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 Decree regarding cases in which impotence renders marriage null


The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has always held that those who have undergone a vasectomy and those who find themselves in similar circumstances, such that their impotency is not established with certainty, are not impeded from marriage. 

Furthermore, having examined this position and after repeated studies conducted by this Sacred Congregation and the Commission for the revision of the Code of Canon Law, the Cardinals and Bishops, members of this Sacred Congregation, in the plenary meeting held on Wednesday, May 11, 1977, chose to respond to the following proposed doubts: 

1. Whether the impotence that renders a marriage null consists in the antecedent and perpetual incapacity, whether absolute or relative, to complete the conjugal act. 

2. If affirmative, whether the conjugal act necessarily requires the ejaculation of semen produced in the testicles. 

Regarding the first: affirmative; regarding the second: negative. 

In the Audience granted to the undersigned Prefect of this Sacred Congregation on May 13, 1977, the Holy Father by divine Providence, Paul VI, approved the above decree and ordered it to be published.

Give at Rome, from the Seat of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 13, 1977. 

+ Franjo Cardinal Šeper

+ Jérôme Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium