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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. Can you explain to me the meaning of a "radical sanation?" It is my understanding that it has to do with validating a marriage.

A. 1. In a situation where a Catholic and a non-Catholic had a civil marriage (e.g. before a Justice of the Peace) because the non-Catholic refused to enter the Catholic Church, nor wanted anything to do with it, the Catholic party can have the civil marriage validated by the Catholic Church.

This process, in accordance with Canon Law # 1161 1 is called a "radical sanation" (in Latin "sanatio in radice") which means "healing in the root." It can be obtained in cases where there are no existing impediment such as a previous marriage that would require an annulment. A "radical sanation" is the healing of an invalid marriage so that the marriage becomes a recognized marriage in accordance with the Canon Laws of the Church. This is done without a ceremony.

After obtaining a "radical sanation," the Catholic party can now receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, including the Holy Eucharist during Holy Mass.

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."

Certain conditions must apply before a "radical sanation" can take place. They are:

A. Both parties must have the intent of persevering in their conjugal life. Otherwise a "radical sanation" cannot be granted.

Canon Law # 1163 1. "A marriage which is invalid because of an impediment or a defect of legitimate form can be sanated provided that the consent of each party perseveres."

B. Both parties (a) must have consented to the marriage (b) at the same time. This simultaneous consent had to include all the essential requirements of a valid marriage (e.g. monogamy, fidelity, permanence and openness to children). This consent must still exist at present unless one party has indicated otherwise.

Canon Law # 1162 1. "A marriage cannot be radically sanated if consent is lacking in either or both of the parties, whether the consent was lacking from the beginning or, though present in the beginning, was revoked afterwards."

C. Any impediments that are present, they must be taken care of. In many cases, such is achieved by obtaining a "radical sanation." When marrying outside the Catholic Church, such as before a Justice of the Peace, the marriage was invalid because of a "Defect of Form." That means that the parties failed to obtain a dispensation from the Bishop for a marriage ceremoney outside of the Catholic Church.

Some impediments cannot be dispensed. For example, if one of the spouses was married before and a decree of nullity (annulment) has not been obtained, then the previous marriage is still valid. If the previous spouse has died, then the impediment has been removed and the "radical sanation" can proceed.

Canon Law # 1163 2. "A marriage which is invalid because of an impediment of natural law or of divine positive law can be sanated only after the impediment has ceased."

D. In a situation where the non-Catholic spouse would get extremely upset over the process of a "radical sanation," for the sake of peace, he/she does not have to be told. The "radical sanation" process can be granted in secret. There has to be a serious reason for this rule to apply, not just an supposition of a reaction.

Canon Law # 1164 "A sanation can be granted validly even if either or both of the parties do not know of it; nevertheless, it is not to be granted except for a grave cause."

E. A "radical sanation" is normally granted by the local Bishop.

Canon Law # 1165 2. "The diocesan bishop can grant a radical sanation in individual cases even if there are several reasons for nullity in the same marriage, after the conditions mentioned in ⇒ can. 1125 for the sanation of a mixed marriage have been fulfilled. He cannot grant one, however, if there is an impediment whose dispensation is reserved to the Apostolic See according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1078, 2, or if it concerns an impediment of natural law or divine positive law which has now ceased."

F. The most important of all the aforementioned, the Catholic party applying for the "radical sanation" "is to declare that he/she will remain a Catholic and he/she will do all what he/she can in his/her capacity to ensure the children are baptized and brought up in the Catholic faith.

Canon Law # 1125 1/ "the Catholic party is to declare that he or she is prepared to remove dangers of defecting from the faith and is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power so that all offspring are baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church;"

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