ASK FATHER: Entering the Church, do we need to have our marriage convalidated?

From a reader…


My husband and I are entering the Church in just a few days now, and we are confused as to whether we will need our marriage convalidated. Our priest says so, but my RCIA teacher and sponsor say that our marriage is already sacramental due to the following:
1. My husband and I were raised in Protestant homes; not lapsed Catholics.
2. We were both baptized at the time of our marriage.
3. We were married by a Christian pastor with witnesses.
The only problem I can see is that we were married in an outdoor ceremony (i.e. not a “church” wedding), but I don’t know if that matters at a Protestant wedding? Do we need our wedding convalidated, and can you point me to somewhere which explains what convalidation means? Does it mean that we are considered to be living in sin right now?

Based on the facts presented, it does not seems that you need to have your marriage convalidated.

You, as baptized Christians, but not Catholics, were not obliged to observe canonical form when you married. You consented to marriage legitimately and without any impediments.  You seem currently to be in a valid, sacramental marriage (can. 1055 and 1060). When you become Catholic – congratulations on that! – you bring your valid marriage into the Church with you.

Presuming that the facts presented are accurate… there’s no other way of saying it… Father is wrong.

It’s quite late at this point, but you may try to call the diocesan chancery or marriage tribunal for some clarification before you are received into the Church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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