Returning to Catholic Church After Vasectomy

Question

So I grew up Catholic. When I became an adult I lost my desire to be part of the Church. I stopped going to Mass etc. During this time I was married, not in the Church, and have three kids. I then had a vasectomy. Now I find myself missing the Church and I want my children to know it and the love of Christ. I have started attending Mass again and bringing the kids. I have not taken part in the sacraments. My question is this: I regret my choice to stop my relationship with the Church and want to rectify that. However I cannot honestly say I regret my choice to marry my wife of ten years and to have a vasectomy. Quite frankly I cannot have more children. What do I do? I understand that my marriage must be blessed to be recognized but what about my vasectomy? I can confess my sin but I can’t honestly say that I’m sorry except that now that choice is what stands between me and the Eucharist. Is reversal required for absolution?
Rorey

Answer

Last Updated: August 15, 2023
Dear Rorey,

As you correctly note, in order to receive the Eucharist, the first step would be to have your marriage blessed or “convalidated,” to use the technical term from Church law. As you know, Catholics are obligated to “be married in the Church,” i.e. to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage. I would encourage you to meet with your pastor to discuss your situation. Typically, if I were presented with a situation such as yours, before having the marriage convalidated, I would give some preparation to the couple regarding the Sacrament of Marriage and ask that the Catholic party or parties in the civil marriage make a good confession. When one confesses having undergone a vasectomy, I usually prefer to have a bit more information, such as the age of the man and his spouse. In any case, I do not withhold sacramental absolution on the condition that the man undergo vasectomy reversal surgery. Usually, however, I do recommend that the man receive some good counsel from a trained physician regarding the reversal procedure. Certainly, when we talk about the Sacrament of Confession, we strive to have sorrow for our sins. This is called “contrition.” However, sometimes we are not quite there yet. We have “attrition” which is a “stirring of the conscience,” as the Catechism explains. (cf. par. 1451-1454) Above all, I want to encourage you to forge ahead in this courageous spiritual journey that you are undertaking. To be able to receive the grace of the sacraments again would be a huge gift for you, your marriage and your family.

Fr. Blaise Berg

Answered By:

Fr. Blaise Berg, STD
Rev. Blaise Berg, STD, President and Treasurer of the CANFP Executive Board, is Assistant Professor of Dogmatics at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA. Fr. Berg earned a BA from the University of San Francisco, an MBA from California Polytechnic University, a Baccalaureate degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.B at the Pontifical Gregorian University Rome, a Licentiate Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.L. from the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. and a Doctoral Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.D. from Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He has served on the CANFP Board since 2003.

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