Mixed marriage validated before rite of initiation

My wife and i are in RCIA at the moment and we are about to go through our rite of initiation this Easter Vigil. At the beginning of our RCIA experience I told the RCIA director that I was Baptized Catholic, but never confirmed, my wife was born and raised a Southern Baptist. Needless to say we were married in a Baptist Church, which I did tell the RCIA director who then said that I didn’t need to worry about our marriage being valid.
So I then go to confession the other day to be prepared for the next couple weeks and after that was done the Priest asked me if my wife and myself had ever got our marriage validated…of course i told him “No, as I understand it, I didn’t need to”. He then said that any marriage outside of a Catholic Church needs to be validated BEFORE confirmation.

Basically, he said it was a little late for that but to put forth an effort to get it done ASAP.

Who is in the wrong here? And are me and my wife living in mortal sin due to our marriage not being validated? :eek:


You’re not living in mortal sin. You were married, just not sacramentally. I assume you were married in the Baptist church? I would listen to the priest since he probably knows best. I don’t know what it entails, but I think it means that you need to have your marriage blessed in the Catholic Church. I’ve never been in RCIA. I pray this helps. Congrats on coming home! I’m praying for you! :crossrc:

It appears that your RCIA director might have slipped up big time but that depends on one thing: Before you got married in the Baptist Church did you go see your parish priest and do any of the things that are required of a Catholic before he/she gets married? If you didn’t go see your priest and just ‘got married’, it would certainly appear that you are in an invalid marriage and that situation needs to be rectified.

Did the parish where you are going through RCIA ask you for a copy of your Certificate of Baptism? Just telling them you’re baptized Catholic shouldn’t have been enough.

If you were baptized as a Catholic you were bound to follow Catholic marriage laws or to get a dispensation. Without that, your marriage isn’t valid.

In my parish the convalidation of a marriage comes before First Communion and Confirmation. Get the marriage straightened out, go to confession, then receive the other sacraments.

Welcome (back) to the Church – and God bless you and your wife!! What a wonderful blessing!

What the previous posters said is correct about the validity of your marriage. Get into communication with a priest and see what needs to be done and when. It will all work out, because what you are seeking is the same as what God wants – your family in the Heart of His Church. He will not leave you at this critical moment.

You are in our prayers :thumbsup:


Just live as brother and sister until you get the marriage convalidated.

To answer your question, about our marriage my wife and I where more agnostic then anything at the time we were married. I haven’t been involved in the Catholic Church sense I was a small child.
We were married in her parents church (Baptist) without any one in our parish knowing… more because we had not engaged ourselves in our parish, nor any other church for that matter.
We have been married for 12 years and have 2 boys and our next, a girl is due April 7, 09 (Kind of stressful, but I’m loving it! ;)) I almost feel like I need to know any official info on this subject so I’ll feel comfortable accepting the holy sacrament.

So, is there a official church teaching on the subject, I feel my RCIA director already gave me her opinion on the subject… and knowing that one priest in our parish is conservative and one is VERY liberal, I feel I’ll get 2 different answers from our 2 Priest on the said subject.

I have searched the CCC front to back and I have found nothing that relates.

Thank you everyone for the help thus far.


Not a real issue due to my wife being so very pregnant (Due April 7,09) but note taken! :wink:

The rules regarding marriage are more clearly laid out in canon law than in the CCC. But basically, the previous posters are accurate about church teaching regarding the circumstances of your marriage. It sounds as if the RCIA director either misunderstood, or was confused. Since you are a baptized Catholic, you were obligated to follow the Catholic form of marriage (that is, get married in the Catholic Church, or receive a dispensation to be married in your wife’s church). That would have happened during a meeting with your priest prior to your marriage.

At this time, based on what you’ve described, the church does not consider your marriage valid and you should talk to the pastor to see if you could have it convalidated. In my experience, we’ve done that this close to Easter. Perhaps your pastor could arrange to move things along a bit quickly under the circumstances?

One does not sin if one is innocently unaware of the rules.

It would be best now to live as brother and sister until you get the marriage convalidated. It should be convalidated before you receive any further sacraments.

Assuming there are no impediments, e.g. previous marriages, it should be a fairly simple process.

Since time is so short and you were misguided. Keep in mind that a Convalidation might require a period of “Marriage preparation” depending on what your diocese requires.

I don’t know why the RCIA director told you what she did. She should have referred you to the pastor from the get-go.

You won’t find what you’re looking for in the Catechism but you will find it in the Code of Canon Law.

To start off, Canon Law says that a Catholic can only contract a valid marriage in the Catholic Church.

Can. 1108 §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. ⇒ 144, ⇒ 1112, §1, ⇒ 1116, and ⇒ 1127, §§1-2.

That said, exceptions can be made.

If the Catholic deems that his/her faith will not be diminished or risked by marrying a baptized non-Catholic, and if he/she promises to do everything in his/her power to have any children baptized and raised Catholic, the priest may give permission for a mixed-marriage to take place.

If the potential spouse is not baptized, the requirements vis-à-vis faith and children as listed above are the same but the Bishop must grant a dispensation for disparity of worship/cult.

Should the Catholic then want to marry in the non-Catholic’s Church, or even civilly for certain reasons, the bishop is asked to dispense with the obligation to marry in the Catholic Church. If he does, the Catholic is free to marry civilly or, as in your case, in the Baptist Church.

You didn’t do any of those things which is why your marriage is not presumed valid. Sorry, at this point I’m sure that’s the last thing you want to hear. Sit with your priest and go over everything in detail.

Congratulations on returning to the Church and on becoming a parent! Both are huge journeys! How wonderful that both you and your wife are working on your journeys of faith together!
I won’t repeat what previous posters have correctly stated. But talk with your pastor asap about what he expects from you and your wife in the way of preparing for your convalidation. Because your wife is about to give birth, perhaps he’ll convalidate your marriage prior to Easter, and ask you two to attend a Marriage Encounter weekend in a few months. I’m assuming that at least one of your RCIA sessions covered the sacrament of Matrimony. You and your wife should demonstrate to your pastor (now) that you understand and accept the Church’s teachings about the sacrament, including her teachings against contraception.

Why not just contact your priest (try the conservative one to be on the safe side :wink: ) and explain the situation and that you need it done quickly. Shouldn’t be a problem. This is a first marriage for both of you, right?

Canon 1065 part 1 states, “If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage.”

I have found this… does it relate somehow? Does it apply to the already married but unvalidated?

Yeah, it is our first and only marriage. And I’ve ask the more conservative Priest and he has asked me to get it done asap after easter.

It’s not a lot to plan. He just needs to put it in his schedule and I believe they have to fill out the paperwork if I remember correctly. With us it was just a 10 minute or so ceremony with me, my husband, my Mom and 3 priests. :smiley: You don’t need three priests of course but you do need two witnesses! One of the priests was my cousin and the other a friend so my cousin was the second witness after my Mom. The secretary came over from the office and took a picture for us but I’m sure she could have been a witness had we not had had additional clergy there. Most people keep it simple.

Yeah, i wouldn’t think it would be to hard to get it done…although, my wife is 9 months pregnant and already 5 cem 70% e-faced. it will be any moment now :smiley: It is hard to motivate her to do anything other then get in the car to head to the hospital

I will discuss it with her though, carefully. She has been a wee bit snappy lately. I’m sure you moms out there could understand how she feels. :wink:

Thank you all,

I ran into the same situation when I converted.

We had our marriage convalidated on a Saturday, and I was confirmed the next day. There was a form to fill out. The biggest issue was getting my wife’s sacremantal record from her home parish on the other coast. If you don’t have that for the Catholic party(ies) sacremental record, request it ASAP. It just barely came in time for us.

Your priest will need it to perform the convalidation.

How wonderful!!! God bless you and your new wee one!!! Keep us posted!:smiley:


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