Valid, Sacramental marriage?


#1

A non-practicing Catholic marries an Episcopalian in an Episcopal ceremony (both had valid Christian baptisms, the husband baptized in infancy as a Catholic and the wife baptized in a Protestant church.)

The wife goes through RCIA and converts to Catholicism. Both begin to practice their Catholic faith.
Question: Does a "blessing" of the marriage on Holy Saturday actually validate (or con validate) the marriage?

Or, since the Catholic husband did not ask permission to marry a non Catholic, nor to have the wedding ceremony in the Episcopal Church and no priest was present, does the "blessing" on Holy Saturday actually constitute a validation of the marriage?

Would any of this affect or not affect this couple who are now civilly divorced? The husband (civilly divorced) is now planning to re-marry outside of the Church, to a non-Catholic in a Protestant ceremony. His (first) wife (still his wife in the eyes of the Church unless there is an annulment) may now want an annulment.

Is their first marriage actually valid due to the blessing on Holy Saturday when she entered the Church? I thought I read somewhere that if the Catholic spouse does not ask permission of the Church to marry outside of the Church, that the marriage is not valid, and that the blessing given (when the wife entered the Church) would not affect the actual validity of the marriage. Is there a difference between convalidation and a blessing on a marriage when a spouse later enters the Church?

Grateful for any Church teachings on this.


#2

First, if a Catholic is married outside the church without a dispensation then the marriage is invalid.

A blessing on Holy Saturday is not a convalidation and hence does not make the marriage valid. Convalidation is a new exchange of consent and the marriage is valid from that point forward. A couple that is validly married before entering the church (i.e. two protestants) can receive a nuptial blessing but that does not involve a new exchange of consent.

Often times the confusion is caused by people using the phrase “having their marriage blessed by the church” when they really are talking about convalidation. They are two separate things.


#3

They should talk with their priest. My guess is that what is being called a "blessing" is actually a convalidation. Regularizing the marriage would have been required for the person entering the Church.


#4

[quote="Usige, post:2, topic:315913"]
First, if a Catholic is married outside the church without a dispensation then the marriage is invalid.

A blessing on Holy Saturday is not a convalidation and hence does not make the marriage valid. Convalidation is a new exchange of consent and the marriage is valid from that point forward. A couple that is validly married before entering the church (i.e. two protestants) can receive a nuptial blessing but that does not involve a new exchange of consent.

Often times the confusion is caused by people using the phrase "having their marriage blessed by the church" when they really are talking about convalidation. They are two separate things.

[/quote]

Thank you for pointing out the difference. I also see from the other reply though that before the wife entered the Church, some type of regularization of the marriage would/might have been required. So....if the original marriage might have been invalid (no dispensation sought or given to marry outside the Church) then the question would be, was there simply some kind of blessing on Holy Saturday, or something else done regarding the marriage, which made it valid from that point on....but the question remains, isn't the validity of a marriage considered at the time of the marriage, not afterward?


#5

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:3, topic:315913"]
They should talk with their priest. My guess is that what is being called a "blessing" is actually a convalidation. Regularizing the marriage would have been required for the person entering the Church.

[/quote]

Thank you for your help on this. Yes, I am wondering, after seeing your reply and one just before yours, if it was a blessing or a convalidation. Would there in fact have been a requirement to "regularize" the marriage officially at the time the wife entered the Church? Would that requirement be covered with a blessing or would something more be needed, such as an actual convalidation? Would there be records of a con validation?

In the case of a wife seeking an annulment, which, would stand?: The fact that there was no dispensation given for her Catholic spouse to marry her while she was outside of the Church, or would the later blessing or a convalidation take precedence over what was lacking at the time of the marriage (which was outside of the Church?

Gratefully


#6

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:5, topic:315913"]
Thank you for your help on this. Yes, I am wondering, after seeing your reply and one just before yours, if it was a blessing or a convalidation. Would there in fact have been a requirement to "regularize" the marriage officially at the time the wife entered the Church? Would that requirement be covered with a blessing or would something more be needed, such as an actual convalidation? Would there be records of a con validation?

In the case of a wife seeking an annulment, which, would stand?: The fact that there was no dispensation given for her Catholic spouse to marry her while she was outside of the Church, or would the later blessing or a convalidation take precedence over what was lacking at the time of the marriage (which was outside of the Church?

Gratefully

[/quote]

It's easy to find out.

  1. The lack of dispensation would have resulted in an invalid marriage.
  2. The wife shouldn't have been received into full communion without a convalidation.
  3. There are two ways to obtain a convalidation.

[LIST]
*]'Simple convalidation' where the couple repeat their vows which is probably what happened at the Easter Vigil.
*]'Radical sanation', which is paperwork through the bishop, usually done when one of the parties categorically refuses to repeat the vows.
[/LIST]
The parish where she was received into full Communion would have a record so she should talk to her priest.

To answer your original question, yes, a convalidation of the marriage means the marriage is presumed valid and she would need a decree of nullity before she could be married again in the Church.


#7

Our sn and his wife are in this exact situation so I greatly appreciate the information. Thank you for the time you have put into these replies.


#8

Yes

It depends upon what you mean by “blessing”. Many people, when they say they “got their marriage blessed” actually mean they had their marriage convalidated. A convalidation is the exchange of consent in the Catholic form-- before a priest and two witnesses. If the couple stood before the priest and exchanged consent and vows, with two witnesses, this was a convalidation. If the priest merely said some kind of prayer over them, it was not a convalidation. But, saying a prayer over a married couple is not a Rite in RCIA.

Yes.

If the marriage was convalidated, it became valid at that point. The woman would be in a valid, sacramental marriage. She would not be free to marry another. Unless, of course, there were some other grounds for nullity.

If it was some sort of prayer (i.e. really just a blessing) and no convalidation or radical sanation ever took place, then indeed the marriage was invalid due to lack of form and the woman is free to marry another.

The woman needs to go talk to her priest. I find it odd that she could enter into a convalidation of her marriage and not know or understand what was happening. But, then again, there is a lot going on when one converts.


#9

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:5, topic:315913"]

In the case of a wife seeking an annulment, which, would stand?: The fact that there was no dispensation given for her Catholic spouse to marry her while she was outside of the Church, or would the later blessing or a convalidation take precedence over what was lacking at the time of the marriage (which was outside of the Church?

Gratefully

[/quote]

Lets try to make this more concrete. I'll use some arbitrary dates just for example.

[LIST]
*]Let say a Catholic and his spouse get married outside the Church on January 1, 2000. This is done outside the Church without a dispensation.
*]In the fall of 2004 his non-catholic wife joins RCIA. It is found that they are in an irregular marriage and so their marriage is convalidated on Holy Saturday 2005 (March 26, 2005)
*]They get a civil divorce June 1, 2011
*]Jan 31, 2013 wife seeks a declaration of nullity (aka annulment)
[/LIST]
The marriage on Jan 1, 2000 would be invalid because there was no dispensation for marriage outside of the Church. On March 26, 2005 they exchange vows during their convalidation. At this point (March 26, 2005) the Church would record their marriage as a valid marriage. He are the dates for the civil versus sacramental marriage:

|Civil|Sacramental
Start|Jan 1, 2000|Mar 26, 2005
End|Jun 1, 2011|???
For the declaration of nullity the tribunal would look at March 26, 2005 as the date that marriage was entered into. This is the date that the Church would consider that consent was exchanged. The date of their civil marriage and divorce technically has little to do with the state of their sacramental marriage. Even if their was defect of consent (outside of lack of dispensation) when they were civilly married, if there was no impediment when their convalidation took place it would be presumed that they are still in a sacramental marriage.

Now obviously this is all theoretical. Any real life case would have to be examined in depth, but just to distinguish the civil versus sacramental moment of the marriage it should suffice.


#10

[quote="Usige, post:2, topic:315913"]
First, if a Catholic is married outside the church without a dispensation then the marriage is invalid.

A blessing on Holy Saturday is not a convalidation and hence does not make the marriage valid. Convalidation is a new exchange of consent and the marriage is valid from that point forward. A couple that is validly married before entering the church (i.e. two protestants) can receive a nuptial blessing but that does not involve a new exchange of consent.

Often times the confusion is caused by people using the phrase "having their marriage blessed by the church" when they really are talking about convalidation. They are two separate things.

[/quote]

Thank you Usige. This is very helpful. I'm not certain but I believe in this case that there was only a nuptial blessing of sorts on Holy Saturday. I will advise the wife to talk to the Priest where she attended RCIA.


#11

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:3, topic:315913"]
They should talk with their priest. My guess is that what is being called a "blessing" is actually a convalidation. Regularizing the marriage would have been required for the person entering the Church.

[/quote]

SuscipeMeDomine-Thank you for your reply. I understand what you're saying here and will advise the wife to speak to the Priest in the parish where she attended RCIA to find out what happened.
Gratefully,
KA


#12

[quote="Phemie, post:6, topic:315913"]
It's easy to find out.

  1. The lack of dispensation would have resulted in an invalid marriage.
  2. The wife shouldn't have been received into full communion without a convalidation.
  3. There are two ways to obtain a convalidation.

[LIST]
*]'Simple convalidation' where the couple repeat their vows which is probably what happened at the Easter Vigil.
*]'Radical sanation', which is paperwork through the bishop, usually done when one of the parties categorically refuses to repeat the vows.
[/LIST]
The parish where she was received into full Communion would have a record so she should talk to her priest.

To answer your original question, yes, a convalidation of the marriage means the marriage is presumed valid and she would need a decree of nullity before she could be married again in the Church.

[/quote]

Phemie, this is very helpful. I wonder, is there such a thing a "simple convalidation?" I believe there were some words said over several couples on Holy Saturday, perhaps this counts, but I may be wrong. From one of the other replies above, some seem to think that a kind of "nuptial blessing" on Holy Saturday is not the same at all as a real convalidation, so that would be a key question for the wife to ask the priest about. Would there be separate records/paperwork on this though? Again, yes, I will advise the wife to speak to the priest. What should have happened may not be the same as what actually took place. Gratefully, KA


#13

[quote="mountee, post:7, topic:315913"]
Our sn and his wife are in this exact situation so I greatly appreciate the information. Thank you for the time you have put into these replies.

[/quote]

I agree, mountee, and am very grateful for people taking the time to reply. (OP Kathryn Ann)


#14

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:315913"]
Yes

It depends upon what you mean by "blessing". Many people, when they say they "got their marriage blessed" actually mean they had their marriage convalidated. A convalidation is the exchange of consent in the Catholic form-- before a priest and two witnesses. If the couple stood before the priest and exchanged consent and vows, with two witnesses, this was a convalidation. If the priest merely said some kind of prayer over them, it was not a convalidation. But, saying a prayer over a married couple is not a Rite in RCIA.

Yes.

If the marriage was convalidated, it became valid at that point. The woman would be in a valid, sacramental marriage. She would not be free to marry another. Unless, of course, there were some other grounds for nullity.

If it was some sort of prayer (i.e. really just a blessing) and no convalidation or radical sanation ever took place, then indeed the marriage was invalid due to lack of form and the woman is free to marry another.

The woman needs to go talk to her priest. I find it odd that she could enter into a convalidation of her marriage and not know or understand what was happening. But, then again, there is a lot going on when one converts.

[/quote]

1ke, I appreciate all the information above, and your pointing out the differences between a "blessing" over a couple on Holy Saturday and convalidation. And yes, there is a great deal going on when one converts. Perhaps the priest asked all the (non valid) couples to repeat their vows on Holy Saturday in front of the church. I wonder if that is official...? I will advise the wife to speak to the priest. If there should be records/paperwork on a real convalidation, then she could ask to see a copy of that. Gratefully, KA


#15

[quote="Usige, post:9, topic:315913"]
Lets try to make this more concrete. I'll use some arbitrary dates just for example.

[LIST]
*]Let say a Catholic and his spouse get married outside the Church on January 1, 2000. This is done outside the Church without a dispensation.
*]In the fall of 2004 his non-catholic wife joins RCIA. It is found that they are in an irregular marriage and so their marriage is convalidated on Holy Saturday 2005 (March 26, 2005)
*]They get a civil divorce June 1, 2011
*]Jan 31, 2013 wife seeks a declaration of nullity (aka annulment)
[/LIST]
The marriage on Jan 1, 2000 would be invalid because there was no dispensation for marriage outside of the Church. On March 26, 2005 they exchange vows during their convalidation. At this point (March 26, 2005) the Church would record their marriage as a valid marriage. He are the dates for the civil versus sacramental marriage:

|Civil|Sacramental
Start|Jan 1, 2000|Mar 26, 2005
End|Jun 1, 2011|???
For the declaration of nullity the tribunal would look at March 26, 2005 as the date that marriage was entered into. This is the date that the Church would consider that consent was exchanged. The date of their civil marriage and divorce technically has little to do with the state of their sacramental marriage. Even if their was defect of consent (outside of lack of dispensation) when they were civilly married, if there was no impediment when their convalidation took place it would be presumed that they are still in a sacramental marriage.

Now obviously this is all theoretical. Any real life case would have to be examined in depth, but just to distinguish the civil versus sacramental moment of the marriage it should suffice.

[/quote]

Usige, this is all extremely helpful, thank you. In this case, there is a question of whether a convalidation took place upon the wife's entering the Church. I appreciate the way you've pointed out the difference in the dates and possible scenarios. I'll definitely advise the wife to look into this.
Gratefully, KA


#16

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:14, topic:315913"]
1ke, I appreciate all the information above, and your pointing out the differences between a "blessing" over a couple on Holy Saturday and convalidation. And yes, there is a great deal going on when one converts. Perhaps the priest asked all the (non valid) couples to repeat their vows on Holy Saturday in front of the church. I wonder if that is official...? I will advise the wife to speak to the priest. If there should be records/paperwork on a real convalidation, then she could ask to see a copy of that. Gratefully, KA

[/quote]

The convalidation would be entered in the sacramental records of the parish where she was received into full communion. They would have recorded her original baptism, the convalidation and her Confirmation.


#17

For those of you following this post, I have some follow -up questions.

I realize that what happens at the time of a marriage (not subsequently) is what the process of annulment seeks to address. Does the Diocesan Tribunal consider emotional/mental health issues which are not apparent at the time of the original, civil union, but which, over time, became radically obvious?

What if the Catholic husband in this case, over a period of years, demanded a divorce and used divorce as a threat in every argument? How can his understanding of a Sacramental, Catholic marriage have ever been real if he is the one demanding a divorce and using it as a threat over the young wife?

And since he is now planning a (second) wedding outside the Church to a Protestant (before seeking a Church annulment, ) how can it be said that he has ever had any real understanding of a Sacramental Catholic union? From the very first marriage, he did not ask for a dispensation to marry outside the Church. He then proceeded to use the threat of divorce and to demand a divorce countless times even after the wife's entering the Church. Every argument and confrontation for many years was laced with his demanding a divorce until he wore the exhausted wife down.

Would these be issues the wife should ask about in seeking an annulment?


#18

[quote="Phemie, post:16, topic:315913"]
The convalidation would be entered in the sacramental records of the parish where she was received into full communion. They would have recorded her original baptism, the convalidation and her Confirmation.

[/quote]

Once again, Phemie, many thanks. I'm hoping the records, (or possible lack of them,) will be helpful in considering the process of a Church annulment for the young wife. I've just added a follow up question of importance, but of course the best advice is to do just as you and several have stated: ask the priest and/or the staff who would have official records. No matter what, I feel it is important to seek out the truth and not assign blame. There is great sorrow any time a marriage is threatened or ends in civil divorce. The important thing in advising any young person is to suggest that they submit to Church authority and wisdom. , Our dear Christ gives us the gift of love for all involved, and He understands all our faults and challenges. Having been through a Church annulment myself, I realize that each situation is unique. I certainly don't have all the answers, even having experienced this process myself. What I've learned is that God is so patient with us all and that when we fail at something, or someone we love is going through a similar trial, our Heavenly Father's love never falters for us, or for anyone involved.


#19

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:17, topic:315913"]
For those of you following this post, I have some follow -up questions.

I realize that what happens at the time of a marriage (not subsequently) is what the process of annulment seeks to address. Does the Diocesan Tribunal consider emotional/mental health issues which are not apparent at the time of the original, civil union, but which, over time, became radically obvious?

What if the Catholic husband in this case, over a period of years, demanded a divorce and used divorce as a threat in every argument? How can his understanding of a Sacramental, Catholic marriage have ever been real if he is the one demanding a divorce and using it as a threat over the young wife?

And since he is now planning a (second) wedding outside the Church to a Protestant (before seeking a Church annulment, ) how can it be said that he has ever had any real understanding of a Sacramental Catholic union? From the very first marriage, he did not ask for a dispensation to marry outside the Church. He then proceeded to use the threat of divorce and to demand a divorce countless times even after the wife's entering the Church. Every argument and confrontation for many years was laced with his demanding a divorce until he wore the exhausted wife down.

Would these be issues the wife should ask about in seeking an annulment?

[/quote]

The only answer we can give is: maybe

All of this would have to be looked at through testimony of the petitioner, respondent (if participating), and witnesses.

I know you are just trying to help, but I think you need to stop asking if XYZ is grounds for nullity. We simply **cannot **tell you that. Please encourage her to sit down with her pastor and discuss the situation.


#20

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:17, topic:315913"]
For those of you following this post, I have some follow -up questions.

I realize that what happens at the time of a marriage (not subsequently) is what the process of annulment seeks to address. Does the Diocesan Tribunal consider emotional/mental health issues which are not apparent at the time of the original, civil union, but which, over time, became radically obvious?

What if the Catholic husband in this case, over a period of years, demanded a divorce and used divorce as a threat in every argument? How can his understanding of a Sacramental, Catholic marriage have ever been real if he is the one demanding a divorce and using it as a threat over the young wife?

And since he is now planning a (second) wedding outside the Church to a Protestant (before seeking a Church annulment, ) how can it be said that he has ever had any real understanding of a Sacramental Catholic union? From the very first marriage, he did not ask for a dispensation to marry outside the Church. He then proceeded to use the threat of divorce and to demand a divorce countless times even after the wife's entering the Church. Every argument and confrontation for many years was laced with his demanding a divorce until he wore the exhausted wife down.

Would these be issues the wife should ask about in seeking an annulment?

[/quote]

YES! That is exactly the sort of thing the Tribunal would be looking for.

The Church says that a convalidation should not be done unless both parties are committed to the marriage.

The same questions are asked, under oath, of a couple requesting convalidation as of those requesting a regular marriage:

  1. Do you intend that your marriage be until death?
  2. Do you intend to be faithful to you spouse to the exclusion of all others?
  3. Do you intend to accept children, if that is God's will for you?

If he was already asking for a divorce before the convalidation, did he lie under oath? That history would certainly be looked at by the Tribunal.


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