Even more confused


Ok I don’t know how long this post will end up being…
I had been attending Mass for over 10 years and never officially joined the church till this year. I am almost done with the RCIA process. Woo!! We decided, by the advice of our current pastor and RE director that RCIA was the right process to go thru and then after I was done, when our next anniversary rolled around in 2009 we would have our marriage blessed by the church. My husband and I were married by JP years ago because I was not Catholic. We have five children, all baptized in the Catholic church. Our current pastor, who is a VERY VERY particular man and seems on the picky side to me stated it must be done just like this and that we would still have to go thru classes and retreats etc and as long as we went thru his process just so, all would be fine and we could have our marriage blessed in January.
Now we are moving and moving to another parish. We met with the pastor at that church and he is telling me that process given to us by Msg. Pat is wrong, that I should not be able to recieve my sacraments this Easter since I was not married in the Catholic church. He said it’s not his concern however since I was not recieving my sacraments in his church. But there would not be any issues with him blessing our marriage in the new church once I am Catholic.
I feel like I am walking around in the dark with this having to be done before this or that… More like overloaded with information and process procedure and feeling disoriented. Does that make sense?
Who’s right? Have we gone about this the wrong way?


Your original pastor is wrong unless you and your spouse are living as brother and sister (I am assuming you hubby was Catholic from the get go). If you hubby was Catholic at the time of your JP marriage then marriage is not recognized by the Catholic Church.

We had our marriage convalidated in 2004. This happened to my husband in 1997 as well when he came into the church. He should not have been recieving the sacraments all those years and I shouldn’t have either but they didn’t address it. When we changed to a more conservative parish, plans for a convalidation was started immediately.

We refrained from the sacraments, went to confession a few days before our wedding (that is actually what it is) and the refrained from relations until after our after the convalidation (wedding). There is no need to wait to your civil wedding date to have a convalidation. We have 2 anniversaries now.

The term having a marriage blessed is often used but in truth that is not what is happening. A convalidation is a wedding in the church -although usually much less formal.

It is not your fault your current priest misdirected you. Although I’m not sure your new pastor advised you well either. If you can refrain from relations and start the convalidation at your new parish as soon as possible, I think you’ll be ok but you may want to ask for an official answer on the Ask the Apologist forum.


I went through RCIA 2 years ago, and I was required to have my marriage convalidated before I could recieve the Sacrament of Confirmation and take my first communtion. As I understand it, this is required by Canon law.


Okay… let me try to understand this…

This was the first marriage for you and your current spouse? You were not Catholic but he was?

Is there anything standing in the way of you two not getting married in the Church right away? I mean, does one of you need an annulment or something?

Here are a couple of things that can be done…

If this was the first marriage for both of you, you and your DH can go to the priest and ask him to do the ceremony immediately. Like NOW! Like after Mass tomorrow. All you need is a priest or deacon and two witnesses. If you are free to marry, then you have a natural right to marriage and I would tell Father that you would really like to have this done NOW, otherwise, as a PP said, you will have to live as brother and sister until such time as you do have the Catholic wedding, because you are not considered “married” and you cannot be having a sexual relationship if you are not technically married.

If you were both non-Catholic when you married, then I’m a little confused…

All of this really hinges on whether or not your spouse was Catholic and whether this was the first marriage for both of you.


My husband has always been Catholic.


We had a case like that in RCIA several years back. He was Catholic and she was a catechumen. A week before the Easter Vigil we had a small convalidation ceremony one evening in the church. Just thier immediate family and our RCIA team. It was beautiful.


Okay, then I suggest trying to get the wedding done as soon as possible. I’m assuming this was the first marriage for both of you?


You can’t do it after Mass tomorrow. Just like any other marriage papaer work needs to be filled out and sent to the diocese for approval.


too many variables to answer here.
don’t know your canonical status or your spouse,
in general, before you can receive the sacraments you must be in a state of sanctifying grace. that means rectifying any situation such as an invalid marriage that prevents it, so that you can make a good confession first (if baptized) or so that you do not immediately return to a sinful “lifestyle” right after baptism. there is no reason to wait for convalidation, it should be done as soon as the pastor is satisfied there are no obstacles (need for annulment etc.) that consent and competency are there and all the conditions for valid marriage are in place.

it would be very wise for anyone who is forced to change parishes during the RCIA process to get a letter from the former pastor stating “where you’re at” in the process, and in fact they must inform the new pastor if you have celebrated the rite of accepance or rite of election.


Our current pastor will not do it until after Easter and until we attend the prep classes.

I will not be baptized until Easter vigil. There are no needs for annulments. We have already gotten a "where you are at thing for the kiddos and classes, but the recieving parish said there would be no need for me since I would have already recieved my sacraments before moving to the new parish. We are going mid-April.


You can’t do it after Mass tomorrow. Just like any other marriage papaer work needs to be filled out and sent to the diocese for approval.

What needs to be sent to the diocese for approval? If she is baptized, just not Catholic, then there’s no paperwork to do… However, if she’s not baptized, then yes, they do have to get the dispensation from disparity of cult, and by now, Saturday, it would be too late to get that done.

In our diocese, that can be done in a matter of five minutes by the priest going down to the chancery. It’s all about how motivated you are to get it done.

Also, if the priest is insisting that the parites attend some sort of marriage prep, that’s also up to the pastor. It’s not for the validity of the marriage - it’s merely for licaity that the parties go through some sort of marriage prep. And even then, there should be some sort of special marriage preparation program for those who are already civilly married. To force a couple who has been living together with children for 10 years to the same program as those who are 22 years old and fresh out of college is just a plain insult and poor catechisis and bad theology.

At this point, if you are not married in the Church, then you really shouldn’t be received into the Church until such time as you are.

Most priests will be far more accomodating than this one is… it’s pretty sad, to be honest, that you are all being denied marriage this way.


Okay, I was not clear that you were not already baptized. I thought you were being received into the Church at Easter and not baptized into it. If you are being baptized at EAster, then you do need the dispensation from disparity of cult in order to get married and depending on your diocese that might take a little longer. However, you could be received into the Church and literally the next day you could be married… :wink: Then, you wouldn’t need the dispensation, since you are both Catholic… but then you’d have to have a priest who was actually pastoral…


You can not get married the next day whether your baptised or not. My husband and I were both Catholic at the time of our convalidation. Our priest had to interview us, since we already married outside the church for 14 years he didn’t see the need for the normal pre-cana classes but he could have required it. We had to bring current versions of our baptism certificates (with all the sacraments updated on the back) for him to make copies of and send along with the paper work we had to fill for the diocese to review. Then you wait for approval to be sent back from diocese -yes approval. The whole process took about 6 or 8 weeks. No Catholic can marry “the next day”. Maybe if the diocese is very small things can proceed quicker, I don’t know. We live in the archdiocese of Detroit.


I understand what your situation was… but I’m telling you that it can, in fact, happen. Someone CAN get all of the paperwork together and be married within a week. Should it happen in all circumstances? No, obviously not.

I certainly don’t think that someone should come in off the street and be able to get married right away. But, I do believe that someone who has been connected to the Church as a catechuman, for many months, has been going through a lot more over the course of many months than someone who just walks in off the street.

But, to automatically say that

You can not get married the next day whether your baptised or not

is just making a statement about your own situation.

You know that this is true in my diocese? You know, for a fact, that this is true in every diocese in the US and around the world?

I’m speaking from my degree in canon law and my work in several dioceses around this country and in other countries. I’m not just talking from my own personal experience in one marriage case. To make far-reaching statements about what is possible or not in the entire Church based on what happened to you in your diocese is not the best way to bring this canonist to moral certitude.

I hear you saying that it’s just never possible, and I’m telling you that this just isn’t true.


I’m sorry… I now see how uncharitable my last post was…

While I don’t want to give off a “I’m more educated therefore I’m more right” attitude, I do want to clarify when I see something being said that is not entirely true about the Church’s laws…

My apologies to rayne89 for my abrupt and snarky attitude in that previous post…:o


Ok maybe there are situation where it is possible the chances of it happening are highly unlikely. A sacramental marriage is forever. I think the priest and the church need to make sure to the best of it’s abilty the couple is prepared and has no impedements. You said:

If this was the first marriage for both of you, you and your DH can go to the priest and ask him to do the ceremony immediately. Like NOW! Like after Mass tomorrow.

In this country it may not be impossible per se but it’s extremely unlikely. You advised the OP like this would be a norm and it is not. There is paper work for any and all couples requesting to be married in the church. A current baptism certificate is required. I would think since you are a canon lawyer you would know that.


Right, but all of that documentation should already have been gathered if their RCIA program is worth anything. The documentation should be all in order by way of that. No RCIA direction or DRE who knows what he/she is doing would have someone in the program who needs to be married in the Church and not have the necessary paperwork at least going on in the files…

I can see where if you have two Catholics that all of that information would need to be gathered, but when you are talking about a person who is coming into the Church, then most of that paperwork will already be in hand.

Also, not every diocese will need 6-8 weeks to get paperwork together. I have no idea why you and your DH, as two Catholics, needed to wait 6-8 weeks to have approval to get married. There is no need for any sort of “approval” when you have two Catholics who are free to marry. Was there a need for some sort of annulment (lack of form for example) that needed to be done for you before you could have your Catholic wedding? Otherwise, there’s no need for any sort of “approval” that you would have to wait 6-8 weeks for.

Getting copies of completed baptismal records is no big deal and can be done in like 3 days with a phone call. It’s all a matter of someone taking the 10 minutes to look up the record, and then fill out the form. It’s not something that takes 6-8 weeks. In fact, it would only take 3 days if it had to be mailed somewhere. If the person could go and pick it up, it would take a matter of hours. So, I’m back to how does gathering paperwork take this long?

I’m just lost as to why you would have had to wait 6-8 weeks for any sort of approval if you were both Catholic. That’s what makes no sense to me.


My husband went through the RCIA program in 1997. No one at the church even told us we needed to married in the church. We had married at a wedding chapel right out of highschool. It wasn’t until 2004 when we changed to a more conservative parish that our convalidation process began. I had to call the parish I was baptized in in New York, I live in Michigan and they had to mail me a copy. Getting my husband’s certificate was easy because the church he was baptized in was 20 minutes away.

Then we sat down with our pastor, he interviewed us. There was paper work that needed to be filled out, asking about any previous marriages -which there were none, our religion of our parents, he need a copy our our marriage certificate which we brought with us- I can’t remember most of it, since it was 4 years ago. There was no annulement. He said he would mail the paper work right away and we would hear back from the archdiocese in about 2 months or so. I think it came back a bit earlier like 6 weeks.

When convalidation has been discussed on this forum before this seems to be the norm. I have never heard of anyone being able to get convalidated immediately upon request.


You have my undivided attention. I attended a weekend retreat “Yesterday, Today and Forever” The couple teaching the class strongly encouraged most of the people to get their marriages sanated [Radical Sanation]. It seems that many of the priests are exercising a simple blanket solution by having marriages convalidated rather than sanated. What is you view on this subject?


Why would you make it complicated by going for a radical sanation which requires the bishop’s involvement rather than a simple convalidation which can be done easily at the parish??? If neither party has a problem with repeating their vows why complicate things?

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