Via Catholic Pillow Fight this editorial from NCReporter.
So why again? Apparently the bishops feel that people just aren’t listening. If that’s their hunch, we’d agree. Why aren’t they listening? Let’s consider for starters the document on contraception. A lot of the U.S. bishops today might say there are a lot of bad, or at least ignorant, Catholics out there, Catholics influenced by the contraceptive culture, for instance, who no longer know good from evil.
Maybe they’re right. More likely, though, it’s because the teaching makes little sense, doesn’t match the experience of lay Catholics and tends to reduce all of human love to the act of breeding.
You just have to laugh at people who put up an argument against contraception that it "doesn’t match the experience of lay Catholics." Well lying is quite common so I guess that means lying isn’t a sin. We should just wipe off the 8th Commandment of the list because bearing false witness does not match the lived experience of most Catholics. Lust, greed, pride, envy, sloth etc are also all part of the lived experience of most people so lets just wipe those off those map – just think how easy it is to memorize the Zero Deadly Sins. I had never realized lived experience was a component of Catholic theology in the first place or maybe they had some fancy Latin phrase for it I am unaware of. Those long words like concupiscence can also just get jettisoned and next in line of course would be repentance.
I also find it humorous the charge of the Church reducing human love to breeding or the phrase sometime bandied about "pelvic orthodoxy." It seems to me that progressives often reduce acts of love to sex since they argue that those with same sex attraction can’t be fulfilled unless they have sex. That there is no problem with cohabitating because they "love" each other. That a celibate priesthood is disordered and leads to problems. Chaste love is not exactly in their lexicon. This is why they are so opposed to good orthodox Catholic groups like Courage.
Youre logic is based on non-sequitors. And the post you cite, that author’s belief that Catholics don’t know the church policy about birth control, is just ignorant of studies that show otherwise.
They ignore the teaching because they chose to do so. And painting that choice as a sinful one is sheer lunacy.
It just bothers you and other right wingers that people do this and consider themselves good Catholics. Guess what, they are.
Sin, by definition, is knowing something is wrong and choosing to do so anyway. So, if everyone out there KNOWS that the church has taught the sinfulness of contraception for 2000 years straight, then their consciences are informed. To act against a formed conscience is sinful. No amount of praying to God will change the objective fact that contraception kills the life of grace (and sometimes the life of a child, as is the case with the Pill). I often wonder how dissenters can be all that enthusiastic about being Catholic. In the back of their minds, they cannot hold to the infallibility of the church because they think the church teaches something that is “wrong”.
They ignore the teaching because they chose to do so. And painting that choice as a sinful one is sheer lunacy.
Kim, have you read Humanae Vitae?
Your assignment is to read it, then step back in and tell us why the Church’s stand on artificial birth control is not sinful. Quote passages from the document that you believe are false, and tell us why.
We await your learned response….
In other news: just this week I was cornered into an argument about the church recognizing same-sex marriage. My response was that the church does recognize it – the church always recognizes sin when it sees it.
Why is it that anti-church folks think that having sex is the only thing that matters? Genital gratification for its own sake is the currency of “pro-choicers” everywhere. These people really need to get some hobbies!
I’d highly recommend Ratzinger’s homily at the Mass prior to the Papal Election.
I remember reading that many cardinals who were “on the fence” about who to vote for decided for Ratzinger after hearing this speech.
“…It just bothers you and other right wingers that people (contracept) and consider themselves good Catholics. Guess what, they are…”
Sorry Kim, they’re BAD CATHOLICS!
Guess what? They are SINFUL Catholics. Just like those who have sex outside wedlock, who watch porn, etc. They need to confess and repent, just like the other wretched sinners in the Catholic Church.
Kim – they may know church policy in the sense of “The church thinks it’s wrong” but do they know the reasoning behind it, and behind the bannings of the other things the church forbids outright? I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t – when I was younger we were basically told “don’t do that, it’s wrong” and left to puzzle out the reasons on our own, and a lot of us (including me) took that to mean that there were no real reasons at all, just a lot of elderly priests being contrary, well, because. But that’s not the reality. If your friends have read and considered HV and consciously rejected it, then you should say that they reject church policy. But I’m betting that they simply don’t know what it is except for the barest outline.
And the post you cite, that author’s belief that Catholics don’t know the church policy about birth control, is just ignorant of studies that show otherwise.
Of course, many, perhaps most, Catholics know that the church officially teaches against contraception. But I would be willing to wager that very, very few of them could articulate the reason for this teaching. Now that doesn’t mean that they are entirely to blame for this ignorance; certainly the catechesis on this subject over the past several decades has been severely lacking. But there is a very important practical difference between saying that someone is aware of a teaching, and saying that they really understand the reasoning behind that teaching. As a previous commenter suggested already, I would recommend reading Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae”.
True informed consent does start somewhere. It may lead us to further examine the teachings of the church if we have doubts, but it really starts with acceptance of Magisterial authority.
Catholics believe that Christ leads the Church to teach without error. With that as a given, a church teaching is embraced simply because of the divine guidance of the Magisterium. It may take a little effort to study through the reasoning of a teaching, but we have the confidence that it will be solid and unreproachable. Knowing the endpoint already (that the teachings are true), we can confidently embrace the teaching because of the identity of the teacher.
Many Catholics fall into pride by thinking, “I won’t accept this teaching until I’ve figured out if they’re actually right.” This is a most unCatholic idea. Yes, we should inform our consciences, but not with an aire of doubt, but rather, with the trust of children.
Truth in Advertising
One group who needs to have a little more truth in advertising is the National Catholic Reporter (whose editorial board is pictured here). They may be national, and they might even report, but by no stretch of the imagination could they be considered…
If people don’t believe what the Church teaches about their bodies and sex — something fairly easily verifiable — they obviously have no reason to believe what the Church teaches about their bodies and eternal life. Or Jesus Christ. Or anything. So it’s difficult to see how they could possibly be good Catholics.
We live in the kingdom and work for the King now, in our skin, and in our bedrooms as well as with our jobs or checks or ballots. God _is_ our private life, and our public too — or we haven’t really given ourselves to God.
Obviously, most of us are still working on that. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the teachings that seem difficult.
Tis a bummer that we as a Catholic Church are divided on this topic still. Way before Humanae Vitae Christ called us to love one another as he loved us. He gave his life for us and our lousy sins. My sins deserve no God to die for them.
He said “You have heard it said that you should not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That who ever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Mt 5:27-28
Jesus calls us to love. That is it! We are so lucky he made it easy on us. That is so simple! It is very simple to say and think about but impossible to act upon without his grace. TO truly love and not hold back. To look at life and love full on and accept all that He created us to be.
We need to call upon Christ to help us see that contraception is beyond “lust in our hearts.” It is action but rejection of life. It cheats and acts like cheating is good. Cheating is part of life and we just need to get used to it. Especially when we are talking about love and marriage and sex.
Intuition (in most American Catholics) says there is no moral difference for a married couple (with valid reasons for not getting pregnant) between using condoms or using NFP. I have yet to hear a particularly convincing argument about WHY contraception is sinful; most of the attempted explanations just don’t make sense to or are over the heads of an average American.
In these cases, the only reason to accept the teaching on contraception boils down to “because the Church says so”. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Church history (especially those whose knowledge is basic) is liable to think that it’s stupid to accept something merely because a bishop or priest says so. Since contraception (like most other moral teachings) is not something that has been infallibly defined by a council, it requires an understanding and appreciation of the the levels of assent required to various pronouncements in order to appreciate the assent required to that particular teaching. A murky area in general, this is not something most Catholics in America get.
I don’t think it’s fair to assume that Catholics who have been told at some point that the Church is against contraception therefore have informed consciences and are just as guilty of sin if they contracept as if they lie. Calling for more education or a solution to the problem is one thing; labelling contracepting Catholics as “bad Catholics” or implying they should leave the Church just makes things worse, I think.
Where to start…?
Your “intuition” here is wrong (and intuition can often be wrong btw). The moral difference between NFP, a method which works along with nature, with an explicit openness to conception if it should occur, and a barrier contraceptive, like condoms or diaphragms, which acts as, well a physical “barrier” to sperm and egg uniting, with the implicit disaster of conception if it should fail, is stark.
It is telling that within contraceptive culture there is often talk of the problem of “contraceptive failure”, while there is no such analog in NFP.
Another wrinkle in all of this is the conflation of barrier methods of contraceptives — those which act always and optimally in the prevention of conception, and part-time contraceptive, part-time abortifacient ocp’s which most marrieds, including disobedient Catholics use.
I too suggest that you actually read HV. The concepts within it, while “hard teachings” in the light of our current hedonistic culture, are sound, consistant, prescient, and most importantly, NOT OPTIONAL to one who would call herself a Catholic.
If you still disagree, you need to have the integrity to move on to one of many other christian or nonchristian denominations, some with histories, stature and culture almost approaching Catholicism.
Good luck in your choice.
I respectfully suggest that you read what I wrote more carefully, because you seem to have completely missed my point.
I have read HV. It is suggestive, but I can’t say that it particularly compels my reason to see why contraception is intrinsically wrong. The contrast between NFP and barrier methods may be stark for you, but it certainly isn’t for the majority of Americans.
Please note that I never said that I don’t accept that contraception is wrong, or that intuition must be right. My point was that most contracepting Catholics’ consciences are not condemning them. That such consciences are badly formed, I’m not arguing with. But I believe the solution is not for us to encourage these people to leave the Church or to suggest that any rational person reading HV (or any other writing on the topic) will necessarily be convinced of the inherent wrongness of contraception.
Instead what we need to do is put more emphasis on clear teachings about the Church’s teaching authority. We need to make sharper distinctions between what pronouncements Catholics must agree with and what pronouncements they may legitimately disagree with. We need to transmit to them (as best we can) the vision of the Magisterium acting throughout history to carry the Son of God’s truth to all peoples. Only then will they have the context necessary to accept the immorality of contraception on grounds of authority.
Quite frankly, it seems (to me) like spiritual homicide to suggest that someone leave the Church, even if they are already in a state of some disagreement with it. From a pastoral approach, I would think it would be better to exclusively limit ourselves to trying to bring people to understand Church teachings as well as they can.
I believe we are still not communicating here. The Catholic Church’s approach to sexuality and marriage is not really open to debate — the reference to the “hard teaching” is fair; preaching a life of chastity in both the married and unmarried state really does fly in the face of contemporary “innovations” in morality, but then the Church has always been and should be countercultural.
I will say that our leaders, priest, religious and lay , have done a poor job at communicating the Church’s position at times, but more out of timidity in the confrontation of the culture’s error, and not because of some illogic in the teaching.
I will grant that if NFP is practiced in the spirit of contraception by a couple, it can be problematic as well,not only morally, but also that as a contraceptive method per se (again , with conception as an ill and not a good), it is poor to fair at best.
While I think I agree with everything you just posted, I don’t particularly see the relevance to what I was saying.