What is meant by convalidation?

What is convalidation? If the two baptized catholics, who received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation PRIOR to marriage were married in a church, but not a Catholic church can they receive communion prior to convalidation?

Convalidation (or validation) is the technical term used in canon law to describe what most people refer to as having a marriage blessed in the Church. In his book Annulments and the Catholic Church canon lawyer Edward Peters defines convalidation as “the renewal of consent necessary before a marriage can be recognized as valid if that marriage was entered into despite the presence of a nondispensed impediment, or with insufficient consent to marriage as the Church understands and proclaims it, or in violation of canonical form”.

In the scenario you describe, the Catholic couple’s marriage may be invalid due to a violation of canonical form. Code of Canon Law (CIC) states, “Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them…” (CIC 1108); and “Marriages are to be celebrated in a parish where either of the contracting parties has a domicile, quasidomicile, or month long residence or, if it concerns transients, in the parish where they actually reside. With the permission of the proper ordinary or proper pastor, marriages can be celebrated elsewhere” (CIC 1115).

(Note: Canon 1117 makes this further clarification: “The form established above must be observed if at least one of the parties contracting marriage was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act…”)

If the marriage is invalid then the couple may be living in a state of fornication. Before receiving the Eucharist they should either have their marriage convalidated or resort to living as brother and sister.

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