Two questions on marriage-validity and Pastoral Provision


I would consider myself a well-read Catholic (a few years back I posted frequently on this forum defending the Church on moral issues). But I have two brief questions I can’t find the answers to:

-Can (or should) invalidly-married Catholic couples, who wish to stay together, do anything to make their marriage valid? Imagine a couple who marries in the Church, but with a mindset sufficient to make the marriage arguably invalid (for example, has no plans to stay together forever, plans on not having children, etc.). The couple then comes into full agreement with the God’s plan for their marriage. Is there anything for the couple to do to make their marriage clearly valid? I suppose they are probably not required to do anything–but given that the validity of marriage is determined from time of marriage and not afterwards, it almost seems that such a couple should be re-married in the Church or something similar?

-Do married Anglican priests who become Catholic priests through the Pastoral Provision need to be celibate after their ordination in the Catholic Church? I had always thought no, but I recently read an article about such a priest who said he would take a vow of celibacy/abstinence after becoming Catholic. That seemed like a very strange thing to do for a married priest unless it was required of him.

Curious if anyone knows the answers to these. Thanks!


Yes and yes.


Can.* 1157 The renewal of consent must be a new act of the will concerning a marriage which the renewing party knows or thinks was null from the beginning.

Can.* 1158 §1. If the impediment is public, both parties must renew the consent in canonical form, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1127, §2.

§2. If the impediment cannot be proven, it is sufficient that the party conscious of the impediment renews the consent privately and in secret, provided that the other perseveres in the consent offered; if the impediment is known to both parties, both are to renew the consent.

Can.* 1159 §1. A marriage which is invalid because of a defect of consent is convalidated if the party who did not consent now consents, provided that the consent given by the other party perseveres.

§2. If the defect of consent cannot be proven, it is sufficient that the party who did not consent gives consent privately and in secret.

§3. If the defect of consent can be proven, the consent must be given in canonical form.

Celibate means unmarried, so no they cannot be celibate. I believe you mean continent, not having relations. They are not required to be continent.



Regarding convalidation–well that’s neat!

Regarding celibacy/continent–that’s interesting. I wonder why the priest in the following article has pledged to remain celibate? I suppose we can assume it’s a private matter of devotion and not a misunderstanding of the priest’s obligations.



Because many people misuse the word celibate, or don’t know it’s actual meaning. Celibate and continent are two different things, but people unintentionally use them as if they were interchangeable.

And note, it is not a quote but a comment made by the article writer-- so the person ignorant of the definition of celibate may be the writer, not the priest.


Regarding celibacy and continence, the confusion between these two is sadly pervasive. As 1ke has written, celibacy means an unmarried state and continence (in this context) means abstention from sexual activity. Married priests, like married deacons, are of course not required to be celibate, since a celibate married person is obviously a contradiction in terms.

But are they required to be continent? According to the Church’s actual practice the answer is no, but I know that at least one prominant canon lawyer, Dr. Edward Peters (no doubt well known to many CAF members just as Ed Peters), has asserted that legally all Latin deacons and priests are required to be continent regardless of marital status and that the disparity between the law as written and as applied needs to be addressed.

Here’s the best source for that I can find on the spur of the moment:

Edit/Clarification: In the paper (or whatever the correct term is) that I linked to above Ed Peters clarifies:

From the outset of my observations on the text of Canon 277 I have acknowledged the anomalous canonical situation of married men ordained without personal (or uxorial) consent to the obligation of continence and I have defended the exercise conjugal rights among such persons. See, e.g., Peters, “Considerations”, 177-178. My writings on the obligations of clerical continence have been prospective in nature, asking what should be done in the future about disconnect between law and tradition on one hand and common assumptions and practices on the other.


I agree that’s very strange. Usually, in such a case, the question is whether they will be ordained or laicized – there’s no question affecting their marriage. (If you find the article again, I’d like to see it.)


Oh, sorry, I meant it’s interesting that the priest would determine that he needs to be continent (what I presume he means by celibate, based on what you’ve said–in other words, no sexual relations with his wife). Although I do appreciate the distinction.


Here’s the article:


Married deacons or priests, under the Pastoral Provision, are not required to abstain from marital relations. This is a choice that Deacon Young and his wife are freely making.

closed #10

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