Infertility treatment before conversion

I really have a hard time even asking this because it’s so personal in nature, but the question came up between my husband and myself recently and it has me rather conflicted.

We are set to begin RCIA soon and as we have talked through the Catholic Church’s stance on moral issues such as contraception, IVF, etc., we have come to agree with the Church’s teachings on these issues.

Two questions remain, though.

  1. My husband had a vasectomy 6 years ago. Obviously, we weren’t Catholics and we did not know the teaching regarding this at the time. My husband does regret making that decision, though, but does not wish to reverse it (which would very likely be unsuccessful because of complications that have happened). My understanding is that the Church would not require him to attempt a reversal, correct? Also, is this something that he would be required to confess upon entrance in the Catholic Church? IOW, is this a mortal sin on his soul at the present time?

  2. Prior to his vasectomy (and the reason for it), we had twin daughters, most likely conceived using Clomid and IUI. Again, at the time, we saw nothing wrong with the procedure and were unaware of the Church’s teaching regarding IUI. We only knew that the Catholic Church was opposed to IVF, which we also felt uncomfortable with. Now knowing the Church’s teaching, we would definitely not undergo that procedure again, but is this a mortal sin on our souls currently and/or is this something that would need to be confessed by each of us?

The problem I have with confessing the IUI is that I feel that if I confess this as a sin, that I would, in essence, be admitting that I am sorry that my daughters were conceived, which I absolutely am not sorry about. I would want to have perfect contrition regarding this, but I am so confused and torn as to how that would be possible in this circumstance.

Am I just being too scrupulous about these events or am I right to worry about the state of our souls at the present time?

Thanks so much!

No, neither of these things is a mortal sin since you did not know they were sinful at the time. If you mention them when it comes to confession, which is your choice, and the circumstances, your priest will be able to set your minds at ease fully. But there is certainly no need to worry in the meantime.

Your husband will not be required to have a reversal.

I hope your rcia goes well. Welcome home.

No, a convert is not required to attempt a reversal of a past sterilization procedure.

Whether or not you make a confession before becoming Catholic depends on whether one has been validly baptized. A baptized Christian makes a confession before receiving Confirmation and the Eucharist. An unbaptized person does not because the Baptism itself washes away all previous sin.

IUI (Intra-uterine-insemination) is morally questionable because of its’ artificial nature, although much less objectionable than many other artificial techniques. There is no need to be anything less than joyful about having children. Their conception was an Act of God, regardless of whatever previous moral errors their parents may have made.

I would doubt very much whether you and your husband committed any sin, and certainly any mortal sin, because of your ignorance of the Church’s teaching. There are three conditions for a sin to be a mortal sin:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.


He had been led to believe this was a perfectly fine thing to do. I doubt he had sufficient knowledge about the matter. However, it certainly is a grave offense, and knowing now that it is wrong, he certainly can confess it and probably should confess it as an act of sorrow for this wrong.

Again grave matter, but lacking the knowledge to purposely sin. But, confessing things of grave matter that you have come to know are sins is a good thing.

When I converted I confessed a lot of things I “knew” were wrong, and also things I didn’t know at the time and learned were gravely wrong. Why? Because I was sorry for having done them.

What you are seeing as one thing, are actually two separate things. Sorry for having done something offensive to God does not have to be connected to your love for your daughters. God brought good out of (objective) evil. Thank him for his great mercy.

I think it’s hard for converts to know what to confess from their past life. My policy was confess it all.

I would suggest you talk all this over with your priest and let him help you. Otherwise these things many bother you for years to come. If Father explains it then you can forget it and ease your conscience. We can only give you our own opinion which is not always the best. God Bless, Memaw

Thank you for your kind replies! We will definitely discuss these things with our priest when we start RCIA, but your responses do let me rest easier.

God bless!

Correct. BTW, I find no conflict is confessing a sin such as IVF (assuming one knew it was sinful at the time) while not for a second regretting the blessing that the resulting children are.

Children are always a blessing, regardless of how they come into one’s family. There’s no question about that.

That’s not true. The good consequences of our bad actions can be appreciated without our believing that the actions themselves were good. God could have brought those daughters into existence in other ways – his sin was not the only possibility for their existence.

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