They also need to follow their church's rules regarding marriage (like how Catholics must follow Catholic rules). It really wouldn't have been any more work for you to have been originally married in the Catholic Church than by a non-denominational minister. People think getting married in the Catholic Church is difficult, but it's not.


#6

Paige, I have been thinking about your post, and I am afraid that I came off sounding a little harsh. We all want to welcome you back to the Church, and the information that we have given you about what being “married in the Church” is correct, but I want to say more. Since you and your husband did not understand that you needed to be married according to the regulations of the Church, you were probably a victim of the poor catechesis which has been inflicted upon our children and young people for forty years now. You were probably not taught how the Catholic Church is the fulfillment of God’s plan for us on earth, and why the Church has the authority from God to make these rules. You might consider ordering Tim Staples new DVD “Why be Catholic?” He does a wonderful job of explaining all of this. When you see the beauty of the Church and her teachings, following them will be a joy and not a burden. Welcome home!


#7

Maybe I’m being a little rough, here. What I see happen is something like this: couple walks in and the secretary knows they are seeking a convalidation. The priest meets with them. They walk out and the priest talks to her about giving them information about upcoming pre-cana classes and scheduling the convalidation for 6 months in the future. The secretary then assumes that’s the standard operating procedure for convalidation. However, what she missed was that in his office, the priest realized that the wedding has some major issues that needed to be worked out in counseling, and that’s why he pushed the convalidation out 6 months. Normally he would have held the convalidation maybe in a week or so.

I’ve never seen that exact situation, but I’ve seen situations like it. For example, a Jew and a Catholic that meet with the priest about a marriage. At the end of the meeting they leave and complain that the priest wouldn’t marry them because she’s Jewish. So the secretary tells people that. After asking a few more probing questions, it turns out that the couple wanted a hybrid Jewish/Catholic wedding and didn’t want an all-Catholic (with a dispensation for disparity of cult) or all-Jewish wedding (with the additional dispensation from canonical form of marriage). They wanted a mix that could not be done and weren’t planning to baptize their children. But that didn’t stop the secretary from telling people that they couldn’t be married if one was Catholic and one was Jewish.


#8

[quote="EnchantedEve, post:2, topic:209662"]
Your marriage is valid, but is not a sacrament in the eyes of the Church. The validation would make it a sacrament. I would get clarification if I were you regarding this process, as each diocese may handle it differently.

[/quote]

not it is not, or at least not if the circumstances in OP are as described, usually there is a lot of missing information in such posts. She has made the proper first step, making contact with her parish priest, who has looked at her situation and explained what needs to be done to convalidate the marriage, that is, make it valid. She is having to go through this in order to return to the sacraments--heavens be praised for this happy event--because she is Catholic and remained so even while temporarily living outside the Church. Her husband who, OP at least implies is not Catholic, was not bound by Catholic law on marriage, but she is, and so must take steps to have the situation regularized.

Two baptized non-Catholics on the other hand are bound by natural law on marriage, as is everyone (no previous bond, full free will consent, proper intention, one man & one woman etc.) but not by the further obligations on Catholics: raising children in the faith, witness must be a priest or deacon, and so forth. So their marriage would be both valid and sacramental. Assuming OP's husband has been baptized, their sacrament will become both valid and sacramental when they exchange vows in the presence of the priest or deacon.

The reason for the preparation, which is the burden of OP's question, is to assure that the conditions necessary for a valid marriage are present. They are being asked to do nothing more than all Catholics who approach the Church for this sacrament. It is a great opportunity btw for both OP, and her husband if he so chooses, to learn more about the Catholic teachings on matrimony and the other sacraments, and Catholic living in general. I hope they take advantage of the gift the Church is offering in the form of this preparation period.

Welcome home, OP!


#9

[quote="Marysann, post:4, topic:209662"]
EnchantedEve, why did you tell this poor woman that her marriage is valid? Baptized Catholics must marry according to the regulations of the Church, and this couple could not be validly married by a Protestant minister without a dispensation from their bishop.

[/quote]

Perhaps I am not understanding what the OP is saying regarding her circumstance. I was of the understanding that she and her husband, thought baptized Catholic, had abjured the Catholic Faith at the time of their marriage. Hence the circumstance would have been as the Catholic Encyclopedia describes below:

"As we have several times emphasized, not every marriage is a true sacrament, but only marriages between Christians. One becomes and remains a Christian in the sense recognized here through valid baptism. Hence only one who has been validly baptized can contract a marriage which is a sacrament; but every one can contract it who has been validly baptized, whether he has remained true to the Christian faith, or become a heretic, or even an infidel. Such has always been the teaching and practice of the Church. Through baptism one "becomes a member of Christ and is incorporated in the body of the Church", as declared in the Florentine Decree for the Armenians; so far as law is concerned, he remains irrevocably subject to the Church, and is therefore, in legal questions, always to be considered a Christian. Hence it is a general principle that all baptized persons are subject to universal ecclesiastical laws, especially marriage laws unless the Church makes an exception for individual cases or classes. Hence not only the marriage between Catholics, but also that contracted by members of the different sects which have retained baptism and validly baptize, is undoubtedly a sacrament. It matters not whether the non-Catholic considers marriage a sacrament or not, or whether he intends to effect a sacrament or not. Provided only he intends to contract a true marriage, and expresses the requisite consent, this intention and this expression are sufficient to constitute a sacrament. But if he is absolutely determined not to effect a sacrament, then, of course, the production of a sacrament would be excluded, but the marriage contract also would be null and void. By Divine ordinance it is essential to Christian marriage that it should be a sacrament; it is not in the power of the contracting parties to eliminate anything from its nature, and a person who has the intention of doing this invalidates the whole ceremony. It is certain, therefore, that marriage contracted between baptized persons is a sacrament, even the so-called mixed marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, provided the non-Catholic has been validly baptized. It is equally certain that marriage between unbaptized persons is not a sacrament in the strict sense of the word.

However, if they had not renounced the Catholic Faith at the time of marriage, then at least under the 1917 Code of Canon Law they are automatically excommunicated and the marriage is indeed invalid since they illicitely contracted to marriage. However, in renouncing the Faith, they thereby become heretics and adopt another sect, so disparity of cult would not apply as it would in the former case. A member of another sect cannot validly witness to a Catholic wedding, as in the case of a protestant minister. Without valid witnesses, a marriage is invalid. In the 1983 Code, it states if a Catholic first renounces the Faith before marriage, his non-Catholic marriage is assumed valid. The other exception, if the parish priest or Ordinary gives permission to a non-Catholic marriage, is not presumed here.

In any case, if she indeed apostasized at the time of marriage, it is considered valid, and only being ratified by the priestly witness. If she had not apostasized, and illicitly contracted (for some reason) a non-Catholic minister, the marriage is invalid, and needs to actually occur.

However, if the intent here is to say all non-Catholic weddings are invalid, then this is a grave error, even favouring heresy.

Some articles relating to this:
traditioninaction.org/religious/k001rpMarriage1.html
traditioninaction.org/religious/k002rpMarriage2.html

I hope this clarifies somewhat.


#10

Just went through it after returning to the church. My wife is not catholic but was happy to do this for me. We had to meet with the priest twice. The first was a simple general interview and took a short while. Then we had to give him copies of both of our baptism certificates and I had to give a copy of my confirmation certificate. Then we had to met with him again and he did individual interviews while filling out archdiocese paperwork. Each interview took about 20 minutes. We had scheduled a date and the ceremony took about 20 minutes. What started out as just us and the witnesses became a family event. It was fun. It probably took 4 months to get through because we had to order copies of the certificates and Easter was in the middle of all of it. Do not be discouraged and if you have questions regarding reconciliation and other sacraments during this time do not hesitate to message me directly.


#11

The process is a you say, and as you point out, not at all difficult.


#12

[quote="EnchantedEve, post:9, topic:209662"]
Perhaps I am not understanding what the OP is saying regarding her circumstance. I was of the understanding that she and her husband, thought baptized Catholic, had abjured the Catholic Faith at the time of their marriage.

[/quote]

No, they would have had to formally defect from the Church and that requires paperwork. From the OP's post we can only assume they did what many do and just ignored their religion for a number of years.


#13

[quote="EnchantedEve, post:9, topic:209662"]
Perhaps I am not understanding what the OP is saying regarding her circumstance. I was of the understanding that she and her husband, thought baptized Catholic, had abjured the Catholic Faith at the time of their marriage. Hence the circumstance would have been as the Catholic Encyclopedia describes below:

"

[/quote]

well what we understood is beside the point, it is what her own priest understands after hearing all the facts about her situation, and he advised her that her marriage must be convalidated, but assured her it is a fairly straightforward process. the Catholic Encyclopedia describes the situation as it existed under former canon law, so is not relevant when discussing marriage cases today, and in any case the cite you offer does not apply in her case unless her pastor determines it does, and a recent ruling clears up those ambiguous cases and supercedes the laws you cite. Nowhere does OP say she formally defected so that does not even arise.


#14

The Catholic Encyclopedia citation had nothing to do with Canon Law, but Catholic teaching, which is not synonymous. No one stated that she should not heed her pastor, or that what he said was wrong. Where are you getting this from? What “recent ruling” are you talking about? The idea that the OP may have defected could be deferred by saying she was absent from the Church for many years and received “sacraments” from a non-Catholic minister. Again, not a lot of info here, but enough to believe she may have the left the Church to another sect.


#15

[quote="puzzleannie, post:13, topic:209662"]
well what we understood is beside the point, it is what her own priest understands after hearing all the facts about her situation, and he advised her that her marriage must be convalidated, but assured her it is a fairly straightforward process. the Catholic Encyclopedia describes the situation as it existed under former canon law, so is not relevant when discussing marriage cases today, and in any case the cite you offer does not apply in her case unless her pastor determines it does, and a recent ruling clears up those ambiguous cases and supercedes the laws you cite. Nowhere does OP say she formally defected so that does not even arise.

[/quote]

Besides, she came here to ask our opinion, so what we understood is completely within the point. In addition, as a wedding coordinator, I know the term convalidation is used by pastors even when the marriage is valid, it is merely is getting ecclessiastically validated. So her pastors use of the term may not have indicated his theological view of her position. Technically, if the pastor feels her marriage is invalid, he is obligated to tell her to seperate and live in continence until her marriage is validated. This did not appear to have happened, again leading to uncertainty as to her pastor's judgment on the matter.


#16

[quote="Phemie, post:12, topic:209662"]
No, they would have had to formally defect from the Church and that requires paperwork. From the OP's post we can only assume they did what many do and just ignored their religion for a number of years.

[/quote]

Absolutely untrue. Pertanacity in error is all that is necessary to lose ones state in the Church. Adherance to a heretical sect and acknowledgment of a false pastor as legitimate is enough to be considered out of communion with the Church.

Catholic encyclopedia:
"Pertinacious adhesion to a doctrine contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the Church is heresy pure and simple, heresy in the first degree."

"The unity of the Church consists in the connection of its members with each other and of all the members with the head. Now this head is Christ whose representative in the Church is the supreme pontiff. And therefore the name of schismatics is given to those who will not submit to the supreme pontiff nor communicate with the members of the Church subject to him. Since the definition of Papal Infallibility, schism usually implies the heresy of denying this dogma. Heresy is opposed to faith; schism to charity; so that, although all heretics are schismatics because loss of faith involves separation from the Church, not all schismatics are necessarily heretics, since a man may, from anger, pride, ambition, or the like, sever himself from the communion of the Church and yet believe all the Church proposes for our belief (II-II, Q. xxix, a. 1). Such a one, however, would be more properly called rebellious than heretical."

1983 Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1364 ß1 An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication, without prejudice to the provision of Can. 194 ß1, n. 2; a cleric, moreover, may be punished with the penalties mentioned in Can. 1336 ß1, nn. 1, 2 and 3.

No paperwork required!


#17

The OP's use of the term "irregular" as opposed to "invalid" also seems to indicate a certain implied validity (I am confident this term was given to the OP, and is not of her own use).

So I do not think this case is as cut and dry as some would like to make it sound.


#18

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the input. I guess I should clear some stuff up, huh?

[quote="Marysann, post:6, topic:209662"]
Paige, I have been thinking about your post, and I am afraid that I came off sounding a little harsh. We all want to welcome you back to the Church, and the information that we have given you about what being "married in the Church" is correct, but I want to say more. Since you and your husband did not understand that you needed to be married according to the regulations of the Church, you were probably a victim of the poor catechesis which has been inflicted upon our children and young people for forty years now. You were probably not taught how the Catholic Church is the fulfillment of God's plan for us on earth, and why the Church has the authority from God to make these rules. You might consider ordering Tim Staples new DVD "Why be Catholic?" He does a wonderful job of explaining all of this. When you see the beauty of the Church and her teachings, following them will be a joy and not a burden. Welcome home!

[/quote]

Hi Mary: you did not come off harsh at all, I really appreciated your first post. To clarify, I was catchised fairly well, actually. I was just a very rebellious and overly curious child who was impertinent and wanted all the answers. I stopped going to church around 15 instead of being confirmed because I was sick of all the parish mothers teaching me things that they didn't know very well themselves.

Why did you ask some lady if the priest already told you "No Problem"?

InspritCarol: it was brought up in a 10-year-covering confession, not a formal inquiry about the procedure. I then emailed the parish secretary who told me my husband and I would have to take all the classes.

In any case, if she indeed apostasized at the time of marriage, it is considered valid, and only being ratified by the priestly witness. If she had not apostasized, and illicitly contracted (for some reason) a non-Catholic minister, the marriage is invalid, and needs to actually occur.

EnchantedEve: I know that apostasy is rarely used as a self-descriptive, but I guess I would prefer to deem myself as "lapsed." I never attended (and never have) a church of any other denomination. The only reason we were married outside the Church in the first place is because we were told that we both had to be confirmed (not just baptized Catholic), and my husband did not want to do that. Again, the miscommunication is an issue within the Church, at least from where I am standing. We chose a non-denominational Christian minister because at least she believed she was called by God, and she at least was ordained and not just an employee of the state.

Just went through it after returning to the church. My wife is not catholic but was happy to do this for me. We had to meet with the priest twice. The first was a simple general interview and took a short while. Then we had to give him copies of both of our baptism certificates and I had to give a copy of my confirmation certificate. Then we had to met with him again and he did individual interviews while filling out archdiocese paperwork. Each interview took about 20 minutes. We had scheduled a date and the ceremony took about 20 minutes. What started out as just us and the witnesses became a family event. It was fun. It probably took 4 months to get through because we had to order copies of the certificates and Easter was in the middle of all of it. Do not be discouraged and if you have questions regarding reconciliation and other sacraments during this time do not hesitate to message me directly.

Did you only have to give the confirmation certificate because you had been confirmed? Or was it required that you be confirmed in order to be married? I am about to begin the Adult Confirmation classes at my parish, but was under the impression that you both only had to be baptized Catholic in order to get married in the Church? This gives me some hope that I may be able to do a similar process.

So what the issue here is, we do not want to have to take the classes that they have deemed appropriate for people who have never lived with their spouse, etc. I would actually like to take the NFP class, but as for all the learning how to combine finances and not fight, I think we are fine without that. It has nothing to do with Church teaching, just the usual pre-marital counseling that goes on, as we are, in fact married (at least in a legal sense). If it is a matter of some paperwork and a short ceremony and witnesses, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I really am just trying to do the right thing, and my husband really is very supportive.

I have emailed my priest (he is very hard to reach by phone), and hopefully I will be able to speak to him and get this all cleared up.

Thank you all again for your help! I really appreciate it!


#19

The phrase “irregular situation” is used for people in an invalid marriage because it sounds nicer than using the other phrase. I wouldn’t try to read into that phrase.

Can. 1065 §1. Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before they are admitted to marriage if it can be done without grave inconvenience.

So what the issue here is, we do not want to have to take the classes that they have deemed appropriate for people who have never lived with their spouse, etc.

Sometimes diocese have classes specifically for those who are convalidating a marriage. Usually it’s short and covers Church teachings on marriage. But most times, there’s no required pre-cana classes. But that depends on your priest and your diocese.


#20

[quote="EnchantedEve, post:15, topic:209662"]
Besides, she came here to ask our opinion, so what we understood is completely within the point. In addition, as a wedding coordinator, I know the term convalidation is used by pastors even when the marriage is valid, it is merely is getting ecclessiastically validated. So her pastors use of the term may not have indicated his theological view of her position. Technically, if the pastor feels her marriage is invalid, he is obligated to tell her to seperate and live in continence until her marriage is validated. This did not appear to have happened, again leading to uncertainty as to her pastor's judgment on the matter.

[/quote]

What the heck does that mean? A marriage is either valid or invalid and if it's valid nothing needs to be done.

Not to be rude but if you believe that every priest tells couples in legal but invalid marriages that they have to separate I've got a piece of swamp land I'd like to get rid of. They are more likely to hear that here.


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