My wife is Catholic born but not a regular Church goer. I am not Catholic but am wanting to convert this Easter. We were not married in the Catholic Church but have been married many years. Neither of us have been married before. I spoke to the Priest just briefly this evening and he wants to meet with us to talk about our marriage being convalidated before i can convert. Problem is that neither of us see the need to exchange vows again. My wife is definately against it. Does this mean i cannot convert? What is the priest likely to ask us about when he sees us? I thought there were provisions within Canon Law that meant we would not have to remarry.


Your wife, as a Catholic, is required to follow Church law regarding marriage. To marry validly, she would have had to marry in Catholic form or be dispensed from it. She did neither.

A convalidation corrects this. There are two forms of convalidation:

*]Simple convalidation - new exchange of consent in the Catholic form, creating a valid marriage from that point forward

*]Radical sanation - no new exchange of consent, and the sanation supplies what was lacking therefore “healing at the root,” meaning the marriage is valid from its original exchange of consent.

You should ask your pastor about the option of radical sanation. It *should *be an option for you, but of course the details matter.

If there is doubt regarding the original consent for any reason, then yes you and she would need to exchange new consent in Catholic form.


Why should she be against it? You weren’t married in the Church therefore you aren’t married in the eyes of the Church.


If you were unbaptized at the time of your marriage, but had been married according to the form of Catholic marriage, then your marriage would be valid although not a sacrament. If that were the case, then, at the time that you were baptized and became a Christian, then your marriage – at that very moment – would become sacramental (as well as remaining valid).

So, in that case, a convalidation would not be necessary.

Is it possible that this is what you’re thinking about?

If so, then that’s a completely different case than the situation that you find yourselves in.


Also, keep in mind that to remarry does not mean another big wedding. You can exchange vows in the priest’s office. It can be as low key and private as you wish, should it come to that.


Yep…on august 23rd last, my wife of 38 years (on this coming Wednesday) had our convalidation in the private chapel of the Friars with only my daughter and her boyfriend as witnesses… and the priest wearing khakis and Hawaiian shirt with no habit or vestments!


Congrats friend! :slight_smile:


Is the Priest likely to consider it an affront if we say we don’t see the need to exchange vows again?


He shouldn’t. That is the purpose of sanation.

If, however, investigation determines that sanation is not an option, then I encourage you to consider that just because you don’t see the need doesn’t mean there is not one. You perhaps are not far enough along in your journey to understand that there is indeed a need.


Since your wife, as a Catholic, needed to be married in the Catholic Church (unless she got a dispensation) the marriage would be invalid and she is not able to receive the Eucharist. The Church wants all catechumens/candidates to be able to receive all the Sacraments, so the need to have a convalidation or possibly a radical sanation before you can enter the Church.


The Church requires two witnesses for a marriage to be licit.


I didn’t say anything about witnesses. The priest will see to that. I’m talking about privacy. :rolleyes:


I hate to suggest it…
Buy why would your wife refuse so strongly a 10 minute ceremony that simply corrects a point of law? (If she were a believer I would think she would WANT her marriage to have the blessings of a sacrament.) (I did! This last December. )

Not being married according to the Catholic form gives her an easy annulment, lack of form.


In my experience, it’s usually because the person or couple believes the marriage was always valid. They don’t want to celebrate a new anniversary date, nor have a long-term relationship viewed as something less than the marriage they believed it to be.

That’s why the option of radical sanation may be the best choice, if it is possible.


That’s right, you didn’t say anything about them. You implied there would be none, that it would be between the couple and their priest in his office. Not so.

The usual state of affairs in my parish is that convalidations are celebrated like regular marriages, in the church with a Mass, like they typically need to be. I believe a dispensation from form would be needed to have it outside of the Mass, and another dispensation to have it outside the church building. So it might prove a little more difficult to have that private little ceremony you are so attached to.


Excuse me, I did no such thing.
My IMPLICATION is that they didn’t need to have a big full blown wedding ceremony.
It doesn’t matter. I’m sure they will informed of the proper things to have or do by the priest working on their case.


Perhap the OP’s parish is more like mine than like yours. In that case, the convalidation (or a "regular " marriage for that matter) could be performed outside of Mass and also with just the couple, the priest, and two witness present and without any need for a dispensation although I can’t say one way or another about outside the actual church building.



Note that the OP’s priest wants the convalidation to occur prior to the OP’s entry into the Church. That means that a wedding service, not a nuptial Mass, would be the appropriate celebration to be observed. No dispensation required. :wink:


There would be no *dispensation *needed for the marriage to take place outside of Mass even if both were Catholic.

The only thing required is the Catholic Wedding Rite itself. It needs only a priest or deacon and two witnesses.

It can be done in the Church or the parish chapel. Doing it in the pastor’s office is probably a stretch of the intent of the canons, but wouldn’t require a *dispensation *and wouldn’t affect validity at all.


Originally there was part of the question asking about what the priest would talk to you about when you meet with him. I obviously can’t mindread, but I know in lead up to our convalidation we met once with the priest at the beginning and he just talked with us about the families we grew up in, how our life has been being civilly married, some details about whether we were married before, and some more counseling type questions about how we felt about each other and the Church’s role/theology related to marriage, etc. It was nice.

I would offer you one piece of advice, which is to keep an eye on the timeframe for all of this, if you are actively being prepared to come into the Church at Easter this year. Keep in mind that Lent is right around the corner and it is a very busy time in the Church and some things might work differently in your parish/diocese during that time. I came into the Church last Easter and my husband and I had met with the priest and gone to marriage prep by the fall, but then our priest got really sick and our parish was just focusing on the basics while other priests were filling in. So, mid-Lent, everyone realized that this really should happen before Easter Vigil, and we met with the deacon and he had to file some paperwork and we had to wait about a week to get the approval back from the diocese (which was considered a “rush”). We ended up being married by the deacon at 9 am on the Saturday right before Palm Sunday. I don’t know if there is a prohibition against weddings during Holy Week but it was pretty clear that at least our deacon and priest were not going to consider doing it during Holy Week. We actually did get a lot from the little ceremony in the church with our kids and my husband’s parents and our witnesses (and a random guy who came in off the street who was a strange but charming blessing).

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