Please note: This question is not based on a real world case. I am not looking for pastoral advice but for a clearer understanding of the catholic position on marriage.
As far as I understand the catholic church's teaching there are two "kinds" of marriage: The sacramental marriage according to divine law which can be found among a christian couple and the non-sacramental marriage according to natural law which can for example be found among a non-christian couple.
Now let's imagine a non-christian couple marries (here in Germany you would go to some registry office for what we call a civil marriage): In the eyes of the church these two are now married in a non-sacramental way according to natural law.
Let's further imagine these spouses convert to christianity and are getting baptized. At what point in that process (if at all) does their marriage become sacramental?
I would imagine the following scenarios:
- The easy one: They are getting baptized in the catholic church. The natural proceding now would be a standard catholic wedding to administer the sacrament. [Here in Germany that is in fact not unusual as we catholics have to first get a civil marriage and later, probably at the same or following day, marry sacramentally in the church.]
- The more complicated one: They are getting baptized in some other (e.g. protestant) church. The RCC holds marriages between protestant christians as sacramental even if not administered in church. But as most protestant churches don't see matrimony as a sacrament they probably won't marry in church as they would have done in the first scenario. So when (if at all) does their marriage become sacramental in the eyes of the RCC?
Please note that I'm interested in two things: Is my general understanding of sacramental and non-sacramental marriages as laid down here correct according to RCC teaching? And if so how will the marriage of the mentioned couple become sacramental (according to RCC teaching) during their conversion to christianity?
I would especially like to have answers citing canon law or the catechism (whichever is applicable).
I am indeed interested in what the RCC teaches about the sacramentality of the marriage of a non-baptized civil-married couple becoming (1) catholic or (2) protestant christians. Indeed for scenario (2) I am interested in the RCC teaching about within-protestant affairs. That one is sparked by my understanding that the RCC considers the typical protestant marriage as sacramental although most protestants do not.