Is convalidation an option?


I am currently in RCIA, set to enter the church this Easter vigil. I am civilly married to my wife who was baptised and confirmed as a child but has never really practiced the faith. However, my conversion has peaked her interest in the faith of her childhood. She is reading and praying but has apprehension about Catholicism. I approached a preist about a convalidation ceremony after my baptism and confirmation, but he said that it did not cover my situation. His point was that my wife should continue in her study and hopefully join RCIA ad come in full communion with the church. In the meantime we should “live as brother and sister”. I respect my preist very much, but is he right? Is convalidation not an option for us. If it isn’t I would be willing to bear the cross of waiting for my wife, but what if she doesn’t come in? Would this mean children wouldn’t be in my future. I am very confused.


Maybe your priest misunderstand because your wife IS in full communion with the Church. She is a baptized, confirmed Catholic.

Even if she never practices, you can convalidate or petition for radical sanation.

No, he isn’t and I would continue to pursue the situation. In general, convalidation should happen before your reception into the Church.


She was Baptized and Confirned

(provided she was confirmed as a Catholic and not say an Anglican) This tells me that she is initiated into the Church (most of the Western church used confirmation as the last sacrament of initiation) and provided she has already received first First Communion/reconciliation, all she has to do is go to reconciliation and resume as a faithful Catholic. I see no reason for her to need RCIA as she has already recieved the Rite of Christian Initiation, and no reason convalidation would not be an option. If you aren’t baptized then the convalidation would be weak if done before intering the Church because the sacrament wouldn’t take (baptism is required for that), so probably brother and sister till then (priests have permitted that in more egregious situations before).


Given there are no other impediments, such as prior marriages for either of you, I am assuming you were not married in the Catholic Church and did not have a dispensation to be married elsewhere. It seems there would have to be a convalidation in your situation.


Hi, @Troyanthony! Welcome to CAF!

Hmm… maybe Troy needs to clarify. On one hand, he mentions “the faith of [his wife’s] childhood”, but on the other, he points out her “apprehension about Catholicism.” I’m not sure I’d conclude that she is a Catholic. (I mean, she could be an Anglican.)

So, @1ke, help me out here (my brain is taking the day off): if (at the point of their wedding in the past) she’s a baptized non-Catholic Christian, and he’s an unbaptized person, then their marriage is a valid natural marriage. And, at the point that @Troyanthony becomes a Catholic, their valid natural marriage becomes a valid sacramental marriage… no?

(If she is Catholic, then yeah – there’s the need for convalidation (or sanation) at some point. However, since he’s going to be baptized, the convalidation could happen after the Easter Vigil (as long as – along the lines of the advice of his priest – they live “as brother and sister” from the Easter Vigil till the convalidation), right?)


@1ke Thank you for the reply. I thought that was the case, but he seemed rather certain that convalidation wasn’t an option. I will bring it up with the pastor of the parish.


@Horton yes my wife was baptised and confirmed in the Catholic Church, she also went to Catholic school for elementary. Coming into this whole scenario I assumed convalidation would be what was needed but the priest says that he didn’t consider her to be Catholic because she knew little to nothing about the faith. I have been sharing things with her from my RCIA class and she is reading the Bible and theology of the body. Not sure if her lack of proper chatechises makes her any less Catholic. I will speak to the parish pastor.


Gorgias, thanks for the warm welcome. I have been reading posts in this forum for a while and finally decided to chime in. To Clarify my wife was baptised and confirmed Catholic. Neither of us have previous marriages and I have never been baptised. My RCIA instructor mentioned, that the convalidation would need to happen after my baptism but told me to speak with a Preist first. That’s when I was given this information. I really love and respect Fr. So I didn’t want to challenge him, but I left with a suspicion that maybe that information was incorrect.



OK, so a convalidation – by its very nature! – creates a valid marriage. (I mean… that’s what it’s meant to do, and what it does!) And, a valid natural marriage becomes a valid sacramental marriage – automatically! – when you become a baptized Christian.

So, maybe what we’re seeing is that your pastor wishes your wife to enter into a bit of discernment / catechesis, which will help her return to the practice of her Catholic faith, prior to entering into a valid marriage. (I’m gonna guess that ya’ll didn’t get married in Catholic form (in a Catholic church building, by a priest or deacon), right? If so, then your marriage isn’t technically considered ‘valid’ by the Church, but that can be fixed easily enough.)

So, if your priest is recommending this approach – that is, that you enter into the Church, and your wife gets the catechesis and support that she might need in order to begin practicing her faith again – before you make your marriage sacramental, then it’s not that he’s “wrong”… it’s just that this is his prudential judgment. My intuition is that he’s concerned about your wife’s faith life and salvation… and that’s a good thing!


Listen to your Priest. He is trying to help you and your wife and do what is best for both of your eternal souls. Do what you have to do to make this right with the Church. You won’t regret it. Praying for y’all.


That would be nice, but she need not return to the faith in order for him to convalidate the marriage.


It sounds me to like he doesn’t want to give her the Sacrament of Matrimony until she’s ready to live it out as a Catholic.

But you will need a convalidation.

My guess is this: priests require at least one Catholic to perform the marriage in the Church. You are on your way, but you are not 100% Catholic yet. Your wife is Catholic, but not practicing and perhaps doesn’t know what the Church teaches. So because of this, the priest might feel that she’s not ready to be the one Catholic in the mixed marriage.

But you will be able to be that person once you are confirmed.

So my GUESS is that he’s waiting for you to become Catholic before performing the convalidation because he doesn’t feel comfortable that your wife will be able to make all the promises that a Catholic makes before marriage.

NOTE: he might not be explaining it very well because he might be trying to be delicate.

God bless


You don’t have to be Aquinas to be Catholic. The fact is, if she was Baptized and Confirmed as a Catholic, she is a Catholic…full stop. She doesn’t need to be able to cite the Catechism on various points or quote Papal encyclicals. Now, if she can’t remember what she was taught she should learn, but that would not be required to have your marriage convalidated.


I think there’s an echo in here… :wink:

:face_with_raised_eyebrow: :disappointed:


The priest is wrong, and you need to seek out someone else to help you or contact the diocese about the situation.


She is a Catholic. And whether he “considers” her a Catholic or not is irrelevant. She need never practice her faith at all in order for the OP to request, and receive either a convalidation or a radical sanation.

The priest cannot require what canon law does not.


My prayers are with you both on this journey. Ask Pope St. John Paul II to help you two!


yes, I know.

I never said I agree with the priest. I’m simply guessing as to what he’s thinking.


If that’s the test (which it isn’t), then a significant percentage of people in the pews on Sunday aren’t Catholics either. Just sayin’.


Why don’t you see if you could enter the Faith together as a couple.

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