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Q&A  April AD 2012
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin


Conscience, Contraception, Constitution, and Modernism

Don’t ignore cancer link to birth control

[Q&A Archives]

    Even without the benefit of divine revelation it is obvious that the primary physical differences between men and women exist to bring children into the world.  Nothing else in human experience depends so essentially on the existence of the male-female complementarity.  Given that the average woman may conceive children up until the age of about fifty, the roughly twenty years required to raise a child to adulthood demands a lifetime relationship between husband and wife.[1]  Artificially to divorce childbearing from marriage would be to undermine this otherwise permanent relationship between a man and a woman—the procreation and education of children is the primary end (the reason for the existence of) marriage.  Marriage is thus unlike any other agreement, contract, or relationship entered into by human beings.

    Through divine revelation this natural law understanding of the purpose of marriage is well reinforced.  From the very beginning

    God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth....  Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.[2]

    The permanence of this relationship was reiterated by our Lord Himself:

    Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:  For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.  Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.[3]

    The biblical Onan, whom Jewish law required to marry his deceased brother’s wife and to raise children bearing his brother’s name, was struck dead by God for spilling his seed on the ground.[4]  Although often translated as “witchcraft” or “sorcery” the Greek “φαρμακεία (pharmakeia),” listed by Saint Paul among “the works of the flesh” may well have been a contraceptive or abortifacient potion of the ancient world.[5]

    The recent publicity about contraceptive “health” care might give the impression that this is an issue for Catholics alone, but in reality the same position has been held by Christians in general over the centuries.  Luther and Calvin both condemned the sin of Onan, and no Protestant denomination approved of contraception until the Anglicans did so at the Lambeth Conference in August of 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.[6]  Until fairly recently, many of the States of these United States had laws limiting or prohibiting divorce and contraception—these laws were passed chiefly by Protestants, for Catholics have always been in the minority in the U.S.

    Also in 1930, the holy Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Casti connubii, explaining the origin, nature, and duties of marriage, which of course included a strong condemnation of artificial contraception.  The Holy Father was careful to distinguish between those who artificially prevent conception and those who are unable to conceive children or who have relations during the infertile time:

    Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.[7]

    Pope Pius XII would later comment on the impossibility of marriage rights based solely on periodic continence, or the practice of such continence without “serious motives.”  (The word “debt” refers to the obligation of both parties to grant the reasonable requests of the other):

    If, one of the parties contracted marriage with the intention of limiting the matrimonial right itself to the periods of sterility, and not only its use, in such a manner that during the other days the other party would not even have the right to ask for the debt, than this would imply an essential defect in the marriage consent, which would result in the marriage being invalid, because the right deriving from the marriage contract is a permanent, uninterrupted and continuous right of husband and wife with respect to each other.

    However if the limitation of the act to the periods of natural sterility does not refer to the right itself but only to the use of the right, the validity of the marriage does not come up for discussion. Nonetheless, the moral lawfulness of such conduct of husband and wife should be affirmed or denied according as their intention to observe constantly those periods is or is not based on sufficiently morally sure motives. The mere fact that husband and wife do not offend the nature of the act and are even ready to accept and bring up the child, who, notwithstanding their precautions, might be born, would not be itself sufficient to guarantee the rectitude of their intention and the unobjectionable morality of their motives....

    Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called "indications," may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to tile full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.[8]

“Not having babies born is a critical benefit....”

    The “false appreciation of life” of which Pope Pius wrote might explain why individual couples resort to contraception, but it does little to explain why governments and international organizations are so enthusiastic that they are inclined to force birth control on the peoples of the nation and the globe.  The answer to that question lies with the inherent inefficiency of government controlled economies.  Socialism “short-circuits” the information gathering mechanism of the free economy, making it virtually impossible to utilize resources in such a way that supply meets demand, neither under nor over producing.  Socialism increases demand wherever it makes a valuable commodity available for little or no cost.  In order to cope with this decrease of efficiency and increase of demand, socialist entities often try to reduce the number of consumers.  The supposed logic is that “when there is less bread, we are better off with fewer mouths to feed”—rather than allowing a free market to produce more bread.

    “The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for cost of contraception,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before a congressional committee concerning the mandate that all employee health insurance must cover contraception.  In the economic thinking of government, “the reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception.” [9]   There was, of course, no explanation why the insurance companies are not currently handing out free contraceptives if they are such a money maker!

    The reverse side of the same coin is seen in the thinking of environmentalist fanatics.  People are thought of  as a sort of parasite that needs to be cleansed from the earth, to make room for the snail darters, red crested tree rats, and burrowing skinks, which have equal rights with humans to the planet.  (Curiously, these endangered species people usually insist on the validity of Darwinian evolution with its “survival of the fittest.”)  Eliminating people will have the added benefit of eliminating “global warming.”  This is the stuff of the United Nations and its Agenda21. LifesiteNews reports:

    Kavita Ramdas, the executive director for the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, cited two recent studies funded by the Hewlett Foundation claiming “that empowering women to time their pregnancies would reduce carbon emissions significantly, providing 8-15 percent of the reductions necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.”

    But Ramdas, who serves on the board of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said global population control had fallen on hard times in the current political environment. “Not a single person in the presidential primaries for the Republican position of president is willing to even get behind contraception, much less get behind the notion of any discussion of population,” she said.

    This resistance to abortion and contraception at home hindered international attempts to craft “a thoughtful and active strategy around making contraception available to communities around the globe.”

    She said, “If we are in the situation in the United States where the Catholic bishops and others, actually a large number of evangelicals, truly believe that somehow [policies] – not forcing somebody who doesn’t believe it to take birth control – but simply paying for it is somehow a moral travesty with the kind of outrage we’ve seen over the last few weeks, we are not going to be in a position to make sure that that kind of provision exists internationally.”[10]

Contraception as “Health” Care

    Listening to Obama one might get the idea that contraceptives are a sort of super vitamin pill that will support the health of women that take them.  Among scientists, some claims are made that contraceptives reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.  But any such benefit comes with a goodly number of other health risks.  Women with a family history of blood clots, breast cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, obesity and other vascular diseases, including migraines may be at risk for complications of these problems, particularly if they smoke or are over 35.  The migraines may become strokes.  Liver and breast cancers may occur in women otherwise thought to be at low risk.[11]

    One also has to consider the overall health of nations.  For a nation to sustain itself the average couple must have at least 2.1 children (the 0.1 provides for children who do not live to replace themselves).  Using Central Intelligence Agency statistics, tells us that:

    [M]ore than 70 countries have (as of mid-2007) a total fertility rate of less than 2! Without immigration or an increase in total fertility rates, all of these countries will have declining populations over the next few decades. Some of the lowest total fertility rates include developed as well as developing countries alike. For example: Singapore at 1.07, Lithuania at 1.21, Czech Republic at 1.22, Japan at 1.23, and even Canada at 1.61 (the European Union as a whole has a very low total fertility rate of 1.5!)

    The total fertility rate for the United States is just below replacement value at 2.09 and the total fertility rate for the world is 2.59, down from 2.8 in 2002 and 5.0 in 1965. China's one-child policy definitely shows in the country's total low fertility rate of 1.75.[12]

    This may seem like good news to the global warming hoaxers, but failure to reach replacement levels can spell the end of a culture, the end of a nation, or the end of civilization as we know it.

The Contributions of Modernism

    Recent news reports have suggested that the left has declared war on the Catholic Church.  While there is considerable truth to this assessment, one cannot help but recognize to role played in this war by Modernism.

    Before Vatican II the Church taught that the primary end of marriage was the procreation and education of children. A division of labor between husband and wife (sometimes called “mutual aid and assistance”) and the legitimate satisfaction of physical attraction were taught to be secondary ends. Sometimes the secondary ends were said to include “fidelity,” “indissolubility,” and the “sacramental graces” conferred by the Sacrament of Matrimony itself.  But the primary end was always said to be “offspring,” or “procreation,” or some similar expression. Vatican II, however, gave a new and fuzzy definition:

    Through this union they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection[13] day by day. As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union as well as the good of the children imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreakable oneness between them.[14]

    Simultaneously with Vatican II, a committee organized by Pope John XXIII and retained under Pope Paul VI, investigated the morality of birth control. Never mind that birth control had been explicitly condemned for centuries, for change was in the wind.  If it did nothing else, the committee convinced many Catholics and others that the issue was open for debate; for the Pope himself had opened it!  After years of “investigation” Pope Paul VI issued his famous encyclical Humanae vitae.  To his credit, or perhaps because he felt the time unripe for so momentous a change, Humanae vitae continued to forbid birth control as a violation of the natural law. (In practice, if he bothers to go to Confession, the contracepting Catholic has no problem in finding a confessor who dismisses Humanae vitae as “medieval.”) But Humanae vitae was far from presenting the authentic magisterial teachings of the Church on marriage. The popular outcry when Pope Paul VI “took away the promised birth control” completely masked the more complete inversion of the ends of matrimony. Paul took away some of the fuzziness of Vatican II, making the Modernist teaching more explicit:

    That teaching, often set forth by the magisterium, is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning. . . . By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination towards man's most high calling to parenthood. [emphasis added][15]

    The 1983 Code of Canon Law contains the same error:

    The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. [emphasis added][16]

    Modernism’s de-emphasis of sacramental Confession and false assertion that everyone will be saved his mislead many couples about sin in general and sins against life in particular.  As has its openness to political correctness and “dialogue” with those holding every sort of doctrinal or moral error.  The significant number of homosexual priests and bishops in active ministry gives a tacit approval to divorcing sexuality from procreation.  Priests who criticize sexual misconduct are all too often refuted by their superiors.[17]

Get the U.S. out of the U.N.    Finally, the infatuation with socialism and the United Nations at the highest levels of the Church has done immeasurable harm to morality and respect for life world-wide.[18]  We do not need a U.N. “with teeth.”[19]



[4]   Genesis xxxviii:6-10

[7]   Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Casti connubii #59

[8]   Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Italian Midwives, 1951  

[13]   Note the existentialist notion that man achieves "perfection" through his human activities; sexuality in this case.  Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis splendor #51, says this even more clearly in a section based on a falsified quote from St. Thomas Aquinas. Paradoxically the title of the encyclical means "the splendor of truth"!

[16]   Canon 1055 §1, emphasis added.


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