Q. 1. What does the term "marriage convalidation" mean?
A. 1. "Marriage convalidation" means to have your marriage "recognized" (or blessed) by the Catholic Church. Those who usually seek a convalidation, it is because they married outside of the Catholic Church/parish. The position of the Catholic Church is very clear on this matter. For a marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church, it must be performed in a Church (unless otherwise canonically dispensed as in a Jewish-Christian marriage) in order for the marriage to be both valid and licit.
Those who marry outside the Catholic Church, they can no longer receive the Sacraments. For this reason, many seek to have their marriage convalidated so they can return to the Sacramental life.
On the matter of "marriage convalidation" in the Catholic Canon Law, it states:
THE CONVALIDATION OF MARRIAGE
Canon Law # 1156
§1. To convalidate a marriage which is invalid because of a diriment impediment, it is required that the impediment ceases or is dispensed and that at least the party conscious of the impediment renews consent.
§2. Ecclesiastical law requires this renewal for the validity of the convalidation even if each party gave consent at the beginning and did not revoke it afterwards.
Canon Law # 1157
The renewal of consent must be a new act of the will concerning a marriage which the renewing party knows or thinks was null from the beginning.
Canon Law # 1158
§1. If the impediment is public, both parties must renew the consent in canonical form, without prejudice to the prescript of Canon Law # 1127 §2.
§2. If the impediment cannot be proven, it is sufficient that the party conscious of the impediment renews the consent privately and in secret, provided that the other perseveres in the consent offered; if the impediment is known to both parties, both are to renew the consent.
Canon Law # 1159
§1. A marriage which is invalid because of a defect of consent is convalidated if the party who did not consent now consents, provided that the consent given by the other party perseveres.
§2. If the defect of consent cannot be proven, it is sufficient that the party who did not consent gives consent privately and in secret.
§3. If the defect of consent can be proven, the consent must be given in canonical form.
Canon Law # 1160
A marriage which is null because of defect of form must be contracted anew in canonical form in order to become valid, without prejudice to the prescript of ? can. 1127, §2.
Canon Law # 1161
§1. The radical sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal of consent, which is granted by competent authority and entails the dispensation from an impediment, if there is one, and from canonical form, if it was not observed, and the retroactivity of canonical effects.
§2. Convalidation occurs at the moment of the granting of the favor. Retroactivity, however, is understood to extend to the moment of the celebration of the marriage unless other provision is expressly made.
§3. A radical sanation is not to be granted unless it is probable that the parties wish to persevere in conjugal life.
In the eyes of the Catholic Church, a couple who has married outside of the Church, it has entered into an invalid marriage. To remedy the situation, the couple must present itself as a couple to the parish priest. It needs to demonstrate that it entered into the non-canonical marriage without malice or deception. Both individuals must show that they are penitent of their misunderstanding and misdeed and that they desire the bond that “by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive” and through which they are “strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament” (Canon # 1134).
If the priest believes the intention of the couple, he then has the right and ability to dispense the “canonical form” and validate the marriage, bringing it into proper validity and liceity (being licit) with the Roman Catholic Church.
For further information on how the priest proceeds to convalidate a marriage, please contact a local priest.