what to do if your spouse is "fixed"?

I have this friend and his wife had surgery after his fifth child and got tube tied so she cannot conceive. They were obviously open to children having five of them. Neither were catholic at the time but were non catholic Christians. The husband has since become Catholic and is open to having more children but his wife who is not Catholic is very weary to have a major operation again.

Can he be with her as man and wife? That is his question to me.

I said I believe so since it is out of his control and it was due to circumstance not intentional and willful disregard for Church teaching.

Any thoughts? I am not looking for “ask your priest” as I assume that has already taken place but sometimes the answers they give in my experience are a bit vague and open to interpretation.

Yes, they can still have proper marital relations as husband and wife. Even if the wife becomes Catholic she would not have to have a reversal operation. She would only have to go to confession. And since she had no knowledge that what she did was a mortal sin, she is not culpable of it. Still, she should confess it if she becomes Catholic.

Besides this, being open to having children does no mean that Catholics must have as many children as possible. We are asked to abstain to space children but we are not asked to endlessly reproduce until menopause.


You’ll have to tell me what the priest said why you don’t understand it. I cannot advise you against spiritual direction from clergy on something like this.

If the wife was Catholic and the surgery was reversable without major risk and good chance of success then it would be expected (as a sign of true repentance) that the reversal operation be undertaken. If it was judged that these conditions could not be met then the mainstream moral-theology view would be that they only have sex during her infertile period (as a sign of not surrepticiously benefitting from the sterilisation).

However, it is the husband who is Catholic not the wife.
It is his duty to do work within the limits of their relationship to try and pursuade her of these principles over time. However if she is sincerely unable to accept all these things (which is quite possible as even Catholics find such teaching hard to take) then he has reached the limits of what God asks of him. However if opportunity arises for carrying out even some of these principles without damaging the relationship then the husband is called to do so.

Regarding your first paragraph, really? I am quite surprised by this. Are you able to provide references or links to online sources for this? While it does not affect me personally, I just find this quite surprising and want to learn more. Thank you in advance.

This is absolutely false.

The sin only need be confessed to. There’s no moral obligation to have the surgery reversed under any circumstances. All surgery is risky.

There are also no obligations to limit relations to erstwhile “fertile” periods because a couple where the woman is ligated or the man has a vasectomy is sterile at all times. If the sterility were due to natural causes there would be no obligation either. One doesn’t have to pretend that something that doesn’t exist needs to be accommodated.

The only obligation is for the person who underwent the sterilization, to confess the sin with true contrition.

This is a very frequent occurrence of course, in particular for converts or reverts who had the surgery done when they were not Catholic or not practicing.

What Magisterial document or reputable moral theologian are you basing your strongly expressed personal opinion on?

Yes I was surprised when I came across this conservative mainstream response by a reputable moral theologian myself. It is not the only respected opinion but it appears to be the strongest one. I saved it somewhere on my NAS, when I get a bit of time I will try and find it.

Why are you surprised by this view?

Here you go:

See the attached theological article at the end by Kippley.
(He is a theologian but a married man not a Jesuit afterall. The article is well argued researched and based on the views of very reputable theologians on this point. I do feel he is over conservative on other points.).

There are no magisterial documents for something that is not required–only for those things that are required. And so, since there are no documents that state one must reverse surgery for sterilization, it is not required. Only contrition for the sin committed is required. No man’s opinion matters in the least, only what is required. If someone wants to undergo a reverse procedure, that’s up to him/her, but it is not required and no confessor is going tell say otherwise. End of story.

And what magisterial documents can you show to support yours?

Let’s just say in my case it comes from a priest who is also a very orthodox Benedictine monk.

Merely because surgeries are not without risk, and the chance that a reversal would be successful is still pretty low. It seems that requiring a woman to go under the knife again is not a moderate view, in my opinion. It might be praiseworthy for her to do, but making it a requirement sounds a bit out of line. Maybe I misunderstood you. But if I did understand what you said, then I must admit that I would not believe it until I read it for myself. No offense intended, so please don’t be upset, I just don’t take someone’s word for it, as evidenced in our previous online interactions.

You are correct because the Church law follows the style of the Roman Law and what is not forbidden is allowed.

I read through the thread, but was unable to open the file at the end from my tablet. I will have to try later from a computer.

The guy in the link does not appear to be a moral theologian at all. He looks more like a solid Catholic whose expertise is in the field of helping people with NFP. I was unable to find any credentianls in regard to his education and/or trainig.

I have supplied well regarded moral theological research and references to further authorities in the area. Their arguments well accord with the standard principles regarding of true contrition repentance and restitution. TheChurch cannot possibly be expected to have a big book covering every particular misdeed in the world and what the remedy is for a truly repentant person. That is why the Magisterium offers clear principles - and moral theologians in the field who provide practical implimentation based on those principles.
That is what the OP has been offered.

We all get it that you disagree. But you are a nobody, as am I.
If you want your personal disagreement to carry weight try and find someone educated and respected in his field who applies those same Magisterial principles and comes to a different and accepted view from what I have supplied.

I have been in your shoes and did the leg work.
What I have offered is all I can find.
It differs from the personal intuitions I started out with as well.

What leg work have you done to find an accepted more liberal view that supports your present intuition?

You seem to be trying to undermine the guy’s credentials on the basis that you cannot find any evidence of his authority (which is suprising as its all over the Net). You also seem to have overlooked the fact that his conclusions are also based on well researched dialogue and study of the views of highly respected moral theologians whom he has referenced.

To counter his conclusions I think we need to offer the OP something more than the fact we just don’t like him or what he writes.

** No man’s opinion matters in the least**
And here you have yourself done just that Della :blush:.

My previous statements are backed up by respected Catholic experts in their field applying Magisterial principles.
Thus far you rely simply on your own personal authority and a less than complete understanding of Church principles and their relevence to this situation.

Only contrition for the sin committed is required
This is not what the Magisterium teaches wrt the principles of repentance.
Lets look at the Catechism:
1448 …Reconciliation … comprises … conversion through the action of the Holy Spirit: namely, contrition, confession, and satisfaction…

Its all too easy to think we are repentant when we get to keep the stolen lollies without repercussions. That is why “satisfaction” has always been integral to true repentance. Catholics too easily believe a couple of disconnected Hail Mary’s “penance” absolves moral obligation to repair damage caused nonetheless and restore justice.

That does not work in this case of “grave matter” - especially as the contraceptive offence is being regularly repeated after the “repentance.”

I do not believe you have sufficiently considered the principles (as given by the Magisterium) that are involved here. It is a very difficult issue.

Yes this is a prudential judgement.
The problem with the “surgery is too risky” approah is that the OP was quite happy with the alleged “risks” when it came to deriving a sinful benefit.
But when it comes to restoring God’s body back to its non-mutilated state (and the downside of being fertile again and the need for chastity) we can expect even saints to lose objectivity on an objective judgment wrt the true level of risk.

Therefore it seems highly likely that the penitent is not in a position to objectively decide this for themselves. That suggests a truly repentant person would want to follow the guidance/advice of other professionals on this point- obviously including an experienced priest and doctor.

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