Will the Church recognize the protestant marriage of a couple converting to Catholicism?

If two people got married 50 years ago in a Methodist church, then wanted to convert to Catholicism today, then what must be done for the Catholic Church to recognize their marriage as valid?

Also note, the man was raised Catholic, but left the Church 50 years ago to marry this baptist woman. What would be necessary for them both to be received into the Catholic Church and their marriage recognized as valid?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

They would need to talk to a priest about having their marriage convalidated with the Church. Because the husband was raised Catholic and didn’t marry in the Church and didn’t have a dispensation to do such, the marriage is recognized as invalid.

As long as they were both free to marry ( yes, even 50 years ago) they would have just have to have the marriage convalidated by a priest, an easy procedure. If one of them was divorced, then they would have to go through the annulment process. It is best to seek the advice of a wise and holy priest; he will be in the best position to help them.

How wondeful that he wants to return to the Church and she wants to become Cathlic.

a) The man is already Catholic, therefore he is not going to be received into the Church. He is already in the Church. He needs to go to Confession.

b) Their marriage is invalid due to lack of form, and the can be corrected through convalidation-- either simple convalidation where they repeat their vows in Catholic form or radical sanation, which does not require new consent. The man should talk to his priest about both options.

c) After the marriage is convalidated, he may resume the sacramental life and she can be received into the Church.

In 1962, this resulted in an automatic excommunication of the man. Pope Paul VI lifted such excommunications in 1970, but the marriage is still considered to be invalid due to lack of form.

Thanks a lot folks!


According to this link:

[a person that] has formally left the Catholic Church through his membership in another church, he ** is no longer formally bound to marry according to Catholic marital law.** Assuming that there are no obvious impediments to the marriage (e.g., previous marriage, close blood relationship), **the Church would presume his marriage to his fiancee to be valid. **If she is a baptized Christian, the marriage would be presumed sacramental.

a) This was not the case in the 1917 code of canon law, under which the OP was married. No such option was available at that time.

b) Formal defection applied from 1983 - 2009. But formal defection required one write to the bishop, and that the bishop receive the defection in writing. Formal defection was never equivalent to simply going to another denomination or stopping church-going altogether.

c) Pope Benedict XVI removed this clause from canon law in October 2009.

Wow! Thanks for that illuminating answer.
Much appreciated.

Still, a rather murky area of church teaching.

The actual date that the revised canon law was effective was Dec. 22, 2010 because the law was specified as effective starting three months after publication in AAS and that publication occurred in September 2010.

Now what if both were never Catholic before but were baptized as protestants or if one converts to Catholic and not the other? Would the marriage be seen as sin? What if one partner refuses to convalidate?

If both were baptized non-Catholics at the time of their marriage, assuming no impediments (such as prior marriages), their marriage is both valid and Sacramental. No convalidation is needed.


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