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

1/25/2004 - 6:49 AM PST

(Page 2 of 4)

best a bad means to a good ulterior end. Moreover, because sterilization involved bodily mutilation and is usually irreversible, it is, other things being equal, more seriously wrong than other methods of contraception.1

One here recalls the unfortunate circumstance of our era in which methods that actually kill an already conceived and developing child are cavalierly dismissed as “just another kind of birth control.” Certainly, abortifacient means are more sinful than any contraception, including sterilization, because the former extinguishes a life now begun, while the latter prevents a life from being started. But, as Grisez insists, among the purely contraceptive methods, sterilization is the most morally repugnant.

Kippley explains the “types” of sin that are involved in direct sterilization. One kind is the contraceptive quality and intention of the act of sterilization, in which one deliberately wills not to conceive a child. Kippley writes: Once a person has voluntarily had himself or herself sterilized for birth control purposes, each act of sexual intercourse is seriously stained; it objectively contradicts the meaning of the marriage act for it is a permanent way of saying, “I take you for pleasure but not for the imagined worse of pregnancy.”2

The second sin linked to intentional sterilization is that of mutilation (whether actual or attempted) of a healthy organ that has as its divinely-preordained purpose to participate and cooperate with God in the begetting of a new human life. The human body is to be loved and cherished. The “good” of human procreation as created by the Almighty is not respected when one purposely rejects the reproductive capacity of the human body and willingly alters the body with contraception in view.

Direct sterilization—indeed, all contraception—is grave matter, that is, it is intrinsically evil. (While this assertion may seem overly audacious today, it is to be recalled that before the dawn of the twentieth century, virtually everyone thought contraception of any stripe to be patently immoral—an utter abomination against God’s Eternal Law. All Christian denominations, for example, subscribed to this tenet until 1930.) Intentional sterilization in itself always fulfills the first condition required for the commission of a mortal sin—that offense which cuts one off from the Sanctifying Grace that is the very life of God Himself. Mortal sin—a repudiation of the Lord and His wise commands—may be described as the ugly chains of haughty disobedience that one prefers to the spotless garment of the Lamb. One who chooses the shackles of mortal sin will never attain the refreshing freedom earmarked for the legitimate sons and daughters of God who have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Savior.

Repenting Sterilization: If Possible, How?

Because the Almighty is, unquestionably, all-merciful, those married couples who have chosen direct sterilization to escape conception—regardless if the reason was one of fear, lack of trust or dissent from the Church’s doctrine—can turn back to Him, ask His pardon and be restored to a life replete with His joy and peace. The Sacrament of Penance (“Confession” or “Reconciliation”) is indispensable and unsurpassed for those who purposely selected sterilization; it is necessary before the reception of the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist for those men and women who have knowingly (that is, were aware that intentional sterilization gravely offended God) and willingly (that is, totally) consented to the sin of direct sterilization. The supernatural rewards of the Sacrament of Penance and of the consequent eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ are vast and unlimited; they cannot be denied or circumscribed. The Sacraments, when received in the state of grace (that is, when one is free of mortal sin), conform one more closely to the Messiah and to His chaste Mother, Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin.

There are those who are convinced that the sin of direct sterilization presents no more difficulty than any other transgression regarding abiding repentance and true reconciliation to God. A Catholic couple in which one or both intentionally chose sterilization, so the argument goes, merely confess the sin of sterilization to the priest in the context of the Sacrament of Penance. Then, that metaphorical “bridge” spanning the abyss between one in mortal sin and the Creator has been crossed again. The wide gap has been closed; deep contentment within the soul once again reigns supreme.

Our two previously-cited authors disagree with this sentiment.

Grisez poses the quandary thus:
People with a legalistic mentality sometimes suppose there is an easy out for Catholic couples who accept the Church’s teaching on contraception, yet want no more children and do not wish to abstain during the fertile ...

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1 - 5 of 5 Comments

  1. Bebe Phillips
    2 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.

  2. Lisa
    2 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.

  3. Margaret Johnson
    3 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.

  4. Rene Paez
    5 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.

  5. Roxanne
    5 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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