EWTN Catholic Q&A
Re: convalidated marriage again
Question from anonymous on 09-13-2005:

Dear Rev. Gantley,

On 03-07-2005 you explained the following: Radical sanations are convalidations. There are two types of convalidations -- simple convalidations and radical sanations.

Ordinarily, the simple convalidation is done, which involves the exchange of consent in what is usually a brief marriage ceremony.

A radical sanation is done when there is some reason not to perform a ceremony. (In a radical sanation, the bishop by a decree accepts the earlier consent of the civilly married couple and the marriage becomes retroactively valid.) Reasons for a radical sanation include a situation when one party will not cooperate in having the marriage convalidated through a ceremony, or when a mistake is made by the priest in not getting the proper delegation or dispensation.

If the only difference is whether or not the vows are exchanged in a ceremony, why would one way make the anniversary date the date of the convalidation and the other the original date of the civil marriage? I would think actually exchanging vows would be better. And what if children were born before the convalidation? Are they legitimate?


Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 09-14-2005:

The vows (consent) make the marriage.

The radical sanation becomes retroactively valid back to the original date of the marriage as the bishop, by decree, accepts the original consent (that is, the original invalid vows become valid).

A simple convalidation does NOT become retroactively valid but involves a new act of consent. For a simple convalidation, the true marriage in the eyes of God and the Church takes place on the day of the convalidation. The original vows do not become valid but the new vows replace them.

Illegitimate children born of an invalid marriage are legitimated by the convalidation of their parents' marriage in whichever form the convalidation is done (canon 1139).