Validity of marriage of non-practicing Catholics

My wife and I were both confirmed catholics prior to the time of our marriage, but I was mostly labeling myself as agnostic and my wife was a non-practicing catholic. We were married by a JP at an outside venue without permission from the church to do so… in fact God was not mentioned anywhere in the ceremony.

I heard one time on Catholic Answers Live or on Called to Communion, that a marriage between two people who are not catholic is considered valid and if they come into the church after the fact that their marriage is valid in the church and considered sacramental. So…

If we are confirmed catholic are we catholic no matter what we call ourselves or whether we practice it or not and therefore are bound by it’s rules about marriage?


Because we were non-practicing catholics and were claiming to have some other or no other affiliation at the time of our marriage make ours valid since we were not affiliated with the church until almost 2 years after our wedding?

And by non-practicing I mean being away from the church for about a decade or so…


The bolded is correct. As a Catholic, you are required to abide by the Church’s laws about marriage. Non-Catholics are not required to. When you returned to the Church, did you convalidate the marriage (i.e. have a Catholic wedding?) People who convert to the Church who are married do not have to exchange new consent (unless for some reason there was a problem).

It’s not Confirmation that makes you a Catholic. It is your Baptism. If you were baptized into the Catholic church, you are considered Catholic, and thus are required to be married in the Church for validity.

So if you are returning to the Church you will need to have your marriage validated in the Church and need to see your priest about this. The fact that you left the Church does not make you a non-Catholic in the eyes of the Church, because of your Catholic baptism. It just makes you a Catholic who left the Church.

God bless you.

Actually, it is not a matter of what anyone thinks…it is a matter of Canon Law.

If either party (let alone both) were baptised Catholic or received into the Catholic Church, they are subject to the Church’s marriage laws including observance of canonical form, which is required for validity of the marriage unless dispensed by competent ecclesiastical authority.

The rulings from the Holy See make clear that whether you were practicing the faith or not – or even had formally left the Church and joined something else – you were still bound to canonical form.

Your marriage would need to be convalidated or radically sanated. If you are seeking to return to the practice of the faith, resolution of this matter would be relatively straightforward…presuming neither of you had previously attempted to marry someone else in the Church.

You should discuss this with your parish priest to learn what the options are in the diocese where you live.

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