What's the status of my marriage?

My husband and I were both raised Catholic, Catholic schools, active church attendance, etc. When we met, neither of us were practicing. We were married by a Protestant minister, but a few years after we were married, I returned to the Church, and go regularly. We now have children who are baptized and go to Church/CCE regularly, too. My husband attends with us most of the time, to honor his commitment, but he considers himself agnostic. (I keep praying for him!)

How does the Church view our marriage? May I receive Communion? Do we need to renew our vows in the Church?

At the time of your marriage if you were both Catholics who married outside the Church without a dispensation from the Catholic form of marriage, the Church would recognize your marriage as legal (i.e., recognized by the state) but not as valid or sacramental in the eyes of the Church.

Assuming there were no impediments to your marriage (e.g., previous marriages, close blood relationship), rectifying your marital situation should be a smooth process. If you are married, a valid marriage is a prerequisite for being able to receive Communion. I recommend talking over your individual situation with your pastor and requesting his advice. If you have further questions or concerns, you may also contact Catholic Answers’ business office at 1-619-387-7200.

**Recommended reading:

Marriage Questions-and-Answers
Annulments and the Catholic Church** by Edward Peters

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