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What Lies Beneath? Contraception

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, in his Phenomenology of Spirit (and quoting Diderot), describes the subtle way that the French Enlightenment brought about a sea change in worldviews:

The Enlightenment, as an invisible and subtle spirit, slinks through the honorable segments little by little, and soon has essentially achieved control of all the innards and organs of the unsuspecting idol. And then, ‘on one fine morning it gives the idols of its contemporaries a shove with the elbows, and crash! bam! the idol is lying on the floor.’ On one fine morning, whose noon is not bloody, as long as the infection has pervaded all the organs of spiritual/cultural life; then only memory still preserves the dead form of the previous stage of spirit, like a history that, somehow or other, has run its course. The new serpent of divine wisdom which is elevated for worship has thus, when you come down to it, merely painlessly shed its wrinkled old skin.

Hegel, disillusioned like many of his contemporaries with the Enlightenment, describes in a subsequent chapter how these subtle and apparently bloodless changes led to the Terror and the Guillotine.

The way that the contraceptive mentality has taken over the modern world is analogous. Darwin’s cousin, Francis Dalton, spearheading the Eugenics movement; Margaret Sanger’s championship of birth control to reduce the number of “defectives”; the Anglican 1930 Lambeth Conference making modifications in the traditional Christian rejection of contraceptive methods; the steady growth of acceptance of contraception in mainstream Protestantism; Griswold v. Connecticut finding a new “penumbra” in the Constitution for privacy; then the discovery of the contraceptive Pill. Everything had changed in the 1960s, and many Catholics, during the Second Vatican Council, were expecting the Church to follow suit.

But then, “crash! bam!” Pope Paul VI issued Humanae vitae, reiterating the constant Christian tradition condemning contraception, and apparently ignoring the sea change that had taken place in the once-Christianized Western world. Catholics were shocked, hundreds of theologians published a full-page protest in the New York Times, many bishops and priests objected or waffled. The authority of the Church was called into question. Individual dissenting “conscience” became the “new serpent of divine wisdom.”

And we are now witnessing some of the inevitable side effects predicted by Pope Paul, and some of us are wringing our hands about the “infection” that has “pervaded all the organs of spiritual/cultural life.” Surrounded everywhere by reminders of a fait accompli, faithful Christians are forming cadres, here and there (including “cyberspace catacombs” like TCT), hoping to reverse some of the grosser results of the sexual revolution.

TIME magazine, Apr. 7, 1967
TIME magazine, Apr. 7, 1967

Certainly abortion is one of the ugliest moral developments. And resolute opponents have devised numerous strategies for arresting that development: restriction of abortion after the first two weeks when “twinning” is possible, or restriction to the first twenty weeks, or to first indications of a beating fetal heart, or to the ability to feel pain. Or the strategy of legal requirements for pregnant women to view ultrasounds, or waiting twenty-four hours. Or the strategy of working for a constitutional amendment, or for making abortion laws into an issue of “states rights.”

Similarly – with regard to the recent judicial and legal transformation of what used to be “sodomy” into legal and institutionalized “marriages” – shocked bystanders are gathering their forces to try to restore their topsy-turvy world to right-side-up: Possibly we need to separate the governmental and religious jurisdictions of priests, so that they will not be coerced to officiate at homosexual or lesbian marriages; or we have to be proactive in making laws to protect bakers, florists, and photographers, who have conscientious objections against contributing to gay marriage; or maybe, as a last resort, we might restrict marriage to two adults, or even two human beings, to prevent some of the more ghastly possibilities.

But all such measures are equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as long as contraception is almost universally accepted – especially The Pill, which by using artificial hormones puts perfectly healthy young women into a state mimicking menopause, but is promoted for “women’s health” in spite of multiple physical and emotional side effects (discussed in my previous column).

For contraception implies a right to sex without procreation – allegedly a moral right, and protected legally by that “penumbra” of the Constitution discovered by Supreme Court Justices – the right to privacy.

And the consequences of asserting this right are inevitable. As the Hobby Lobby case demonstrates, not every contraceptor will extend this moral and legal right, of sex-without-procreation, to actually killing the new human being that accidentally shows up in her womb, in spite of meticulous use of contraceptives. There are, of course, multiple levels of wrongdoing. Many professional thieves might balk in pursuing their occupation when it would involve killing another human being. But many contraceptors, convinced of their newly discovered right not to be encumbered by progeny, will extend this right to its ultimate conclusion.

Likewise, some married contraceptors will balk at recognizing the liaisons of homosexuals and lesbians as institutionalized “marriages” equivalent in validity to their own. But because of fuzzy logic they fail to see that these others have the same right to non-procreative sex that they claim for themselves.

Catholic pundits frequently fault bishops and priests for not being more vocal in condemning abortion and the legalization of gay marriage. Some of them do. But the most fundamental and courageous move would be a concerted condemnation of contraception. Among politicians, Rick Santorum has come out strongly on the issue, as well as the USCCB and some bishops. The most important voice, however, should be on the “front line,” the parishes. As Archbishop Chaput challenged priests in his diocesan newspaper, “If priests don’t preach the Church’s message about contraception, heaven loses people. Don’t be afraid. When Jesus preached the truth, He lost people. But, little by little, He gained even more people. Take courage in the Lord.”

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. His most recent publications include Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), Five Metaphysical Paradoxes (The 2006 Marquette Aquinas Lecture), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).

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  • Cheryl Jefferies

    Thank you for an excellent essay on this important matter.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    “When Jesus preached the truth, He lost people. But, little by little, He gained even more people.”

    In his Letter to Simplician, St Augustine explains, “Many of those who crucified Him, who had despised Him while He was working His miracles, believed when His disciples preached Him and did similar miracles in His name. Since, then, people are brought to faith in such different ways, and the same thing spoken in one way has power to move and has no such power when spoken in another way, or may move one man and not another, who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? But if the obstinacy of the will can be such that the mind’s aversion from all modes of calling becomes hardened, the question is whether that very hardening does not come from some divine penalty, as if God abandons a man by not calling him in the way in which he might be moved to faith. Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?”

    Scripture bears this out: “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19)

  • Michael Dowd

    The fruits of contraception: Frustrates the primary purpose of marriage. Encourages selfishness. Weakens and undermines the bond of marriage. Raises sex to disproportionate importance. Discourages self control. Makes holiness nearly impossible. Can result in damnation.

  • LAM

    Thank you Archbishop Chaput for being a loyal, strong leader who has not given into the “sexual heresy” that has been embraced by many members of the hierarchy, as was so clearly and shockingly manifested in the deceptive interim report of the Synod. We pray you will strengthen your brother Bishops, in addition to priests, at the next Synod.

  • RainingAgain

    It is astonishing, in my local area, how many young women have been contracting breast cancer in the last ten to fifteen years. Here in rural Ireland we would have been later starters in the sexual revolution but have caught up fast.

    • ThirstforTruth

      Not only is there an alarming increase in breast cancer, but think of the number of young
      married women, who after being on the pill for years, find it extremely difficult to conceive.
      Many can only become a mother at great financial cost and horrendous physical maneouvering
      ( e.g. in vitro fertilization, etc) It truly takes ” a village” of medical technology to “create” a baby
      for many these days.

  • M. Beach

    Wow! This essay really gets it right. Contraception is the real “inconvenient truth,” not global warming. It’s difficult to say how far askew society will go until people begin to see the connection between the pill and where we are as a society today.
    The longer we wait to have this serious discussion, the more difficult it will be to even have a frame of reference. Every parish seems to have a few families that “get it,” but they stand out as the exceptions. And with weekly Mass attendance at around 25%, will we even have a forum in which to reach people?

  • Fr Kloster

    Professor Kainz is most correct in his assessments. I had a pastor who’s biggest fear about contraception was that the USA would not have the manpower to defend herself in a war. More and more, we understand that the best resource we have are souls and their productive capacities. Then too, when mankind lives in a common society; prosperity results as long as people pool their talents.

    The above are the physical facts. But, I have always believed that the spiritual ramifications are even higher. The snuffing out of so many lives by contraception (the true number must be astronomically high) can only mean that we are at a great loss in the spiritual fight. When Satan and His minions come calling, they need to be repelled by a growing army of those who protect virtue, morals, and authentic love.

    • Agnes Goh: on Feeding-Tube :-D

      Agreed. At the same time, though, God can bring good out of evil, and where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. There are millions upon millions of souls of aborted babies (surgical and contraceptive) which are entirely free of personal sin. That’s one powerful army praying for their parents and all of us here on earth. It drives Satan crazy. He can’t win. The more evil he causes, the more grace abounds.

  • Dave

    Thank God for Archbishop Chaput! A great deal of careful catechesis is required in order for a priest to preach Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae without provoking the ire of the congregation, their protest to the chancery, and the censure of the poor man. Few indeed are the bishops who are willing to see the numbers go down even while reforming a parish, a Church institution, or a diocese itself. A priest who was not extraordinarily careful would find himself in hot water fast.

    And so, a couple of modest suggestions. First, prayer and fasting (observed more in the breach than in the doing, I am afraid). Second, the faithful who accept and live the Church’s teaching on conjugal life should do all in their power to find those secondary pastoral organizations — Opus Dei, Regnum Christi, the Legion of Mary, etc. — whose priests can teach openly on these matters without fear of censure –, receive formation from them, and bring others to them. The best witnesses for the Church’s teaching on conjugal life are large and happy families that have learned to rely on the Providence and munificence of God to supply all their needs. Third, women should speak to women about the health dangers of contraception; and men should speak to men about the awesome power God has given them to engender life and what it means to be a Christian husband and father. This third step does require great courage, because the contraceptive mentality is deeply embedded in the culture. Finally — and this is one I don’t expect to happen anytime soon — bishops can require as part of marriage preparations that couples seeking Catholic marriage hear the Church’s teaching on the richness and beauty of proper conjugal life and agree to live the teaching, as a condition of being married in the Church: this would require a willingness, possessed, it seems, by Archbishop Chaput, to see the numbers fall before they rise again. It might mean fewer Catholic weddings — but it might also mean fewer petitions for annulments, too, which can only redound to the good of the Church and the good of marriage (few indeed are those who understand that a declaration of nullity is not a Church divorce).

    The key point is that the positive, life-affirming, joy-giving teaching of the Church proper conjugal relations is breath-taking in its beauty, and it offers a real alternative to the tawdry state of affairs in which we are plunged. When preaching against a negative, it is always more effective to show why the positive is more effective, even if more apparently difficult. St. Josemaria Escriva always said that he never preached against impurity, he always preached in favor of purity. That’s a good starting point. Contraception is impurity in marriage; let us speak of, and live, purity in marriage and drown out the bad in a superabundance of good.

    • rjclarkson

      Dear Dave , Your bubbly enthusiasm for the conjugal life and the idea that the apogee for the devout couple is to breed like rabbits , leads one to believe that you must be a celibate . Oh , the exquisite joy of a dozen mouths to feed and a dozen college educations , health care and weddings to pay . This leaves out so much such as mortgages to pay for housing and clothing all those hungry and naked bodies , etc. I remember Pope and saint John Paul II standing at the edge of a Brazilian favela encouraging the poverty- stricken wretches to mindlessly multiply . As I remember , he didn’t stop to advise the illiterate on the praxis of the rhythm method . Of course, his advise on sexual techniques would be based on theory and not experience .
      I give you a much more guarded proposition , that a doctrine capable of being stated only in obscure and involved terms is open to a reasonable suspicion of being either crude or erroneous . As most educated Catholics do , I rely on my well-informed conscience to guide me in my daily activities ; of course , this is done only after a careful reading of my well-worn copy of Catechism of the Catholic Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana , Liguori Publications , 1994 ) . Also , If necessary , I have on the bookshelf next to my desk , the Code of Canon Law annotated ( 2nd English ed. 2004 of 6th Spanish language edition , Wilson & Lafleur Limitee , Montreal ) , the five volume History of Vatican II edited by Giuseppe Alberigo (Orbis / Peeters , 1995 – 2006 ) as well as all the magisterial texts that came out of Vatican II . I am one of those Catholics that the archpriest warned about in the Hunchback of Notre Dame who had learned to read the Bible in the vernacular .
      Now to the meat of this response , which is an incident that arose out of the Archdiocese of Washington , D.C. When some priests had publicly disagreed with the pope on Humanae Vitae , Cardinal O’Boyle , their bishop , disciplined them . They protested in Church channels all the way to the Vatican . The following is the Vatican’s final report in that procedure :
      ” Conscience is the practical judgment of dictate of reason by which one judges what here and now is to be done as being good . In the light of the above , the role of conscience is that of a practical dictate , not a teacher of doctrine . Conscience is not a law unto itself and in forming one’s conscience one must be guided by objective moral norms , including authentic church teachings . Particular circumstances surrounding an objectively evil human act , while they cannot make it objectively virtuous , can make it inculpable , diminished in guilt or subjectively defensible . In the final analysis , conscience is inviolable and no man is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience as the moral tradition of the Church attests . ”
      Ninety percent of American Catholics believe it is not sinful for the partners in a Catholic marriage to use artificial birth control . The paper under review here is a well-written essay but the odds are that it will not change many minds , particularly since its intended audience is the ultra orthodox . Contraceptive users come upon this site usually by accident . The writer under review must oppose its magisterial writings , in almost every regard , on conscience and the priesthood of the laity which are identified with Vatican II .

      • Howard Kainz

        The principles for an informed conscience were spelled out in the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, which reiterated the traditional position regarding contraception: “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.”

      • RainingAgain

        The person interpreting his conscience can be very easily swayed by his own vested interest in coming to a particular conclusion.

      • Athelstane

        Aside from contraception, what other doctrines of the Church has your conscience directed you to discard?

        • rjclarkson

          Many in the Church suggest that divorced and remarried Catholics , abortion to save life of mother , civil partnership for Catholic homosexuals who do not have gift of celibacy , father who steals milk for his starving children , child who tells raging father that he does not know where mother is hiding , husband who tells wife that new dress looks pretty on her , parent who tells children that there is no favorite child , etc . , are examples . Some of these may be discussed at synod in Philadelphia . Even in the Catholic Church , moral theology does not require that all actions or thoughts be judged only in black or white terms . In judging whether or not a war is just , if the war in Iraq is judged as unjust , does that mean every American soldier who killed someone is a murderer . Is Harry Truman in Hell because seventy years ago he ordered the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ? Remember the Nuremburg Trials ? You would be a piss- poor confessor if you never saw any extenuating circumstances .

          • Howard Kainz

            The artificial hormones in contraceptives can be used by women to treat heavy bleeding, irregular periods, period pain, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). What “extenuating circumstances” related to contraception would you suggest?

          • rjclarkson

            Prof., I can not tell if your question is merely a rhetorical device , or , if you are blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other ? One example that even bishops and cardinals discuss as a practical necessity is in a marriage where one partner has AIDS , it is morally acceptable for the other partner to use a condom or other contraceptive devise to avoid an AIDS infection . Another example is where the wife has been told by her doctor that if she bears one more child , it will kill her . Of course , a favorite of mine is where a married couple has been notified by their bank that it is going to foreclose on their home , the parents’ have lost their jobs , the welfare authorities are threatening to take the children away that the couple already have because of lack of proper nourishment . You would go ahead and bring another hungry mouth into the world ? I read in the Wall Street Journal just this week about the thousands of Christians who are fleeing Syria and trying to reach Europe . How many of those married couples would be shedding tears of joy if they found out that the wife is pregnant with another child ? One reading your remarks on the subject might properly wonder if you had slipped into the sin of spiritual aridity ? Not a word of compassion has fallen from your lips ?

          • Howard Kainz

            You seem to presuppose that abstinence or NFP are impossible in all these cases. With regard to the transmission of AIDS issue, it is a question of avoiding two evils rather than one.

          • rjclarkson

            See my answer to Beth set out above . Certainly , telling your students the options available in certain situations does not equate with a demand that each student follow that option in their private lives .

          • Howard Kainz

            You accuse Beth of following a “rabbit trail,” but you seem to have your own rabbit trail — focusing on “extenuating circumstances” in order to cast doubt on the general principle.

          • rjclarkson

            Dear Prof ., Another rhetorical trick you have been using in your remarks herein is what is known as “chasing one’s tail ” . You use this device to avoid cutting to the chase and directly engage another on the issue raised . I refuse to engage in this spurious paper chase . Adieu !

          • Beth

            Your support of contraception (at least as you state it on this forum) is based on the conscience argument.

            A conscience is not informed by stories of foreign ladies in the Wall Street Journal. Your conscience is only inviolable in terms of your decision to use contraception – for yourself.

            Even your wife must follow her own well-informed conscience. If yours differs you are still responsible for your child – should your wife conceive because she believes and practices openness to life.

            You have no authority (assuming you are laity) to dictate to women in Syria that they must use the pill, any more than you have a moral right to tell them not to. Catholic women in other countries, however downtrodden, are not beholden to you or the WSJ for spiritual guidance.

          • rjclarkson

            Dear Beth , Your response is to take us all down a rabbit trail– an old lawyer’s trick . It is a non-sequitur stated to distract the reader from the real issue under review . I have not advised any reader as to what their personal decision on such issues should be . My purpose in my comments was to inform the laity what some of their options are when confronting issues of conjugal activities . It is no different than when a law professor tells his students about the Fifth Amendment’s constitutional right to remain silent when accused of crimes . Giving information of an existing right does not translate into a demand that the right be invoked .

          • Esperanzaypaz

            Really, Beth, do read what he wrote before you condemn. Nowhere does he dictate anything to anyone. He is simply posing the question as to where stalwarts such as you and the good professor would begin to have an ounce of compassion if individuals in the most dire straights were to make conscientious decisions that might not meet your approval but that Our Lord might view with far greater mercy than some of of you.

          • Athelstane

            With respect, what you’re suggesting amounts to a massive rewriting of the Church’s moral teachings. But if the Church has gotten so much wrong in teaching faith and morals for so long, does this not raise a much more fundamental question of how its truth claims and authority can be accepted at all?

      • Beth

        OK, I did read your post 3 times hoping for once to find an original twist on this conscience argument. So (although obscured in side issues) I glean that your conscience is morally at ease about contraception for 2 precise reasons: 90% of Catholics think it’s fine, or, kids are expensive.

        Same old, same old, for 50 years; the same rationale from NCR to PP. Doesn’t anyone have a more interesting conscience than that?!?

        • guest

          Yes, children are expensive in a myriad of ways, and you need to take that seriously!!! Your flippancy here is ungodly and disgusting. SHAME!!!

      • Dave

        RJ, you are over-reading my position. Uncontracepted conjugal life does not always issue in conception, as Catholic couples may make use of legitimate means to limit the number of their children, for the prudential reasons that you cite, or because they are infertile. Nothing in my position says that couples should have as many children as is numerically possible. The Church also reminds us that the number of children in a marriage is not the only measure of its fecundity, a point of great comfort to childless Catholic couples. A prudential decision to limit the number of births says nothing about the kinds of means that may be used, and the Church’s teaching is clear as to what is in and outside the boundaries.

        More than 90% of the world’s Catholics thought at the time of the Arian controversy that Arius was right. Bu they were wrong. The sensus fidelium is not a numerical quotient. The witness of large, happy Catholic families remains testimony that God does provide and that the Faith is reliable — whether 90% choose to believe that or not. As a married convert to the Faith I say how much stronger the Church would be and much the happier our lives if instead of looking for justifications for dissent — so we can be like everyone else — all the faithful would look for reasons to affirm and to live the Gospel to the fullest measure. Fullness of life is found only by embracing, with love, the fullness of truth. So let’s keep looking for reasons to affirm the teachings, which are the truth, and to convert ourselves the more deeply to them.

      • >>”Oh , the exquisite joy of a dozen mouths to feed and a dozen college educations , health care and weddings to pay.”<<

        And there is the same logic that feverishly tells young ladies to abort, young ladies who may never get their second chance at motherhood: wait for your fortune before you start living, and making new life. There is the core error of our entire way of life, or lack thereof: looking at even a babe-in-arms as having a price tag attached!

    • Bill Beckman

      I would add the Neocatechumenal Way to your list of secondary pastoral organizations. Sandro Magister says no organization in the Church gives better witness to the full truth of marriage. Perhaps that is why Archbishop Chaput established a missionary seminary of the Neocatechumenal Way in Philadelphia not long after he arrived.

  • gfazzari

    Selfishness is always sinful. Contraception is selfish sex…quite contrary to love. Let’s love each other turns into let’s use each other.

    • Mikayla Szuter

      I agree with the first part of your statement – that contraception is selfishness. But to change think the concept changes from “Let’s love each other” to “Let’s use each other” is a bit of a leap in this case. Two people can be selfish together, but it doesn’t mean they are being unloving towards each other. Contraception changes the value and meaning of sex, absolutely, but not the way two people see each other. It takes away the depth of sex but not the reason behind it.

      • gfazzari

        However, contraceptive sex is only justified through selfish motives. The couple moves from “loving” toward “using”. I would not consider them specific categories – rather, a continuum along which we all fall.
        A couple who contracepts has a “lesser” loving relationship than they could have, and a more “using” relationship than they should have.

    • guest

      Wow!!! Is that a private divine revelation or your considered opinion? In any case, you are VERY wrong. BEWARE of rash statements where you know not!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly out of your element, not giving glory to God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mary

    In 1992 two faithful Catholics from Dayton, Ohio, who had been active in the Right to Life movement had an epiphany: the acceptance of artificial contraception was at the root of abortion. Those two, Mary Ann Walsh and Steve Koob, founded the organization One More Soul, dedicated to “fostering God’s plan for love, chastity, marriage and children” and to disseminating the truth of Humanae Vitae. That organization has been “fighting the good fight” ever since. Check it out. (I’d put the link here but then my comment would probably be rejected.)

    • Howard Kainz

      The One More Soul website includes a rather comprehensive list of NFP physicians in various states.

  • Chris R

    Morality and law are distinct but not mutually exclusive. Homicide is a clear example of an immorality that should be illegal and obligatory Mass attendance is a clear example of a moral obligation that should not be state mandated. Perhaps in a theocracy morality and law are the same, but in our pluralistic democracy it is harmful to subtly promote the legal banning of contraception as it extends the government’s role beyond its proper limits, and invites others to impose on our legitimate rights. The immorality of contraception should be preached and taught in faith communities, but from the legal or political realm we should be limited to opposing abortifacients which end the lives of human beings and tax payer funded contraception which is empirically tied to increased promiscuity, unintended pregnancies, abortion and divorce.

  • Veritas

    “Possibly we need to separate the governmental and religious jurisdictions of priests, so that they will not be coerced to officiate at homosexual or lesbian marriages…”

    Certainly, we don’t want our priests to be coerced. What concerns me is the fact that there are probably more than a few priests who would be quite willing to marry two same sex partners. That’s the stage we are in, historically.

    Speaking of history, and as much as I agree with this article and the Church’s wisdom in prohibiting birth control, the mass of people are not in tune with the wisdom behind the Church’s teaching. The Church can, and should, stick to its guns on the prohibition; but how do you make the flock agree to follow? How do you get the rest of the population to follow? Does anybody really think that someday people are going to give up birth control? I’m not being antagonistic with the author here, but that’s always the question that comes to mind when I read articles like this. I get this ambivalent feeling of “Yes, this makes complete sense,” and then feel a sense of resignation that we can’t put the genie back into the bottle.

    • Howard Kainz

      “How do you get the rest of the population to follow?” Maybe by starting with Catholics. Possibly priests might preach the Church’s position on the issue. But this takes a considerable amount of courage, because of the changed atmosphere, as I mentioned above.

  • bernie

    What lies beneath? Divorce, which is just another form of demanding self-gratification without responsibility. On the one hand, contraception has been going on since Onan. On the other, abortion demands a separate consideration because of its special gravity, cruelty and inhumanity. I would add my voice to the growing demand that all who publicly have contributed to this present unprecedented calamity in human events should be publicly recognized as having excommunicated themselves and no longer eligible to receive the Holy Eucharist. All the Bishops of the US, singly and collectively must act in accordance with their Divinely instituted responsibility or the problem will continue to be seen as negotiable. Salvation is at risk for a whole huge class of persons who otherwise will continue their evil way. If the Church takes its stand in a great act of humble obedience to the Will of God, it may have a saving effect on our whole society

    As to contraception, the future belongs only to the fertile. Eventually, probably in a great state of international chaos, a corner may be turned and Catholic culture may re-inhabit the Western soul
    .

  • Mary C-J

    Most who contribute to TCT are far more knowledgeable and literate than I, however I have been thinking about theses issues for at last 15 years.
    One of the issues that women seem to fail to recognize is their own inherent moral power/responsibility which is God given. The very act of child bearing is a sort of miracle, maybe an average day to day one, but one none the less. Both contraception and abortion serve men, not women. I would say that the female kind, so greedy for recognition as equals, prodded by the juvenile male class, has diminished it’s own true power and sold itself into a perpetual serfdom.
    Men and women are not equal. We are complimentary if you will. They may accomplish things equally, but not in the same way. And sometimes not for the same reasons. It has nothing to do with native intelligence.
    The fundamental reason that we marry as God intended, is to become fully whole. To recreate and promote new life and a new generation. To bear and raise children, with Gods help is an enormous responsibility as well as a delight. It is a fundamental power entrusted to women.(Of course that does in no way diminish man’s power or tremendous importance).
    I think that women were fed a most grievous lie and believed it. It is a shame that what most are looking for is right before them, the strength and goodness of our Virgin Mary.

  • elcer

    I completely agree with Professor Kainz, however, according to the Cardinal Newman Society, the ideas espoused by the Professor are not taught at Catholic universities such as Marquette or even in Catholic high schools. As a matter of fact, the universities seem to be on the other side completely. Also, in my parish (in the Arch. of Phila.), although I am quite fond of the pastor, the preaching for the last six months or so is about God’s mercy and forgiveness and welcoming “everyone” as proposed by Pope Francis. This is all well and good and people need to hear that, but I believe too many of the people in the congregation are unaware of what why we need God’s mercy. Also, I think we need to emphasize the use of NFP.

  • sagehen

    You cannot give what you don’t have, and it is not apparent that our bishops have a coherent understanding of the relationship between contraception and abortion – or even contraception and sin. Certainly no one who entered the seminary after 1968 was expected to genuinely oppose contraception, and many academic theologians openly repudiated Humanae Vitae. If you take any bishop at random and ask him “if abortion is wrong, and contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies, why does the Catholic Church oppose contraception?”, you are not likely to get a coherent answer, much less a convincing one. This is painfully obvious in the context of the Obamacare contraception mandate debate, where the bishops seem only to make legal arguments about respecting religious liberty. That is an important factor, to be sure, but it fails to convey any sense that contraception is morally wrong, that it leads to abortion, or that it bears any relevance to our modern culture at all. Most people know two things about contraception – that the Catholic Church is against it for some reason, and that most Catholics use it anyway. They are not likely to be impressed by demands that our secular laws be more respectful of Catholic teaching that Catholics themselves don’t seem to care about. And no one, Catholic or otherwise, is going to forego the convenience of artificial contraception just because “the Church says so”, particularly when bishops and priests don’t even bother to say so anymore.

  • GaryLockhart

    ‘That is why Pope Francis said , “Who am I to judge ?”‘ rjclarkson

    An out of context quoting of a poorly thought out prudential remark which contradicts the words of Christ Himself is indicative of the fundamental flaws in your logic.

    “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Luke 12:57

  • Maria Ramirez

    I have sat in various Catholic church pews every Sunday for my entire life (46 years). I have never once heard a priest mention contraception or how blessed it is when a marriage is open to life. Thankfully I also read and I attend the means of formation of Opus Dei. Otherwise I’d be totally ignorant on the subject, and I wouldn’t have 5 children! I am so sad for men and women who try and be good Catholics and good husband and wives but don’t know what that means, because they are never told.

  • During the brevity of my priesthood–I was ordained at the age of 68 and am approaching my ten years’ anniversary–I have often mentioned in my homilies that the only time I heard a sermon on contraception was my own homily. I have, as well, been subtly marginalized and in one instance in another diocese not my own was told to avoid controversial subjects at the ambo and not speak of sex. So there are priests, perhaps too few, who do speak of sexual morality. Interestingly, as a chaste normal heterosexual man and priest I find myself each day more “in awe” of the power and beauty of bearing children than I was the day before. To truly love our neighbor as Jesus commanded we love the Father and the Son in their relationship wherein we are in God’s image. All we need do is look beyond the temporality of our lives in this passing world and ponder on the world to come. I remember once being asked by a parishioner, Why would God create us? With little forethought I surprised myself saying, God is generous. He gives unconditionally. We may speak of life and death in our personal context but not as masters of either as the Son of Man who asked that we imitate him and be “meek and humble of heart.” Would we choose anything else?

    • Howard Kainz

      Ordained at 68? You’re a hard act to follow!