No Eucharist w/o Convalidation?

What does the Catholic Church recommend for someone in this situation:

1 spouse is Catholic; 1 spouse is not. The couple was not married in Catholic Church, but it’s a simple situation - it is both parties first and only marriage & there are no children.

The Catholic spouse began attending mass again, and through Catholic Answers Live/EWTN, learned that the marriage was invalid and not recognized/blessed by the Catholic Church. It was at that time, the Catholic spouse also discovered that taking the Eucharist was not appropriate.

Learning this, the Catholic spouse wanted a Convalidation, and the non-Catholic spouse originally agreed to it. However, during/after the Pre-Cana conference, the non-Catholic spouse changed their mind. (Reason for changing mind: fruitfulness/accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church.) The Catholic spouse is now left not able to receive the Eucharist.

It is hard enough to attend Mass alone but not being able to receive the Eucharist…is there another option for the Catholic spouse to be able to receive communion again?

PS: The Catholic spouse did try to ask the priest who sent them to Pre-Cana, but has not heard a response yet. Thanks for your input and feedback!

In some cases when the only invalidating factor is the form (i.e. married outside the Church) and non-Catholic does not want to renew consent in the Catholci form a Catholic can pursue a radical sanation.

BUT, the things you have described are impediments to valid marriage themselves. If you spouse permanently excluded children when you married civilly, and does now, this is a defect in intent. T.his marriage cannot be convalidated or sanated. It isn’t simply a matter of form if this is the case.

Fecundy, fidelity, and perpetuity are the threefold properties of marriage. Does your spouse reject either of the others, too? Really, you need to think about it. You are married to a person who rejects the nature of marriage.

Catholic’s choices for receiving the Eucharist again are to convalidate or radically sanate the marriage, live celibately under the instruction of their priest, or separate. Those are the choices.

Since he has an objection to raising them Catholic, it doesn’t sound as though he is totally rejecting children, more likely rejecting the Church’s stand on ABC.

He doesn’t have to agree to raise the children Catholic, he only has to be aware of what the Church requires of the Catholic spouse. OTOH, if he is strongly opposed it may not make for a good situation when children do arrive.

Thank you for your reply. We were married in a Nazarene (Christian) church. The non-Catholic spouse does not reject partnership, permanence, or fidelity, and we do intend to have children (neither spouse wishes to permanently exclude children). What the non-Catholic spouse rejects is natural family planning and having to promise that he will raise his children Catholic. With this information, do you feel it would change the situation at all?

I didn’t read it that way, but maybe the OP can clarify if it’s a permanent intention against children or just an objection to raising them Catholic.

Of course, the priest must have reasonable assurance that the Catholic will practice their faith and raise the children Catholic to convalidate/sanate, but the non-Catholic not agreeing fully isn’t an invalidating impediment while an intention against children is.

The OP should talk to her priest.

Exactly!! You got it! But, we got the impression that he WAS required to agree to raise the children Catholic. Because by me being Catholic, I am obligated to raise the children Catholic, and obviously we’re taking about the same children lol. It is a frustrating situation and one that makes me feel a little sad. Thanks for your reply, by the way. I appreciate it.

Please help me understand what you mean by “sanate.” I can’t find this word in the Catechism (maybe it’s not in there?). Thank you,

there is a remedy for every situation including this one. The Catholic party needs to sit down with her priest and explain the situation fully. The marriage can be convalidated without the participation of the non-Catholic party as long as there are otherwise no barriers, previous bond, and the relationship is healthy. This is not a phone call, this is a sit-down interview, and requires daily contact with the priest until he responds. If he is unfamiliar with the process ask politely to be referred to someone in the diocese who is.

Exactly!! You got it! But, we got the impression that he WAS required to agree to raise the children Catholic. Because by me being Catholic, I am obligated to raise the children Catholic, and obviously we’re taking about the same children lol. It is a frustrating situation and one that makes me feel a little sad. Thanks for your reply, by the way. I appreciate it.

not correct, and it sounds like the people at pre-cana did not do a good job of explaining and answering questions, nor that you were in a program geared to people in your situation, rather than newly engaged couples. Please visit the priest for a sit-down to discuss all your concerns, and do be upfront an honest about all factors. Ike’s post is correct. But in radical sanation, healing the marriage at root is it’s Latin meaning, the purpose is to allow the Catholic party to return to the sacraments. Bear in mind this validates the marriage and renders it sacramental and permanent. If the relationship is not healthy this is not your route.

no you won’t find these terms in the CCC because that is about doctrine, and this is a canon law issue

When I got married, back in 1975, my fiancé was required to promise that the children would be raised Catholic. It wasn’t a problem, we had discussed and agreed on that long before (at least 2 years before) he met with the RC Chaplain to do marriage preparation.

When Canon Law changed in 1983, the requirement for the non-Catholic party to make that promise was removed. The promise is made by the Catholic party to do ‘all in his/her power’ to have the children baptized and raised Catholic but the non-Catholic only has to be informed of the promise and its implications.

The Directory on Ecumenism has this to say on the topic:

  1. In carrying out this duty of transmitting the Catholic faith to the children, the Catholic parent will do so with respect for the religious freedom and conscience of the other parent and with due regard for the unity and permanence of the marriage and for the maintenance of the communion of the family. If, notwithstanding the Catholic’s best efforts, the children are not baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church, the Catholic parent does not fall subject to the censure of Canon Law.143 At the same time, his/her obligation to share the Catholic faith with the children does not cease. It continues to make its demands, which could be met, for example, by playing an active part in contributing to the Christian atmosphere of the home; doing all that is possible by word and example to enable the other members of the family to appreciate the specific values of the Catholic tradition; taking whatever steps are necessary to be well informed about his/her own faith so as to be able to explain and discuss it with them; praying with the family for the grace of Christian unity as the Lord wills it.

There are two ways to make a marriage valid:
Simple convalidation: that’s what most people call ‘having the marriage blessed’ but it’s really a Church wedding. It’s usually low-key but you do exactly the same things as you would have if your original wedding had been in the Catholic Church: express your freedom to marry, exchange vows, exchange rings, etc. Your valid marriage begins at that point.

Radical sanation: this one is used when the marriage is sound but the non-Catholic doesn’t want to renew the vows. When you receive a radical sanation (healing at the root), your marriage is considered to have been valid from the time you spoke your vows (in your case in the Nazarene Church).

In both cases there can be no impediments to the marriage: no previous marriage without a decree of nullity; no close blood ties; have intent to be faithful, have children and be married ‘til death do you part’, etc. If the marriage is already rocky the priest may not want to do either of the above.

Thank you everyone for your responses. Our marriage is very healthy and loving, and I thank God every day for the blessing of my husband and for my vocation as a wife (yes, even when he is annoying me haha). I think what I will do is talk to my priest (make an appt) and see about having my marriage can be convalidated by a radical sanation. What is especially appealing about the a radical sanation is that I can be healed, because I admit I do feel a bit wounded at the moment. And then also, my husband would not have to violate his conscience. This has been helpful, thanks again!!!

I hate to throw a monkeywrench into this but, based on what I’ve read here, your husband objects to NFP. Does that mean that he/you are already using ABC?
If so, regardless of other issues you need to look at this before returning to communion. It may be OK in his mind as a NCC to use ABC, but it is not alright for you as a Catholic to use ABC and receive communion.


James makes an excellent point, as always!

Another issue which I don’t think is receiving sufficient attention here is your differing positions on raising your children as Catholics:

This has the very real potential of tearing your marriage apart and doing great harm to your children. This really should be resolved before moving forward in validating this marriage by any means.

Unless I am reading that wrong. If your spouse is saying he personally will make no such promise (perhaps because he is not Catholic and does not see why he should make any promise to the Catholic Church) but does not object to you taking the responsibility to raise them as Catholics - then OK (far from ideal, but OK). If he is saying he will not, nor does he agree that you may, or if he is saying he will fight this, then… BIG problem.

Karen, whether you are using ABC in your marital relations needs to be addressed with your priest and whether you spouse will hinder your faith or that of your children as Catholics. While he may not have to promise to raise them Catholic he must be informed that you intend to and there should be a reasonable understanding that he will not cause problems with it.

Did you read the piece from the Directory on Ecumenism? You can’t ask him to park his own conscience somewhere.

Yes, it was a good monkeywrench. The convalidation should not be an issue, but the birth control issue would have to be resolved. Again, talk to a priest. It is the only way through this.

I am glad you posted this thread. It is important for folks contemplating marriage to look at these issues before hand lest a bad situation become horrible and unbearable.

Hello All,

I have always read the forusm here but never posted before.

I found this old thread and it directly applies to my situation now. We had attended pre-Cana class before our wedding so I did not realize I was making a mistake by getting married outside the church. We have been married for nearly 6 years now.

I accept everything that was written, but I am still confused about one statement. Can anyone please explain why it is not appropriate for me to receive communion now? I am not going to until the marriage is convalidated, however, I know that I am going to be asked this by my non-Catholic wife and I do not have an answer. I have not brought any of this up to my wife yet.

Obviously I want to get this figured out ASAP as the thought of not receiving the Eucharist is very saddening.

Thanks to anyone who can help with this issue and God Bless.

One is to refrain from the Eucharist if in a state of mortal sin. You must be in a state of grace. Until your marriage is convalidated, you are in an irregular marriage situation which could be placing you in a state of serious sin, depending upon several factors. Whether or not you can receive the Eucharist depends upon, for example, whether or not you and your wife choose to abstain from relations until the convalidation. This is really a matter where you should be guided by your priest in confession as to whether or not you can receive the Eucharist, not strangers on the internet.

So, it really isn’t a matter of being unable to receive the Eucharist but whether or not you as a couple will do what is required for you to be in a state of grace in order to receive the Eucharist.

Thanks, that does clear things up for me. I wasn’t thinking of it like that.

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