Converting and marriage

Hi guys
i am waiting for some answers from a friend but thought maybe i might get some here
i want to convert to become catholic
the issue is i am married to a non beliver he is atheist/humanist our wedding was a civil service
will this prevent me converting
he is baptised but will not enter a church to have a service and i would not push him to
I am in the UK by the way
many thanks

I’m no canon lawyer, but I know a civil wedding is not considered a Sacramental marriage in the eyes of the Church. I would talk with a priest about how to proceed, but I believe you will have to get properly married in a Church, and with that you may need a dispensation from the bishop since you are marrying a non-Catholic. Not only that, but your spouse would have to agree to raise any children you have Catholic.

Until you are married sacramentally, you and your spouse would have to remain celibate since you are not considered married in the eyes of the Church. This is a very difficult situation, and I hope that you can find a good priest to walk you through the steps you need to come into the Church. I will keep you in my prayers. :crossrc:

thanks for your reply
i think you have misread the post I have been married for 11 years and our wedding was a civil service i was anglican at the time i want to be catholic and want to know if this prevents me

My understanding is, if neither of you were baptised or confirmed Catholic, you should have a valid marriage. Civil services are I think valid so long as both of you were free to marry and neither party was considered Catholic at the time of marriage. Now there may be issues if either of you were divorced beforehand.

If there is any doubt, there is also a radical sanation. This will not cover previous divorces or other impediments, but it will bring a marriage into the church if there was any doubt about the form. This is a longer process than convalidation but does not require the other party to come in.

Since you were married in a civil service, your marriage would not be seen as valid in the Catholic Church. I don’t know if this would prevent you from being able to be brought into the Catholic Church, but I know that once you are Catholic, you would need to go through a few steps to make your marriage sacramental.

I’m not sure how this applies to a marriage of two non-Catholic Christians. Typically the issue with civil marriages is that Catholics are bound to marry in the Catholic form, unless granted a dispensation. My impression is that generally marriages of non-Catholics are considered valid so long as there are witnesses (which a civil marriage would have).

Edit: Actually, come to think of it, I’d be sort of surprised if the marriage was invalid, absent some other impediment. Non-Catholic Christians are considered to have valid sacramental marriages, despite the Church not recognizing the authority of Protestant ministers. So long as both parties were free to marry (i.e. not divorced) and neither had been Catholic at any time prior to the marriage, it should be valid.

My understand has always been that if two baptized Christians married (say, in a Protestant ceremony), then their marriage was considered valid. I always thought civil ceremonies, or even Protestant ceremonies where a baptized Catholic is married, were considered invalid. I could be wrong, though. I need to study up on the Code of Canon Law.

Ask your priest, though. This sort of thing comes up all the time. And remember there is the radical sanation procedure if necessary.

This is the best advice in this thread. :thumbsup:

You’ve given some of the details of your situation, but not all that might be necessary to answer your question.

One potentially relevant point, though, since it’s come up in this thread: if you are a non-Catholic Christian who marries another non-Catholic Christian (even if he’s non-practicing) according to the form of your Christian denomination, and there are no other considerations which would make your marriage invalid (e.g., prior marriage bond), then your marriage is considered both valid and sacramental by the Catholic Church.

To the best of my knowledge, if the Anglican Church accepted your marriage as valid (and I believe that it would have been able to do so – correct?), then your marriage is both sacramental and valid and would not be a stumbling block to your entry into the Catholic Church.

However, be sure to talk to your pastor and your RCIA program leader about your situation!



If neither you or your husband were previously married (or if any previous spouses have passed away), then there are no apparent blocks to your entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

If both of you have been baptized, and neither of you were previously married (unless the spouse has passed away), then the two of you already have a sacramental marriage, no matter where you were married.

Pray for your husband every day that he may return to God.

I hope you’ll call the pastor or the RCIA* coordinator soon, to inquire about your journey to Catholicism. May you be blessed on this great adventure!

*RCIA = Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. You would prepare for the second and third sacraments of initiation – Confirmation and Eucharist – as well as for the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Catholic Church does not accept as valid the Anglican Confirmation or Eucharist.

Your marriage IS considered valid by the Church and will not prevent you from entering the Church. However, I strongly suggest you see a priest at your earliest convenience to find out about convalidation if your husband refuses.

God bless you on this wonderful journey.

Assuming that neither of you were baptized Catholic, and also assuming no impediments exist (usually prior marriages of either party), your civil marriage is considered VALID by the Church. If your marriage is considered valid, you do not need a convalidation. Your husband’s practicing/non-practicing status is irrelevant to marriage validity.

You noted that your husband is baptized. If you are also baptized, your marriage is considered sacramental. If not, when you become baptized, your marriage becomes sacramental upon baptism.

Just to clarify: You DO NOT need a convalidation based upon the information you have given. In fact, you can’t have one if you are validly married.

This is incorrect. A civil marriage between two, baptized non-Catholics (who have no impediments) would be both valid and sacramental. A valid marriage is automatically sacramental when both parties are baptized.

The bottom line is that the OP should contact a priest and sort this all out.

Assuming that neither of you was baptized Catholic and neither of you have been married before, you should be just fine. A civil service is valid as long as neither party is Catholic. Since you are both baptized it is also sacramental.

This is incorrect. Two Christians who are validly married are also sacramentally married, no matter where the marriage took place.

This is incorrect. Catholics must be married according to Catholic form. Non-Catholics are not held to this standard. As long as the marriage is valid in their church (so, for example, Orthodox have to be married according to Orthodox form), it is considered valid by the Catholic Church as well.

The exact same thing happened to me. The first reply is wrong. The subsequent ones are correct.

We had a civil service, we were two baptized non-Catholics, then I later converted to the Church but my wife did not. In addition, our marriage commissioner forgot to read some of the (legally necessary) vows! I had my priest check with the canon lawyer who is head of our archdiocesan marriage tribunal, and he said we were sacramentally married but could “renew our vows” anyways if it made us feel better. We did so.

These are the things to consider:

  1. Was either of you baptized as a Catholic at the time of the wedding? If so, the requirements of the Church applied to you and the marriage is INVALID. In this case, seek a convalidation through the Church.
  2. Were both of you baptized non-Catholic at the time of the wedding? If so, the marriage is presumed VALID AND SACRAMENTAL. Don’t worry about it anymore.
  3. Was either of you unbaptized at the time? If so, the marriage is PRESUMED VALID, but NOT SACRAMENTAL. It automatically becomes sacramental at baptism.

You might want to do what my wife and I did: renew your vows in front of your priest in a way that your non-Catholic spouse is comfortable with. Of course this is not required, but the vows made my wife and I think about the obligations and sacramentality of marriage in a new light, as well as putting any of my doubts to rest.

I forgot to mention about impediments, but a previous poster covered it. If either of you were married before your wedding, then that first marriage is presumed valid. If this is the case this case, your marriage would be invalid.

Welcome and may the Holy spirit continue to guide you on your journey home.
God bless

jesus g

Welcome and I wish you well. I converted after marriage and my husband did not. He is non-practicing evangelical. While I absolutely do not regret my decision, just know that your journey will likely not be an easy one, but God is with you.

My apologies with my first responses. I read your original post as your husband being baptized Catholic when you did not state that (that’s what I get for reading too much into it). If he was not baptized Catholic, then yes, the other posters are correct in saying that your marriage was, in fact, valid.

The Anglican Church recognizes both religious and civil marriage. Therefore the Catholic Church will see your marriage as being approved by the Anglican Church, so it has valid form for an Anglican. Marriage between two validly baptized is a sacament (if there are no undispensed impediments). Convert at will.

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