I am a Catholic who was married outside the Church without a dispensation, so my marriage is invalid—a fact I very much want to correct. My non-Catholic spouse is unwilling to be married in the Catholic Church. What can I do?

Assuming that there is nothing like a previous marriage that needs to be taken care of first (through a decree of nullity), and assuming that you both still have valid matrimonial consent, your marriage can be rendered valid using a procedure known as radical sanation.

This term comes from the Latin phrase sanatio in radice, meaning “healing in the root.” According to the Code of Canon Law, “The radical sanation of an invalid marriage is its convalidation without the renewal of consent” (CIC 1161:1). This means you do not have to go through a new marriage ceremony.

For a radical sanation to take place, several conditions must apply.

First, “A radical sanation is not to be granted unless it is probable that the parties intend to persevere in conjugal life” (CIC 1161:3).

Second, “A marriage cannot be radically sanated if consent is lacking in either or both of the parties” (CIC 1162:1).

Third, any impediments that exist must be taken care of.

Also, “A sanation can be granted validly even when one or both of the parties are unaware of it, but it is not to be granted except for serious reason” (CIC 1164).

Call your parish priest or your diocese to investigate obtaining a radical sanation.