This blog’s platform provides access to some basic statistics regarding traffic on qmbarque.com. One of the more interesting features (to the voyeur) is that you can see some of the search strings that people enter into search engines that bring them here.
It seems, based upon the frequency of searches related to the Church and vasectomies, that this is an issue for some folks. There are questions that my original post on the topic did not cover.
Question #1: “Can Catholics get vasectomies?” Answer: Well, “can” is a loaded word. I’m Catholic. If I go to a doctor for a vasectomy, I can do that in the sense that no one is going to prevent me from doing it.
But the Church is clear: faithful Catholics are bound to follow Church teaching. The intended outcome of vasectomies and tubal ligations is to render a person permanently infertile. It is an objective sin, and likely an actual mortal sin for anyone with a well-formed conscience. In the context of marriage, where sex between husband and wife is promoted as a positive good, vasectomy constitutes the removal of the life-giving capacity of sexual expression, which is an essential element of God’s plan for marriage, and sex.
Question #2: “Wife won’t be intimate unless I get vasectomy, but Catholic faith forbids it.” Answer: If you have this question, your conscience is sufficiently well-formed such that you already know you shouldn’t get a vasectomy. Without knowing a wife’s specific reasons for wanting a husband to get a vasectomy, we are confined to the most common issues that cause married couples to seek this option.
There’s the money. Kids are expensive. Sometimes, depending on your financial circumstances, they are oppressively expensive. Perhaps, even bankruptcy expensive. In any case, it may feel this way.
There’s the stress. Kids cause a lot of stress. You have to worry about them. You have to take care of them (I wonder how many wives want their husbands to get vasectomies in part because the husband doesn’t help very much with childrearing; if this is the case, you need to step it up, husband!).
There’s everything else. Contracepting sex is a hassle, and not fool-proof. After a couple kids, you need a new car. A three-bedroom house only holds so many. People keep asking if you’re done already. They eat all your food. They break your stuff. They cry and whine during mass. Diapers. And diapers. And diapers. Poop and pee. Crust all over surfaces. And snot and vomit.
All of these things are what the world says should matter, but they don’t matter to God. None of this is insurmountable when we place our trust in God. He works miracles, and He will do so here if you permit Him.
Bottom line answer: Be a man. Educate yourself and take responsibility. A wife who wants a husband to get a vasetomy is essentially saying, “For whatever reason, I don’t trust God (or you) in this matter.” She either doesn’t realize (or doesn’t care about) what comes from intentionally removing the life-giving potential of marriage and how it will harm the relationship of husband and wife. She thinks life would be better without more of her offspring walking around. Ask God to help you be what she needs so she can feel safe to trust that His will be done.
Question #3: “Can I still be accepted as a Catholic through RCIA if I had a vasectomy years ago?” Answer: Yes. Everyone sins. Whether or not we’ve made poor decisions in our past is not in itself something that prevents us from becoming Catholic. In choosing to follow Christ, we must repent of our past lives and resolve not to sin in the future, with Christ’s help. If you’ve already been baptized in another Christian denomination when you enter the Church, then you need to go to confession before being received and receiving communion for the first time. If you’ve never been baptized, then the fact that you had a vasectomy in the past is forgiven along with all of your other sins.
Question #4: “If a vasectomy is confessed is it okay to have sex with wife?” Answer: Ask your confessor. The answer is likely yes, but I can’t say so absolutely, because you and your confessor would need to look at the circumstances of your particular situation.
If we’ve learned anything from Pope Francis, it’s that the Church should be about mercy, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the sacrament of mercy. The Church has the right, for our own good, to regulate the requirements for dispensing mercy, but it does not withhold mercy or make obtaining it highly impracticable or impossible.
For example, if you honestly and truly did not know that it is an objective sin to undergo a vasectomy, then in confessing it and receiving absolution, you would not automatically be bound to abstain from sex with your wife.
I have heard confessors assign as penance that a couple abstain from sex during what would have been the “fertile” days of the month, according to the wife’s cycle. This is something you learn to do as a matter of course in Natural Family Planning.
According to the circumstances, your confessor might assign a heavier penance. Perhaps it’s possible for you to attempt to reverse the vasectomy, if it is within your budget and not exceedingly risky to your life or health. A confessor might suggest this to you, but likely would not insist upon it as penance, unless there were a specific reason.
Just go to confession and do the penance, which will be much easier than living with a mortal sin on the soul. After all, a penance does not “make it all right”; only God does that, for us, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And look into NFP.