Is my marriage valid?


#1

I came into the Catholic Church at Easter of 2013 and my husband (raised Catholic, but poorly Catechized) has still not returned. He got “saved” shortly before we were married and was re-baptized in that church. We have been married almost 15 years. He is still hesitant about going back to confession. I was told by our Associate Pastor that I cannot receive the Sacraments until our marriage is convalidated. This worried me, so I called the Pastor who told me not to worry and that I can still receive the Sacraments because we had started to process of getting our marriage convalidated. Now, it is around 1 and 1/2 years later and I went to see him for advice on how to get things rectified, since my husband doesn’t seem very concerned with getting things right. This time he told me that our marriage is invalid and he thinks I should get a divorce. I’m so confused now! I feel that I’m being punished because my Catholic husband didn’t marry in the Church, though I am the one who desperately wants to receive Communion and now I have been told by yet another priest that I should not until our marriage is convalidated. So…

  1. Am I forced to wait for a convalidation before I can receive Communion?
  2. Was the Sacrament of Confirmation even valid for me, if I’m not even permitted to receive Communion now?
  3. Is my marriage valid, and should we live as brother and sister until the convalidation?

#2

If he is Catholic and you were married outside the Church, AND no dispensation (permission, so to speak) was given for the marriage to be celebrated outside the Church, yes, your marriage is not valid. My understanding is that if one is in a state of mortal sin, the graces of Confirmation are blocked until that person confesses, but I don’t the sacrament of needs to be repeated. If your husband is willing to live with you as brother and sister until you have the marriage validated, you can go to Confession and Holy Communion.

If your husband won’t agree to a convalidation, you can speak to the priest about a radical sanation. The term literally means “healing at the roots” and is a way to retroactively validate the marriage as of the date you were married. The process is done solely through paperwork. Your husband does not have to be involved and he does not even have to know this is something you are pursuing. No ceremony is required and the pastor can help you to get the paperwork done.

If your husband is willing to have the marriage convalidated, only a short ceremony is required. However, you should both be aware that this is a NEW declaration of consent, and the marriage will ONLY become valid as of the date of the convalidation.


#3

I am sorry but I think that you have gotten poor advice. That is not your fault and I doubt that you are guilty of any sin. Your Confirmation is certainly valid.

The process of regularizing your marriage should have been handled at the very start of your conversion process and decided before your Confirmation. Yes, the Church would consider your marriage outside the Church to a Catholic invalid. The normal solution to this is a convalidation ceremony. If the spouse is unwilling to cooperate, another alternative is a “radical sanation,” in which the bishop blesses the marriage without a new exchange of consent.

It seems odd that a priest would advise you to divorce. Is there more to this story? Is the problem that your husband has changed his mind about participating in the convalidation? Assuming that you wish to stay married, can you and he get some impartial mediation on this?


#4

It saddens me that you received such poor advice from the start. I also find strange the priest’s advice that you get a divorce.

Is your marriage in good shape? (No need to answer here.) A convalidation will only be celebrated if both parties truly want to remain married.


#5

I was also given bad advice not only at different parishes but here at CAF also. It is disheartening to find out a marriage of over 30yrs as in my case is ‘invalid’, I know it has to do with proper procedures but it is wrong to drop this news to a couple, one a lapsed Catholic trying to correct that situation and a spouse that wants to be Catholic (again my case) and not offer timely, corrective measures and counseling.

I suggest to find a priest that is willing to help you get a radical sanitation if your husband does not want to correct his situation (being a Catholic in full communion again). In my case, my husband DID want to be Catholic and it was very hard finding a parish that would do a convalidation and get my husband started in a RCIA course.

You need to talk to a priest, he is the only one that can get the ball rolling so to say. Make appointments and tell them you need to speak to a priest.


#6

We can answer only in general terms, because of the sensitivity of your situation. But

  1. Yes, you will have to wait.
  2. Yes it was. And if graces were blocked due to mortal sin (not saying you are; this is for your confessor to judge), they will revive upon absolution.
  3. From the looks of it, yes it’s invalid. The “brother and sister” arrangement is certainly an option, but again, you should consult with a good, faithful priest on the matter.

As for divorce, that’s terrible advice. What you can look into is something called a “radical sanation”, i.e. “healing at the root”. If the other spouse is unwilling or uncooperative, this is a possible option. A radical sanation retroactively validates a marriage from the beginning, and can be done even with the cooperation of only one spouse. If your husband is uncooperative on this matter, ask your diocese for help exploring this option. Your husband doesn’t need to know a thing.


#7

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