On the contrary

Today I am going to cheat. Regular bloggers will have realised that I believe our best way to truth is through debate – and sometimes through argument. And in the last few days I have been reading two strongly opposed views on the sad old issue of contraception. One of them is a report by 22 Catholic scholars, the other is a rebuttal by another group of Catholic scholars.

We all know the importance of the conflict of views on this subject – and the damage that conflict does to the Church. Yet we have heard so much about it that we may be tempted to pass it over.

But it is rare to get authoritative but brief summaries of the two positions. So I am suggesting that we read these and exchange our views on Secondsight Blog.

The first report (now altered from original posting) is at:

Statement on the Ethics of Using Contraceptives

The second (the rebuttal) is at
http://trs.cua.edu/humanae-vitae/index.cfm

Feel free to respond to the overall views or to particular issues you want to confirm or deny. Remember that it is more effective to post a number of brief points rather than one long screed. We assume as always that on the Blog contributors are in good faith, just as the authors of the reports are also in good faith.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment, Philosophy, Quentin queries. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to On the contrary

  1. Brendan says:

    The Wijngaards Statement – so what ? Humanae Vitae is not jut based on ” biological laws “. Hv15 stands as a piece of ‘ mercy in action ‘ as divined through His Church.
    On this matter ; one can foul ones spouse, other people ,ones Church……. but God is not fooled.

    • Vincent says:

      That’s an interesting Freudian slip, Brendan. I hope you don;t see all sexual activity in that way.

      • Brendan says:

        Not ‘ just ‘ Vincent ; not one or other …. but God plays a very big part in such union. I’m not that deep that Freud need come into things at all levels.

  2. Brendan says:

    Vincent; re- your meaning…the penny just dropped !

  3. Vincent says:

    I notice that a more useful statement of the case against Catholic teaching is to be found ar http://www.wijngaardsinstitute.com/statement-ethics-using-contraceptives/

  4. Quentin says:

    Vincent, you’re right of course. This lists the case against paragraph by paragraph. I have given the new link on the post. Apologies for the blank gap; no information is missing.

  5. Vincent says:

    One issue which interests me comes from Cardinal Newman’s understanding of the belief of the Church. He insists that the Church is not the hierarchy but the whole institution. Consequently the belief of the laity is an important factor.

    In the case of contraception it is clear that the laity (as a whole) does not accept this doctrine. We understand that a very large majority of married people have rejected it. And there is good evidence that many of the pastoral clergy take the same view.

    Right from the beginning it was pointed out that individuals were free to disagree, yet to continue to use the sacraments — in other words to follow their consciences. And so they have.

    We are entitled to say that the hierarchy teaches it, but the Church,as a community, has rejected it.

  6. Brendan says:

    Well , its a funny old world ! Rebounding from the ‘ deja vu ‘ of Margaret Teahan’s article on this subject in this weeks Catholic Herald , and the shock of Labour being taken over by an army of ‘ young liberal-lefties ‘ and aging through-backs from the 1960’s ( even Kevin Meagher has ‘ given up the ghost ‘ for the time being ) – perhaps , I guess the ‘ Catholic ‘ equivalent will continue to have their day regarding HV’ s ‘ expose’ … ( next week for Part ii ? ) . More navel gazing ?

  7. galerimo says:

    The arguments seems to stand or fall on whether or not Catholic teaching on the use of contraception comes from Divine Revelation and a correct understanding of the Natural Law.

    The unitive value of sexual love in marriage does not seem to get a mention in the arguments here which is surprising as this is a strong Catholic perspective on married love. There is a basis in this value for arguing in favour of using contraception while remaining true to the purpose of marriage.

    It is a very tired old debate at this stage and one that has been lost from the Catholic Church’s point of view with so many surveys over the years showing how a big majority make use of artificial contraception and still identify as Catholic.

    The orthodoxy does not reflect the orthopraxis any more because of the doctrine’s failure to achieve Reception – which is the same point Vincent makes very well earlier.

    And in conformity with you wish to post brief points Quentin (which is a real struggle for this topic) my final point

    – “Laudato Si” is by far and away the most important Encyclical of the 20th or the 21st Century to date.

    • St.Joseph says:

      galerimo.
      I asked the question to Vincent and I would like to know what form of contraceptive would be acceptable as Church teaching.And what is modern contraceptive
      I did read one of the reports that it does not go against nature to use treatment on
      people who need it such as heart transplants etc.
      That is when people are ill. Pregnancy is not an illness.
      God has made women’s fertility so that one can be fertile at certain times of the month.
      It is not too difficult to find out when that is. Especially with modern science today. As millions of women do.
      If one has to use a condom, for health reasons then use it in the infertile time. But leave the infertile time the way God made us. Out of respect for our Maker
      With regards to a prostitute who says use a condom for the male, then she will be using some other kind of abortfacient birth control any way,

      • St.Joseph says:

        P.S I am speaking about Catholics and church teaching not about the general public. that is who and what we are discussing. Truth.

      • Vincent says:

        St Joseph, I am surprised that you need to know about modern contraceptives. As an NFP teacher I would have thought you were better briefed.

        God did not directly decide on the intervals of fertility. That is an outcome of evolution.

        Prostitutes do not come into it. The Church has taught nothing about contraception outside marriage. Why should she?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        Enlighten me on modern contraceptives. As I asked you too!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent.
        If you read the post that Quentin gave in the beginning, it mentioned prostitutes and condoms!!

      • Vincent says:

        Modern contraception. You should google it, than you will know.
        I am afraid that I can’t find a teaching that doesn’t exist. But you will help me greatly if you can find one. It’s not in the Catechism and it’s not in HV. So perhaps you could find that teaching too. .

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent. Well they seem to have got it in the text which we were asked to read, loads of time perhaps you had better ask ‘them’!!!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Above should read ‘But leave the fertile time the way God made us. Out of respect for our Maker’!
        I am surprised you did not pick me up on that Vincent as you did on everything else!!

  8. Horace says:

    When I was at school we were told “God made sexual intercourse especially pleasurable because otherwise people would not bother having children!”
    This is, of course, true [if not entirely serious] and it underlines the connection between ‘having sex’ and ‘having children’.

    Contraception means deliberately breaking this connection in order to keep the pleasure of ‘having sex’ without the bother of ‘having children’. The Church has therefore always condemned contraception and considered it seriously sinful.

    There are, however, cases where the link between ‘having sex’ and ‘having children’ may be broken for reasons other than simple pleasure :-
    1) some drugs necessary for treating a bodily illnesses may break the link as a side effect. The case here seems to me unarguable.
    2) the link may be broken as a defence against ‘having children’ where this might cause significant harm to the mother or potential child.
    This is more difficult because it depends on a judgement of the effect that may follow if a child results.
    (a) Having a child may be judged as a significant risk to the mother’s health.
    (b) There may be a significant probability that any child born will have a significant malformation which would either cause a very early death or crippling disability.
    [For example during a Zika epidemic].
    3) it may be possible and likely that an infection will be passed on from partner to another during sexual intercourse, (for example when one of the couple is infected with HIV).
    In this event the only reasonable solution will be for the male partner to use a condom.
    This will, of course, “break the link” but should be excusable on the grounds that the object is not preventing “having children”.
    4) Finally there is the question of preventing having a child or (further children) on basically economic grounds; the difficulty of caring for too many children (or even one).
    Here I cannot see the justification for the use of ‘artificial’ methods [chemical or surgical] but it is reasonable to suggest the use of voluntarily refraining from intercourse [for example using NFP].

  9. St.Joseph says:

    In the event that there may be someone on this blog who may find this book info helpful
    Priest or deacons, A PREACHABLE MESSAGE. The Dynamics of Preaching NFP/
    http://www.OneMoreSoul.com/homilies.
    It will equip Pastors with the tools to proclaim the merits of NFP, and many blessings that come to couples who practice it.
    This important book features homilies and a list of Sundays where the reading cycle finds itself to teaching the GOSPEL Of LIFE.

  10. Brendan says:

    I don’t ‘ do ‘ any other social interaction on-line ( except e-mails ) other than SS-B …anymore and I’ll drive myself and my wife nuts !
    ” There is a season for everything..” and so I’m going on holiday ‘ cruising ‘ in the Western Med. – see you in about three weeks. God bless you all ……keep well St.Joseph !

  11. Nektarios says:

    The ‘statement on the ethics of using contraception’ – the argument against the more dogmatic stances the RCC takes on contraception and its uses. The arguments against are well argued, sane, sensible and rational.
    The argumentation goes on to show the unscientific, unbiological and unpsychological aspects to sex and bringing children into the world posed by the HV and the Magisterium.

    The conclusions I agree need to be implemented by the RCC. HV amended, and past dogmatic unscientific errors forced on Catholic people concerning sex within mariage and contraception be revoked.
    It would be perhaps a step too far to expect a Pontifical apology to all Catholics, for the traumas and damage done that they
    have placed on married couples because of their misguided, unscientific, dogmatic and ignorant out of touch statements of the whole subject of marital sex and contraception.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Nektarios.
      Can you tell me what ‘contraceptive’ the Orthodox Church allows.?
      I am a little ignorant as to what it teaches.

      • Nektarios says:

        St. Joseph
        As I have said on previous occasions, the Orthodox Church does not interfere in peoples lives with the use of condoms. The line is drawn of abortifaciants, and against abortion in most cases – even then they are reluctant to interfere directly.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        Thank you for your reply.
        The RCC is a Spiritual Church, we live by the Spirit and die in the Spirit
        There are plenty of people or I shall say millions who see no sense in the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ either, or how it interferes in our lives!

  12. Vincent says:

    Nektarios, you certainly have a firm view. But those who wrote the rebuttal are clearly in good faith, do you not think that some of their arguments have weight?

    • Nektarios says:

      Vincent
      Equally, some of the arguments posited by the RCC not only have little weight, but are plainly wrong and needs ammending – don’t you think?

  13. G.D. says:

    The Devil is in the details ad infinite um. As we all know man can justify any particular preference within ‘argument & debate’……. And accepted ‘truth’ changes accordingly.

    What’s the fundamental ethos at stake within the topic of contraception?
    Life, and the God given freedom to create or destroy it.
    The church has a mandate to witness to the Word of God. Which necessitates living & witnessing to moral/spiritual truths, and presenting it to the world. As Jesus the Christ did. All well and good.

    Does it/and or it’s members then consider that truth should be turned into a ‘law’ and imposed by hook or crook? It seems so. (Whichever preference is preferred).

    What’s the difference between education/imposition, guidance/indoctrination, inculcation/enlightenment? (Real differences! Interestingly some dictionaries treat them as synonyms).

    Is the Church of Christ called to witness to the Truth and allow people to accept (and rejoice when they do) or refuse (and suffer when they don’t)? Or to impose by any worldly means at it’s disposal?
    What did Jesus do? What would Christ have us do?
    Continue the argument? … it gets nowhere …. Or live and witness to Christ?
    They are not the same thing.

    • St.Joseph says:

      G.D.
      No one yet has said what an acceptable ‘contraceptive ‘is. When they do we can debate on the subject.
      To use a condom the whole month in marriage is the most senseless thing to do, when one is infertile. If the husband or wife is parted for a time then only meet when the woman is fertile, then their is always the Sacrament of Confession, that is why we have it.
      There are sterilisations on male or female, for health reasons, I believe that to be acceptable with the Church.
      So what is the problem can anyone tell me?
      I am of the understanding this information is only for the Catholic Church to decide on its teaching.
      What is it we are deciding? Does anyone know.

      • Martha says:

        “always the Sacrament of Confession, that is why we have it.”

        St. Joseph, as I see it, the problem there is that a valid confession requires a firm purpose of amendment and a resolve not to commit the sin again, certainly to try, not to think, I can go to confession, it will be all right, and if the same circumstances arise I can do it again.
        That is, if the act you mention is a sin. If it isn’t, it does not need forgiveness of course.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Martha.
        I see what you are saying.
        However in a situation that I describe would be an emergency . other than masturbation.
        or withdrawal. A condom is not 100 % effective and could become pregnant so the husband I believe would be forgiven if asked for forgiveness.
        How many people go to confession time and time again and commit the sin over and over again, the Sacrament gives one the Grace to have strength to overcome their sin.
        If a couple are separated for months on end Especially if the husband and wife are using NFP all the time. At least they are not using an abortafacient and are married.
        An unusual situation however just to remind us that their is forgiveness if one asks for it .

      • St.Joseph says:

        Just out of interest, has any one read the facts about the use of the Patch and Vaginal Ring.
        It is horrendous what the female has to go through. How would any husband put their wife through such a life of pain and other infections such as headaches bleeding etc,
        And they are not 100% effective like NFP in comparison.
        The Lord would not leave us wanting.

      • Nektarios says:

        What the discussion is really about is whether or not the RCC is correct in its dogma, that all sex is solely for procreation. The RCC takes the stance that it is solely for procreation and nothing else.
        You ask St. Joseph, on ‘what is it we are deciding?’
        As far as the RC Church is concerned on this issue. like so many others, you decide nothing in making our informed, scientific, biological, psychological faculties decisions on or about sex, and we have all to bow down and accept this ill-informed RC view of sex, that it solely and only for procreation.
        In doing so they (the clergy) are ignorantly interfering with sex in within marriage. The reason for all this has nothing to do with sex at all of course, but a rigid, barbaric and guilt- tripping control of Roman Catholics and the exercise of clerical power.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        You are so wrong!!! ‘I have never heard anything so ridiculous’.
        If God wanted us to become pregnant every time we have sexual intercourse, we would be fertile every day of the month.
        There a a time for everything As the Bible teaches us, even a time for praying, we must separate for a while and give time for prayer.
        Think about that when considering the ‘fertile period’
        The RCC teaches we have the duty of responsible parenthood. Sexual intercourse within marriage only. And be obedient to God when the time is right . And not to abuse the fertile period with anything that goes against Gods Will-like what Adam and Eve did through disobedience.

    • Martha says:

      “What’s the difference between education/imposition, guidance/indoctrination, inculcation/enlightenment? (Real differences! Interestingly some dictionaries treat them as synonyms).”
      And in family life, with children growing up, and when they are adults, where are the boundaries between influence, encouragement, pressure? In practice, in trying to live and witness to Christ, it is often impossible to know.

      • Martha says:

        That was a reply to G.D. 5.35 am.

      • G.D. says:

        Agreed it is ‘often impossible to know’ and not too rely on my own definitive answers. I have no solution to the question i posed but …

        To have a sure sense of what ‘i believe is right/just’ and not make the other, or coerce the other to comply, hard to resist as it is, seems to be the way for me; and i fail miserably no doubt in carrying it out. But i do try very very much.
        Often just by ‘silent witness’ (not ‘knowing’ how to put it into practice) and ‘suffering’ the situation’s negativity. (Little crucifixions?).

        All the time with recourse to prayer to check my ‘self justifications’ are true to God; never assuming ‘I am completely right’; we are all tainted with error and our ego’s pride.

        But, it seems to me, most people don’t even consider the above an option. “I’m right, and you must comply” is the attitude of most, even when to all outward show they are ‘oh, so nice & clever’. Especially those in positions of ‘power’, who consider themselves ‘authorities’ of one sort or another.
        Many in the the Church seem to have taken on the ‘way of the world’ in that sense.

        Yet when i read the New Testament and see Jesus continually staying true to what he is sure is the Father’s will without condemning or forcing acceptance of ‘sinners’, I am sure that’s the way to be. And the way God will be made ‘manifest’ in the hearts and minds of people.
        (Even if they don’t recognise it as ‘God’; especially ‘my own image of God’).

        To witness without compromise, a must yes, but at the same time to leave the other to ‘be’ as God lets them be.

        (Adults at least; when it comes to bringing up children .. my limited experience say’s .. ‘pressure’ is sometimes needed for the right ‘guidance’; i assume).

      • Martha says:

        Thank you G.D., your thoughts are very spiritual and helpful.

      • G.D. says:

        As far as i know the only ‘condemnation’ Jesus made was to hypocrasy, in the true sense of the word. “Hypocrisy is the state of falsely claiming to possess characteristics that one lacks. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie. Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches”.
        In the modern world ‘Spin’.

      • St.Joseph says:

        G.D.
        I see a lot of faith in those thousands of young, middle aged and old defending Life, in their lives in the March for Life.
        I am inclined to look to the positive and know The Lord Our God will Triumph in the end.!
        I believe also in the vision of Pope Leo x111 on October 13 1884.3 years before St Padre Pio’s birth. He in his lifetime fought with Satan, we fight with him mentally and spiritually
        So many in the world today have no faith-no belief in Satan, They live for today. The devils destroying their souls-turning bad into good.
        After Pope Leo x111 saw the vision of Satan, who said he would destroy the Church given so many years-he immediately wrote the prayer to St Michael.
        Those who say there are no demons , look around and they will see the evil works they do.
        We must not give up, we must fight the good fight to the end!

        .

  14. Brendan says:

    Unless anyone hasn’t noticed – and jut to remind the ‘ blog ‘ before I’m away on holiday – The Wijngard’s Institute ( who’s remit of course is worthy of general discussion ) , is not a ” Catholic ” organisation affiliated to the Catholic Church but made up of academics , clergy , politicians , people in public life etc. – among’st them some prominent Catholics. The ….” Catholic Research “…bit does tend to give a wrong impression…..I hope not deliberately ?
    Perhaps one should look closely in the future , as to what it means when one of its aims is to promote ” gender equality ” – of course very topical in the secular world at present.

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