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Dear Father Angelo,

My husband and I are looking for an enlightenment regarding a very difficult situation that we are experiencing.  I hope that you can give me an answer in light of the teaching and wisdom of the Church.

We have three children and have been married for 6 years.

I recently underwent a small surgery in the uterus as a result of dysplasia caused by HPV, which could be the first step of a tumor.

The sick cells have been removed, but I have to wait three months and repeat the Pap smear before having any certainty.  In the case more modified cells would be found, I would have to go through medical treatments that are incompatible with an eventual pregnancy.  Now, in our case, necessitating to avoid a pregnancy (that’s why the natural methods are not sufficiently safe in this specific situation) for medical reasons (we hope for only three months, but we don’t know), is it permissible for us to use the condom, or shall we completely abstain, instead?

I thank you for your kindness and wait for your answer.

The Priest’s answer

My dear,

1.First of all, I am pleased by your triple maternity.

Pope John Paul II said that children are the smile of God donated to the world.

Together with His smile, the Lord always gives you a new blessing so that you could accomplish your duty as bride and mother, and through these ways dedicate yourself to the holiness of life to which you are called.

2. Now, a health problem has appeared.

I hope that everything is going to be resolved as soon as possible, thanks to the progress of medicine, also.

3. In the meantime, you ask yourself if for the conjugal intimacy would be legitimate to resort to contraception.

It is true that, in your case, you will not willingly resort to alter God’s project on sexuality and human love, but to revive your mutual union in this delicate moment.

4. However, this is an action in which you would not delay in understanding the intrinsic and profound difference between acts accomplished according to the Wisdom of the Creator and the contracception.

You will notice right away that in the end it is not about true love because, besides your total and profound reciprocal self-giving being lacking, you will immediately feel like committing an act of concupiscence that profanes something very great.

5. This is what the Church says: “Hence where there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.  Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced.  Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law” (Vatican Council II, Gaudium et spes 51).

6. At this moment – is about three months (so we hope) – maybe the Lord is asking you a different kind of union: the one of persevering in prayer together so that any hint of evil would be definitely eliminated from your life.

Also this union of prayer between you and your husband is true conjugal intimacy and, actually, a refined one because from it, both of you come out with a great experience of union in God, of support, of peace and of hope.

7. Finally, I do not want to forget what a document of the Magisterium of the Church says that “in fact in one way or another this happens to everyone for shorter or longer periods of time…..that everyone can be in situations where heroic acts of virtue are indispensable  Therefore, married life also entails a joyous and demanding path to holiness” (Pontifical council for the Family Guidelines, the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality,19).

For you this moment has arrived, which I hope is brief.

But this short abstinence from conjugal intimacy offered to the Lord certainly enriches your prayer.

Saint Augustine says that fasting together with the practice of charity (and this practice is not lacking from your house) – give wings to our prayer.

These are his precise words: “Prayer, you see, flies beautifully when it’s supported on wings of such virtue; and is in this way more readily wafted through to heaven, where Christ our peace has preceded us” (Sermon 206, 3 on the beginning of lent).

To your prayer I add mine with the assurance that the prayer of more people is heard and fulfilled by the Lord.

I wish you well and I bless you.

Father Angelo