St John's Q&A

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Anon asked: “My question is this- if contraception is permanent, (vasectomy or tubes tied) what is the church's point on the couple being intimate? Does one confession of the procedure they have undergone allow them, in the church's eyes, continue to have an intimate physical relationship? If there is not the possibility for any future conception as a result of medical intervention, is the couple expected to refrain from sexual relations?”

I found a couple of other Catholic Q & A sites that have addressed these very questions: 1) the Diocese of Lincoln, NE and 2) The third commentary is from which addresses sterilization reversal; to view the site, please click on the title of this page.

1) If a spouse is sterile and incapable of having children, may a couple then continue to have a sexual relationship in their marriage?Certainly they may. Artificial birth prevention is forbidden by God's law, which prescribes that every marriage act must not artificially block the possibility of its being fruitful in the conception of children. However, natural sterility, either from old age or an other cause, does not preclude the legitimacy, goodness, and sacredness of a couple's sexual relationship in their marriage.

2) Q: Am I correct in assuming that a Catholic husband who has had a vasectomy cannot receive Communion? If that is true, what is the remedy? Obviously, reversal cannot always be accomplished.
A: A vasectomy constitutes grave matter. Together with full knowledge of the gravity of the action and full and free consent to the action, a mortal sin is committed. Assuming these conditions were met, the remedy is the same as for any mortal sin: the sacrament of reconciliation, through which a person is restored to a state of grace and may again receive Communion. The Church does not require that a sterilized man attempt to reverse the vasectomy. But if he chooses to do so, he might wish to contact One More Soul at

3) Amid the pressure and confusion generated by the Culture of Death, many couples have allowed themselves to be sterilized. God, in His mercy stirs up in them a hunger for wholeness in their bodies and in their relationships. We have heard many wonderful stories from couples who had their sterilizations reversed and experienced renewal in spirit and in their relationships. Often they are blessed with additional children as well. One More Soul has a variety of resources to offer couples in this challenging process: a book of the experiences of 20 couples (in their own words) who were sterilized and made their way back to wholeness, online stories of couples who have had a sterilization reversal, names of doctors who have a complete pro-life philosophy and perform sterilization reversal surgery for men and women, encouraging books, pamphlets, and tapes to help in the journey, and online publications providing helpful information and encouragement.


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