Cooperation in the sin of contracepting spouse

I am trying to understand the culpability of a husband who has [otherwise licit] conjugal relations with his wife who as an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted.

Can anybody explain the bold parts below?

  1. What would constitute a grave reason for cooperating in the sin of the other spouse? Does this just mean that he can only have relations when he is really, really, aroused, or am I missing something?

  2. I understand that it is a more serious sin to use an abortifacient than to use a condom, but shouldn’t we evaluate the question of cooperation in evil in both cases? Unless I am wrong, either it is a licit or illicit cooperation in evil in the situation I stated. The husband would be committing a grave sin regardless of whether the IUD is abortifacient or not. Again, maybe I’m missing something.


  1. Special difficulties are presented by cases of cooperation in the sin of a spouse who voluntarily renders the unitive act infecund. In the first place, it is necessary to distinguish cooperation in the proper sense, from violence or unjust imposition on the part of one of the spouses, which the other spouse in fact cannot resist.46, 561).] This cooperation can be licit when the three following conditions are jointly met:
  1. when the action of the cooperating spouse is not already illicit in itself;47
  2. when proportionally grave reasons exist for cooperating in the sin of the other spouse;
  3. when one is seeking to help the other spouse to desist from such conduct (patiently, with prayer, charity and dialogue; although not necessarily in that moment, nor on every single occasion).
  1. Furthermore, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the question of cooperation in evil when recourse is made to means which can have an abortifacient effect.48

Your priest. In confession.

  1. Furthermore, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the question of cooperation in evil when recourse is made to means which can have an abortifacient effect.

An IUD will allow a baby to be conceived, but will prevent it from implanting, which will cause it to die. Love never kills it’s own children! Both parents will be responsible, and held accountable for the death of their child. They also sin greatly against their commitment to 100% self giving love, by with holding their fertility from each other. The mortal sin of contracepting. Living in a constant state of mortal sin will do grave injury to their marriage, and relationship with their other children. Killing your own children wounds the very heart of the family union. The family unity will most likely not survive this choice.

The husband would be wise to abstain from intimacy, until a better solution can be found. They may offer up their “intimacy fast” as a prayer to God to assist them in finding a good moral solution to their disagreement on this issue. It is licit to use NFP.

Interesting question. I highly doubt the Church means “raging arousal” when they say “grave reason,” but I’m having trouble thinking of something that would be a grave reason. Two ideas: 1) Perhaps the Church is mainly using legalistic language to say that there needs to be a good reason. 2) Perhaps consummating a marriage would be “grave reason”

Is the priest going to determine, based on my circumstance, whether or not the sin was grave matter or not? If it was grave matter, then it seems that I would have to confess every week before receiving communion.

I meant to also include that the husband does not want the wife to have an IUD or any other contraceptive. Does this change your outlook? Do you have any references to Church teaching that might help?

The sort of dilemma cited is covered By Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii, 1930, in
“Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin.”

Note well the requirement to “seek to dissuade and to deter” from that sin.

The advice of a faithful, knowledgeable priest should be sought and all opportunities to offer and persuade the spouse of the goodness of the divine mandate on marriage and intercourse should be continuously employed with fervent prayer.

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