Marriage Validity?


I am new here, so I hope this is in the right spot. My wife is the CRE of our local CCD program. After class tonight, she got into a conversation with our parish priest. She mentioned that she had been my confirmation sponsor before we were engaged to be married. Our priest said that you cannot marry your sponsor, and that he thought that our marriage may be invalid! What does this mean? Is this true? If so, what can I do about it? We have been married (I thought) for 12 years and have two beautiful daughters. Any insight here would be greatly appreciated. If I am on the wrong forum, let me know and I will move the question. Thanks!

You poor girl. I’ll see what I can find out and what sources…in the meantime I’ll be praying for you.

Impediments to marriage e.g.

(d) spiritual relationship (cognatio spiritualis). Spiritual birth has been considered as producing a kind of relationship between those who took an active part in the rites of Christian initiation, baptism, and confirmation, and marriage between them is forbidden. The** impediment arising from these sacraments has been restricted by the Council of Trent** (Sess. XXIV, cap. ii, “De Ref. Matri.”); it prevents the marriage of the sponsor with the child or with the child’s parents, also the marriage of the minister of the sacrament with the person baptized or confirmed and with his parents. But we must remark that as far as the Sacrament of Confirmation is concerned there can be no question of the marriage of the minister; also as confirmation requires only one sponsor, who must be the same sex as the person confirmed, this impediment cannot arise between them; the only case therefore where it would occur is in a marriage of the sponsor in confirmation with the parent of the child, which would be null and void;

There seems to be an impediment but not specific to your situation as it isn’t considered a likelihood.

So I need to find whether dispensation…special permission… is possible.

It would seem that you can seek a dispensation judging from this passage

Marriage is juridically a contract, and a Christian marriage does not cease to be a contract because it is a sacrament. Being a sacrament it is a sacred thing, and as such is subject to the authority of the church; and, being a contract, the church can establish impediments to matrimony, either personal or formal. Having the power to establish them, she can abrogate them, modify them, and, consequently, dispense from them in individual cases (see MARRIAGE; DISPENSATION).

I believe that you have a case for suficient cause. Perhaps print this page and show it to your priest, and ask what you should do next. I hope I’ve been able to give you some peace of mind. I don’t know if you will be required to seek a sanation.


Dispensation is an act whereby in a particular case a lawful superior grants relaxation from an existing law.

…Causes for granting dispensations
A sufficient cause is always required in order that a dispensation may be both valid and licit when an inferior dispenses from a superior’s law, but only for the liceity of the act when a superior dispenses from his own law. Nevertheless, in this latter case a dispensation granted without a motive would not (in se), except for some special reason, e.g. scandal, constitute a serious fault. **One may be satisfied with a probably sufficient cause, or with a cause less than one that, of itself and without any dispensation, would excuse from the law. **

Matrimonial dispensations
A matrimonial dispensation is the relaxation in a particular case of an impediment prohibiting or annulling a marriage. It may be granted:

(a) in favour of a contemplated marriage or to legitimize one already contracted;
(b) in secret cases, or in public cases, or in both (see IMPEDIMENTS OF MATRIMONY);
© in foro interno only, or in foro externo (the latter includes also the former). Power of dispensing in foro interno is not always restricted to secret cases (casus occulti).

I left a message for my priest to ring me back, as I do feel very much for you and your husband.

You can relax. The priest is wrong. You’ve only been married 12 years so you have nothing to worry about. The ‘sponsor’ impediment existed in the 1917 Code of Canon Law but does not exist in the 1983 Code.

The old Code of Canon Law prohibited a person from entering into Marriage with their Godparent. I’m not specifically sure it prohibited Confirmation Sponsors. However neither are mentioned as prohibitions in the new 1983 Code.

It appears from one of the posts above that the old Code mandated that a Confirmation sponsor be of the same sex as the confirmand so the impediment wouldn’t exist as with Baptismal sponsors.

Whew! :o

Thank you so much for your help! Normally I wouldn’t fret over such things, but because it came from the priest, my wife was worried as was I. Good to know that we did get married in the eyes of the Church as well as God.

I have made some big blunders in my life, but that one would have topped them all…:slight_smile:


While I am guessing it does not apply in this case (I am presuming the OP is of the Latin Rite), the Eastern Canons still enumerate an impediment arising between a baptismal (which would include Chrismation/Confirmation) sponsor and candidate (and his parents). CCEO (1990):

Canon 811

  1. From baptism there arises a spiritual relationship between a sponsor and the baptized person and the parents of the same that invalidates marriage.
  2. If a baptism is repeated under condition, a spiritual relationship does not arise, unless the same sponsor was employed for the second ceremony.

NB: This canon binds those under the Eastern Rites, not Latin Rite Catholics.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit