Much of the HHS mandate debate has been sidetracked on the issue of contraceptive use by Catholics. As if less-than-faithful Catholics invalidate the rights of faithful Catholics. The 98% figure bandied about by the Obama Administration and their excusers has been pretty well debunked, notably by statistician and SF writer Mike Flynn.
Regardless the percentage of Catholics who either use contraceptives or have a contraceptive attitude seems to be rather high and more than likely involving a majority of Catholics.
While the issue of contraception and sterilization is tangental to the issue of the HHS mandate and its trampling of religious freedom, it is not tangental to the life of the Church.
The attack on conscience in regards to contraception and sterilization did not originate from the Obama Administration. The attack came from within the Church in the confessional and elsewhere. Consciences were deadened by those who misrepresented the Church’s teaching and promoted the idea of an individualist conscience divorced from being informed by the Church. It was not that the majority of Catholics who dissent on contraception and sterilization had thoroughly looked at what the Church taught and then rejected it. Rationalization working from sin to excusing of the sin is nothing new and these difficulties are magnified in the sphere of human sexuality. It is certainly a great evil that those who sought advice about this were often lied to.
One of the things you often hear Catholics complain about is about the lack of teaching in homilies concerning contraception. This is often said as if homilies that addressed this would have fixed the problem. You will also hear complaints about the same thing in regards to bishops, Catholics schools, etc. There is certainly some truth to the complaint and a lot of blame to go around.
Lacking a time machine there is little use in critiquing the past other than evaluating failure with a goal correcting the problem. We must understand this history, but not dwell in it. The fact is the current situation involves a lot of dissent on the subject and the contraceptive attitude is a disaster for families and thus the society. The fact that such a large number of Catholics are in objective sin and receiving Communion is a horrible fact that must be more than just lamented.
The pro-life battle has in some ways been much easier and one where a growing number of people are coming to the truth of abortion. The same problems involving teaching about contraception and sterilization were also true for abortion as it was largely ignored from the parish to the diocese to the bishop’s conference. But the natural law understanding of what abortion truly is is able to be more easier understood and passed on. Plus reinforcement from science and the ultrasound makes the argument against abortion stronger.
While there is also the natural law argument against contraception and sterilization it is much more difficult to understand and there are a lot of factors for this cultural and otherwise. With marriage under attack from so many quarters it is easy to see why the two ends of marriage also get lost in the shuffle. The denial of final ends contributes to this confusion. But even the consequences of the embrace of contraception can be noted in a business journal such as the article Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control.
Right now fertility is seen as something to be controlled or fixed. Like so many things problems are to be solved with either a pill or surgery. Children are seen as the negative weight on a cost/benefit scale. A family is seen as a zero-sum game where an increase of children throw the equation out of balance. Pleasure and materialism is to be maximized and children are seen as a threat to this. The contraceptive culture only reinforces this as time goes on.
The real question is what can be done about the current situation and how can we teach Catholics and thus the world the truth of the Church’s teaching?
I’m only just another pundit blogger and I don’t pretend to have all the answers about this, or any real answers other than a general direction of what must be done.
Just introducing contraception as a topic in homilies is not going to change things. The USCCB issuing another document about contraception is not going to change things. They issued a very good document on the subject a couple of years ago, but very few Catholics actually read these documents. There has to be a more fundamental change that is not going to happen overnight. Since this is a topic that is not easy to grasp and one which the culture constantly contradicts we as Catholics must do everything we can to teach the truth at every level. At the parish, RCIA, every level of Catholic schools, and most importantly individual Catholics living the faith. Faithful Catholics must be ambassadors for the Culture of Life providing a sign of contradiction. Sure the self-appointed fertility police will continue to smirk and ask parents “don’t you know what causes that” when they see more than the socially allowed family size. Future Catholic educators and others who teach and live the truth will be grown from such families.
The U.S. Bishops have been very good in reaction to the fallout from the HHS mandate. I hope they also see this as an opportunity to evaluate what can be done in education Catholics and the culture about contraception and sterilization and really about what marriage is as everything else flows from it. The term “A teachable moment’ is often thrown about as a cliche. But even a cliche can point to the truth in which it arose. I hope this does become a teachable moment and that we use our talents to take advantage of it to live and teach the truth of the beauty of the Natural Law and Church teaching. For many the issue of contraception has become a settled issue with little reflection.
This debate is going to awaken some consciences to ask “why does the Church oppose contraception and sterilization?” Part of my Lenten discipline this year will be to fast and pray for those individuals. The prayer of a righteous man avails much, well in my case I just hope God amplifies my meager efforts.
I’m hoping God will bring some good out of all of this. Namely, that Catholics and non Catholics alike will ask “why.” Perhaps in the asking, more glory can be brought to God by the way of right living.
You would only see a change in this area if you one day get a Pope who believes so much in the traditional position that he wants to go on TV and debate this with intelligent opposition. John Paul II lectured in TOB. He didn’t face intelligent opposition. If you believed greatly in a neglected conduct, wouldn’t you want to debate it before the world?
No Pope censured the respectable theologians who dissented like Karl Rahner and Bernard Haring. What does that tell you and any well read Catholics? It says they may not be so sure in this area despite what they state in documents. Church as library of documents is a very safe world. No debates there. If the laity saw a Pope who was so convinced in this area that he wanted TV exposure on this issue and he didn’t hide in our inaccessible-king model of the papacy ( who never risks debate),
only then would laity change IF he won his debates. They are all certain and none of them have put this in ex cathedra form…and John Paul had over 20 years to do it. He did a short cut of ex cathedra on abortion, euthanasia and killing the innocent in Evangelium Vitae by polling the world’s bishops by questionaire and getting their unanimity on those three issues. He likely asked them on contraception too but there, unanimity was absent (EV deals with contraception but does not allude to Bishop unanimity like the other three areas with their abridged infallible wording). But even there John Paul had no ex cathedra burden because on the three topics, bishop unanimity under him is a quick substitute for lone infallibility… rather than he facing research on the history of abortion condemnation for ex cathedra.
You do not yet have a Pope who is so certain that he is going to do ex cathedra on contraception. And you won’t until you see a Pope seek….seek to publically debate this against smart opponents on tv….where the laity actually is.
A Dying Church: where have all the people gone?
Very Well done and about time we began to say more things like this. We have to accept the results of the Contraception Mentality that is emptying our churches and reducing our Catholic population through attrition: no babies = no Church. We have brought this on ourselves, and I for one have fought hard against this and suffered accordingly. I find it difficult to accept the contraception mentality; this ruins the mother, spoils the children, works against marriage, especially encouraging adultery, and denies the Church its members for what?
A misguided freedom of exchanging one form of so called joyless boring house slavery, for joyless boring employment slavery, a big guilty conscience and no family support when tragedy or old age comes. If you duck one cross you get a worse one.
But there is something more worse: those who practice contraception and receive holy communion are in no state of grace to do so: they have committed the deed of self-excommunication on themselves. Contraception is an intrinsically evil act. This has been maintained through out the history of the Church. A majority of Catholics in the USA and possible the same in this country, UK, practice this evil act. It is perhaps fortunate that many have lapsed and have therefore not joined those who remain as communicants. Who else has the guts to speak in public against this haemorrhaging of the Church and its self-suicide.
Contraception – Abortifacient is a Mortal Sin by which the sinner is self-excommunicated. Looking about the Church over the years it has been quite clear that many such people are communicating with impunity or so they think as indicated by the shrinking baptisms and reducing number of children in church. Until Bishops and priests start treating this sin with the severity it deserves, especially excommunicating law makers who support and encourage this and all other aspects of the culture of death, why on earth should anybody take them seriously? Perhaps God is allowing Obama to act as his doing to purify the church: the choice is yours pay up or get out; or in other words follow them or follow me. There is no middle way, especially when you consider the following.
“An unworthy Communion is the blackest ingratitude towards Jesus, and God does not permit this awful sin to go unpunished and He punishes such sinners in heart and intellect by stubbornness and blindness, and very often eventually despair ; the body is visited by sickness and other afflictions, and sometimes even by sudden and un provided death”: I could name a few: (The Means of Grace, Rev Roflus and Rev Brandle ,1893) and Corinthians1: 27 -30. “Those who abuse this divine sacrament are capable of abusing anything (for example Henry VIII, Napoleon, Stalin, Tito, Mugabe, child abusing priests and religious, and so on). They commit grievous sins recklessly and with more scandal; they become more steadfast in evil and careless in bettering their lives.” (St Laurence Justinian) Perhaps this is the true meaning behind the guest who came to the wedding without a suitable garment and was thrown into Hell. (Matt. 22: 1-15)
Many consider this to be very harsh, but I believe it is not, and perhaps we ought to emphasize the serious spiritual, mental or physical damage such sacrileges cause to the people concerned and to their victims. I have little sympathy for the pastoral reasoning for tolerating such people communicating, as those pastors, who become accomplices to such acts, bring on themselves due retribution. I hear little to nothing about pastoral care and public concern for the victims of this terrible sin.
So perhaps those who leave the Church may be in better state to repent, while we should protect ourselves from those who remain. Surely the pastors might even consider posting a warning near the altar reading “Beware Communicating Unworthily might damage your physical or mental health and certainly your spiritual health ”.
Where have all the people gone?
To where the stilled cries of the little ones have gone?
Where have the little ones gone?
To the Lamb to whom they belong?
Where have the mothers gone?
To barrenness of life long gone.
Where have all the fathers gone?
To an endless end, alone.
Where has the Faith all gone?
To those with life and on.
Where have all the people gone?
There is no one to ask, just no one.
Here is the canon for “completed abortion”:
Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.
You have expanded that on your own authority to include contraception because the pill might and might not prevent implantation. But the canon says “completed abortio” and in the case of the pill, no one knows if and when it carries out an anti implantation
function. Secondly the canon is from 1983. It could easily have said “completed abortion or the use of contraceptives” but it did not. You have therefore placed a heavy burden on some simple soul who passes by….a burden which the actual Church in Rome did not choose for them. You might actually cause someone to drop out of the Church thinking they are really excommunicated for contraception which apparently about 90% of Catholics use. Therefore the Church in your view does not have 1 billion which they yearly report but She has one tenth of that….one hundred million. So is the Church reporting a figure that is ten times inflated or does the Church take the canon in a common sense fashion knowing that she herself could have included conyraception but did not.
well, the problem with “winning” a debate in the general public sphere is taht the general public would have to have open, and realtivley intelligent minds, to determine who truly won. And then, even with that, they would have to have the strong will to put passions and proclivities aside, a difficult task for even the best of us. The Popes, in their wisdom, basically understand that the vast majority of the pubic, particularly in the US, just are not intellectually up to the task. It is hard to win over an audience that cannot think much deeper than “I wnat to ahve sex with my girlfriend; the Church says I can’t; therefore the Church is wrong.”
One thing this contraception mandate brouhaha has brought to light for me: the US public school system has not failed at all; in fact, quite the opposite – it has swimmingly accomplished exactly what its controllers want it to do – dumb down the American populace to where they cannot think for themselves, even while believing they can, and therefore are easily lead and mislead. It is truly amazing that such a feat has been pulled off.
My authority is the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2370.