Ask a Priest

Tubal Ligation

Oct 12, 2015

I grew up Catholic and “converted” and was married over 10 years ago in a Lutheran church. After the birth of our second child, we chose to have my tubes tied. I knew that was not an option in the Catholic church, but we intended to raise our family as Protestants.

Things have changed a lot. My husband no longer considers himself Christian (he tells me he’s agnostic) and I am seeking a church family to raise my sons.

I have a strong desire to come back to the Church, and am persuing having my marriage convalidated, to which my husband has agreed. My question is whether I will be able to receive Communion again, as I have had my tubes tied.

To complicate matters, I struggle with the Church’s teaching on NFP, as I don’t see a logical difference between that premise and the concept of BC (forms where abortion is not caused). I am well-educated on the matter and have studied Humanae Vitae, but my mind is still stubborn. Coming back to the Church, I’d be willing to practice NFP despite my confliction, but at this point I’ve already made the permanent choice of having my tubes tied. That being said, I’d obviously welcome new children into our family if the tubal were to fail.

If I am not able to receive Communion again, I don’t see a reason to go forward with the convalidation since I couldn’t be in communion with the church regardless. I am hoping you have hopeful news for me despite my past poor choices.

Asked at 01:24 am on October 12th 2015

Hi J B, first of all congratulations on your desire to return to the Church you grew up in, and to have your marriage convalidated.

One of the things you’ll want to do before receiving Holy Communion is to make a good confession. The priest’s absolution in the name of Jesus, will remove all your sins permanently, including what the Church would regard as the sin of having that tubal ligation. Pope Francis is very strong on the sacrament of reconciliation not being what he called ‘a torture chamber’ – the fact is that when you had that procedure performed you probably didn’t regard it as wrong, which is somewhat different from a Catholic consciously rejecting Church teaching. So your confessor will surely show you the same mercy Jesus showed a woman in the Gospel, when he refused to condemn her, but told her to go and sin no more.

After receiving absolution you’re free to receive the Eucharist, since you’ll be full of God’s merciful grace. You’re no Prodigal Daughter (!), but all these years your Father in Heaven has been looking forward to your returning to the Church.

Can I leave the complicated discussion of the difference between NFP and BC to another time – since it doesn’t seem relevant in your case, and especially because in the unlikely event that you were to have other children, you’re happy to welcome them.

St Peter advises wives to win over their husbands (he was thinking of a Christian wife of a pagan husband, so not quite the same as your husband) by the way they live, ‘without a word.’ (I Pt 3, 1-7), and I’m sure that over the years your patient love will have an effect on your husband too.

Very best, Fr Brendan Purcell

Replied at 12:44 am on October 14th 2015

Thank you so much for your prompt – and encouraging – response. You helped me climb out of a pretty low place and restored my belief that the Church could “want me” again. I especially appreciate your wise advise on winning over my husband “without a word”. Thank you for your time and for providing this amazing service to people seeking counsel.

Replied at 08:38 am on October 15th 2015