Is my 20-year marriage valid?

My husband and I discovered recently that he was never, in fact, baptized. We have been married 20 years. I am Catholic. He is not. We have one son, whom I have raised in the faith, and my husband has always been supportive of this–even attends Mass with us. Before we were married, we participated in pre-cana counseling and were married in the Church. At that time, we told the priest who counseled us (and married us) that he was baptized because we sincerely thought he was. Now we know he is not baptized. Is our marriage still valid? Is it considered a sacrament? I’ve reviewed Canon Law 1086.1-1086.3 but am unclear about its meaning given our situation. Any guidance anyone can offer would be most appreciated.

Your marriage is valid but it is not a sacrament because he is unbaptized. Baptism is the gateway sacrament for all the others. He can consider being baptized if he wishes to change the sacramental nature of the marriage. Otherwise it is a good and natural marriage.

You need to contact your Pastor…he can contact the chancery.

What ever needs be worked out can be worked out …

Certainly if he is not baptized there can be no sacrament of marriage (for such is needed for the sacrament to exist)

But whatever may need be worked out can be looked into by the chancery

I am afraid I do know know what that will be for sure…or all the answers to your question. But whatever needs to be done can be done …

Certainly you were both in “good faith” the last 20 years :slight_smile:

But this needs be addressed now…so give him a call

A believe only diocesan judges can answer the question.

Here is the Canon

Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

§2. A person is not to be dispensed from this impediment unless the conditions mentioned in cann. ⇒ 1125 and ⇒ 1126 have been fulfilled.

§3. If at the time the marriage was contracted one party was commonly held to have been baptized or the baptism was doubtful, the validity of the marriage must be presumed according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1060 until it is proven with certainty that one party was baptized but the other was not.

Your description indicates that if you and your ex would know that he is unbaptized, you would ask for and receive dispensation as it is described in canons 1125-1126. This means, that because your intentions were full for valid marriage, if both of you would keep your vows to death, that would break a presumed valid marriage, according to 1086 #3.

The divorce does not annuls the marriage

In other hand after proving that your ex was non baptized, the rota can declare the annulment based on 1086 #1

You are candidate for annulment, but only the Church can declare the annulment.

Unless you want to remarry I would wait with the process. Divorces can be redone.

Um… I don’t think divorce was ever part of the equation…:confused: She was just asking if the marriage is valid (probably so they can take steps to rectify that situation if necessary.)

If they are together the marriage is presumed valid. No one has obligation to prove (and it is very hard to prove w/o doubt) that the husband was never baptized. Dubious impediment is no impediment.

If she has want certainty the marriage can be convalidated or even sanatio in radice (w/o repeating the vows) is possible. .

At the time of your marriage the priest should have obtained recent Baptismal Certificates for both of you, or obtained the necessary dispensations. Often the couple is not aware of his having done this due to all the activity at that time.

The first step is probably to check the file on your marriage, which should contain all such documentation.

It sounds valid to me. You were married in the church, there were no previous marriages that were never annulled, you’re good to go. :slight_smile:

I think the OP’s concern is that they didn’t get the required dispensation for disparity of cult – because they thought they were simply having a mixed marriage – and without it a marriage is invalid. The best thing, as someone else stated, is to contact the parish where the marriage took place and find out exactly what was done. After that, do what needs to be done.

Ah, I guess I take a lot for granted in this area. When my husband and I started the pre cana process I was not a catholic, though I knew I would be when we were married. Because I was in RCIA, and not a full catholic yet, we had to go through a few extra steps that just seemed like a normal part of the process. shrug My bad. :o

They NEED to approach the Priest/Chancery about this. Such is important.

This can be taken care of…

Thank you everyone for your input. Just to clarify…divorce is not an issue. We are happy in our marriage and want to rectify the situation. Also, yes, our baptismal certificates were requested during our pre-Cana counseling. My husband provided a “Certificate of Dedication,” which his parents told him was “the same as Baptism,” and we told this to the priest, who accepted it. During a recent family discussion, his parents revealed that his “baptism” was an anointing with oil as a sign of dedication to the pentecostal church to which they were affiliated at the time. Water was not used, nor the Trinitarian formula.

I understand from everyone’s posts that seeing our pastor should be the next step, so that’s what we’ll do. Thank you very much!

So…is he interested in being baptized?

going only on facts here (which is risky because there is always more to the story) the marriage described in OP is presumed valid but not sacramental because one party was not baptized. The defect of a dispensation to marry an unbaptized person now needs to be sought which is usually a simple matter to remedy, now that the knowledge has come to light, just visit your pastor and remedy the defect, which requires no new exchange of vows, simply his request for the dispensation and notation of the fact in the marriage record where it took place. Then assuming he wishes now to be baptized he proceeds through RCIA and prepares for that with confirmation and first communion. At the moment of his baptism the marriage becomes sacramental, with no need for any other action. His baptismal record will then note the other initiation sacraments, and the marriage. Then the marriage record will also have the fact of his baptism added, so the dispensation becomes moot. The relevant canons have been cited. From OP’s POV it is a simple discussion with the priest, and RCIA for the husband, for the pastor it is a matter of proper record keeping.

I am mystified that anyone was allowed to marry without proof of baptism but no way to lament now. and yes, before the question arises, the marriage has been presumed valid all this time and either way the status of any children of the marriage is not an issue at all.

Is he willing to be baptized? Yes, I believe he is, but he is struggling with how to do this. His parents are extremely anti-Catholic, yet he has experienced the beauty and truth of the faith by going to Mass with me and our son. I suppose I could baptize him if he decides that that is all he is ready to do at this point in time. He has a big decision to make, but I know this is between him and the Holy Spirit.

no, you may not baptize him unless he is in immediate danger of death and there is not way to reach a priest or deacon. This is illicit. His route is RCIA, first instruction in the faith, the assistance to make that decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. About that you are absolutely correct. All you personall need to do at this time is simply inform the priest of the difficulty, ask for the dispensation to be supplied and noted. No problema, a very quiet personal matter.

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