Married with a lack of "canonical form"


Catholic man and woman married outside the Catholic Church by Protestant minister with no dispensation from the Bishop of their diocese. Since the time of their marriage, are they living in grevious sin?


Yes, they are objectively fornicating, although it may not be mortal sin if they are unaware of the Church’s teaching.

According to the Church, they are not married. Either could get a decree of nullity simply by showing proof of their baptism, and that the ceremony was performed w/o a dispensation.

God Bless


My wife and I were married outside the Church . . . long story. She is a former Catholic (on the road back home). What is the process for the Church to see our marriage as valid? Another marriage ceremony? Paper work? Thanks for the help.


They are in an invalid marriage and have separated themselves from the Sacraments. They cannot receive any of the Sacraments until their situation is rectified. They should make an appointment with their priest regarding convalidation, ASAP.


Convalidation, which does entail giving new consent in front of a priest and also paperwork.

Make an appointment with the priest and he will guide you.


Does this include the Sacrament of Reconciliation?


I do not think this is an automatic excommunication. Its pretty much Once Catholic Always Catholic unless one really is an apostate or does a very grave sin (striking a bishop, defiling the Eucharist etc.).

These people need to RUN to a Catholic priest and get counseling and instructions. The priest will probably insist on immediate confession to get them out of a state of mortal sin then to live as Christian Brother and Sister (chaste and complete sexual abstinance) until they can be scheduled for a formal wedding. I am betting a deacon or priest can marry them in a very short service inside of a week.



Thanks for the info :slight_smile:


Is this the only marriage for the both of you? If not, then you’ll have to go through the annullment process first.

If it is your only marriage, then you just have to get your marriage convalidated. And from what I’ve gathered it’s a fast process.
God bless that she’s coming back. :wink:

Talk to your priest asap.


They could be admitted to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they live as brother and sister until the marriage is regularized. A person cannot go to Confession if they do not intend to stop committing the sin. So, if they don’t intend to refrain from sexual relations, they cannot be absolved. If they do, then they could discuss this with your priest.


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