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Married Couples Who Intentionally Chose Sterilization For Contraceptive Purposes And Lasting Repentance


by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan


A common theme that has resounded for over three decades is that many—if not most—Catholic married couples in Western countries are currently demonstrating in practice their rejection of the Church’s authoritative and binding teaching that proclaims that each occasion of sexual intercourse must be open to the transmission of human life. While one may dispute numbers and percentages of those Catholics involved, a fair judgment of the situation reveals that especially since the “Sexual Revolution” of the 1960s, a significant portion of Catholic married couples has used or is presently using some form of contraceptive.

As is increasingly well-known, there are some devices implanted, chemical formulae injected, and even other products taken orally that are routinely referred to as “contraceptives” but are in fact effective after conception has occurred, thereby making these abortion-inducing agents (“abortifacients”). Sadly, a large section of the public, cutting across boundaries of race, economic status, education and creed, are woefully ignorant about the abortifacient quality of Depo-Provera, RU-486, the Intrauterine Device, the “Morning-After Pill,” Norplant, the “emergency contraceptive” and in some cases the common “Pill.” Therefore, literally millions of persons throughout the world are “silently” aborting, thinking all the while that they are preventing conception when in fact they are unwittingly snuffing out the lives of preborn children.

But all is not lost. True sorrow, resolute amendment of life and deep awareness of the Truth, inspired by the Holy Spirit Who is the Lord and Giver of Life and the Master of the Truth, are possible. By yielding to God’s abundant grace, a married couple who are contracepting or aborting may humbly surrender to the Truth, acknowledge their sin and sincerely repent of their error. How? By stopping the process of contracepting or aborting. Authentic repentance demands the avoidance of any and every method of contraception and those forms that parade as contraceptives but are in reality abortifacients.

However, imagine a married couple who have done something permanent in order to prevent conception. The husband has undergone a vasectomy or the wife a tubal ligation. There immediately appears to be a substantial and ongoing problem. How can this couple show their genuine sorrow since the effect of the direct sterilization continues unabated? May they ever be really reconciled to their Creator, thereby shunning their sin and the prevailing ethos of the Culture of Death and assume their place in the Christian community as those who give good example to others and testify to the Truth, notwithstanding the not insignificant cost?

This essay offers guidance for married couples who deliberately selected sterilization to prevent conception. Although the teaching of the Catholic Church is the foundation for this article, the remarks herein are not limited to Catholic married couples who chose to be sterilized so as not to conceive but are germane to persons of all faiths and to those of no faith, because the doctrine of the Catholic Church is based on Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Natural Law—the trio of sources expressing the One Truth that sustains and applies to everyone without exception.

It is hoped that all married couples who intentionally chose to be sterilized so as not to conceive but who seek forgiveness and a new beginning in Christ and those married couples in the same category but who have never thought much about the vital importance of rejecting the sin of direct sterilization and the subsequent urgent need of conversion will benefit from these brief reflections.

The Nature Of Sterilization

Germain G. Grisez and John F. Kippley—each a Catholic layman, husband and father—treat this issue and have provided excellent material for careful pondering.

As Grisez keenly and succinctly observes, sterilization intended as a means of birth control (often referred to as “direct,” “deliberate” or “intentional” sterilization) is intrinsically evil, for it fails to promote the good of the human person because of its adamant refusal to accept the inherent procreative (“life-giving”) dimension of the marital act as built into it by God. (The other inherent aspect of the marital act is the personalist [unitive]or “person-uniting” dimension.)

No benefit to the person as a whole can justify any procedure which brings about sterility and is chosen for that very purpose. In no way does sterility as such truly benefit anyone; it only facilitates sexual intercourse—the distinct act in and through which some benefit is expected—by excluding conception. Thus, the intention of choosing sterilization is contraceptive, and the sterilizing act is at ...

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1 - 6 of 6 Comments

  1. Joseph
    1 month ago

    pls i need an answer on this as it is an activity that is bound to affect my marital relationship. sexual intercourse is an activity for myself and my spouse, but the fear is having children that we can cater for. Now if one or either of us is in the mood and we know its not safe as it will definitly lead to pregnancy, what then should we do? Following the natural birth control, a couple may only be able to get involved sexually like 4 times in a month! so what now happens to the remaining days of the month if the couples, as said earlier are in the mood? Lets remember that this is one of the reasons st. Paul encouraged marriage in the book of 1st Cor. 7. Instead of persons to burn, should get married. one cannot afford to be having Children every year as sexual intercourse will definitely lead to pregnancy if carried out in an unsafe period. Truelly i am confused and need help. what should i do in this regard? Its urgent please.
    Thank you.

  2. Bebe Phillips
    3 years ago

    The Egyptians used birth control thousands of years ago. There is nothing wrong with a couple deciding when they feel they can have childen and how many they can handle, financially and emotionally. Much better than the abuse and poverty we too often see. This article is unbelievable and I totally disagree with it. I thankfully left the Catholic church as have two of my children. My husband, who was a seminarian, had a vasectomy and feels absolutely no guilt about it. It seems you want women to be barefoot and pregnant. The church should address the majority of Catholics who use birth control and priests should tell them in Sunday sermons that they are terrible sinners and must repent or leave the church. I am sure the pews would not be filled the next Sunday and contributions would be few.

  3. Lisa
    3 years ago

    I was not raised Catholic. I was raised in the post modern contraceptive age. Every message of my life from childhood onward. From my parents, my grandparents, the media, the school ... Everywhere I turned the message was reinforced ... That led to a multitude of sins .. which culminated in choosing a tubal ligation at the age of 27; 6 months after the birth of our second child. We were in a financial distress, my mother had died at the age of 46 of breast cancer (I later learned she'd had 3 abortions in her life) and I was terrified beyond all reason at the thought of having another child we couldn't "afford."

    IT WAS BY FAR THE WORST AND MOST HORRIBLE DECISION I'VE EVER MADE. It's ruined my life, the lives of my kids (they have been deprived of siblings) and especially permanently (how that word seemed benign at one time) damaged my marriage. I will never enjoy true trust and intimacy with my H. I have repented of this sin, and yet will pay the price into old age ... Because it can never be undone, I can never truly turn from this sin and live a life filled with joy and peace.

    Please, everyone reading this: do not take this action. And tell everyone you know not to do this ever! Spread the word that this is monstrous thing that is happening and it's ruining people's lives and our culture.

  4. Margaret Johnson
    4 years ago

    I just read this comment today - 10-8-10 - seeing how the archbishop of our archdiocese has taken so much into his own hands to spread things about other groups in our society. I wondered what he would do if I went to communion with a sign saying I had a tubal done the morning after our last child was born. After having 5 pregnancies, my health seriously compromised, I decided to do this with the Dr.'s advice. My husband and I both agreed it was the best thing so I could be here to raise our two beautiful children we had worked so hard to get. Why would God almighty judge me for this? Are you stating it would be better for me to die than be here to raise our children and see our grandchildren? I've never had one bit of remorse about this procedure and yes, I did it intentionally. I don't believe God judged me for that and no amount of talk will convince me otherwise. Would I be denied communion like the gays and lesbians are from Neinstadt? I'd just go elsewhere and have my own personal communion of our Lord. Everyone is entitled to this - a group of men appointed by the boys club does not have the right to do this or portray those of us as sinners. Let them be the first to cast a stone.

  5. Rene Paez
    6 years ago

    Does the Church permit sterilization under any circumstance; especially women?
    Was watching documentary on Mozambique - where doctors are in short supply. They are training mid-wives to take on responsibility of birthing and
    C-section. Then, assigning them
    to rural areas. A mid-wife delivered a still-born and then took it upon herself to sterilize the mother because she felt that another pregnancy would kill her. This is why I'm asking. Also, this country is a former Portuguese colony, and although not mentioned in documentary - some of these mid-wives are Catholic.

  6. Roxanne
    6 years ago

    I'm sterilized for 6 years and loving it. I'd do it all over again in an instant! I guess Catholic clergy doesn't have to worry about this issue, huh?

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