Junk History and Jesuit Myths

Monday, February 22, AD 2016





In the Pope’s disastrous plane interview last week, this q and a occurred:

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.

On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.  

Leaving aside for the moment the havoc the Pope wreaked as to the teaching of the Church against artificial contraception, Francis,  in defense of his reasoning, invoked the alleged example of Pope Paul VI.  One of the main problems of the current papacy is that Pope Francis believes a lot of things that simply are not true.  It is false that Pope Paul VI permitted nuns in the Congo in 1964 during the Simba rebellion to use contraceptives in order to avoid pregnancy due to rape.  Oakes Spaulding at Mahound’s Paradise has done yeoman work in driving a stake through this hoary myth:





We can trace the thought experiment back to a 1961 paper by three “Jesuit theologians.” In the heady days of the 1960’s this paper would be cited again and again by Catholic dissidents wishing to push the limits on contraception until Paul VI would quash their efforts with Humanae Vitae. It will be useful to quote in full a 1964 AP story on the paper and subsequent controversy:

A leading Roman Catholic moral theologian here says there may be a relaxation of the Church’s strict ban on contraception because of the rape of nuns in the Belgian Congo four years ago. 

Very Rev. E.F. Sheridan, rector of suburban Willowsdale’s Regis College, foresees probable justification for the use of oral contraceptives by persons threatened with rape but doubts whether abortion or pills for married women will ever been condoned. 

He was commenting on an article by a United Church minister in a recent issue of the United Church Observer. 

Dr. Ernest Marshall Howse of Toronto suggested in The Observer article that three jesuit theologians, studying the violation of the nuns, recognized that artificial contraception is morally permissible under certain circumstances. He said the group presented a considered judgment–on which the Vatican has so far made no comment–that nuns in danger of rape may properly use contraceptive pills and also can “eliminate all traces and consequences” of all aggression. 

The findings of the study were published in the Roman Catholic Theological review Studi Cattolici of November-December, 1961. 

According to Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, a cleric highly regarded for his moral theology studies, “a woman can resist sexual aggression with all her forces.” 

“She can slightly mutilate her face in order to make herself unattractive; she can also eliminate all traces and consequence of the aggression including the fecundant element abusively laid in her womb.” 

Msgr. Lambuschini, another member of the study team, said: “We conclude that the use of pills which suspend temporarily a woman’s fertility, can be considered morally legitimate.” 

Dr. Howse asked; “How long before what is moral in their (the nuns?) situation becomes moral in other situations for other women who, for legitimate reasons, do not want children?” 

Father Sheridan said in an interview: “When three theologians of such high reputation as these men say this, any Catholic can, in safe conscience, follow the advice in the circumstances exactly implied, until contradicted by the Holy See.” 

In other words, it could be understood that nuns can safely use contraceptives to prevent the possible outcome of rape. Father Sheridan added that he understood the Jesuits’ findings to justify contraception for violated women other than nuns. 

“But I don’t think there is any possibility of defending use of contraceptives of the oral type by married couples,” he said. 

He added: “When the theologians speak of preventing any consequence of rape I am quite certain that they would never justify abortion but refer to attempts to expel the spermatozoa before conception. These attempts are licit under the circumstances described, as long as there is no danger of abortion.

There are a few important things to note here. First of all, the story of the Belgian nuns is treated not as fact but as a philosophical jumping off point for a particular argument–that contraception would be licit under certain circumstances. As it was creepily put, the Jesuit theologians were merely “studying the violation of the nuns.”

Its’s also interesting to see the manner in which in 1964 the envelope on changing the traditional Catholic teachings on contraception was aggressively being pushed: “When three theologians of such high reputation as these men say this, any Catholic can, in safe conscience, follow the advice in the circumstances exactly implied, until contradicted by the Holy See.” This sort of thing would eventually lead to Humanae Vitae.

Finally, observe the strong denial that such reasoning could ever lead to married couples taking contraceptives. That was just proven false by the current Pope.

Let’s return to Professor Kalbian. Though she added fuel to the rumor fire with her recent book, she seems now to have somewhat recanted:

Aline Kalbian, a professor of religion at Florida State University and author of Sex, Violence & Justice: Contraception and the Catholic Church also looked into the Belgian nun story and came up empty. 


“I didn’t find any evidence of Paul VI saying anything about Congo and nuns,” Kalbian said. “And John XXIII didn’t say anything either.” 

Kalbian also pointed out that the Pill had just been approved for public use in the US in 1960, and that it wasn’t widely available in much of the world during the Congo crisis. She said the debate was likely a typical hypothetical premise that theologians bat around as part of their work. 

“This was a bunch of theologians debating the possibility [of providing nuns with contraception],” she said. “And all of it was happening under John XVIII, so it’s weird [Francis] invoked Pope Paul VI.”

In fairness, we’ll quote the last part of her statement:

“It’s possible the pope has accessed Vatican archives and knows something about Paul VI and the Belgian Congo that we don’t,” Kalbian said.

Yes, possible. Pope Francis just made a very controversial claim about his predecessor, a claim that would be slanderous if false. Where’s the evidence?

Kalbian’s historical analysis brings us to the final piece of the puzzle. A number of European nuns were raped in the Belgian Congo in 1960 during the violent turbulence of de-colonialization, though leftists have long dismissed this as anti-African propaganda. It is these rapes that were “studied” by the Jesuits. There was another eruption of violence during the so-called “Simba Rebellion” of 1964 that also tragically included attacks against Catholic nuns. If the story as reported by, say, Francis is true, and the period in question was during the pontificate of Paul VI, who became Pope in June of 1963, then the women religious would have had to have “gone on The Pill” at about this time.

That’s at least logically possible, of course. But consider also that The Pill was either unavailable or illegal in most Western countries during this period. It didn’t become available in Belgium until 1965, and contraceptive literature was essentially illegal in that country until the end of the decade. Though, women used it in growing numbers in the countries where it could be obtained, there was still much controversy about its safety and side-effects, among other things.

Was The Pill available at all in the Belgian Congo is, say 1964-65, let alone obtainable by Catholic nuns? Did their bishops smuggle it in?

It’s time to stand back and consider just how absurd and even obscene this whole bogus story is:

“Sisters, we’re about to send you into/back into a war zone. There’s a very good chance that you’ll be attacked by rebels. These rebels are quite bloodthirsty and violent. It’s very possible/probable that you’ll be raped. If on the off-chance you’re raped and not killed, then a really bad thing might happen–you might become with child. We can’t really provide extra guards or anything to prevent any of this. But what we can do is give you some medicine which we’ve obtained on the black market. Don’t worry, you might think it’s morally wrong, but a 1961 academic paper contradicts that. Also, whether or not there might be any side-effects or other health dangers, consider how awful it would be, not to be raped per se, but to have a baby as a result of that. Here, Sisters, have some contraceptives.”

The crisis in the Church continues.

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26 Responses to Junk History and Jesuit Myths

  • As far as this Pope is concerned, is there a saint of duct tape we can pray to, to intercede for us, so his mouth can be silenced?!

  • So the wisest of shepherds urgently commands with a shout; “Run, run quickly my sheep, here come the wolves, sort of, maybe, oh, run anyways…exercise is healthy”?
    The last trait imbedded in a good shepherd is confusion, lack of consistency, and lack of clarity.

  • There’s two opposite things going on from orthodox Catholics on this ( Pope Francis could start a bar brawl in a Trappistine Library). One group is saying the Congo incident never happened…e.g. Father Z was early on this. The other group, thinking it happened, defend it as something that should be done if nuns are about to be raped because it is not spousal intercourse to begin with and nuns have a right to repel hostile sperm….e.g. Ed Peters, canon lawyer, and Janet Smith, long time opponent of artificial birth control:



    So pity the potential convert who is reading the new advent aggregation of blogs page where Fr. Z, Janet Smith and Ed Peters are all simultaneously linked….and two are saying the opposite of Fr. Z doctrinally by implication whether or not the incident ever happened at all.

  • We have a heretic for a Pope. I had thought that Ann Barnhardt was off the deep end at her blog. But is she really?

  • If I thought my wife or daughters were at risk from rape I would remove them from that environment not put them on the pill.

  • “Leaving aside for the moment the havoc the Pope wreaked as to the teaching of the Church against artificial contraception,…”
    The Church does not oppose “artificial contraception.” She opposes “contraception”–all forms of it, be it chemical, hormonal, IUD device, or some “natural” wild herb that grows out in the fields or whatever.
    NFP/abstinence is not “contraception.”

  • Bill, LOL at the thought of “hostile sperm.” Couldn’t find it either in Humane Vitae or any of the “climate change” studies. I suppose Kasper might Kasper might use it in his thesis of evolving doctrine.

  • I remember the 1960’s. I wish I could forget the crowds of pushy and aggressive leftists (including Jesuit theologists) and the wreckage they have wrought.

    Anyhow, I believe St. Augustine (The City of God) discussed whether raped nuns were in any way sinful, guilty or defiled. The answer is, “No.” The sin is on the aggressor and me: on those in power who refuse to protect the innocent.

  • My understanding was that it never actually happened but was “what if” discussion. This morning I read other thinking Catholics who apparently think the pope did think such a provision would be ok.
    I don’t know what to think- But even at the level of “just discussion”, the idea that birth control pills could be given nuns in anticipation of rape is bizarre and repulsive.
    That nuns could be month by month ready for rapists as if the consequence of pregnancy were the big concern?
    They would see the rapist at the door and relax, “oh well, I have had my contraband delivery of pills and at least I won’t have to get pregnant from this”
    And no other defense/escape would be even talked about?

  • Thank you and nice work @Donald R. McClarey!

  • @Stephen E Dalton: saint of duct tape that’s funny!
    On a serious note: St. Joseph and St. John Nepomuk is the patron of Silence and Floods [http://www.catholic-saints.info/patron-saints/saint-john-nepomuk.htm]. Just prayed to them.
    @bill bannon: re: Dr. Peters et al, God’s wheat is being sifted. We are getting to know where people really stand. I have had suspicion on some for some time. Thoughts of many hearts are being revealed. [Cf. Lk 2:35].
    @Ken: Thank you! Common sense stuff.
    PS By now we should be thoroughly aware of the tactics of the innovators, always trying to introduce error by appealing to some emotion in this case “those poor nuns in the Congo”.

  • Keep in mind that a moral act consists of three parts – the intention, the circumstances and the moral object (that thing directly done to achieve the intention.)

    The justification is in the understanding of the moral object of marital intercourse. This is the object of husband and wife as unitive act open to life. Contraception disrupts this morally good object by destroying its receptivity to life.

    There is no such moral object in rape. The rapist and nun are not participation in the moral object of a husband and wife. Rather the moral object is sexual assault of a non-consenting woman – thus no necessity of being open to life.

    That at least is the moral reasoning.

  • Of course Francis completely misses this distinction in equating the moral object in rape with that in the marital act. Thus he can say one can do so in the case of the risk of malformations caused by Zika. “There is a threat, so protect yourself.”
    But the same logic would say a woman over 35, a man over 40 etc could practice contraception since there are risks of malformations with advanced paternal age.

  • @Phillip: That at least is the moral reasoning.
    No such reasoning in the entire body of Church Teaching on contraception. If such were the case, why stop at the nuns only? Because any woman single or married [at some point in their lives] can be in danger of being raped.
    More absurdity: Why not contraception to the fornicators and the adulterers since they also are not “participating in the moral object of a husband and wife”?

  • “No such reasoning in the entire body of Church Teaching on contraception.”

    Of course it exists because, as noted, there is a distinction of kind between sex between a man and woman in marriage and rape. Sorry, that is reality.

    That was the basis for the argument which is, as I admit, is theoretical. However, it relies on the understanding of the moral object of the act. Understanding the moral object of the act allows such things as self defense. It also allows the use of hormonal therapy (the pill) to regulate abnormal or excessive periods even if the unintended effect is contraception.

    Such a theoretical argument does not undermine the prohibition against contraception in marriage as we are dealing with a very limited exception where married couples are not involved and forced sex is.

  • Fornication is in and of itself immoral as a violation of the unitive aspect of the sexual act. Contraception would continue to be wrong as a violation of the procreation aspect of the sexual act.

  • @Phillip And rape is not immoral? Noting that “why stop at the poor nuns?” hasn’t been answered.
    Key wording I used was Church Teaching vs. theoretical theological and/or philosophical reasoning.
    The Congo crisis was before Humanae Vitae, wondering why such an exception never made it into a teaching reaffirming Church Teaching on contraception.
    Cf. Vatican Furor Over Bosnian Rapes – It Denies Allowing Nuns In Danger Zones To Use The Pill, March 05, 1993 | Chicago Tribune [http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-03-05/news/9303187621_1_joaquin-navarro-valls-vatican-contraceptive-pills]

  • Rape is immoral. Nowhere did I say it wasn’t

    I accept Church teaching. Church teaching informs what I wrote. That is, the analysis of the moral act, the nature of the marriage act and of rape and the possibility that one could use contraception if there was a serious risk of rape.

    This scenario is theoretical and the reality of such in the Congo in the early 60’s or anywhere currently or in the recent past is not what I am talking about. But the possibility in such a situation is legitimate for discussion and is discussed in bioethical circles including very faithful one’s like the NCBC. Such an exception has not been ruled upon by the Church definitively and so Catholics in good faith can discuss.

    As noted, such a discernment is not an exception to the rule, but rather an analysis, in accord with Church teaching, on the nature of the moral act. This discernment makes a very obvious distinction that forced sex and the marital act are different things. Just as there is a distinction between self-defense and murder.

  • Phillip, thank you for your thoughtful posts. I’m not certain where I land in this analysis, but I applaud your sense of measure and humility. We need more of that stuff.

  • Thank-you Mike.

    Again, I am not a proponent of contraception. I think it a great evil. Its just from the perspective of a Thomistic analysis, there is a potential justification in the case where endemic rape may be present. See also this:


    The problem is that this analysis must be very rigorous in its understanding of intention, moral object and double effect. Sadly, Pope Francis seems not to be able to grasp this rigor in his equating the use of contraceptives in rape with that of a married couple who uses it to prevent the fetal complications of Zika.

  • Understood and agreed on all counts, Phillip.

  • @Philip see exchange starting here [http://www.onepeterfive.com/the-galatians-two-moment-is-now/#comment-2532398239] and perhaps you may see what you error and those of moral theologians is.
    Church Teaching on contraception does not allow for exceptions and therefore you are wrong to state that this is still open to discussion until the Church rules.

  • ‘What is a problem is that Pope Francis constantly shoots his mouth off on subjects on which he is manifestly ignorant, and on which he is often unable, or unwilling, to distinguish myth from fact.’
    My least favorite new vocabulary word: gradualism. Keeps diluting things for the souls desperately needing to be fed. Using nuns this time. The vocabulary words, abstinence and adultery, meanwhile collect dust.

  • FMS,

    You now have a dilemma. What I, not a moral theologian, Janet Smith and Chris Tollefsen argue is that it is not contraception in the case of rape.

    Let’s give another case. A woman has severe dysfunctional uterine bleeding. It is so severe that her health is seriously compromised. Using hormonal therapy, the cycles can be regulated and her bleeding significantly reduced. This is a good use of hormones you must admit. But the secondary effect is that of stopping conception. Because the hormonal therapy that must be used is also that that is used in contraception. But under the principle of double effect, as long as the bad effect is not intended and the evil effect does not flow from the bad effect, one can do so.

    The Church does in fact allow this. It is standard teaching in faithful Catholic bioethics seminars. So is it an exception to contraception? No. The moral object in the case is different. The moral object is the restoration of health with hormonal therapy.

    If you deny the reasoning that I and others offer, you deny the principle of double effect which the Church teaches, you will then deny the legitimacy of just war and of self-defense which the Church also allows.

    You have not thought this through nor do you seem to wish to.

  • Church teaching has long respected the principle of double-effect. But that is a tricky principle indeed, and certainly has been applied many times incorrectly in order to justify immoral acts. Yet, the fact that it is difficult and vulnerable to misapplication does not excuse us from considering it (very carefully) when performing moral analysis. Catholics are not fundamentalists who reduce things to simple rules without regard to the true meanings of words and the moral reasoning that produced those rules.

The Majority Dissent

Monday, February 3, AD 2014

John Zmirak breaks down widespread resistance and dissent among Catholics on the issue of contraception in “The Shame of the Catholic Subculture” for The Catholic ThingThe most salient facts of the situation:

On a grave moral issue where several popes have invoked their full moral authority short of making an infallible declaration, 95 percent of U.S. Catholics (the number is surely higher in most of Europe) have rejected the guidance of Rome. They are not “bad Catholics” so much members of a new, dissenting sect – which happens to occupy most of the seats in most of the churches, and many of the pulpits and bishop’s offices, too.

I’m not sure that I agree that they are not “bad Catholics.” To the extent that they have been poorly catechized, this might be the case. Many of us know from personal experience however that there are plenty of people who say that they are Catholics, understand that Catholics must abide by the dogmatic teachings of the Church, and simply don’t. However they rationalize it is really not important to me.

On the other hand, Zmirak makes a convincing case for extending a tolerant and understanding olive branch to well-meaning dissenters (and that does not include all dissenters, mind you); they’re over 90% of the Church, perhaps over 95%, at least in the developed West. H also makes a good point about conservative/traditionalist circles that, while doctrinally orthodox, suffer from ideological stagnation and social isolation. The 90-95% need those who believe that truth is not optional to speak boldly for it, but not in a way that is alienating or unsympathetic to their concerns.

If, for instance, the problem with contraception is that an otherwise willing Catholic family feels it simply can’t handle the financial burden, then those of us who would have them hold to the teaching of the Church should be devising creative solutions to that problem. Perhaps living as self-contained nuclear families in a mass consumer society is not the way to live as Catholics. Perhaps local, voluntary, and bold projects are needed to unite people who wish to live the faith authentically, to share burdens and responsibilities – something beyond the mere handouts so often advocated by leftists. The pro-life movement has had great success with crisis pregnancy centers and other forms of relief for pregnant women; I see no reason why we can’t take it a step further and devise forms of relief for struggling parents.

Check it out!

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33 Responses to The Majority Dissent

  • I do see John Zmirak’s distinction between “Bad Catholics,” who do not follow, whilst nevertheless acknowledging, the moral teaching of the Church and “a new, dissenting sect” that rejects that teaching.

    How they contrive to do so, whilst still considering themselves Catholics may puzzle us, but we should recall Lord Macaulay’s words about another “dissenting sect,” “We know through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical.”

    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Contracepting and receiving the Eucharist will bring eternal condemnation on many catholics.

  • I owned and operated a Catholic bookstore for 14 years. As approximately 40% of my customers were men, it was not uncommon to find Saturday afternoon discussions concerning living a Catholic life. Artificial contraception was certainly one of the topics discussed. Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words,”Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.”
    By contracepting, they had inadvertantly destroyed the unitive aspect of their relationship. When they cut God from their relationship, the marital act became profane. It does not matter whether the contraception is the result of a vasectomy, tubal ligation, or the use of any other artificial method, the result is the same. Sexual intercourse is sacred, and self-giving, when God is the center of the marriage. Artificial contraception is a most selfish and destructive act.

  • Having taught about contraception (Humane Vitae) at a Catholic High School, where the subject was nervously ignored, even shunned, along with homosexuality, I experienced many adults who rejected the teaching (including religious) and few if any who could explain it. Nonetheless, the high school students were very open and challenged to learn the design, meaning and purpose of sexuality and it had much impact on their thinking. It should be central to marriage preparation, but again, my experience was absolute fear to even whisper it, or simply a polite chuckle for the insiders on how passé it was.
    In the past I used to speak about it at various college, parish and other venues. (Once to a panel of not Catholic medical doctors). Always lively, always surprising, always greatly appreciated and always fruitful. I have long dropped from the scene and raising my family, but have wondered how to reach out again. Not sure I know a way. It certainly is greatly needed.

  • Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said that many people hate what they think is the Catholic Church. Very few people hate what they know is the Catholic Church. So, it is with pure conjugal love and the use of contraceptive. The 95% of Catholics who purportedly use contraceptives must know the joy of life in truly cherishing the gift of his wife in the marital act and the difference of disfiguring that conjugal love with the barrier to life and love that is contraception. Is it possible to be married and not know the difference? Marriage consists in knowing the joy of life in cherishing the gift of a wife in the marital act.

  • Over my sixty some odd years I have come to a realization that is a sad one. In this ‘contraceptive issue’ both those who hold to the teaching of the Church as well as those who ‘dissent’ have lost sight of the fact that God wants us to be happy-eternally happy [eternal beatitude]. We are created for this, ‘wired’ for this. This happiness is complete communion with God, participating in His very Life and Love

    I used the word ‘wired’. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis are using the term: “human ecology’. In the past we would be speaking of this reality using such phrases as ‘natural law’ and ‘Christian anthrolopology’. However, they all speak of the same reality, the same truth, that we have been created in such a way that we reveal a certain order, law, ecology within us, that simply is. We can later become conscious of what this is and what it implies, but it is that fundamental that it precedes all human constructs, rationalizations etc

    Animals have sex to continue their species. It is a drive within them that is on the instinctual level. Something much deeper, more awesome is present within man and woman. Man and woman unite in love within a bond that is God-given.

    This conjugal love is HUMAN: it has very little in common with what takes place in the animal world. It is not a matter of instinct and or sentiment but an act of free-will, a fundamental expression of the GIFT-of-SELF intended to continue and grow throughout the life of the couple united in this bond

    This conjugal love is TOTAL It is a unique and very special form of human friendship in which the man and woman share everything, with nothing being held back or reserved from the gift of self to the other.

    This conjugal love is FAITHFUL and EXCLUSIVE until death. This at moments and for even certain periods of time might seem very difficult but it is not humanly impossible. People are indeed capable of making and keeping faithful, exclusive promises and commitments which are virtuous, meritorious and bring lasting happiness

    This conjugal love is ‘FECUND’: life-giving. This reveals that marital love does not ‘end’ with the union of the couple. Love, seeking the good of the other, is diffusive. The couple’s love does not end with itself but gives of themselves in the giving of new life

    Some of you may have realized what I just wrote, but most will not. It is the very core of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. It is both Good News and life-giving. How many Catholics who are dissenting even really know what they are dissenting against. The teaching is far richer than “Thou shalt not”. It is an invitation and a challenge to live a really human, total, faithful, exclusive, life-giving love. I believe many are actually hungering for this ‘vision’ of marriage and love that raises them above the ‘lab rats’ of the Kinsey Report.

    Donald raises an extremely important point in his comments. How can we who believe in this assist those who both struggle with it or perhaps even ‘reject it’? Certainly casting ‘condemnations’ will not help. Every person, every couple are created for, meant for “happiness”. Do we not have the Good News of Jesus Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life”? Now how can we share this-not just with our words but our actions and our lives-in this extremely important aspect of life?

  • Zmirak writes: “We need to stop treating people who don’t “get” the Church’s teaching on contraception as if they were clones of Judas, or heretics like Arius whom St. Nicholas rightly slapped.” He frames the issue almost as if people with lots of kids are ostracizing others. As a father of eight children, I can assure you it’s the reverse. The 95% tend to look down their noses at people like me. This includes priests who ask if we’re in some sort of competition to parents at the parish school that we can’t afford who think if we would just sacrifice a little more we can come up with tuition. If you send them to public school you’re damaging your children, and if you homeschool them you’re weird and isolating your kids. Or the people who during the sign of peace comment with some dismay “Um… there sure are… um… a lot of you.” I think if I became Southern Baptist I’d probably have more and better friends at Church.

    While I appreciate much of his work, Zmirak is completely off the mark here. The parents of large families aren’t pushing people who contracept away from Church teaching through snottiness. They are making real material sacrifices and ruining much chance at a social life and while enduring both subtle and overt discrimination by the majority.

  • Alphatron,

    You are to be commended not criticized or condemned. As for Zmirak I did not see him attacking large families-but maybe I missed it. I did see him call for an end of ‘condemnations’ and working toward both sharing the Good News and assisting/gently challenging those who dissent. Donald asked if we do not have a responsibility to actively reach out and assist those Catholics struggling with this issue.

    I would add however that we need to reach out and assist families such as your own. For example, there are parishes in America where the weekly income is over fifty thousand (most will gasp at that) They completely finance their own Catholic schools and members of the parish can send their children there tuition free-all in the parish sharing the ‘load’-sharing all things in common, This is not just an ideal it can happen and is already happening

    I want to keep the focus on the actual article and Donald’s statement but I do think we Catholics owe families such as your own a great deal of gratitude and support.

  • There may be a middle ground for contraception, without changing any of the Church teaching. One possible first step is to convert the pro-abortion/pro-contraception camp, into the pro-life camp, even if they still hold pro-contraception views. Doing this could save millions of babies in utero. The way to do this is to teach the concept that when birth control fails, as it will eventually in a significant number of people, no matter what BC method they use, that they keep the child. This is the attitude used in NFP. In other words, teach that artificial contraception is a sin, but that abortion is murder.
    Otherwise it will be much harder to decrease the still tragically high numbers of abortions, as over ½ million abortions in the US are performed because birth control failed, and ½ million did not use birth control.
    If one has to chose battles, abortion is the one to work on first.

  • I think Alph’s comments very pertinent to the issue, although I did not catch any slight by Zmirack myself. I happen to be one of 17 children and had I not married so late, probably would have had a large family myself. As it is 3, and my wife unfortunately was culturally prejudiced against a large family. But he is quite correct in the negative attitudes expressed even by Catholics, let alone others. And it is directly related to the contraceptive issue, as it is considered “responsible” unlike the “irresponsible breeders” to be anti-life and avoid “too many” by contraception. We say and teach the right things about family, but I never thought we were true to these teachings in actual support for family and marriage.

  • In the Novus Ordo Church we also have encountered quite scandalous responses from ostensible Catholics over 4 kindern (let alone Alpha’s 8). Here in the ever so intellectually profound San Francisco Bay Area, in our parish, we actually had a self-identified Catholic woman of some “rank” and much more chutzpah say to Mrs Phoenix: “Oh, my GAWD, you have four CHILD-REN?! Couldnt you STOP yourself!?” (I kid you not.)

    Suffice to say that the glacial gaze she received from said-same lady of the house had absolutely no effect: The aforementioned woman of social rank and chutzpah proceeded to explain the usefulness of contraception. (Can you spell “t-o-ne d-e-a-f”?)

    At the diocesan approved TLM, a family with several children receives smiling faces and implicit approval, even on bad-hair days. I am sure the notorious SSPX Churches are the same.

  • The original article addressed the isolationism of the more orthodox Catholics. I have likened it to a small circle of people in the center of a crowd, who at their best are facing outward and trying to pull people in, but at their worst can be facing inward and trying to push people out. Of course the more orthodox may be sneered at; that’s just part of following Christ, although it is more irritating when it comes from fellow Catholics. But the priority has got to be increasing the number in the circle.

    This article reminds me of a recent discussion about the Jake Tapper interview, specifically: when did people stop expecting the truth? Actually, now that I think about it, it reminds me of a reply I wanted to make to the Pope Wunnerful article. I think the same thing applies, that people aren’t worried if the Pope says a few things against abortion because, they suppose, he probably doesn’t mean them. We’re at a point in our society, thanks to spin doctors or modernism or whatever, that people don’t assume that the person they’re talking to is being honest. They don’t judge you harshly for lying – I wish they did! – but they just assume that you’re not being honest. My guess is, you show up with a family of ten, they know you’re serious. But most of the time, people just sort of nod along when you talk about morality and assume that you’re as kinky or kinkier than most.

    That’s I think the new hurdle we face. You have to convince people that you really believe what you’re saying. Or maybe it’s not a new hurdle. Maybe people have always just sort of nodded along, just now they’re admitting it to the pollsters. I don’t know.

  • One thing that is not really clear to most people, at least until one talks with the 95% of women who use artificial contraception, is that many are not really engaged in a ‘hard’ dissent with the Church.

    Yes, most feel justified in what they are doing, many feel they have no choice. Yet when you ask them what do they think of the 5% who use NFP, you get variations on what is really admiration. Many if not most of the women who are in the 95% admire the 5% and wish they could be like them. They know sanctity when they see it.

    This is why these women do not leave the Church. Their dissent is a ‘soft’ dissent. They do not question the basic truths that are to be found in the Church’s teaching. They just cannot bring themselves to adhere to it.

  • Let me partially answer my own question. After the SOTU, Limbaugh echoed a lot of the comments I saw under the Tapper thread. He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts. I think that’s a lot of what I’m seeing. People don’t trust each other’s content because they assume it’s spin.

  • Wow! I hadn’t read any of the comments before I posted mine. I really believe these comments are accurate and that there are chutzpah contraceptive Catholics out there. I do believe Mrs Phoenix suffered what she suffered, and I believe that we all suffer with her.

    But, my experience is that they must be in the minority, at least as far as active parish life is concerned, and at least outside of San Francisco. I really believe, based on my experiences, in the facts on my first post.

  • A family of three or four or five or eight ought to be finding nothing but support and affirmation within the Catholic Church. The question remains from the article and Donald’s comments, how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?

  • Too many women today are developing breast cancer; it is epidemic.
    The World Health Organization has identified the contraceptive pill as a Class 1 Carcinogen. Ingesting the Contraceptive Pill causes breast cancer.

    Is it really worthwhile for any woman to assume the risk of developing breast cancer and not being available to raise one’s children just to satisfy a cultural zeitgeist that is anti-children. From a purely temporal perspective, contraception is deadly to a woman’s well being and that of her entire family.
    Practical, fact based, health disclosures dissemintated in parishes will assist women who may not be aware of the risks of contraception.
    If one prints out the above linked article and leaves it next to the Sunday bulletins (with your pastor’s consent), I believe you will perform a great service for many women and their families.

  • Actually, Botolph, I am to be criticized because I didn’t start out as a faithful Catholic. I was with the 95% and came around after a few years of marriage. I have the advent of the internet to thank for my reversion. I was able to read the Catechism, and papal encyclicals for the first time. Poor catechesis in my youth left questions unanswered, so I rejected it. I am hopeful that others will come around as well. The Church provides mercy and forgiveness, for which I am grateful. I found nothing but support from orthodox Catholics who bore with my struggles and deficiencies with patience and love. It was the 95% from which I had come who put barriers in my way.

  • Pinky wrote, “He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts.”

    Λόγοσ ούδέν κινεί – Reason moves nothing – Aristotle

    Orators have always known that if one wants people to actually do something, rather than just nod in approval, it is necessary to “call the passions to the aid of reason.” If one wants them, for example, to make war on Philip or impeach Warren Hastings, then inspiring indignation and (moderate) fear is the way to move them to action.

  • “how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?”

    A more liberal political site would call for government programs. I think the answer here would be to do it the Republican way. Private donations, say to the local Catholic school, encouraging a multi-student family discount. Support for the parish. Or just talking – “outreach”, I guess it’s called. Become friends with a big Catholic family. There are a lot worse families your kids could be hanging out with. Babysit, playdates, whatever.

  • Pinky,

    I believe it was Chesterton who said Christianity has not been tried and failed, it has not been tried. How about a Catholic approach-first of all renewal of our parishes in which large families would not only not experience what has been reported above, but the person attempting to sneer at them would be the one who would be seen as ‘not with the program’. Certainly as you say, and I had said in the post above, a greater sharing of resources of parishioners etc within the parish etc. so that no family etc will ever be left high and dry, etc

    I would take this further however. Encourage (don’t push) priests to bring the good news that the CHurch indeed has concerning marriage and marital love more to the fore in their preaching, If a Catholic is challenged for having a large family or believing in the Church’s teaching on this subject, turn the table around-ask that “Catholic” on what Catholic grounds do they base their argument. This will get them to begin to think and hopefully begin to see that the basis of their position is an ideology that belongs ultimately to the culture of death [it might not be the same as abortion but behind both contraception and abortion is an anti-life, anti-human ideology-the contemporary form of the god Moloch

  • You’re right about the pulpit. I think a lot of priests are embarrassed to talk about sex, and it makes them come off as embarrassed by the Church’s teaching. I also – pet peeve here – am tired of the way “vocation” has come to mean “please, kids, consider the priesthood”. I respect the priesthood, and it’s important to get kids to think about the consecrated life. But we’ve got to get kids, and adults, to realize that the married life is also a vocation, a lifelong commitment to an important, sometimes difficult, state of witness and service.

  • Pinky,

    I totally agree that being ‘married in the Lord’ is a Christian vocation which also needs to be put out there and prayed for.

  • Pinky: Vocation is following the will of the Lord in one’s life.

  • The trouble with the nuns on the bus is that in trying to become priests, they are not being who they are supposed to be, creating a vacuum, a vacuum that nature abhors.

  • As a man who came to the Church somehwat later in life, after the birth of my kids and a vasectomy, I am genuinely curious about what, if anything, the Church would be able to do to restore my “wholeness?” I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?

  • Wk Aiken,

    If you haven’t already done so, the Sacrament of Penance: “Confession” And if you have not done so, ‘be not afraid’

  • Botolph-

    That I did, the first time just before Easter upon finishing up RCIA; I did not hide the topic then and was granted absolution. I have continued to avail myself of that Sacrament on a regular basis in the dozen-ish years since.

    However, an old and uncomfortable chord was struck by Victor Claveau’s words: “Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words, ‘Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.'”

    I know that Reconciliation absolves me of sins past, including my ongoing sterile state. But I am now celibate, in a sense, without being called to celibacy by service in Clergy. There is an inherent wrongness to this.

    I will talk to my parish priests. They’re good, trustworthy men; the younger one graduated college in 4 years with a 3.9 GPA carrying 5 majors: History, Chemistry, Physics, Theology and Philosophy.

    And thanks – I do appreciate your concern and input.

  • WK Aiken

    You will be in my prayers

  • “I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?”

    I had a friend in a similar position. I advised him to ask a very good priest I knew. He came back and said that there was no requirement to reverse the vasectomy for forgiveness.

  • Thank you, Phillip. That is comforting. I’ll still have a chat, if for no other reason than to get it off my chest, but it’s good to know others have found answers. Thanks again!

    And thanks, Botolph, for the prayers. It is impossible to obtain too many of those graces.

  • Mr. Aiken,
    I recall some time ago viewing an EWTN television show “Women of Grace” which is hosted by Johnnette Benkovic in which she discusses in detail the issue of vasectomy reversal with a Catholic surgeon who performs these procedures as an apostolate for a very reduced cost. Some of the experiences raised by you and other men in this thread are addressed by Johnnette and the surgeon.
    Here is a link to the tv program:

    Vasectomy Reversal: Taking Care of the Damage, Part 1

    See, “Lifesite News” article pertaining to same:

    “Texan surgeon gives hope to sterilized men seeking wholeness”

    Hope this is helpful to you.

Obama Working Willfully To Undermine Hierarchical Catholic Church

Thursday, May 31, AD 2012

A few years ago I would have thought the title of my piece was too extreme- I bought into the charisma of Barack Obama- never publicly supported him- but I thought he was someone who could bridge some of the serious difficulties that pro-life Democrats faced within my political party. I read his books, I thought he respected the Catholic Church as much as a secular political liberal could be expected to. Around that time I was trying to work from the inside of the Democratic party- running for Florida State House as a pro-life Democrat, and later serving as Vice President for the Florida Democats for Life organization. This was also the time period where I was invited to become part of a national Catholic Democrats listserve which included such notaries as : Vicki Kennedy, Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Rev. William D’Antonio and Rev. Anthony Pogorel of the Catholic University of America, Peggy Steinfels of Fordham University, Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Vincent Miller of Georgetown/U. of Dayton, Dan Maguire of Marquette, Doug Kmeic of Pepperdine, Suzanne Morse of NCR, Chris Korzen of Catholics United, Alexia Kelly of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Callahan of the AFL-CIO, and others (Eric LeCompte, Nicholas Carfardi, James Salt, Morna Murray, Fred Rotondaro, Kari Lundgren). I never agreed to keep all that passed before my eyes confidential, but I never publicly revealed the basic content until now.

My reason for going public now is due to the recent event where the Worcester Bishop Robert McManus weighed in to prevent Vicki Kennedy from speaking at the Anna Maria College commencement. The press I read portrayed the Bishop as being overly vindictive and Kennedy milked the rejection, playing innocent, as though she is doing nothing to try to upend the Catholic Church as we know it- as a Hierarchical Institution. It was my experience on the Catholic Dem listserve that Vicki Kennedy was essentially my nemesis. I defended the Church as a Hierarchy, and the official teachings on abortion et al, and she took me to task almost every time I wrote pro-orthodox Catholic commentary- with plenty of Amens from her fellow travelers on the listserve. I did receive a few positive private emails from some on the listserve, but on the whole it was a very discouraging experience trying to defend the Church as a convert, who would be at a total loss if the Catholic Church put no stock in the teaching authority of the Pope and the Bishops, and taught that contraceptives, legal abortion, and gay marriage were just fine and dandy things. So Soon after posting this on the listserve-

“It is deeply troubling to me that this Catholic Democrats listserve membership seems more intent on finding reasons to pull some kind of palace coup against the Catholic Church Magisterium and Hierarchy in general, than to address specific issues related to the Catholic interests in American politics. I am a convert to Catholicism, I knew what I was signing up for in becoming a Catholic, I accepted the teachings and authority lines as prescribed by the latest Catechism. I simply cannot understand why those who seem to relish openly trashing the Apostolic successors retain membership in the Church- that is something that I can only address as an appeal to someone else’s good conscience. Most of my family is of the Protestant variety, I understand that thinking and worldview but reject it, but they are acting in good conscience- they don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches about her role, so they don’t invest in the Catholic narrative and authority line. Maybe what I’m finding here at Catholic Democrats are many good protestants but not orthodox Catholics as I understand things?

You can remove me from your rolls if it displeases many here that I don’t conform to the groupthink on display here, otherwise I will continue to offer my two bits to challenge the establishment views of liberal, anti-Catholic Hierarchical voices which parallel the hard Catholic Right- in their wrongheadedness- in my humble opinion anyway. One is certainly free to criticize the clerical/Hierarchical handling of sexual abuse cases over the years- but how this all fits in with being a Democratic Party member is something I can’t fathom. Tim Shipe”

My offer to leave was accepted after Vicki Kennedy wrote a smack-down on me; and shortly thereafter I severed my own Democratic party membership and ended my leadership role with Florida Dems for Life- I took Archbishop Chaput route of becoming a political Independent and remain such today.

To come up to speed- back a couple of years ago- I knew that the most powerful and connected Catholic Democrats in our country were interested in more than just getting more traction on Catholic social justice issues in our American political system- I would describe the agenda/mind-set of Vicki Kennedy et al for the most part as the following:

 1. Obama embodies the Catholic social tradition- he’s a better guide than the out-of-touch Pope/Bishops 2. Democrats for Life leaders were not welcome – despite my own inclusion for a time- Kennedy seemingly successfully squashed the idea of Kristen Day being invited to be part of the listserve 3. The Bishops who were outspoken for advocating the primacy of the right to life for the unborn were demonized, mocked, ridiculed, and at times the idea of trying to bring on an IRS investigation on these type of Bishops was being encouraged by some ( especially if they dared to consider withholding Communion from Pro-choice Dem leaders) 4. Bishops were described as “self-designated custodians of ‘the tradition’”. 5. Catholic Dems could aptly be self-described for the most part as “intra-Catholic warriors” 6. The Clergy Scandals were to be used to help bring the end of the Bishops line of authority- teaching and otherwise 7. This authority should pass to those who know best- the secular-minded Catholic professors and their liberal political activist friends- since there really can’t be such a thing as a Holy Spirit-guided Catholic Church with Popes and Bishops playing a key role- I suppose they could still hold onto ceremonial roles like the Kings in Europe.

I can see clearly now that President Obama has been very conscious of this war for control within the Church- and his choice of Vice President and HHS Secretary- Biden and Sebelius, respectively, was a conspicuous power move to set in place the acceptability of dissenting Catholic leaders and thought into the mainstream of American societal structures and popular imaginations. The fact that Obama “evolved” on Gay Marriage with help from his Catholic buddy Joe Biden, and his determination to mandate contraception as a must-have “medicine” through the offices of Catholic Kathleen Sebelius- all of this plays right into the larger goals of the Catholic Democratic party elite. There has been no such evolution in his comprehension and compassion for the thousands of unborn humans killed every day in abortions, and the threat to religious liberties is finely focused on the authority of Catholic Bishops and the official teachings of the Catholic Magisterium. I believe the Catholic Dems elite would like to re-make American Catholic Bishops in the image of the Anglican church in England- with Obama playing a kind of King Henry VIII role in forcing power transfers ( counting on public/Catholic lay apathy).

My conclusion is this- I am not in disagreement with the Catholic Dems elite on an across-the-board basis- I am not a conservative ideologue any more than I am a liberal one. There are political issues where I go left and others where I go right or down the middle- I make the honest effort to stay as close to the official social doctrine teachings of principles, and even the prudential judgment application of those principles as the Bishops and Vatican officials advise. I find that the same powers-that-be that are given Holy Spirit assistance to teach firm principles, are also pretty darn good at putting forth ideas for applying those principles into the real world of political legislation and the like- but I acknowledge it’s not an exact science with one formula fits all simplicities, however. That’s how I would describe my own efforts in being a wanna-be orthodox, faithful Catholic on matters of social doctrine. Others may disagree- I have no doubt that the Catholic Dem elites I list above are well-intentioned- but I believe they are threatening great harm to many souls and to the future of our Catholic Church as the Hierarchical Institution – founded by Jesus Christ. Reforms should be taken up in a spirit that respects the obedience of Faith. I don’t abide by clergy abuses and incompetent administrative decisions made by Catholic bishops- but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater- just as you don’t kill babies in the womb to solve the problems of women and their mates.

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34 Responses to Obama Working Willfully To Undermine Hierarchical Catholic Church

  • Bravo Tim! The Obama administration is clearly the most anti-Catholic administration in our nation’s history. Now Obama is attempting to play up his supposed ties to the Church:


    The linked to story above requires a strong gag reflex.

  • N.B. The majority (votes democrat) of American Catholic clerics and laity are undermining the Church’s Mission: the salvation of souls.

  • Excellent statement – “…you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater- just as you don’t kill babies in the womb to solve the problems of women and their mates.”

  • Tim, this is a really good post. Thank you for writing it. I never understood the “agenda” of the elite Catholic Democrate. I never saw the big picture that you describe so well.

    I guess my main question regarding your post is in the last paragraph you said that liberal Dem Catholics are well-intentioned. It is really hard for me to believe that.
    In my mind good intentions would mean they are trying to positively change the Church for the salvation of souls, and I just don’t see that.

    Could you go into a little more detail that?

  • The unfortunate truth is that the attitudes you encountered and described are not just those of the Catholic Dem elite, but far too many of the Catholic rank and file.

  • C. Matt is right. I daily interface with many fine, upstanding and wonderful people who are everything a Catholic should be, except when it comes to contraception, abortion and homosexual marriage. The dissent is profound, widespread and almost un-eradical. I have written pages and pages of explanation on what the Bible says, what Humanae Vitae says and what the Catechism says. I have had many discussions with these persons. I even in certain cases went back to the real meaning of certain Greek words that St. Paul used in his Epistles in my verbal discussions and writings. Each one to a person fully acknowledged that I know more about Church teaching and what the Bible says than they do. But they insist on contraception as women’s health, abortion as a woman’s right to choose and homosexual marriage as a civil right. Nothing I have said or done makes even the slightest dent in their obstinacy. With such a sweet smile on their faces, they imply that I am the close-minded and intolerant one, though that’s not how they word their objections. Now they are entirely polite and diplomatic and respectful. And they do acknowledge WHAT the Church teaches with regard to these issues. But they won’t ACCEPT that teaching as applicable to themselves or anyone else who “by right of conscience” disagrees. They REFUSE the authority of both the Church and the Bible, and they do so in such a loving and kind and nice and tolerant and non-divisive way that I just want to scream.

  • chris- I do believe what these folks are doing is willful- but I don’t think anyone is motivated by a consciously-evil paradigm- these are intelligent people but I find that even the very intelligent get tripped up over the supposedly easy stuff. One connective tissue seems to be that general difference between converts to Catholicism and “birthright” Catholics- Mark Shea has written about how converts tend to see the doctrines as being absolutely essential to being a good Catholic- while cradle Catholics such as most of the people I encountered in Cath Dems – seemed proud of their rights of ownership as Catholics and fail to see through perhaps pride or habit- that they could be just re-making the Church in their own image- instead of being transformed they try do all the transforming- when they should be obedient reformer saints- they instead go the route of tearing down the authority lines within the Church and thus causing ruptures rather than repairing the damage of poor administration.

    So- I have to give people the benefit of the doubt in their intentions- even when they are flat out wrong in what they determine as beliefs and course of action- and of course you don’t allow people to do whatever they want based on good intentions- you have to put up resistance and try to convince them to reconsider- that is what I tried to do from the inside of the Democratic Party and within the CathDem listserve- but at a certain point you don’t just allow yourself to become a floor mat- you come to a point where you separate and kick the dirt off your sandals and move on..I reached that stage..and now I am hoping to do some damage control by alerting the Faithful of the real dangers to our Church by these Catholic intellectuals and activists who see themselves as great alternatives to the Pope and Bishops in leading the flock in terms of moral theology/social doctrine. What is the saying- the road to hell is paved with good intentions..

  • Very interesting post. Thanks for writing.

    As I look back in history and at current events, I see the Democrat party as anti-Catholic in principle (pro-slavery, anti-women suffrage, anti-civil rights, pro-abortion, anti-First Amendment, etc.) and in demonstration (KKK, HHS mandate, etc.). They are a party of hate and death.

  • In my reading about Cardinal Mindzenty I am learning how in Hungary, committed Communists divided Hungarian society into groups that could be pitted against each other, how a few so-called “progressive” Catholic priests and intelligentsia were duped into misleading their flock, how criminal anti-establishment types were used, how diminishing the unity of the Church weakened it’s resistance against the plans of the atheistic left, how government subsidies and so-called help kept various constituencies in line.
    Mindzenty: “Our psalm is the ‘De Profundis’, our prayer is the ‘Miserere’; our prophet is Jeremiah; our world is the Apocalypse”
    He knew the tactical cunning and deceit of the Communists and the reality that there must be no compromise.
    “The collaboration of leftist Catholics caused trouble immediately.” p 54

  • One more point to Chris- one thing that stood out for me was that vicki kennedy defended her brand of Catholicism when I made the above charge that this was really another form of protestantism- she claimed that she was upholding the manner in which she was brought up at home and in Catholic schools she attended. This would be a typical cause and effect which I have witnessed to in my previous posting on Education- the schools are often bastions for lukewarm and dissenting adult Catholics as administrators and teachers- and orthodox Catholic parents are few and far between- so with so much company in the ranks of the heterodox it is no wonder to me that various ideologies have become the replacement religion for many cradle Catholics. The biggest threat from the Cath Dems elite is that they have real access to real earthly power and they don’t just have some differences of opinion over some key political issues with the Catholic Hierarchy and Social Doctrine- they want to usurp proper authority within the Church and re-direct the moral authority unto themselves- this is what I am warning about and why I am trying to get a more organized response that goes beyond the partisan Republican-conservative v. Democratic-liberal battlelines. The Bishops themselves need to address this through the USCCB and through the parishes and schools- I would love to help since I am not a partisan- and thus tainted by ideological allegiances of my own.

  • Thanks again for the article, it is very informative. I often find myself in agreement with Democrates on most economic issues (current administration excluded) but am solidly Republican because of social issues.

    I will say you are much more charitable than me giving many of these Catholic Dems the benefit of the doubt. Something I need to work on I guess.

    RE Paul- I have written pages and pages of explanation on what the Bible says, what Humanae Vitae says and what the Catechism says

    Would appreciate any information you could pass along. Especially regarding homosexual marriage as this is a topic that comes up often within my sphere of influence

  • Completely messed up that last post, but didn’t mean to have that last sentence italicized. Guess that’s what happens when attempting to write a post as my two year old daughter is pulling on my shirt!

  • @ Chris,

    In answer to your request, here is the six page letter I wrote back in February to one of these “right to choose” Catholics. The person said that she read the first three pages and then stopped. All further conversation of a religious nature between us has likewise stopped at that point. There is nothing to be had in common with a liberal. We live on different worlds. What planet they come from I know not.

    Dear XXXXX,

    The following discusses the subject of the HHS mandate with which the Administration is compelling Catholic institutions to comply, and the background behind the teaching on homosexuality….The opinions expressed herein when Sacred Scripture or the Catechism of the Catholic Church are not referenced are my own. There is no obligation for you to agree or disagree with me outside of what Holy Mother Church teaches.

    The Church instructs us that abortion and contraception are intrinsic evils. The reason for this teaching is simple: life begins at conception and man does not have the authority to say when life may begin and when it may end. Three verses of Scripture bear upon this.

    1. First, Genesis 1:28 says, “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’” It does NOT say, “Abort and contracept until you are ready to be fruitful and multiply.”
    2. Second, Jeremiah 1:5 states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This means that even from conception the embryo is a human being.
    3. Third, Deuteronomy 5:17 states, “You shall not kill.” Abortion kills a living being and is contrary to God’s law.

    Genesis chapter 3 records that in the Garden of Eden the serpent tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and both Adam and Eve succumbed. They were then driven out of the Garden of Eden lest they also partake of the Tree of Life and live forever in a state of sin. Today, humankind has decided to partake of that Tree of Life and determine when life begins and when life ends. The Church teaches that this is evil.

    Now Kathleen Sebelius (who describes herself as a Catholic) has issued a regulation that requires Catholic hospitals, schools, universities, colleges, halfway houses, etc., to provide insurance coverage for drugs that act as contraceptives or abortifacients (i.e., drugs which dislodge the embryo from the uterine wall and cause its ejection from the body, which in turn results in the death of the embryo). President Obama offered a so-called compromise to Catholic institutions by saying that they themselves would not under the regulation be paying for contraceptive or abortifacient drugs. But this ignores the fact that Catholic institutions would still have to pay insurance premiums that cover the cost of these drugs, so the compromise is mere sophistry and changes nothing. The regulation forces Catholic institutions to either stop their social service work or to pay for insurance premiums that cover the provision of intrinsic evil.

    What the US Council of Catholic Bishops has to say about the HSS mandate is available at the following web link:

    Bishops Renew Call to Legislative Action on Religious Liberty

    The First Amendment to the Constitution states:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Note that the phrase “freedom of worship” is NOT used. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and is explicit in stating that Congress shall not make a law prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That means that the Catholic Church (or any religious community for that matter) cannot be boxed into the walls of its house of worship; rather, religious people are allowed to practice their religion in the public square. In the case of Christians – especially Catholics – this means that its institutions which heal the sick (hospitals), feed the poor (soup kitchens) and teach the young (schools) may refuse to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients and contraceptives without legal penalty. Indeed, the regulation from HHS against the same is blatantly unconstitutional.

    There is another point that bears on this. The normal functioning of a female body is to reproduce. To stop that functioning is unnatural and against the health of the woman. Therefore, to claim that the provision of abortifacients and contraceptives are in behalf of woman’s health is disingenuous at best and mendacious at worst.

    Now some will at this point declare that a woman has the right to determine what happens to her body without interference from any external agency. That is true. Yet we have to remember that it takes two people to cause conception (the Blessed Virgin Mary being the only exception). I must be perfectly plain here. If a man does not want a baby, then he should keep his pants zipped up. And if a woman does not want a baby, then she should keep her legs closed. Abstinence is 100% preventative 100% of the time. There are going to be no second Virgin Mary’s. Once a person has made a decision to engage in sexual intercourse, then that person has acted on the right to choose and a baby results. God created us in His likeness and image, and having given us sentience, He expects us to act like human beings and not like wild animals. That means that we need to exercise self-control and refrain from sexual activity outside of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman. No one has any right to commit fornication, adultery or homosexual intercourse (a topic which I will deal with later). Too many people nowadays claim to revere science, logic and reason, but when it comes to the titillation of their genitals, they are wholly given over to the lust of the flesh and for them sexual pleasure becomes an addiction no different in essential substance from addiction to heroin or cocaine. St. Paul explains this in Romans 7:15-25:

    15* I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22* For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23* but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. 24* Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    There is a secondary argument that some people raise to justify abortion. They claim that abortion must always be available in cases such as rape or incest. This is illogical. Since when did committing a second crime right the wrong in the first crime? Why should the resultant baby be the victim of capital punishment for a crime that the father committed? The right solution is to make that father support mother and child for the next 18 years and nine months. Furthermore, the percentage of all cases of unwanted pregnancy being due to rape or incest is less than one per cent. The overwhelming majority of reasons given are similar to the following: “I wasn’t ready to have a baby.” The person making that declaration was, however, entirely ready to have sexual intercourse. Thus has abortion murdered 54 million unborn babies since the Roe v Wade decision by SCOTUS on January 23rd, 1973.

    Now a tertiary argument comes. Some claim that while they are personally opposed to abortion, they will vote for an abortionist politician because he claims that he will serve social justice and the common good. This argument is illogical. A man who will sacrifice an unborn baby’s life on the altar of political expediency for social justice and the common good serves neither social justice nor the common good. If he refuses to save the life of an unborn baby, then he will refuse the lives of the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the destitute.

    A fourth argument comes, namely that those who oppose abortion support capital punishment or war. Romans 13:1-4 bears on this:

    1* Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3* For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4* for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.

    God gave the State the power to execute the wrongdoer and to defend the people. Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does urge the State to forgo the use of capital punishment (and I agree with that). It also encourages the avoidance of recourse to war (and I agree with that also). But there is no comparison between these and the murder of 54 million innocent babies since 1973. Abortion, contraception, homosexual behavior, euthanasia and human cloning are intrinsic evils. Recourse to capital punishment and war, always to be avoided, are not intrinsic evils.

    One other thing needs to be explained here and that is the warning which Pope Paul VI gave regarding the contraceptive mentality in Humanae Vitae in 1968. The pertinent paragraphs are contained in section 17 of this encyclical and they essentially explain that (1) the contraceptive mentality causes the man to disrespect the women into being a mere sex object, and (2) that same mentality renders unto the State the power to mandate the use of contraceptives contrary to religious conscience. Both of those things are happening today. We see women paraded around as mere sex objects on the television and across the internet, and now our own government is trying to force Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients on the specious pretext of women’s health care. The actual statements made by Pope Paul VI are given below:

    Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

    Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

    Let us now discuss homosexuality. Paragraphs 2357 through 2359 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church best explain this.

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Now 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 is quite clear. Because many modern translations incorrectly translate these verses of Sacred Scripture, I will start with the original Greek:

    9 ? ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ???? ????????? ?? ???????????????; ?? ????????: ???? ?????? ???? ???????????? ???? ?????? ???? ??????? ???? ???????????? 10 ???? ??????? ???? ??????????, ?? ???????, ?? ????????, ??? ??????? ????????? ???? ???????????????.

    In typical translations into the English, these verses are rendered as following:

    9 Have ye not known that the unrighteous the reign of God shall not inherit? Be not led astray; neither whoremongers, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, the reign of God shall inherit.

    The word ??????? in the Greek was used to designate the male who acted as receptor in the act of homosexual intercourse, hence its translation as “effeminate.” The word ???????????? in the Greek was used to designate the penetrator in the act of homosexual intercourse, hence its translation as “sodomite.”

    However, knowing what we now know, we see that these verses actually state:

    9 Have ye not known that the unrighteous the reign of God shall not inherit? Be not led astray; neither whoremongers, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexual receptors, nor homosexual penetrators, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, the reign of God shall inherit.

    We modern people get a sanitized version of what St. Paul was writing to the Church at Corinth, yet what he actually wrote was anything but sanitized. Sacred Scripture is clear with regard to homosexual intercourse. Now yes, one may be a homosexual (that is to say, afflicted with same sex attraction). Such persons are never to be discriminated against merely because of a predisposition. Indeed, I have a predisposition to drinking alcohol alcoholically. Being an alcoholic will not send me to hell. Giving in to my alcoholism will, however, send me to hell. The applicable word that St. Paul uses for people like me in the aforementioned verses is ??????? which means “drunken or intoxicated.” Thus, just as I am to remain abstinent of alcohol because of my disease of alcoholism, so also is the homosexual person to remain abstinent of homosexual intercourse. Sacred Scripture cannot be annulled. Romans 1:18-32 states:

    18* For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20* Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21* for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23* and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

    People at this point may cry that it is unfair that a homosexual person be denied the pleasure of sexual satisfaction. This is a false cry. Homosexuals are subject to the same rules that any heterosexual person is subject to: no sexual intercourse outside of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman. God does not play favorites. But God does allow us to bear our crosses. In my case, the cross may be alcoholism. In the homosexual’s case, it may be same sex attraction. Romans 8:18 states:

    For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory about to be revealed in us.

    And Colossians 1:24 states:

    I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and do fill up the things lacking of the tribulations of the Christ in my flesh for his body…

    We are called, whether single mother or father, alcoholic, homosexual or whatever, to unite our suffering with those of Christ on the Cross. As the old adage goes, no Cross, no Crown. The Gospel is not about social justice and the common good (though those are important). As Jesus in John 6:26-27 told the crowd who followed Him about after the feeding of the 5000 with loaves of bread and fishes:

    …Verily, verily, I say to you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were satisfied; work not for the food that is perishing, but for the food that is remaining to life age-during, which the Son of Man will give to you, for him did the Father seal — [even] God.

    When politicians promise social justice and the common good, we should remember the example of Judas Iscariot in John 12:1-7

    1* Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4* But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii * and given to the poor?” 6* This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7* Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

    Too many politicians are lying thieves in the tradition of Judas Iscariot. When we look to the State to provide what we need, even what we want, then we render unto the State to take away from us everything we have: house, wife, husband, child, mother, and father. It happened under Maximillien Robespierre in France during the 1790s. In the name of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” he murdered tens of thousands of Catholic clerics and laity using Dr. Guillotine’s “merciful instrument” of euthanasia. Like many in our government today, he was rabidly atheist, and his spiritual descendants today do to unborn babies what he did to the born a little more than two centuries ago. Thus does Jesus declare to Pontius Pilate in John 18:36:

    My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.

    Anyone who thinks (like Robespierre) that he can create a kingdom of Heaven on Earth is guilty of the worst sort of hubris, and that is the exact reason why adultery, fornication and homosexuality run rampant today. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 states:

    If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

    Matthew 6:33 is consistent with this:

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

    Conversion and repentance come before, not after social justice and the common good. Sadly, Robespierre had to die by his own guillotine because he refused to learn that lesson.

    Again, you are under no obligation to agree with me. And if you have questions on these matters, then you should give this letter to [ your priests ] to ask them to explain the truth. I am only a lay person and I do not speak for the Church. I can only tell you what Sacred Scripture and the Catechism state [and perhaps give a lesson in Koine Greek every once in a while! 😉 ]

  • Thank you for that link Robert Klein Engler. Please, every American Catholic read it.

  • @Robert, The author seems to say the Church has been willing to cooperate with those in power looking to cheat on the field as long as it advances the ball. And now, it has reached a point where it can continue to look the other way and play both parties or take a stand and become martrys. I can agree to a point, but I think some are taking advantage of this situation by going too far in its accussations against the hiearchy.

    An example is Paul’s Richochet article where it accuses the bishops of giving an endorsement of Obamacare. They never did. The lack of pro-life protections was always a road block to endorsement. While they did not endorse it, they also didn’t reject it. I had problems with the latter, but a lack of rejection does not equal an endorsement. I don’t recall a pro-Obamacare campaign by the bishops, which Paul claims.

    American Thinker article does ask an interesting question. How far will the bishops and the flock go to stand by their principles? Got the guts to take it all the way?

  • “An example is Paul’s Richochet article where it accuses the bishops of giving an endorsement of Obamacare. They never did. The lack of pro-life protections was always a road block to endorsement.”

    Though it was almost endorsed. The Bishops wanted conscience protections and coverage for illegal immigrants. If they got that then Obamacare would be fine. Cardinal George was actively lobbying Republicans not to vote against the Stupak Ammendment (in order to spike the Bill). This in the hope that the bill would ultimately pass.


  • Richochet, “A Pact With the Devil” was good grist… I think the Bishops led by Card. Dolan are taking this kind of goad seriously and instead of looking back, are doing their best to make good decisions now. The need is for unity, clarity and shared effort.

  • Thank you Paul, once I get through all of this material know that it will someday go to good use. I do not have to “re-invent” the wheel so to speak and thank you for the readily availible info to use

    RE: Tim

    Regarding Catholic schools, unfortunatly what you say is very true. I am sure some excellent ones exists, but I have several real horror stories myself regarding Catholic schools. It’s one of the reason why I currently struggle with the idea of sending my son to one. I want to give him every opportunity to learn about our faith. Ultimately he learns the faith at home. It’s sad to say but I am worried about more harm than good being done to him.

  • I’ve seen it on the bumpers of cars in the parish parking lot before Mass: the Obama bumper sticker. It astounds me that any faithful Catholic can even consider voting for a Democrat…even a pro-life Democrat, let alone someone as effectively pro-abortion as Obama. And yet, there they are – my fellow parishoners; some of whom I know from personal experience to have a deep love of Our Lord and his Holy Church. Though I guess its wrong, I do envy them their faith being, at least as I can perceive it, deeper than mine.

    Part of it has to be ancestral – my late father didn’t switch his voter registration from Democrat to Republican until 2008, and that was only about a year before he died. But he also warned me – they are coming after the Church. They want to make an “American Catholic Church” to stand in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and bid for the support of American Catholics. Ultimately, there really is only the Church, and Her enemies. And the enemies of the Church know one thing for certain: the only thing on earth which stands in the way of their victory is the Church.

    And there’s the other part of it – people who are willing to remain Democrats while still trying to remain faithful Catholics. The trick can’t be done – no matter how solidly Catholic you are if you are also a Democrat then you are magnifying the power of those who wish to destroy the Church, even if (and especially) if the destroyers have found a Bishop who won’t refuse them communion and who continue to pretend to the Catholic faith.

    I understand, Mr. Shipe – you wanted to be a good liberal and a good Catholic. You look at the GOP and, correctly, see many glaring errors, not least of which is the rote defense of “capitalism” in spite of the clear need for an alternative (Distributive) economic system. You’ve now learned a hard lesson – the only thing liberal leaders will allow you to be is a good liberal and that means mindlessly following whatever the leadership dictates, and if you don’t you’ll find yourself attacked until you either knuckle under or depart.

    I’m not asking anyone to give up their political views – but political allegiances must conform to reality. Any Catholic simply must, for the time being, vote Republican – not because Republicans are all wonderful…but because only Republicans offer the chance for faithful people to affect government policy. We can look for a day – hopefully not too far distant – when wise liberals will break completely with their leaders and form a Christian Democrat party to scoop up all those who are not enamored of the GOP but who cannot be faithful Catholics – or, indeed, Christians or Jews – within the Democrat party. I’m a Republican – have been my whole life; but if ever I see the GOP become a party hostile to my faith, I’ll drop it like a bad habit. If our faith does not drive our political actions then what use is our faith?

  • “Regarding Catholic schools, unfortunatly what you say is very true. I am sure some excellent ones exists, but I have several real horror stories myself regarding Catholic schools. It’s one of the reason why I currently struggle with the idea of sending my son to one.”

    I have some real ones too. This because my wife taught in Catholic schools for years. The level of knowledge and/or practice of the Faith is limited among most teachers. Some co-habitating. Some with Gay “marriage” stickers on their cars. Most actively communicating this very “modern” life to students.

  • There are too many blank spaces in the Obamacare contract where Sebelius can write in a prison term as Hillary Clinton did in Hillarycare, criminalizing and penalizing the very act of healing and the practice of medicine. Hilliarycare criminalized the practice of medicine with a TWO year federal prison sentence for every doctor who treated a patient not in his group.
    Obamacare promises everything a person might need, if one does not mind waiting a year or more for an emergency. The only surgery that will be done is abortion because the baby grows and is born according to the nature of the human being. In Canada, socialized medicine brought many people to the United States for heart surgery because the wait in Canada was over two years. My friend’s brother moved to Texas where he had the heart surgery.
    It would be interesting If Obama was a doctor poised to go to Federal prison for as long as Sebelius sends him, otherwise, the blank contract without informed consent is entrapment of the taxpaying citizens and a violation of civil liberties. Not those civil liberties endowed by the American Civil Liberties Union or Obama, but of those First Amendment Freedoms guaranteed by our founding principles and endowed by God, our God Who has been removed from the public square. How convenient.
    How very convenient. In this instance, Obama is taking advantage of the devil’s evil genius.

  • Evil is as evil does. Intentions pave the road to Hell. It is good that some are crossing over into the light, but forces of Darkness are many. Giving them any credit at all only weakens our defenses and strengthens thier resolve.

    There can be no compromise.

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  • Prior to the 2008 election, many of us had serious problems with Obama’s voting record and his promises for the future. We were ridiculed and called racists and hard-hearted, among among other names not printable here.
    It does now seem like the incubation of time has proven the concerns of 2008 to be real as the plans of this administration move forward.
    Subtle evil is still as evil as openly displayed evil.
    We must not allow this administration to control the bishops – and thus the Catholic Churh – in this country.

  • In my opinion, these heretics have been tolerated for way too long. Everything about them is “un-Catholic.” They have interpreted Vatican II as a license to make up their own Magisterium if they don’t like the Church’s official one. They openly mock the Pope, the Bishops, the Church. To them, it is the “faithful” that determine the Catholic Magisterium, not the Holy Father in conjunction with the heirs of the apostles. They openly declare that the “patriarchal” heirarchy has lost its legitimacy and they see the doctrinal “retrenchment” of Blessed JP II and BXVI as perhaps the greatest tragedy to befall the Church since the Reformation. They believe the Pope and Bishops are dead wrong on abortion, contraception, gay marriage, women’s ordination, etc., etc. and that they are “destroying” the Church by holding fast to their positions on these issues. These heretics should be excommunicated, en masse, immediately. The situation has gotten so dire that, in my humble opinion, every Catholic should be required to pledge an oath of loyalty to the Pope, their local Bishop, and the Magisterium of the Church or face excommunication. The “Catholic” population of the United States would be cut in half almost immediately, but at least those who remained would be true Catholics. This would certainly mean closing many parishes, schools and hospitals. It would mean supposedly Catholic universities formally breaking from the Church. It would mean dramatic loss of political influence. But, it would rid the Barque of Peter of these servants of Satan who are intent on destroying it from within and re-molding it in their own image. We know what happens when the route of accomodation to popular culture that they propose is taken – just look at the rapidly approaching extinction of Mainline Protestantism.

  • Donald, I have to disagree with your statement the “Obama administration is clearly the most anti-Catholic administration in our nation’s history.” If you look back in our nation’s history, the Masonic influence and the nativist movement of the first half of the 19th Century was clearly more anti-Catholic than the Obama admistration.

  • Disagree Chuck. One of the friendliest of the Founding Fathers to Catholics was George Washington, a mason. The Know Nothing Party prior to the Civil War had some influence, but never succeeded in electing a President. No, when it comes to the White House, the Obama administration is clearly the most anti-Catholic administration by far.

  • Wow! Excellent article.
    Thank you for explaining to me what is really happening.
    It’s all clear now.

  • In the beginning of this article you talk about your piece being important are talking about your gun or was that a typo?

  • From my own experience I can tell you that you shouldn’t hang out with poisonous people especially if you are a convert.

  • valentine- the reference was to the title of the “piece”- not my gun or a typo!

    Maureen- thank you so much- I wrote this for those who have leaned Left or Independent- those who have long been on the Right were already on the attack of anything Obama. I wanted to believe that Catholic Democrats were more faithful, not less. I really tried to make a dent in what I found was an extreme belief that the Magisterium- the Pope and Bishops- really weren’t not the proper teaching authorities for the Church. That role apparently is to go to the majority of Catholics- or perhaps society- with the critical role of authority going to the academic and the politician- the professors and political activists are the ones who know and care the most- more than distant popes and bishops- so the thinking goes. The consequence of this twisting of Christ’s will is that we have Catholics supporting legal abortion, widespread contraception, anything goes marriage definitions, and who dare say that women and active homosexuals can’t be priests, bishops or even the pope?? So- I am one who is sounding the alarm- I think I have credibility because I entered into this debate with an open heart and mind- I really tried to find a way to influence the Dem Catholics- but now I see that they are dead-set on something much more than moving the country a bit to the Left on the economy and environment- they are palace revolutionaries in their willingness to use the powers of state to push through an agenda that goes decidedly against basic and obvious official Catholic teachings. We need to talk about this in circles larger than the die-hard Republican grouping. I want politically-independent orthodox Catholics to get more facts to use for their own understanding and to help move the national discussion/debate on religious liberty

  • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The public square, all public places belong to the people in joint and common tenancy. You own it all and I own it all. Government is called upon to keep the peace. Government may not usurp the public square that belongs to the people to be used by the people for any legitimate purpose, public prayer, public politicking, recreation, education, leisure, work, any good thing. To ban the Person of God and to ban the acknowledgement of the Person of God from the public square is unconstitutional. If persons desire to be acknowledged as persons, all persons must be acknowledged, beginning with the Person of our Creator. Now that the Person of God is banned, the people of God are being banned and soon all human life will be indicted as unfit to live.

Arthur C. Clarke on How To Destroy Marriage

Tuesday, April 3, AD 2012

In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel Childhood’s End the aliens invade, and they mean us nothing but good. A space race between the US and USSR is about to lead to war in space when giant alien space ships settle over all of Earth’s principle cities, and an alien race, who refuse to show themselves and communicate only through the head of the UN, announce that they are taking over responsibility for enforcing peace on the planet. These aliens (called the Overlords) generally take a hands-off approach to humanity, saying they will reveal themselves in 50 years when humans are ready to see them, but in the mean time they provide two inventions: a 100% effective oral contraceptive, and a 100% accurate paternity test.

The result is that over the next 50 years, while peace and prosperity reigns due to the guiding hand of the Overlords, marriage, traditional morality and organized religion all vanish.

Of course, Clarke actually thought this was a good thing, and the rest of the novel is about humanity moving onto the next stage of evolutionary development: as a non-material group mind. But in a sense, that’s the really interesting thing, that as someone who saw traditional marriage, morality and religion as a problem back in 1953, Clarke say the two inventions most likely to get rid of all three as being completely reliable contraception and paternity testing.

Coming at things from a Catholic point of view, G.E.M. Anscombe saw the same trends, now well advanced, in relation to contraception, morality and marriage in her 1972 essay “Contraception and Chastity”. Some key bits:

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12 Responses to Arthur C. Clarke on How To Destroy Marriage

  • “Today, we can see pretty clearly that both Clarke and Anscombe were right.”

    Short term for part of the population. I rather think long term that demographics will hold ultimate victory for those who believe in marriage and cherish kids.

  • “I rather think long term that demographics will hold ultimate victory for those who believe in marriage and cherish kids.”

    Contraceptive, abortive liberals won’t breed. I am not saying that that is a good thing, but perversion brings with it its own inevitable consequences of decay and death – and perhaps it is a perverse justice that those who believe in Darwin’s selection and survival of the fittest will have selected themselves to not survive. God’s justice works in even perverse circumstances, as the Israelites deported by the Assyrians and the Judahites deported by the Babylonians found out to their dismay.

  • DC,
    Thanks for posting this. I am embarrasssed to say that I have been unfamiliar with Anscombe. I am now eager to read more of her work — at least the stuff I can get through.

  • If anyone says that the Catholic faith holds women back, all you need to do is point out Anscombe.

    Contraceptive, abortive liberals won’t breed.

    They don’t necessarily have to. As long as they control the culture, they can continue to spread their errors through the offspring of others. Simply outproducing them is not necessarily going to change things. It helps, certainly, but it is not a foregone conclusion that those who simply breed more, in this context, will ultimately win.

  • I read “Childhood’s End” when I was a teenager and I was horrified by the ending then. I hated that book. Who wants to be part of the “collective unconscious”? Even as a 15 year old, I thought the idea that we would lose the distinctive parts of ourselves and of our individuality gave me the creeps.

  • “but it is not a foregone conclusion that those who simply breed more, in this context, will ultimately win.”

    Their control of the culture is tenuous c matt. Public schools are visibly failing, few people listen to the news on television, college education is priced out of existence. As the old Soviet Union demonstrated, ideology can only triumph over reality so long.
    Walter Russell Mead at Via Meadia has been writing some prescient columns on the failing blue state social model:


    Times are changing the way they usually change: from necessity.

  • Clarke’s own marriage was failing following the publication of Childhood’s End.

    “Arthur’s views on marriage at that time were, I think, very vague,” says Mayfield. “It was almost like a hobby that he really didn’t want to get into. He wanted it to be a pastime, but it mustn’t in any way interfere with his work. I wanted a marriage. It was very difficult for me to try and adjust. Finally 1 could not cope with it.”

    The split between Arthur and Marilyn came as the Christmas season approached in 1953. A discussion about religion provoked the rift.

    “I was brought up in the Presbyterian Church” says Mayfield.

    “God, country, all that was important in my upbringing. We were talking, and he told me he didn’t believe in God and he didn’t believe in Christmas. Now, that shakes your basic structure, especially if you believe and you think that everybody else does. And at that age you tend to know it all. Now that I think of it, he may have been as profoundly shocked as I was. He may have considered my belief as much a taboo as I considered his not believing. But I couldn’t accept it then, and I kept waiting for God to strike him dead. I was just shocked. I couldn’t come to terms with it, so I left him.” …”The marriage was incompatible from the beginning,” says Clarke. “It was sufficient proof that I wasn’t the marrying type, although I think everybody should marry once. We just each married the wrong person, you see.”

    The experience, he admits, was enough to scare him away from every marrying again. “While we were together for only a few months before separating, we were legally married for some ten years.” The marriage, in fact, was not legally dissolved until December 1964.’

    Clarke moved to Ceylon and became a homosexual, although he downplayed that aspect of his life, as such liasons were frowned upon, to say the least, in Ceylon. Like most authors who attack traditional morality, Clarke practiced what he preached.

  • I am a relatively new Catholic. Most of the Catholics I know had pre-marital sex.
    They used, as they do now within their marriages, the natural approach to contraception; abstenance during cerrtain times of the womans cycle. However, just about everyone I know has sex, makes love for enjoyment and to share love. I presume, like most Catholics, there are people in the world that plan their families and have children when they are ready, again using the natural method. The problem is that too many don’t plan, don’t use ANY form of contraception and as a result either have abortions or unwanted children…both a travesty. So as we fight for Catholic rights (HHS, no abortions, etc.) we MUST also fight for improving the way we raise our children as a society and to ensure that we are caring for the unwanted children that are born into this world…they, btw perpetuate the same problem that worsens with generation.

  • So as we fight for Catholic rights (HHS, no abortions, etc.) we MUST also fight for improving the way we raise our children as a society and to ensure that we are caring for the unwanted children that are born into this world…they, btw perpetuate the same problem that worsens with generation.

    Which, very unfairly, assumes that this isn’t already the case.

    Heaven knows there’s a lot more “help those in need” (especially children) type works in every Parish I’ve ever been in than there are “fight abortion” drives, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard opposing contraception mentioned in a church.

  • “Clarke moved to Ceylon and became a homosexual…”

    I never knew that.

    “I read ‘Childhood’s End’ when I was a teenager and I was horrified by the ending then. I hated that book. Who wants to be part of the ‘collective unconscious’? Even as a 15 year old, I thought the idea that we would lose the distinctive parts of ourselves and of our individuality gave me the creeps.”

    I read most of Clarke’s works when I was younger. At the time I loved his writings. What horrifies me more now than what horrifies Maggie McT is how deluded I was about his cosmic consciousness idea – one that I thought he had borrowed from Olaf Stapledon. And yes, in my younger years I liked Olaf Stapledon as well: Last and First Men, Last Men in London, Odd John, Star Maker and Sirius I had read and re-read over and over by the time I was twelve. Neither of my parents had the educational background to understand these novels; they had no idea the philosophy behind Stapledon or the influence he had on Clarke, or what Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood’s End, etc., were all about. This is in part how the sickening philosophy of liberalism wormed its way in – as popular reading for youngsters.

  • Marriage saved Clarke from the degradation of homosexual behavior for a decade. How man’s separation from God has caused man to lose sight of his destiny. Children, in Israel, were a blessing and childlessness was seen as a curse. Children, our constitutional posterity, are we, the people, living out our lives on earth while being joined into the communion of saints in heaven. Can you read “collective unconscious” as subconscious, one of Freud’s discoveries?
    “You see, what can’t be otherwise we accept; and so we accept death and its unhappiness.” We accept death and have fallen in love with death through despair. Judas who betrayed Christ, fell into death through despair, but Judas had a choice, to freely embrace hope, or reject all hope. So, the heresy of predestination is a heresy. Children are our hope and our future.
    Love is the only virtue missing from Clarke’s definition of marriage. Marriage is, in the words of Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report, to cherish one another. When you would die and go to hell for the one you love and he would die and go to hell for you, you know that you are loved. Chastity happens, children happen, the joy of heaven happens when love happens. (Friendship and love are gifts from God) All the mechanics of contraception and paternity tests are not part of love. If someone does not love you enough to want more of you, it is not love. The Overlords did not want more of us and are aptly named.

  • I think I may have read one of his books, but I can’t remember which one. I was a fan of Azimov (sp?) and I liked Heinlien but felt uncomfotable about Stranger in a Strange Land – I didn’t know why (now I know)… I am glad I never read this book now that I know the concept. But what I am truely thinking of is that I grew up in the 70’s is that I grew up with the watered down version of Catacism. I had no depth in my religious education. I embraced the culture of sex, drugs and rock n roll. In Sci-fi books – I became a geek and saw how science was greater than any religion. I searched for meaning in everything but where the Truth actually was… In my devout mother I saw a righteous woman in a Church that only wanted her minimal money and didn’t care about her. She died young and God died to me with her… I wish someone would have given me C.S. Lewis to read back then but alas I accept my path and thank you Lord for bringing me home!

Thanks For Proving Our Point

Friday, March 2, AD 2012

Rush Limbaugh is famous for “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd.”  His satire works because it usually exposes the ridiculousness of the thing being satired.  Unfortunately for Missouri Democrat Stacey Newman, she doesn’t quite understand that satire doesn’t really work when it highlights your side’s stupidity.

A Missouri House member frustrated with recent legislative debates over birth control and reproductive health is proposing to restrict vasectomies.

Legislation sponsored by Democrat Stacey Newman would allow vasectomies only when necessary to protect a man from serious injury or death. Vasectomies would have to be performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center or health facility licensed by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Missouri House last week approved a resolution objecting to the federal health care law and a requirement that most employers or insurers cover contraceptives.

Newman, who’s from St. Louis County, says that such issues affect women the most. She says men also must make family planning decisions.

This is priceless, and for a number of reasons, but three spring immediately to mind.

On the obvious level this doesn’t work because her bill doesn’t mirror the debate that is taking place.  Just about no person is actually seeking to ban contraceptives; rather we are simply fighting attempts to mandate that all employers grant insurance coverage for contraceptives, even when they have moral objections to contraception.  So it fails on a literal level.

Second, to the extent that there would be people interested in restricting access to birth control for moral reasons, they almost certainly would also support a ban on vasectomies.  Guess what Ms. Newman, the Catholic Church is no keener on vasectomies than it is on artificial birth control.  So if you were hoping to shame people into dropping their opposition to birth control, they would only hop aboard your bandwagon.  So that’s your second fail.

Finally, the legislation itself highlights the fundamental problem with the HHS mandate.  Leaving aside the issue of religious liberty, what is disturbing about the mandate is that the federal government is decreeing what is and, by logical extension, what is not to be covered by health insurance.  Who is the government to dictate to insurers what they cover?  A government big and powerful enough to make these decisions is certainly powerful enough to restrict access to certain procedures.  So by introducing this bill, you’re actually proving the fundamental point that opponents of the HHS mandate specifically, and Obamacare in general, have been making.  Yet another fail for you.  But your failure is our success, so thanks.

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3 Responses to Thanks For Proving Our Point

  • It’s not just stupid. It’s dishonest. It’s distraction.

    But, this is the same as the stunt pulled off by to Miss Flake of GU Law and the Dem Lib Trashocracy.

    From JammyWearingFool/Gateway Pundit:

    “I put that in quotes because in the beginning she was described as a Georgetown law student. It was then revealed that prior to attending Georgetown she was an active women’s right advocate. In one of her first interviews she is quoted as talking about how she reviewed Georgetown’s insurance policy prior to committing to attend, and seeing that it didn’t cover contraceptive services, she decided to attend with the express purpose of battling this policy. During this time, she was described as a 23-year-old coed. Magically, at the same time Congress is debating the forced coverage of contraception, she appears and is even brought to Capitol Hill to testify. This morning, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, it was revealed that she is 30 years old, NOT the 23 that had been reported all along.

    In other words, folks, you are being played. She has been an activist all along and the Dems were just waiting for the appropriate time to play her.”

    “Unreal. This was all just a big dishonest Democrat ploy to take the attention off of Barack Obama’s assault on religious freedom.”

    Liberals or liberty. You cannot have both.

  • It is my understanding that vasectomies, since they are a medical procedure without a lobby group to protect it (unlike abortion), are already performed under good medical conditions. I mean, I’ve never heard of a back alley vasectomy and I don’t think anyone has ever successfully pulled off an exposee of the deplorable conditions under with they (supposedly) occur. Such conditions probably don’t exist. I also think it was fairly common practice for the surgeon who was performing the vasectomy to get the wife’s permission, at least until recently. I’ve heard that several times.

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Not Everyone Has To Get Married (Or Go Into The Religious Life)

Wednesday, February 15, AD 2012

Mary at the blog Young and Catholic has a good post up responding to a reader question about Church teaching on contraception versus NFP. Her handling of the NFP issue is great, but I was struck by the framing of her reader’s question, because it struck me as getting at a common impression one can get from being around conservative Catholic circles. Her reader writes:

I’m an 18 year old female college student, and I have just gotten back in touch with Catholicism…

…I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting back into my faith, but there is something that REALLY continues to rub me wrong. I’ve prayed and prayed about it, but I am not getting any answer. I’ve researched it, but just hear the same things over and over and it just doesn’t sit right with me, and that is the issue of contraception. I’ve read humanae vitae, I’ve researched “natural family planning”, and it all still leaves me completely unsatisfied still. I see where the Church is coming from on this issue, however, I feel that God has called me to do something else with my future besides staying at home with my “loving” husband and having a billion children…And then I went to the church and asked my female minister about it. The gist was this: If you have the financial capability, happiness, and wealth, your job is basically to be popping out children.

This just honestly does not sit right with me…Some women love being mothers, and being a mother is certainly an honorable duty, but I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m very ambitious and have goals of working for the Department of Defense, not sacrificing all my happiness because the Church says I should.

She goes on to ask about why the Church teaches against artificial birth control, and as I say, Mary’s answer is great. However, I think the other thing worth touching on is the impression people sometimes get that from a Catholic point of view you should either be in the religious life or else you should be married and having lots of kids.

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22 Responses to Not Everyone Has To Get Married (Or Go Into The Religious Life)

  • DC, I could be wrong on this, do think it’s a default assumption that the married life and the religious life are the two dominant vocations. They are the two which are reinforced through sacrament or consecration, and they both provide communal life which is a natural human desire.

    Some may be called to the single life, hermitage, or an early martyrdom. Some may be called to live as if single following a divorce, and some may have same-sex attraction to such an extent that it prevents them from living the married or religious life. Some – actually, everyone – will struggle to find the right fit for themselves. But the working assumption for the average person should be that their earthly mission is best pursued as a married person or religious.

    If I’m wrong on this, I welcome the correction.

  • I realize this young lady won’t like hearing it- and that the gentle response was absolutely correct in not over stating this- but I noticed that her question was a lot about how *she* feels and what *she* wants and *her* happiness and not really about God. God wants us to be happy, but that doesn’t always work out the way we think it should. There are a lot of times where our happiness has to be in the Lord alone and we just have to persevere and endure the rest of life. I know that’s counter cultural, but even if we’re eventually called to do or be something that isn’t what we wanted for ourselves- like being a parent or a celibate single, etc- then we should still be joyful in that life because God loves us and we should be living our lives for Him and not ourselves.

    This is such a common problem and it’s something I wish it were addressed more often when this stuff comes up. There comes a time when we all must choose God and often times that means giving up some or all of our own desires.

  • Well said, Mandy.

  • To me, the takeaway is this young woman’s impression that her greatest responsibility is reproduction. I think this is indicative of the fertility cult mentality that grabs many evangelical Catholics. Father Angelo Geiger has written about this in the context of the Christopher West phenomena.

    We’ve turned from teaching authentic Church teachings about the proper order of values, including placing sexual activity within marriage and the complete unity of procreativity and unity in sexual relations, to a mentality where sexual relations (and even reproduction) are the epicenter of one’s spiritual existence.

  • Pinky,

    DC, I could be wrong on this, do think it’s a default assumption that the married life and the religious life are the two dominant vocations. They are the two which are reinforced through sacrament or consecration, and they both provide communal life which is a natural human desire.

    Certainly, if you either take religious vows or marriage vows, you’re in for the duration, whereas if you’ve decided to remain a single lay person for personal or career reasons, you could always change your mind later. So I suppose one could see those as the most settled vocations.

    And given the choice, most people who aren’t vowed to do otherwise would rather have the companionship of marriage than not — so I don’t think it’s a big surprise that as our society has grown more affluent few people who abide by the Church’s teaching that sexuality belongs only in marriage are going to choose to remain single laity permanently.

    But I don’t think that means that people must choose to follow one of the two.

  • jvc,

    I do not think that there is a “fertility cult mentality” among “evangelical Catholics” — though for the reasons that I pointed out people do end up spending a lot of effort on defending the decisions to get married young and/or to have many children, so I can certainly see how one might get that impression.

  • Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii (December 31, 1930) and Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae (July 25, 1968) both address the sanctity of marriage and the family, with special emphasis on the principal threat against them in modern times: artificial birth control.

    “Be fruitful and multiply” appears six times in Genesis. In the first case, God blesses living creatures allowing and requiring them to procreate His creation.

    The second time (Genesis 1: 28), the Lord issues the order to mankind. After the flood, God repeats His blessing on animals (8: 17) and twice upon mankind (9: 1 and 9: 7).

    God chooses Jacob for His last such blessing: “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins” (Genesis 35: 11).

  • @jvc,

    I think it’s more a clash of a traditional mentality and the more common cultural mindset where children and family are seen as a burden instead of a blessing. For someone steeped in the popular culture, I’m sure the idea that marriage isn’t just about love and sex is intended for both pleasure AND procreation is quite a bit of culture shock. I can’t honestly tell you the last time I saw a positive image of family life portrayed in the popular culture. Marriages are all about the elaborate weddings- what happens afterwards is almost universally portrayed in the most negative light possible- and children are treated as if they were accessories- like a meat handbag- or, if they’re inconvenient at the moment they’re portrayed as a punishment. When we do see people in a family seeing, the focus is almost always on how hard it is and how people are tied down (“the old ball and chain” mentality). There’s never any attention given to how, despite the hardships- which are a part of ANY lifestyle, not just the family kind- marriage and family can be extremely fulfilling and, if you’re doing it right, it should make you into a much better, less selfish, more self-giving person.

  • I remember a line from my pre-cana that I think applies. “Your vocation should help you live for others and God and not only for yourself.” Having children and being married make living only for yourself very very difficult. The same is true of religious life. Living as a lay single person, there are many temptations to selfishness, especially if you are financially successful. However, it’s not impossible, and it may very well be the best life for many people. I know someone who isn’t even Christian who lives this life beautifully without even knowing it.

    I also seem to know many married couples now in their mid to late thirties who are deciding not to have children. I really find it very hard to be charitable to these people and their reasons. I think these couples assume they will be young and healthy forever. Even if they are financially stable into their elder years, it’s got to be a lonely life to be elderly and childless. Many of these people don’t have siblings with children. So no nieces and nephews no grandkids. I keep picturing my children as the only young adults living on a street with block after block of elderly people who can’t shovel their snowy drives. Or who need a ride to the grocery store. Or who are just plane lonely because they’ve lost a spouce. We need the next generation, and you can’t just opt out of contributing to it without expecting some consequences.

  • I cannot understand people who profess to have found God or found a new religion or returned to Catholicism be stuck in the mire of ” I want sex-when i want it how I want it and that is it”. Going just to the basic commandments-the sixth commandment
    You shall not commit adultery-speaks to the fact that sex is a union between husband and wife.
    Truth be told the majority want to be ” Buffet line” Christians-only putting on their plates that which appeals to the pleasures of the body, yet disregarding that which strengthens the soul.
    If you call yourself Christian, ask yourself “where is Christ in your action”?????

  • “I feel that God has called me to do something else with my future besides staying at home with my “loving” husband and having a billion children…And then I went to the church and asked my female minister about it. The gist was this: If you have the financial capability, happiness, and wealth, your job is basically to be popping out children>” There are three clues to this dilemma: 1) The word “loving” husband. 2) having a billion children and 3)female minister. There are truly loving men who become husbands in the truest sense of the word. “Having a billion children” is the giveaway. God promised Abraham that for his faithfulness, his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, literally in the billions. God’s promise to Abraham is as true today as it was in the time of Abraham. Faithfulness to God will bring billions of children, spiritual children, for spiritual motherhood, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Spiritual fatherhood, as St. Jose Maria Escriva in Opus Dei, Pope Benedict XVI. There are so many saints who are spiritual fathers and mothers, Saint Nicholas as Santa Claus, the children’s saint. St.Joan of Arc, patroness of France, and Jesus Christ’s mother Mary, to whom Jesus gives all of us. It would be advisable to seek more, not less, spiritual guidance than that of the female minister, who thinks “popping out children” without appreciation for WHO they are and their dignity, leaves much to be desired. ASK and ask and ask. Someone once said to me that if I was old enough (to marry) I would not be asking. Ask anyway. Seek out the saints in heaven for their advice and do not forget your guardian angel. You’ll be just fine. You are one of God’s billions upon billions of children.

  • Christ did not come among us from suffering or to give us Heaven on Earth.

    Jesus Christ came to save us from sin and by His Life, Death and Resurrection to purchase for us the rewards of eternal life.

  • This 18 yr. old, who has just returned as a practicing Catholic and says she ‘enjoys’ it, seems to be putting life into separate areas that look mutually exclusive to her. Fortunately, she may get over her anxiety if she does follow her work plan, only thing she seems sure of, and leaves the rest of her life open to God’s plan.

    Kind of worrying that she seems to be demanding an answer to her praying. She’s not the Boss and needs to learn patience. Maybe ‘vocations’ are a subject of urgency around her. If she has no ‘possible’ husband yet, then proceed with career plan until …

    Husband and family is the ideal for a young woman and that doesn’t preclude education or career. We just don’t know the end of the story. I dreamed the ideal and God’s plan was different – but I still got to care and homemake(not nurse) for family elders and friends through the years as a kind of love fulfillment as i look back. And also do some interesting work. No ideal led on to other strengths (like overcoming weakness). Not my plan, got to be His. I would tell the girl to go work at the D of D, practice her faith and give God thanks for what she has and can do for others.

  • Mandy P. and PM: Please remember that the young lady in question is 18. An 18 year old is a bit self-absorbed and lacks patience – stop the presses!! The very fact that she has returned to the Church and wants to be a good Catholic impresses me very much. At 18, I was running away from the Church as fast as I could.

    I would caution her that not feeling maternal at age 18 does not mean that will always be the case (sorry for the double negative there). I was not at all interested in motherhood at 18 or at 30, for that matter. Nor was I really that interested in marrying, although I thought I was. If I had been, I would have made an effort to date men who would have made good husbands and fathers. Instead, my common sense (what little I have) completely deserted me when it came to men. I blamed “bad luck” with men for many years, but I’ve stopped kidding myself. It was my own rotten taste for Mr. Hard to Get Alpha Male, soap opera, tears, dramatic breakups and makeups that did me in – yuck, I cringe to think of it. I laughed (ruefully) when I read “Bridget Jones’ Diary” because that silly character reminded me very much of myself, and I also had no trouble recognizing her caddish boyfriend.

    Now that I am middle-aged (and childless), well, I would like to time-travel back and kick my younger self in the rear, but I can’t undo a thing. Well, what should I do? Drown myself in Scotch and regrets? Slit my wrists? No, I can try to be a good aunt and friend and sister to the loved ones in my life and I am working on being a good Catholic, which is very difficult. I’m not sure if I would call that a “vocation” – it’s just doing the best you can with the deck of cards you have in front of you right now. Yes, sometimes, it’s lonely – but on the other hand, I am so set in my ways that I think that marrying and living with someone at this point would be very difficult to get used to. I like having people over for dinner and I like going to parties, but the second they leave or I come back to my empty place – I breathe a sigh of relief!

    That said, I think Mrs. Zummo makes a good point: I know a woman (an only child) who married her high school sweetheart (another only child) back in 1962. They did not have children. He died 2 years ago. She continues to work fulltime, despite being financially able to retire – because what else does she have to occupy her? At least I have siblings and an extended family. She does not. I felt awful for her when she said she ate a Lean Cuisine turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

  • This young woman, like many others assumes that without contraception, a normal marriage or ongoing sexual relationship will automatically equal having “a billion children.” What she does not realize is that not everyone is the Duggar family, not every woman gets pregnant at the drop of a hat, and oftentimes you do not know how fertile (or infertile) you are until you “get there.”

    The large families of the Baby Boom era were probably as much or more a result of couples marrying very young (in the 1950s, the median age of first-time brides was 20, and lots of women were getting married in their teens; I think the average first time bride is now about 27) as it was due to the unreliability of the “rhythm method” or any other birth control methods available at the time. Women have a limited number of fertile years and if you wait until age 30 or later to marry you are not likely to have “a billion children.” You may be lucky to have even one or two children if you wait that long.

  • “What she does not realize is that not everyone is the Duggar family, not every woman gets pregnant at the drop of a hat, and oftentimes you do not know how fertile (or infertile) you are until you “get there.””

    Precisely! My wife and I were married for nine years before we were blessed with our twin boys. Three years later the miracle happened again and we had our baby girl. We never used contraceptives, so assumptions based on family size can be completely off base.

    Past generations understood that fertility is a gift from God, and not a punishment.

    “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

  • “Thus, trusting in divine Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice, married Christians glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the DUTY to procreate. Among the couples who fulfil their God-given task in this way, those merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.” GAUDIUM ET SPES, Vatican II. Note how the council said that married couples have a DUTY to procreate. A woman who wants to forego having children (but also be married) to pursue a career sounds about as selfish as a man wanting to forego additional children because he is tired of changing diapers and waking up in the middle of the night. Good comments here.

  • Oh, and one last thing: this 18 year old undoubtably has glamourous notions of the workaday work, just as I did at that age. She is banking on the idea that her main satisfactions in life will come to her via your job. Well, I (unfortunately) bought into many of the bad ideas of 70’s feminism, including the media portrayals of career women. I thought I was going to be Mary Tyler Moore. I actually landed what I thought was a glamourous job as a paralegal in a DC law firm. Although it certainly had its’ interesting moments, I can promise you it was not “Ally McBeal” or “Boston Legal” or whatever the popular law firm show is at the moment. Those shows (inaccurately) portray the dramatics of the courtroom, but not the painstaking drudgery that goes into producing those motions and briefs. (For good reason: who would want to watch someone cite checking or coding documents?) An iron law of DC law firms: if you have any exciting plans for the weekend, there will certainly be a 5 p.m. Friday phone call which will ruin those plans.

    I have had jobs and bosses I liked very much and other ones I couldn’t stand. While it is a good thing to take pride in your work, I think most people get their main emotional satisfaction and meaning not out of what they do to put food on the table (unless they’re artists of some sort, or in a helping profession) but from the lasting attachments and relationships they form with other people outside of work, whether they are married or not.

    As a wise man I once knew said to me “Donna, I never heard of anybody on their deathbed saying ‘I’m really sorry I spent so much time with my family instead of at the office.”

  • “Those shows (inaccurately) portray the dramatics of the courtroom, but not the painstaking drudgery that goes into producing those motions and briefs. (For good reason: who would want to watch someone cite checking or coding documents?)”

    Tell me about it Donna! For every hour of court time I have five hours chained to my desk fighting piles of paper work that never seem to diminish! Note that in the old Perry Mason show we see a stack of Corpus Juris Secundum in the closing credits, and that is as close as Mason ever comes to doing any legal research on the show!

  • I apologize in advance. But, my wife laughed.

    First Guy (proudly): ‘My wife’s a saint!’

    Second Guy: ‘You’re lucky, mine’s still alive.’

  • To elaborate some more on my previous remarks, the birth rate among women over 40 has indeed risen considerably in recent years, and much publicity has attended celebrities and others who have had children at advanced ages (45 or even past 50). This often leads young women to assume they can or will be fertile practically forever (25-30 years does seem like a long time when you’re 18).

    However, it is my understanding that the majority of successful pregnancies in women over 40 are the result of medical interventions such as IVF or other fertility treatments, and do NOT happen “naturally.” And success is by no means guaranteed even with these interventions (some of which, of course, are also contrary to Catholic teaching just as contraception is).

  • Donald, heh, here I grew up with the impression that Perry strolled into the courtroom and just winged it, coming up with his always deadly cross-examination off the top of his head!

    Just like the ER doctors on “ER” were able to handle everything from delvering babies to calming down raving psychotics to doing brain surgery, why, it made me question why there was any need for the rest of the hospital or any other physicians;-)

Other Reactions on the HHS Mandate and the “Compromise”

Friday, February 10, AD 2012

I don’t have much to add to what’s already been said on the subject other than to express my wonder at who President Obama thinks he is fooling.  Granted I’ve already encountered vacuous leftists using the “but they don’t have to pay for it” talking point, but these are the types of people content to loyally follow Obama over the cliff anyway.

I just wanted to use this space to highlight a few other blogs that have written copiously about this subject.  Ron Kozar thinks this has been something of a missed opportunity for Catholics.

One point, which cries out to be made but isn’t being made, is how stupid it is to buy insurance for something as inexpensive as contraception, even if one has no moral objection to it.

It’s like requiring your auto insurer to cover an oil change, with no deductible.  Thus, rather than simply collecting the money from the consumer, the oil-change mechanic would have to employ a clerk to “process” your insurance and await an eventual check from your auto insurer.  This kind of nonsense – mandating coverage for routine, inexpensive procedures, and relieving the consumer of the need to pay – is one of the larger reasons why the healthcare and health-insurance systems are so utterly out of control.

Another point that cries out to be made but isn’t being made is that the government shouldn’t be dictating the terms of health-insurance benefits to employers in the first place, regardless of the employer’s religion.  The debate is being framed as a question about which package of coverages the federal government should mandate, rather than about whether the feds, or any government, should be dictating any terms at all.

Meanwhile, Jay Anderson has been on fire lately.  He has several blogposts this week worth reading, so just read his blog. Needless to say, I agree that it is time to disinvite certain so-called Catholics to the supper feast of the lamb.

Finally, if you’re not reading Jeff Goldstein’s blog Protein Wisdom, you should be.  Jeff is a Jewish, Santorum supporting, libertarian-conservative, and he’s done just as good a job of getting at why Obama’s actions are so tyrannical as anyone else.  Here’s his take on the compromise.

The problem is, rules or laws that provide exemptions to specific identity groups are ripe for corruption — and there’s no more reason that the federal government should be able to direct insurance companies to provide free contraception that it should the Catholic church. And by making the accomodation a waiver or derivation, Obama is still asserting his own Executive authority to tell private companies how they must spend.

Catholics shouldn’t have to go on bended knee before the State and beg for a conscience exemption for providing the kind of coverage it wishes to provide. And the State should not have the arbitrary power to pick and choose who must follow laws, who gets waivers and exemptions, and so on.

Obama’s “accommodation” is meant solely to hide his underlying power grab: namely, the unstated authority of the State to set these kind of dictatorial demands on private industry, and by extension, on individuals.

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7 Responses to Other Reactions on the HHS Mandate and the “Compromise”

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  • It’s too bad Jeff Goldstein used the “f” word in one of his posts – the very one I wanted to share on Facebook. But by golly, he’s right on the mark! I empathize with his anger. Liberals are so stupid, but as someone said, that’s what sin does.

  • I looked over Protein Wisdom and it looks like a great blog. Thanks for the tip.

    Obama is the anti-constitutional president, looking for any way to undermine citizens’ rights. The contraception mandate “compromise” is a farce. We don’t compromise when it comes to our religious liberty.

  • “It’s like requiring your auto insurer to cover an oil change, with no deductible.”

    Or like your homeowner’s insurance providing 100% coverage for gutter cleaning and lawn mowing. Yes, it would be convienient but it would hardly be “free”.

    “This kind of nonsense – mandating coverage for routine, inexpensive procedures, and relieving the consumer of the need to pay – is one of the larger reasons why the healthcare and health-insurance systems are so utterly out of control.”

    I have suspected as much for a few years now. It seems to me that, TOTALLY aside from the religious freedom/moral issue (important though it is), the HHS flap would be a great opportunity to reexamine the whole idea of “preventive” care being covered by insurance in the first place. Isn’t insurance designed mainly to protect people from catastrophic losses or expenses they could never hope to pay for on their own? It never was intended to cover EVERY conceivable (pardon the pun) expense.

  • It’s about Obama telling you what you can and cannot do with your property and your life.

  • How funny — I’d recently picked up on this site, and see reference to Jeff’s site Protein Wisdom! Been reading it for years; cannot recommend enough. If you’re looking for visceral and pithy and effective, there you go. Do watch for the strong language, though.

  • Another reason this can’t possibly be just about health care: if I’m not mistaken, birth rates in general are down due to the poor economy, which in and of itself proves that lack of money is not preventing people (in general) from avoiding pregnancy if they truly want to. Moreover, birth AND pregnancy rates among teens are at 20-year or more lows, and abortion rates (at least for reported surgical abortions) are markedly lower than they were in the 70s and 80s.

    If birth rates and abortion rates were going through the roof because ALL forms of birth control had been priced out of the reach of most women, AND if many insurance plans didn’t already cover birth control, AND if cheap or free birth control weren’t already available from places like Planned Parenthood, then there might be some semi-logical reason to mandate or encourage contraceptive coverage to combat an “epidemic” of unwanted pregnancies. That’s not happening, as far as I can see. And even if it were, it would be no excuse for running roughshod over the 1st Amendment in order to insure that a relatively small fraction of women (those of childbearing age who happen to be employed by Catholic institutions) were covered.

Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

Monday, February 28, AD 2011

A reader asked me to take a look at this study (abstract here) and see if it reaches a valid set of conclusions. The study was conducted in California among ~80,000 women who receive birth control pills paid for by the state as part of a program for low income women. Previously, women in the program have received a 1 or 3 months supply of birth control at a time, and then have to go in to the clinic in order to receive a refill. In the study, a portion of these women were given a full year’s supply instead of one or three months, and state medical records were then used to see if this resulted in a change in the rate of unplanned pregnancy and abortion among the women who received a full year supply of birth control.

Researchers observed a 30 percent reduction in the odds of pregnancy and a 46 percent decrease in the odds of an abortion in women given a one-year supply of birth control pills at a clinic versus women who received the standard prescriptions for one – or three-month supplies.

The researchers speculate that a larger supply of oral contraceptive pills may allow more consistent use, since women need to make fewer visits to a clinic or pharmacy for their next supply.

“Women need to have contraceptives on hand so that their use is as automatic as using safety devices in cars, ” said Diana Greene Foster, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. “Providing one cycle of oral contraceptives at a time is similar to asking people to visit a clinic or pharmacy to renew their seatbelts each month.”

Oral contraceptive pills are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the United States, the team states. While highly effective when used correctly (three pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), approximately half of women regularly miss one or more pills per cycle, a practice associated with a much higher pregnancy rate (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), according to the team. [source]

The details of that decrease are as follows:

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13 Responses to Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

  • Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    The data about the first question does not really shed light on the second question.

  • Abortion and artificial contraception are both intrinsic evils, so I don’t think this study changes anything.

  • Its hard to know if the study proves anything. I can only access the abstract and have minimal interest in reading the study (if there is desire, I can access via our library). Thus unable to comment on the methods of the study, data collection etc.

    Of interest is the note at the end of the abstract which notes that the Level of Evidence of the study is III.

    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    I think that begins to put the study in perspective.

  • Bearing,

    Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    Ummmm. Not sure if I got massively unclear while trying to type this up quickly or what, but no.

    I was basically asked, “Can you debunk this, or else what should we pro-lifers make of this,” to which the one sentence version of my reply would be, “It looks to me like it’s probably accurate as far as it goes, so from the point of view of agencies already giving out birth control perhaps they should give out more at a time, but I think the pro-life contribution here would be to work to ban abortion and to make people aware of the connection between sex and babies — not to become cheerleaders for one year prescriptions.”


    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    Thanks, that helps a lot.

  • Kyle Kanos is absolutely correct.

    Truly, only the dead have seen the end of abortion in this country.

  • Ah, but it only reduces the abortions we “know” about. The pill is strongly suspected of being an abortafacient–preventing an embryo (not fertilised egg) of implanting in the uterus. While a one year supply of the Pill may reduce surgical abortions, we don’t know if it reduces the number of deaths of embryos whose existence is hidden to us because modern day pregnancy tests are not yet sensitive enough to detect them. Only God knows. (And do we want to irritate more than He probably already is?)

    We also need to remember that “pro-life” is not simply “anti-abortion,” and no, I am not talking about the seamless garment issue so many Pro-lifers do not appreciate. It is in having children. As I recall, Europe has fewer abortions than the US, but it also has a much lower birth rate. Some countries are already on the down hill slide. Euthanasia of the elderly and very sick is right at the doorstep. In some countries, it is a reality. There are not enough young people to go around.

    As Kyle Kano noted, contraception is intrinsically evil. Ultimately, not sure this study matters whether valid or not.

  • KJLarsen,

    Agree. But if pro-aborts start pointing to this study, then we are able to point out the design flaws and undermine their argument. We must be able to engage the world on its terms including all valid knowledge.

  • Kyle Kanos,

    Certainly, I agree that using birth control is a major sin — I would never advise someone to do so. Indeed, I would tell everyone not to do so. However, if a doctor is prescribing birth control, and a patient is taking it, it sounds to me like (if the results of this study actually proved out — it sounds like all that exists right now is an observed correlation) it might, overall, be better if the doctor prescribed a large run of The Pill rather than a small one.

    I would certainly consider it to be sinful to be using birth control, but if someone is going to commit that sin I would be at least somewhat inclined to think that it is better to use it right than not.

    I’m a bit divided on this because clearly, although the contraceptive failures resulting from people taking the pill inconsistently when their prescriptions gap out result in a number of abortions, they result in significantly more lives that are in fact embraced and spared. According to the study, 300 abortions might have been avoided if the pill had been used consistently by the members of the study — but then, so would have 1300 live births.

    So I’m not really sure what our reaction, as Catholics should be to that other than that we continue to:

    a) oppose sex outside of marriage and the use of contraception and
    b) oppose abortion


    My understanding from what I’ve read on the topic is that it’s fairly rare for the standard methods of oral contraception (as opposed to the strictly abortafacient “Plan B” kind of stuff) to allow an egg to be fertilized but then prevent it from implanting. It does happen, and it’s one of the many reasons to morally object to The Pill, but from what I’ve read it’s the sort of thing that would happen perhaps once every few years (if even that often) assuming that a woman is using the pill consistently and having sex quite regularly. So it seems to me that it’s virtually impossible that in this particular situation there are enough unrecorded abortions being performed by the pill to make up for the number that are resulting form inconsistent use of the pill.

    Obviously, that does not mean that we as Catholics should advocate that people use the pill — that’s a mortal sin and I would never recommend it. I just wanted to try to address the study as honestly as possible, and I think that means admitting that it is probably the case, if the study is in fact statistically valid, that dispensing a year of birth control at a time does result in fewer abortions (though also many more live births!) than dispensing 1-3 months at a time.

    Certainly, that doesn’t make the pill good. Lots of heinous things would reduce the number of abortions that a given group of women had. (For instance, if California had forcibly sterilized all 80,000 women, they would have had exactly zero abortions, but that certainly wouldn’t have made the action of sterilizing them right or desirable.)

  • I can’t support the use of birth control pills, but knowing they are dispensed and used – often times month over month for years or decades, I have a hard time accepting the practice of requiring someone to return the doctor monthly or quarterly to get a refill. It’s not like a doctor ever says, “well hey, you’ve been on these for six months I better wean you off now.” He simply scribbles out a new script, collects his $50, and sends on her on the way to the pharmacy. How much more expensive is health care than it should be because doctors and the FDA perpetuate this racket?

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  • Abortions from the Pill? Funny, I heard the opposite. I think it was Chris Kahlenborn (sp?) MD that wrote that he calculated 10 million per year. I would have to do some digging to find that one though.

    I do agree that refuting the study is important. Alas, I only know of very few pro-lifers who think contraception is evil.

  • What this study doesn’t do is suggest how much of an impact giving out larger quantities of contraceptives will have on the overall abortion rate. According to Guttmacher, only a little over 5% of women procuring abortions report that they lack access to contraceptives for financial or other reasons. So achieving a significant reduction in abortions while continuing to promote contraceptives will require not just providing them, but changing people’s behavior (which can include using contraceptives at all, using them more consistently or correctly, using multiple instead of single methods, avoiding sex when they’re fertile if not using a contraceptive, etc.) Aside from the fact that every time I’ve ever suggested that people change their behavior regarding sex I’ve been summarily execrated, I’m not aware of any study that has shown that people who already have access to contraceptives can be made to change their behavior enough to have a meaningful effect on the overall abortion rate. And you also can’t ignore the fact that over 7% of those procuring abortions report using contraceptives perfectly, for whom decreasing the abortion rate lies along a different path altogether.

  • If you want to email me, I can send you a copy of the full article for a more thorough reading.

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

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2 Responses to Must Read: Mark Brumley

Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

Tuesday, November 23, AD 2010

I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).

In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.

For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert.  I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.

So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction.  Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!

This point is obvious enough that Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is breaking his own arm from patting himself on the back so hard from this discovery (here, here, and here)!

Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.

But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.

Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS

Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online

When Are Points Not Worth Making on Pope & Condoms – Darwin

Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM

Ed Peters: L’Osservatore Romano as Origin of Problem – Fr. Z

Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column

Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)

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48 Responses to Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

  • Steve Kellmeyer’s analysis is brilliant and depressing:

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010Anyone Can Use A Condom?
    Well, the Pope has doubled down on his statement concerning condoms:

    “I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.” [There is that insistence that condom use is a move towards objective good. Again.]

    “This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

    The clarification is significant.

    Yeah, I’d say that last sentence was the understatement of the year.

    Here’s the problem.

    In order to be able to use condoms, the principle of double effect must apply.
    In order for the principle of double effect to apply, the following must be true:

    The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.
    The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.
    The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.
    The proportionality condition The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect.
    1a) The use of a condom in a heterosexual encounter is not morally good or indifferent. Insofar as it is contraceptive, it is intrinsically evil. Fail on Test #1 for heterosexuals.

    However, insofar as the use of a condom is NOT contraceptive, it is NOT evil. Since the use of a condom between homosexuals is not a contraceptive act, Pass on Test #1 for homosexuals.

    2a) Since the seminal fluid which carries the sperm also carries the STD, and these two cannot be differentiated or separated, the means of achieving the bad effect (stopping the sperm from being communicated) is identical to the means for achieving the good effect (stopping the STD agent from being communicated) – the same barrier prevents both from obtaining. Fail on Test #2 for heterosexuals.

    Since the presence or absence of sperm is immaterial to the sodomitical act, Pass on Test #2 for homosexuals.

    3a) All that you have, according to the Pope, is a good intent – the desire not to transmit disease, either to yourself or to others or both. Pass on Test #3 for both groups.

    4a) The good effect, keeping disease from being transmitted, is a lesser good than preventing the coming into existence of an immortal person who has the capacity to praise and glorify God for all eternity. Disease and death are temporally self-limiting – at most, they will only apply for a few decades out of eternity, while the person that may be conceived will exist for all eternity. The difference in goodness is infinite. Fail on Test #4 for heterosexuals.

    Since homosexuals cannot bring an immortal person into existence, Pass on Test #4 for homosexuals.

    In order for double effect to apply to the use of condoms in marriage or any other encounter, all four tests must pass. As you can see, for heterosexuals, three out of four do not. For homosexuals, all four tests pass and condom use is not a problem.

    Indeed, as I pointed out yesterday, the principle of double effect doesn’t even apply to the homosexual act, since the homosexual act has only one effect – pleasure. There is no procreation, thus there aren’t two effects whose relative merits have to be judged, as there are for the heterosexual act.

    But, of course, because the Vatican is not bothering to explain any of this, and because the Ignatius Press book does not bother to explain any of this, all of this is being ignored. The Pope’s failure, the Vatican’s failure, to adequately contextualize the Pope’s words is creating a firestorm.

    As I said yesterday:

    Just as an action can have multiple consequences, so I can have multiple intentions when I carry out an action.

    According to the Pope, when I use the condom, I may sin through the intent to commit sodomy or fornication, but I do NOT sin by intending to reduce disease transmission.

    Insofar as I use the condom only for that purpose, I do not sin.

    Indeed, according to the Pope, insofar as I use the condom for that purpose, I take the first actions towards moral good, the humanizing of the sexual act.

    It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s what he himself says in the first part of his answer.

    Now, when it comes to sodomy, there is NO difference between the use of a drug that reduces the probability AIDS will be transmitted and the use of a condom.

    So, it is absolutely the case that the Pope is endorsing the use of a condom to prevent disease transmission per se because when I use it FOR THAT INTENTION, I am moving towards the good, which the Church endorses.
    So this is not a question of “how to sin in the least offensive way.”

    The Pope is saying anyone who uses a condom with the intent to reduce disease transmission is doing objective good – taking “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

    And, just as an aside, the Washington Times reports today on the development of EXACTLY the same kind of drug I hypothesized in my example yesterday: a drug that when taken daily by an HIV-negative person reduces the incidence of AIDS acquisition and transmission by 70%.

    Several people have asked whether this isn’t really just an academic question.
    After all, how many people actively involved in sinful sexual activities are worried about condom use?

    As I’ve pointed out previously, the way people rationalize sin is impressive. How many times have we heard the story of the priest or bishop who thought homosexual activity didn’t violate celibacy vows?

    Similarly, is it really outside the pale for those same priests or bishops to insist that they didn’t want to use a condom during their “celibate extra-curricular activities” because the use of a condom was sinful?

    No, I don’t think this was ever just an academic discussion.”


  • Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

    Not at all, and I’m having trouble understanding why some Catholic commentators are not getting this.

    For instance, I don’t think that all and every one of those young misguided college activists vocally criticizing the Church for its condom stance are motivated by purely malicious desires. Some of them genuinely want to help suffering people, albeit in an ignorant and misguided way. Their advocacy of condoms is intended to be a recognition of the human dignity of African AIDS victims. They are wrong, of course, but it’s a better position that not caring whatsoever about the human dignity of suffering Africans.

    The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

  • Even with the clarification, this really ought not be as disconcerting as some apparently think it is. (As I’ve noted in another thread, I *do* think that it was highly imprudent of L’OR to publish *this* excerpt, particularly without comment or context.)

    The use of a condom in intercourse is gravely immoral. The intent does not change that.

    *But*, the intent in this example can and does indicate *some* positive stirring in the heart of the contracepting person, even though it doesn’t change the gravity of their sin.

  • Hey Tito,
    Add me to the chorus?


    By the way, good point Michael B.

  • Michael B. said : The Pope explicitly states in the interview that the use of the condom is not a moral or acceptable solution. He is simply recognizing the gravely and deeply misguided but nevertheless well-meaning intention of using them in this case.

    Perfectly and concisely written, Michael B. – thank you. Someone high up in the Vatican should say this. It won’t help with calming down the drumbeat from the major media outlets but the faithful could use more authoritative and concise teaching.

  • Interesting that Fr L. implied that Transsexuals are neither male nor female, but something apart.

  • From a comment on Brett’s thread over at Vox Nova:

    “So may I ask a serious question? For those people that are the so called cafeteria catholics, that read what is written, and yet use their own minds and come to their own conclusions on certain things. Were they wrong then? I mean I often listen to people who love to call out the cafeteria catholics and basically make them feel like they are sinners- or more prone to sin than others are. However, one has to reason for themsleves in some ways based on certain situations in the world. Another thing I notice when I look around on Sundays is, if everyone was not using some form of birth control, then why are the pews not filled with families with children of 5 to 8 children? I think this reversal by the Pope is really something. I personally was sort of amazed at the take by so many that it was only homo-sexuals the Pope was referring too. I just didnt see it that way when I read the statement for myself. Now more light has been shed by the Pope. Ijust think sin is what it is. Everyone know’s what sin is and sometimes we sin anyway. We are all sinners. Yet if we are going to sin, then wouldnt one take precautions? I mean I know that makes me a class ‘a’ sinner I suppose. But isnt that logic? With what we know today, and how man is fallen, why can we not use our own logic sometimes?”


    This I think is not going to be an atypical reaction among many, many Catholics. The Pope has blithely done serious damage through his remarks to basic Church teaching in this area. For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception. I will leave to others the task of picking out the slivers of silver in this deeply black cloud.

  • It’s interesting that the orthodoxy in Humanae Vitae seriously damaged Pope Paul VI’s papacy to the point he never issued another encyclical.

    The irony being that on the surface it looks as if Pope Benedict XVI has challenged this orthodoxy (Humanae Vitae) and in the end ultimately damaged his papacy to the point in which anything he says will be rendered irrelevant because of his off the cuff remarks.

    His Holiness has created a crack in Church teaching, as much as it was carefully worded, this “opening” will be used by dissident Catholics to further deconstruct more Church teachings.

    That is my grave worry.

  • It’s not clear that double effect is doing the heavy lifting here. In Rhohnheimer’s fuller articulation of his position in his debate with Fr. Benedict Guevin (available here: http://americanpapist.com/ncbq/562030k671p51440.pdf) he *rejects* the claim that his argument is grounded in double effect. He does so because (1) not *everything* praeter intentionem is analyzable according to double effect and (2) on his reading “using a condom” does not sufficiently render the *object* of the intentional act clear. If Rhonheimer’s thought is behind the recent clarification–and I would guess that it is–then double effect is a red herring. Now, you may not be persuaded by Rhonheimer’s arguments; but you don’t have to be. You just have to trust that the CHurch knows what she’s doing, here.

  • Donald,

    I would encourage you to better your understanding of the Church’s teaching in Humana Vitae and of the principles behind her sexual ethic before you go running around tellings us all that the sky is falling. Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?

  • “For the sake of what reads like hair-splitting advice to confessors, he has devastated the fight of the Church against artificial contraception.”

    If the distinction is true, it’s true, Donald, even if it might make it harder to understand and explain.

    There is no crack in Church teaching either, Tito… this position has been a licit one.

    Just yesterday I had a phone call from a woman who was very distressed because of the Church’s teaching on the illicit nature of having a tubal ligation even in the case where a pregnancy would be life-threatening. The subtlety of the Church’s teaching made it difficult to explain, but it is what it is.

    Not only is Benedict a brilliant theologian, but he spent 20+ years addressing precise questions like this and discerning the Church’s teaching. I understand why it might be somewhat confusing, but I think we can trust in the Holy Father.

  • WJ may be correct. Rhonheimer is clearly using a distinct understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect than has traditionally been used. Again he is taking off from Grisez’s development of the moral object if I understand correctly. This understanding of the moral object as well as double effect leads to some different and controversial conclusions including the validity of using condoms in marriage to prevent disease transmission. (It also allows for craniotomy to deliver a baby in order to save the life of the mother. But that’s a whole other can of worms.)

    This understanding of the moral object of the act and double effect has not been definitively endorsed by the Church and the Pope has called on moral theologians and philosophers to write about this theory so that the Church can proceed to pronounce on it. There are many out there who do disagree with it.

    The bottom line is the Pope, being the theoretician he is, offered a conditional “may” to his statement on the licitness of condom use. But that subtlety is lost on the MSM.

  • “Have you even considered the possibility that your own view is not as complete or subtle as Benedict XVI’s on this matter?”

    His view should bloody well be more complete and subtle than my own since he has spent his entire life doing theology and I am just a country shyster. However, it takes no great subtlety of intellect to recognize that the Pope’s comments are an unmitigated disaster for the Church in regard to the use of condoms as contraceptives, and that the Pope doesn’t seem to be bothered by the havoc that his remarks have created. That strikes me as extremely irresponsible for the Vicar of Christ. If a Pope blunders badly, in my view, I am not going to pretend that I think he has engaged in some masterstroke.

  • One issue at play for the Church is that most people were already rejecting her teaching on artificial contraception. In my experience, anyone who was looking for an excuse to ignore the Church on this question already felt they had one. I’m not sure Benedict could have screwed this up as much as Donald and others think he did. What was there to screw up? Who is this demographic that was willing to listen to the Church on the question of artificial contraception until last weekend?

    It may even be possible that there is a demographic (though also a tiny one) that has now found the Church’s teaching more credible. Or at least they are more ready to hear it now that it is clearer that it doesn’t imply that the Church thinks prostitutes etc. are better off unprotected.

  • What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?

  • Prostitutes are better off not fornicating. Not using a condom.

  • Tito,

    Benedict said that condoms are never a moral solution. *Never*. He was clear on that.

  • Tito,

    That’s very true. But the Pope is not rejecting the proposition in question, so the point seems to be moot. Or do you think he is rejecting the proposition in question?

  • I know I’m stating the obvious when I point out that moral theology can be complex and very precise, exactly because the human person is a complex entity, particularly when it comes to human action. So if a question is posed which *necessitates* giving an answer with fine distinctions, we either try to avoid the question or explain the answer as best we can. But the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak… the question was asked.

  • “What do you think he should’ve done, Donald?”

    Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex, and that in regard to the example of the homosexual prostitute with aids, the prostitute’s idea of using a condom with its failure rate indicates that in addition to being involved in mortal sin he is also either hopelessly foolish or callous.

    This whole farce demonstrates that Popes should have long ago left collegiate bull sessions behind before ascending to the chair of Peter.

  • “maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But he *did*. Condoms are never a moral solution. That’s what he said.

    Why do you think this is a *farce*?

  • “Oh, maybe told the interlocutor that it is never licit to use condoms for any purpose regarding heterosexual sex”

    But Donald–this would not have been true to say! I understand that this is what you you *prefer* Church teaching to be on this issue, but that doesn’t make it Church teaching! The reality, as Chris Burgwald points out, is much more complex and involves a much higher degree of precision.

  • Let me specify, in case there is confusion. Donald’s statement is not unambiguously correct for two reasons:

    1. “For any purpose” is too broad. Suppose that, for example, a married couple uses a condom during the act of fellatio (not ending in male orgasm) prior to the act of intercourse itself. The Church has no stance on this. What Donald means is something much more precise–that a condom may not be used in order to impede the properly procreative aspect of the marital act. But specifying what this entails is very difficult, especially in some circumstances, like:

    2. The case of an infertile couple one of whom is HIV positive. As Fr. Rhonheimer points out, the Church’s teaching on the use of a condom in this scenario is *not defined*. That’s not to say that there’s no answer to the question; it is to say that the Church has not been able, yet, to determine what the proper approach to this scenario should be. These are hard issues.

  • I guess WJ and Chris need to debate each other now.

    Chris, after the muddying of the waters the Pope engaged in his with his remarks, I wouldn’t wager five bucks on what he would say next in this area.

    It is a farce because the Pope obviously made a blunder and he is too proud or too cautious or too something to walk it back. Poor Father Lombardi gets to play the bumbling go between twixt a Pope who is apparently not going to explain himself any further and Catholics crying out for further direction from their Pontiff. It would take a heart of stone not to to see the comedic elements in this.

  • I don’t imagine that Chris and I disagree on anything substantive in this area. I am open to his correction or clarification, in any case.

    Donald, you continue to assert that the “Pope obviously made a blunder” even after you have admitted that the Pope has a far better grasp of the moral theology at work here than you do. Your claim that he “obviously made a blunder” is grounded in nothing than your obsession on what everybody is saying about this clarification in the two or three days since its first being reported, and your forecast that this clarification will somehow sound a death knell for the Church’s teaching on contraception–a teaching, as Brett points out, that was not exactly uncontroversial or readily accepted by Catholics even before the Pope’s comments. If you want to apportion blame to somebody, a better target, given your concerns, would be the editorial staff of LOR rather than Benedict XVI himself, who did nothing other than answer, truthfully and honestly, a question that was posed to him. Your own ‘preferred’ answer which you would substitute for Benedict’s actually misrepresents Church teaching! Reality is complex, Donald, which does not mean it is not also precise. It is both, and the moral theology of the Church, because it is *true*, is also both.

  • Okay, if we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, WJ is correct. So there is no debate between us. Jimmy Akin has done an admirable job recently and less recently trying to give a layman’s explanation of this… see here (http://www.jimmyakin.org/2006/05/contraception_e.html) from 2005 and here (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/understanding-the-popes-dilemma-on-condoms/) from the other day (Tito linked it on Monday).

    Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.

  • Here’s a key section from Jimmy’s recent article:

    “What the Church—in Humanae Vitae and the Catechism—has done is say that one cannot deliberately frustrate the procreative aspect of sexual intercourse between man and wife.

    “That’s actually a fairly narrow statement. It doesn’t even address all situations that may arise in marriages, because there may be situations in which the law of double effect would allow the toleration of a contraceptive effect as long as this is a side effect of the action rather than being intended as a means or an end.

    “It thus would rule out the use of a condom to prevent a husband and wife from conceiving a child, but that doesn’t address condom use in other situations. Thus far the Church has not explored the question of condom use—or other, typically contraceptive acts—in cases outside of marriage.”

    What Don wished the Holy Father would’ve said is something which the vast majority of Catholics — including orthodox, practicing Catholics — think the Church’s teaching is. And honestly, that’s often how I’ve personally taught it for “popular” consumption, because it’s simpler and easier. But in the end, it’s I who have done the disservice to the truth, not the Holy Father.

    (There’s a reason I chose dogmatic theology instead of moral! 🙂

  • “Don, do you think he made a doctrinal blunder or a PR blunder? I’ve seen people accuse him of both, but I’m not sure yet which side you fall on.”

    I think he blundered in a number of areas actually:

    1. Interviews to be published in book form are not a proper forum for a pope to be engaging in fairly abstruse theorizing. Save that for lengthy encyclicals where he can provide a full array of caveats for specialists to earn their butter analyzing for the next few centuries and the specifics of which the laity will happily be ignorant of.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    8. Failure to recognize that advice to confessors hearing a confession is bound to be misconstrued by the media and many, many Catholics.

    I am sure that I can think of many more. This is a disaster of the first water on so many levels. As to the doctrinal implications, we will simply have to wait until the Pope sorts out this mess, assuming he ever does.

  • Donald,

    I continue to think you are exaggerating the fall-out from this (Will anybody even talk about this two weeks from now? I doubt it.), but I have to chuckle at a couple of your items: the “hapless Fr. Lombardi” is really a terrific phrase.

  • Actually WJ I hope no one will be talking about this in the next two weeks, as I think the whole affair is damaging to the Pope. Unfortunately the Pope has sent in motion debate in an area where there are many questions, and until the Pope addresses the questions, if he ever does, the debate will continue. The mainstream media, which knows as much about Catholicism as Bill Clinton does about chastity, will move on to other things until some priest begins handing out condoms to gays and says he is doing this out of obedience to the pope or a nun decides for the same reason to pass out condoms to female prostitutes for use by their male clientele. Sadly, I think this particular tempest is just beginning.

  • There’s another distinction which needs to be made…

    WJ has been noting (and I’ve concurred) that there’s actually greater complexity on the question of the morality of condoms than we often think. And that’s true.

    But in my reading of the excerpt from LOTW, I don’t think the Holy Father is necessarily getting into that topic. As I and others have noted, I think he’s making the point that someone who uses a condom to avoid passing on HIV is manifesting even the smallest spark of an awakening in their conscience. Even if condoms were wrong in every circumstance, this would be true. And we need not and ought not fear the truth.

    (I started this comment much earlier, hence its lack of interaction with the last couple posts.)

  • I concur. My presentation of the complexities involving the use of condoms was not intended as a parsing of the Pope’s statements in LOTW, but as a response to those who (seem) to think that a correct reading of HV allows no leeway for the Pope to do this. Chris is correct, though, that the interview itself doesn’t necessitate bringing in these other considerations. (They rather arise in trying to explain to others *why* what the Pope said isn’t a change or a development so much as a clarification of an existing position.)

  • I disagree. If he had said this in an encyclical it would have been worse. this interview was designed to be accessible to the general public; non-theologians can read it. Encyclicals largely aren’t read by the general public, which means what they get is entirely through the media. Putting the nuances in an encyclical is a waste of time, b/c those nuances aren’t going to make it into the NYT.

    2. Not explaining himself once a furor arose and not addressing it himself rather than shoving the hapless Father Lombardi out the door to face the media. (This truly would make a good comedic Italian film with poor English voice overs.)

    I think he did. It’s pretty clear; I really don’t know what the argument’s about. What else does he need to say?

    3. Not realizing, or not caring, the havoc the remarks were going to cause when it should be obvious to the newest seminarian that when a Pope speaks about condoms the sparks are going to fly.

    I think the Pope has accepted that no matter what he says, it will be taken out of context or manipulated to serve the narrative of the secular world. He’s stop caring b/c there’s nothing he or anyone else can do about it. While the Vatican could do a better job with PR, it’s not like the bad press is BXVI’s fault.

    And sometimes, havoc is good. If someone using contraception reads this and sees “well, I can use it for disease prevention but not for other reasons,” then that is probably an advance in moral reasoning for that person. We can argue about the disease cases, but for most people that’s not an issue. The real issue is the ones who contracept so they can buy a Lexus, and those people may actually be struck to reexamine Church teaching, and their hearts may convert.

    4. Not addressing the failure rate of condoms which is a factor to consider when addressed with the hypothetical that he was presented with.

    It’s a factor to overall morality. But the failure rate doesn’t affect whether it’s a step in the right direction. It’s still immoral; failure rate is only relevant when we’re discussing whether you can use double effect to justify the use, a position the pope explicitly rejected.

    5. Addressing a hypothetical at all. That is work for a Catholic theology professor producing articles that no one other than his fellow drones bothers to read and not for the head of the Universal Church.

    This isn’t a vague and unrealistic law school hypo; people have this situation in real life and need guidance as to how to their lives in accordance with the truth. Theology has very practical purposes, and this question and answer have very practical ramifications. Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.

    6. Allowing LOR to continue on its merry way of causing as much chaos in his Papacy as it can, without apparently the Pope lifting a finger to resolve the matter.

    I agree with this one. LOR needs to have its shops cleaned. Heads need to roll.

    7. Failure to recognize that the Pope wears many hats, and theologian-in-chief is only one of them and far from the most important one.

    So when confronted with difficult questions, the pope ought to back down? I really don’t buy the notion you seem to be pushing, namely that the pope ought to avoid these difficult and tricky questions. If the Church is going to be a credible source of guidance, we need to plunge into these issues in order to provide witness even in the most of circumstances.

    As has already been said, this will be a non-issue outside of Catholic circles at least in the US. Many in Africa will try to justify use of condoms with this, but they’re the ones who have already been skirting the rules. I imagine it will take some time, but I expect there to be a more detailed discussion from the Vatican.

    And finally, all this snarking at the pope boils down to one thing: do you think the pope is a holy man? I think he is, and I think he is one who follows what he discerns is god’s will. I trust him to make the right decisions for the Church, and even when it seems cloudy I think all will turn out for the best. The pope can make mistakes, and while this didn’t go down in the ideal way, it’s hardly an unmitigated disaster. I think much fruit can come from this.

  • If what some have been saying that the Pope is very well aware that his comments would cause such a stir, then maybe an explanation is forthcoming from His Holiness in anticipation of the brouhaha.

    And if it isn’t, then this indeed is a blunder on the part of good Pope Benedict.

    If the pope is going to rely on “theologians” to explain away his comments, then why bother with the Magisterium.

    A statement such as this needs to be fleshed out in an encyclical, papal bull, apostolic letter, whatever means necessary on a controversial and heated topic such as condom-use.

    Not a second-rate paper that is the semi-official mouthpiece of the Vatican and armchair theologians such as myself.

  • “do you think the pope is a holy man? ”

    Not knowing him personally Michael I have no way of knowing. The Church has had holy men as Popes who have been disasters, Saint Celestine V is a prime example, and less than holy Popes who have been effective stewards of the Church, Julius II coming to mind in that category. Until this fiasco I would have said that on balance the Pope was an effective steward of the Church. Now I would not say that.

  • “Let’s not pretend this is a waste of time.”

    Yes, the Catholic world was in anguish over whether male prostitutes using condoms were taking a baby step toward God as a result. What may be going on here of course is that the Pope took a lot of flak last year for his stance against the use of condoms by aids infected heterosexuals in Africa and he is simply tired of taking the flak. Until the Pope explains himself further, if he ever does, who knows.

  • Tito, the norm (with occasional exceptions) throughout the life of the Church is that the Magisterium presents what the Church teaches, and one of the tasks of theologians is to explain that teaching. Paul VI didn’t explain HV… theologians did.

    In many cases, the explanation requires significantly more paper than the teaching. To give an example which is one of the exceptions to the norm, JPII sought out to explain HV… look at the number of words he took in Theology of the Body (let alone his pre-papal books) to present his explanation of HV (which is a fairly short document).

  • HV is a very well written document, with the exception of order of certain topics.

    I didn’t need to read a 500 page theological journal on condom use through the lens of HV to know that using condoms at all was wrong on all levels.

    HV is a beautifully written and simple document.

    If it takes a 500 page theological journal to explain certain aspects of our faith, then I’m all for it.

    Hence my confusion with the pope’s latest statement. He wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra, regardless of how many times people such as Damian Thompson say that the pope gave his blessing to justified use of condoms (which His Holiness did not say whatsoever), nor was he expounding on a theological point.

    He gave his “opinion” in a certain situation where it “may” arise that a condom may be used.

    That is where my confusion comes from because was he then speaking and creating a new Church teaching or was he simply stating his opinion, or a little a both.


    His Holiness cannot say seven months prior that condoms have caused an increase in the spread of AIDS in Africa and then reverse himself and say that it is acceptable in certain situation.


    I’m confused! Confused. Confused.

  • Tito, he didn’t say it was acceptable. He didn’t say a condom may be used (i.e. he didn’t say it was moral to do so). Please read Brumley’s interview.

    And as Jimmy Akin indicates in the article at NCRegister which you and I have both linked to, HV doesn’t say that condoms are always and in every instance wrong.

  • Chris,

    I was paraphrasing and mocking Damian Thompson.

    I know he (Pope) didn’t say it was permissible.

  • Tito,

    Sorry, I didn’t catch the sarcasm… I haven’t read DT on this yet. 🙂

  • Chris,

    No biggie.


    I know we’re engaging in dialogue on a difficult subject.

    I have friends who are solid Catholics with better foundations than I do that are just devastated by what the Pope said and so I want more clarification of what His Holiness meant by his comments.

    So I’m also commenting as proxy for them because the pope’s comments have disturbed me enough that I need to flesh it out myself in this forum to clear the catechetical cobwebs.

  • Don’t let this imbroglio unduly disturb you Tito. In 2000 years we have had plenty of them as one would expect of an institution that is Divine, but also Human.

    Mentioning Julius II above always reminds me of the finest film depiction of any pope:

  • Don,

    I’m not to worried about the Gates of Hell prevailing one bit.

    I guess my concern is more for my friends who seem to be having a minor (hopefully not major) crisis in their faith due to the Pope’s ‘comments’.

    That is a great film! The Agony and the Ecstasy!

    I love the line where Pope Julius II is setting contractual terms to a kneeling Michelangelo and he says “…for this you will be paid three, ahhhh, two thousand ducats, less the rent of the house”.


  • I finally read the entire two pages (if that) of the ‘condom comments’ Pope Benedict was quoted in saying.

    The entire passage is pretty much clear on Church teaching and other topics.

    It’s the follow up question that provokes the ‘condom comment’.

    Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

    Pope Benedict XVI: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

    Basically the Pope did not endorse, justify (sorry Damian Thompson), nor bless (again, sorry Damian Thompson, you need new reading glasses) the use of condoms.

    It’s a first step.

    Meaning that a progression of this persons morality towards abstinence is in order, ie, understanding the fuller sense of sexuality. The procreative and unitive act that is ultimately what sex is for, of course, in a marital state.

    I feel much better.

    I’m purchasing the new book by Peter Seewald.

    The very first Peter Seewald interview(s)/book with then Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, was a major factor in bringing me back into the faith.

    Talk about a desert of heart and mind that needed the refreshing waterfall of Cardinal Ratzinger’s insight and wisdom.

    L’Osservatore Romano needs to be purged.

    First the editor, then the rest of the staff.

    Those guys are nasty, mean-spirited, and vindictive invertebrates.

  • I wouldn’t say that L’Osservatore Romano editors and work-staff are incompetent, they are fully competent.

    They openly and with full knowledge purposely released snippets of the book to get the media to react the way they did. Putting PBXVI in a tough situation on the narrowest of exceptions (if it can even be called that).

    L’Osservatore Romano is no better than the New York Times or National Catholic Reporter.

  • Glad you found the actual words helpful, Tito.

    For what it’s worth, a couple hours ago I recorded the weekly podcast, “Prairie Rome Companion”, I host in my day job, and my guest co-host this week was Carl Olson. I’d asked Carl last week to be on to talk about the new post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini which came out a couple weeks back (Carl wrote an article for it for OSV), but given his work for Ignatius Press, we also talked about the book. I’ll try to remember to give a link once we’re able to get it online, which will probably be early next week.

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Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

The Pope’s comments in an unauthorized excerpt release from Peter Seewald’s latest book, “Light of the World, The Pope, The Church and The Signs of the Times”, has caused quite a stir.

Basically he said, as an extreme example, if a male prostitute was to use a condom during sex, it was a step towards a better morality.

Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.

Nonetheless, the secular media, like clockwork, has declared that condoms are now allowed by all fornicators (not like dissident Catholics were following the teachings of the Church anyways).

So here is a short roundup of the better informed among us:

Pope Approves Restricted Use of Condoms? – M.J. Andrew, TAC

Understanding Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRgstr

Condoms, Consistency, (mis)Communication – Thomas Peters, AmP

Pope Changed Church Condoms Teaching? – Q. de la Bedoyere, CH

A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion

Pope: Condoms, Sex Abuse, Resignation & Movie Nights – John Allen

What The Pope Really Said About Condoms in New Book? – Janet Smith

Ginger Factor: Pope Approves of Condoms! – Jeff Miller, The Crt Jstr

The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms May Be ‘First Step’ In Moralization of Sexuality – Cth Herald

Pope Did Not Endorse the Use of Condoms – Fr. Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?

Did Pope Change Teaching About Condoms? – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

(Hat tips:  The Pulpit & Henry Karlson)

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15 Responses to Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

39 Responses to Helpful Advice from Pro-Choicers

  • So basically all we pro-lifers have to do is abandon most of our principles, and we’ll be able to reach a happy consensus. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

    Pro-lifers have managed to do it quite easily with the Republicans. I don’t see how doing so with the Democrats is that great of a leap. The only thing at issue is which principles are being abandoned. Admittedly, I see mouthing bromides as not being a great enough principle to ignore my other interests. That might even be a slight exaggeration given that Chief Justice Roberts was advised not even to do that at this confirmation hearing.

  • MZ,

    Would you like to provide some examples of pro-life abandonment of principles done to please Republicans which are analogous to the betrayal of principles advocated here by Saletan, or is this just a generic tu toque on your part?

  • We could start with torture. Social justice is a running joke in pro-life circles. Is that sufficient? I think the abandonment of principles has been pretty thorough on the pro-life side. If you want to be just abortion specific, which there really is no reason to be, you can add the three exceptions.

  • Your response was less constructive than the original piece you critique.

    Address the culture of death through non-legal means? Oh the horror! We must oppose this!

    Comparing US to Sweden is like comparing Mother Teresa to Obama. You can draw a parallel but it’d be dumb to do so. Perceived future quality of life is the #1 factor women consider when thinking about abortion. There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

  • I posted a comment over at another site that I think is apropos here. I am not generally a fan of Saletan’s work, which is eviscerated by his assuming the unrebuttable value of being “pro-sex” (whatever that means), but I think that this post is unfair. Consider:

    It seems to me that #2 and #5 on Saletan’s list are no-brainers for pro-lifers; adopting them certainly doesn’t run contrary to any pro-life principle, and, if nothing less, will rebut some of the more stereotypical objections to the movement: i.e. that it is anti-woman, that it cares only for unborn babies, that it is a wing of the Republican party, etc.

    #1 is more ambiguous–is Saletan asking us to *stop* trying to legislate the issue or asking us to supplement our legislative goals with other strategies? If the former, then #1 should be ignored; if the latter, then #1 should be followed. (And where’s the harm in assuming a weaker reading of #1?)

    #3 and #4 are more troubling. #4, because a taking of an innocent human life is a taking of an innocent human life, whether during the first, second, third trimester, or at any time after.

    The proposal behind #3 involves (1) an empirical claim and (2) a normative proposal based on the purported truth of the empirical claim. As for #3 (1), I don’t know whether the study Saletan cites is representative of other empirical findings on the relationship between contraception and rates of abortion; if it is, then pro-lifers *not* opposed to contraceptive sex *in principle*–i.e. many Protestant Americans–can sign off on #3, since these pro-lifers don’t have any principled objection to #3(2), which states that if contraceptive sex *does* lower the rate of abortion, it should be encouraged. Catholic pro-lifers, regardless of the validity of #3(1), should find #3(2) more troubling.

    So I find two of Saletan’s proposals unproblematic in principle, one that is unproblematic given a weaker reading (#1), one that is just wrong (#4), and one that is underdetermined by empirical evidence, leaving me skeptical about its usefulness.

  • Address the culture of death through non-legal means? Oh the horror! We must oppose this!

    That’s a nice strawman you’ve built there RR, except that I’m not opposed to this. What I’m critiquing is the notion that we’re supposed to abandon our attempts to change the legal regime solely for a cultural project.

    Comparing US to Sweden is like comparing Mother Teresa to Obama. You can draw a parallel but it’d be dumb to do so.

    Speaking of dumb. Again, the point is simply that the idea that greater support for social welfare programs won’t significantly impact the abortion rate, or at least not as much as Saletan supposes.

    There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

    Thank you for stating the obvious, RR. Where would we be without such words of wisdom?

  • “Again, the point is simply that the idea that greater support for social welfare programs won’t significantly impact the abortion rate, or at least not as much as Saletan supposes.”

    Excuse me, but which is it?

  • WJ,

    It seems pretty clear that with regards to #1, he is suggesting that pro-lifers put our pursuits to up-end the legal regime on the back-burner. He notes that he doesn’t expect us to, but it’s pretty clear that’s the basic gist of what he’s arguing.

    #2 I’ve basically addressed, and we might have to agree to disagree. There’s nothing wrong with #5 on its face, but the tone taken indicates a bit of moral preening that I don’t care for. And we agree about 3 and 4, of course.

  • Excuse me, but which is it?

    It’s my concession that we simply don’t know the precise extent to which greater welfare spending would reduce the abortion rate. It’s quite possible that the decrease would be greater than I believe, but at the same time I highly doubt it would massively decrease the abortion rate in this country.

  • One last point in general. I’ll concede that a couple of these points are not wrong in and of themselves. It just strikes me that it’s kind of a weak effort to pretend that there’s really any sort of common ground. Also, the implication is that pro-lifers don’t do some of the things that Saletan suggests we do (#1 especially). Perhaps, as Wj suggests I’m being unfair, but does anyone really think that there ultimately can be any kind of substantive common ground on the issue of abortion? Yes, maybe we can yell at each other less, but at the end of the day one side believes that the unborn child is a life deserving of protection at all stages, and the other doesn’t, and that’s a difference we can’t casually disregard.

  • Reducing abortions can’t be common ground?

  • MZ,

    We could start with torture. Social justice is a running joke in pro-life circles. Is that sufficient? I think the abandonment of principles has been pretty thorough on the pro-life side. If you want to be just abortion specific, which there really is no reason to be, you can add the three exceptions.

    Well, actually, I think there is reason to limit the topic to abortion, since that’s the subject Saletan was addressing. The three exceptions certainly represent a compromise (pushing to ban most abortions at the expense of banning all of them) but I don’t necessarily see that it represents an abandonment in the way that Saletan proposes with “compromises” such as “support early term abortions so you don’t get late term abortions”. I’m unaware that many people consider being killed today better than being killed in four weeks, so whereas most people consider fewer people being killed to be superior to more people being killed.


    Perceived future quality of life is the #1 factor women consider when thinking about abortion. There are lots of cultural and political steps pro-lifers can take to address that.

    I think there’s strong reason to believe, however, that it’s primarily relative future quality of life that people are worried about when they resort to abortion. In other words: “all other things being equal, my life will be harder if I have a child right now than if I don’t.” There is no degree of social support that would make it not be harder to have another child now than to not have one — being a parent is hard regardless of whether there are food stamps or rent subsidies or government funded childcare. These can ease things a bit, perhaps, but I think it’s really hard to make the case that the impact is all that high. It certainly makes no sense to follow Saletan’s advice in dropping legal opposition to abortion in favor of “reduing the need”. Frankly, as long as sex results in pregnancy (a startling constant that many people cannot seem to acclimate to) there will be a “need” for abortion perceived by some people.

  • Reducing abortions can’t be common ground?

    For that to be the case, one would have to imagine that Saletan had any real interest of reducing abortions — whereas the evidence would suggest that he’s primarily interested in pursuing a progressive agenda and would like to convince those who are anti-abortion that they should join him on this on the theory that it might have some ancilary positive effects they would like.

  • DarwinCatholic, I agree that the extent to which public policy can close the relative future quality of life gap is debatable. I don’t think the case for significant impact is that hard to make though. I imagine it would have a greater impact on older women who may be less adverse to having children even if they believe it’s inopportune. It may also have a significant impact on women who already have children and who would have more if they didn’t believe they’d take a huge hit to their quality of life.

  • DarwinCatholic, specific policies aside, I don’t see how reducing abortions can’t be common ground simply because pro-choicers don’t share the same reason.

  • There might be a better argument for common ground if one argued that in fact what is murder should be illegal. Its like arguing that there should be common ground on racism while supporting Jim Crow laws.

  • There is no common ground with people who see butchering children as a right.

  • Even granting for the sake of argument that people like Saletan are genuinely interested in reducing the number of abortions and are not supportive of things like this. we haven’t really gotten anywhere. It’s nice to talk about “common ground” at an academic conference, but at some point the real world intrudes and you have to actually implement those common ground approaches. Well, one side believes that greater reliance on social welfare programs will reduce the abortion rate, and the other doesn’t share that confidence, and some might even think that welfare spending might lead to increased abortion rates. Similarly, one side thinks that the promotion of contraception will lead to reduced abortion rates, while the other either wholeheartedly disapproves of the use of contraception or at the very least doesn’t quite see the connection. One side, for the most part, is unfazed by sexual immorality and the sexualization of our culture, the other thinks that abstinence is the best way to avoid the need for abortion.

    So what then? Again, we can talk all we want and engage in high-minded rhetoric, but ultimately there are fundamental differences that don’t necessarily lend themselves to compromise solutions.

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

  • Its like arguing that there should be common ground on racism while supporting Jim Crow laws.

    If you think white folks went through a period of self-loathing and ignored their interests to pursue the end of slavery, you have a romantic and inaccurate view of history. Even if you stick to just the black side of the civil rights movement, you will find many instances where groups let things slide because they thought that attempting to right an injustice at that point and time would be detrimental to the movement. See the history of the Urban League and the NAACP. The civil rights struggle involved a lot more than the just-so story pro-lifers tell themselves.

    If I were to rewrite Saletin’s proposal as legally proscribe 3rd trimester abortion in the face of being unable to proscribe 1st trimester abortion, any pro-lifer would be supportive as he should be. Considering that a number of Saletin’s proposals have nothing directly to do with abortion and they are being poo-pooed for that reason, it is legitimate to consider the compromises pro-lifers have made for getting candidates to offer bromides. His proposals at least have the advantage of limited novelty and are for the most part achievable. Supporting Republicans on the other hand has had the benefit of putting Republicans in power.

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

    Again, that’s just simply profound. Now would you actually like to make a concrete suggestion as to how the achievement of common ground can be reached with people who have fundamentally different approaches to an issue, or do you prefer vague, wispy sentimentality?

  • Paul Zummo, but those fundamental differences do not align along pro-life/pro-choice lines which means there is room for common ground. Must pro-lifers believe that welfare does not reduce abortions? Must pro-choicers believe that abstinence education is bad?

  • There can be no common ground on the wisdom of common ground with people who think common ground necessitates compromise.

    What does someone have to do in order to rule out working with them for “common ground”, if mass-scale butchering of children isn’t sufficient to rule it out? I’m seriously interested in an answer to that question. If mass-scale butchering of children isn’t sufficiently despicably evil for you, is there anyone with whom you would decline to enthusiastically pursue “common ground”?

    Butchering children is far worse than holding slaves, trading in slavery, being a raving anti-semite, or any number of other moral horrors. I wouldn’t try to find common ground with racist slave traders or Jew-haters either.

  • , but those fundamental differences do not align along pro-life/pro-choice lines which means there is room for common ground.

    But you’re missing the larger point. Yes, there are disagreements within each camp as to various approaches, but that only makes any attempt to reach “common ground” more difficult.

    Look, to me all this talk about “common ground” is just utterly vapid. What exactly is achieved is we all gather round the circle, sing kumbaya, and agree that we have “common ground?” Oh, now we’re talking about ways we can slightly reduce the incidences of a grave evil? Well to quote Derrick Coleman, “whoop de damn do.” I’m sure it will be great comfort all aborted children that there were 950,000 abortions instead of 1.2 million. Common ground!

  • Why would I rule out pursuing common ground with anyone so long as I believe something positive can come out of it? If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?

  • Can’t we reach common ground on exempting every tenth Negro from slavery?

  • “If you think white folks went through a period of self-loathing and ignored their interests to pursue the end of slavery, you have a romantic and inaccurate view of history. Even if you stick to just the black side of the civil rights movement, you will find many instances where groups let things slide because they thought that attempting to right an injustice at that point and time would be detrimental to the movement.”

    It seems part of that movement was passage of laws which banned discrimination. Perhaps the Civil rights movement would have moved along faster if those laws weren’t passed and common ground was the norm.

  • Why would I rule out pursuing common ground with anyone so long as I believe something positive can come out of it?

    RR, it is clear at this point that we’re just talking past each other, so I’m gonna bail.

  • Paul, yes I’d celebrate a 20% reduction in abortions. I’d question your pro-life credentials if you didn’t.

  • If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?

    Um, how do I say this, um, YES. I would “decline”, which is to say I would not try to pursue common ground with Hitler.

    A more to-the-point question, though, is would I pursue “common ground” with fellow citizens who wanted to bring the gas chambers to America to exterminate America’s Jewish population?

    Again the answer is a resounding NO, I would not pursue “common ground” with fellow citizens pursuing an American reenactment of the Holocaust. I rather suspect that those touting the benefits of “common ground” would also decline to do so, if it came down to it, and that the only reason they don’t recoil from the “common ground” appeal is that they don’t really see abortion as the despicable wickedness that it is.

  • Common ground circuses are a complete waste of time and fog an issue which is really crystal clear: one either believes that the unborn are deserving of full legal protection or one does not. I do not want common cause with those who think it is perfectly legitimate to kill unborn children. I want to convert them or defeat them.

  • MZ,

    If I were to rewrite Saletin’s proposal as legally proscribe 3rd trimester abortion in the face of being unable to proscribe 1st trimester abortion, any pro-lifer would be supportive as he should be.

    But Saletan’s argument is that the few restrictions pro-lifers have been able to put on abortion have simply delayed people and caused them to have later term abortions, and that we should thus drop those restrictions. I have no problems with banning late term abortions, but I do obviously have a problem with dropping the hurdles that have been put on early term ones.

    His proposals at least have the advantage of limited novelty and are for the most part achievable. Supporting Republicans on the other hand has had the benefit of putting Republicans in power.

    Given that Republicans tend to support restricting abortion and Democrats tend to support handing them out like candy, I’m not really clear why pro-lifers would see this as a downside. The reason I tend to support republicans (at least given that the only other viable choice is Democrats) is that I want Republicans in power instead of Democrats.

  • I think part of what’s at issue here is that politics is inherently factional — as in, getting things done usually has to do with supporting a particular faction composed of individuals who have certain beliefs in common.

    Now, with regard to abortion, the fact of the matter is that while there are some pro-choice Republicans and some pro-life Democrats, most of the time you are faced with a more conservative candidate who is against abortion and a more progressive candidate who is in favor of abortion.

    What Saletan is suggesting is essentially that those who are against abortion make a point of supporting those who are more progressive (who happen almost invariably to also be those who are pro abortion) over those who are more conservative. It should hardly be a surprise if both conservatives and those who are opposed strongly to abortion see this is a ludicrious suggestion. The only people who it will appeal to are:

    – Those who are somewhat opposed to abortion but are strongly progressive.

    – Those who are progressive and wish that people who are against abortion would stop “voting against their interests” on economic issues (at least according to the progressive notion of what is in one’s interest.)

  • The thing we need to do is drop all those niggling restrictions on slavery and find common ground in reducing the need for slavery.

  • Perhaps more redistribution of wealth from Northern industrialists to Southern plantation owners.

  • “If Hitler wanted your help in banning euthanasia, you’d decline simply because he’s Hitler?”

    Of course because Hitler would hold other views so poisonous that any assistance from him for any goal, no matter how laudable, would be an almost literal deal with the devil. Actually Hitler was a big believer in not being cruel to animals. No Jews among them.

    In regard to these common ground follies, we have pro-lifers sitting around with people who are against the law protecting unborn children but who are purportedly concerned about reducing the number of abortions. By doing anything with these folks in regard to abortion, pro-lifers give them bona fides for good faith to which they are not entitled.

  • “Given that Republicans tend to support restricting abortion and Democrats tend to support handing them out like candy, I’m not really clear why pro-lifers would see [electing Republicans] as a downside. The reason I tend to support republicans (at least given that the only other viable choice is Democrats) is that I want Republicans in power instead of Democrats.”


    “What Saletan is suggesting is essentially that those who are against abortion make a point of supporting those who are more progressive (who happen almost invariably to also be those who are pro abortion) over those who are more conservative. It should hardly be a surprise if both conservatives and those who are opposed strongly to abortion see this is a ludicrious suggestion. The only people who it will appeal to are:

    – Those who are somewhat opposed to abortion but are strongly progressive.

    – Those who are progressive and wish that people who are against abortion would stop “voting against their interests” on economic issues (at least according to the progressive notion of what is in one’s interest.)”

    And this.

  • Speaking of “helpful advice from pro-choicers”:

    Check out this article from the Illinois political blog Capitol Fax on how the adamantly pro-abort Personal PAC targeted pro-life, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady for defeat, and how their efforts seem to have had enough of an effect to possibly make a difference in a VERY close election:


    My first reaction to this article was great sadness that so many people should devote their skills and experience in political fundraising, publicity, and marketing to the cause of insuring that unborn children can continue to be killed anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

    My next reaction was to consider: what can pro-lifers learn from these people? And most importantly, what strategies and tactics of theirs can we adapt to OUR advantage?

    One suggestion that immediately came to mind is that we should, like Personal PAC, target (middle aged) parents of young daughters — but with a different message. Illinois has no parental notification law (it was passed and signed into law more than 15 years ago but the courts have repeatedly refused to let it take effect) so a pro-life flyer could emphasize that fact that their daughters could get pregnant AND have an abortion — perhaps even several abortions — without their even knowing about it or having a chance to lend a hand or discuss their options.

    Maybe a pro-life message could include a personal testimony from a mother or father saying “We almost lost our grandchild without ever knowing it.” Or from the mother of an aborted child, saying “If only I had talked to my parents before I had an abortion….” Then include some information on the candidates who oppose parental notification and those who support it.

    Now granted, parental notification is just one aspect of the whole pro-life effort and it can’t stop there, but, it is a measure that enjoys a broad base of support even from people who call themselves pro-choice, and would probably be the easiest place to start hacking away at the likes of Personal PAC. From there we could move on to things like informed consent and other measures.

  • I do think his first point is a good one. We DO need to focus on changing the legalization of abortion, but more importantly we need to focus on changing hearts and minds. Outlawing abortion won’t end it, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t outlaw it, but it does mean that we need to go after the conversion of individuals with love and mercy. True reform is in the hearts of men.

    Which brings me to my next point:

    Sarcasm isn’t going to get you anywhere in the debate. It just alienates those whom you are debating against. Think about every time someone was sarcastic to you, did it change your mind? We must argue with right reason and compassion. We must fight for the good of all out of love for all, including our enemies. Our sarcasm and disgust will only drive them further from the teachings of Our Lord in the Gospel and through the Church.

It's About the Children. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

I must confess that today’s judicial ruling out of California which overturned Proposition 8 has riled me up, suprisingly so. I heard about the ruling while listening to the livestream of a tech podcast in which one of the three podcasters is a lesbian (previously “married” in CA) and the other two (middle-aged married men) evidently supported the decision. The ease with which they threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage. Simply put, the state’s interest isn’t strong feelings or commitment… it’s children. And — to state the obvious — a homosexual relationship isn’t structured towards procreation the way marriage is.

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29 Responses to It's About the Children. Seriously.

  • Well said.

  • Exactly. Americans, even conservative Protestants, have removed children from marriage. Without a procreative intent, admittedly, there is little reason to ban gay marriage. Or incest for that matter.

  • Americans?

    Westerners. America still has the highest birth rate in the Western world, and Utah has the highest birth rate out of all the states.

    Supposedly “family friendly” Europe cut children out of the picture a long time ago. All of the welfare provisions, reduced work weeks, paid maternity/paternity leave didn’t do a damned thing to reinforce families or birth rates.

    This is because Europe not only removed children from the marriage, but God from their lives and culture. Mormon Utah thrives for exactly the opposite reason. When will Catholics get it?

  • Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe.

  • How would things look if marriage were dead? Out-of-wedlock births, acceptance of any cohabitation arrangement, the presumption that any relationship in non-binding…exactly what we have today. Marriage is dead as a norm in the West. There are only pockets and subcultures that preserve it.

    We talk about the “war on Christmas”. Christmas has been stripped of its old meaning and given a new purpose; a few of its traditions are unthinkingly continued. By the time the courts started enforcing “holiday pageants” in public schools, the war was long lost. That’s exactly what’s happened to marriage.

    Maybe my blood sugar is low or something, because even I am not usually this pessimistic. I’m just not seeing any reason to be encouraged.

  • Marriage is dead as a norm in the West.

    Yes, this is what I’ve been saying about the SSM debate all along. To those who ask, “How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?” I say, “It’s not — the damage has already been done. I just don’t see the reason to codify the death of marriage in law.”

  • Marriage is certainly in disrepair in the west. Many forces contributed to that, but the disentanglement of sex, children and marriage via modern birth control options is certainly a key part of it, resulting in the normalization of premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, serial monogamy, etc. That said infidelity (i.e., extramarital sex) is still largely unaccepted in the US. Marriage may be in the ICU, but it is not dead yet.

  • Pingback: Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously. « Agree to Disagree
  • The trolls are out.

  • restrainedradical wrote Thursday, August 5, 2010 A.D. at 8:29 am
    “Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe”.

    The birth rate in Sweden is 1.67 children born/woman (2010 est.), i.e., less than replacement. Much of this is probably due to immigrant populations.

  • It seems to me that there is an assumption that the U.S. is a fine moral country.
    The opposite seems to be true. The number of child murders continues to increase.
    Poverty is widespread despite “Wars on Poverty” [because of?].
    The immigration question continues to fester. {On what moral basis can immigrants be denied entry?].
    The continued base treatment of Indians reeks to heaven.
    Justice Ginsberg speaks of “undesirable populations”.
    Multi-skillionaires give much money to killing babies in this country and abroad.
    Pornography becomes more and more widespread like a plague.
    Actors are treated as moral gurus, because their faces are familiar, not because they know how to behave.
    To put it succinctly: what is it in the U.S. which gives it any claim to be a light unto the nations?

  • I’m not sure I understand the argument. People who don’t procreate shouldn’t get married? Then where are the rallies against childless marriages? Why aren’t we banning people whose disabilities prevent them from having children from marrying? Or the elderly? Why aren’t we protecting the procreative institution of marriage from these barren impostors? And what about adoption? Since adoption by same-sex couples would challenge your argument, you must be against that, too. In which case, shouldn’t we stop straight couples from adopting, too? Those children may be in need of care, but of course the bigger need is for people to have their own babies. Please help me understand how we can include the disabled, the elderly, adoptive parents and those who are childless by choice into the Prop 8 campaign, because clearly we’re leaving a lot of people out.

  • Thanks for the comment, Maisha. You raise a common but good question with regard to our position, and it’s one that certainly seems to follow from my post. I somewhat oversimplified the argument last night, but in so doing left the door open for your objection. Let me see if I can offer at least a beginning of a response.

    Our position is that marriage is an institution in which a man and a woman come together with a desire to grow more deeply in love and with an openness to children, *even if children are for some reason impossible for them*. For us, the act of marital love — sexual union — is itself ordered towards procreation, even if in at any particular time procreation is impossible (perhaps due to infertility, because the woman is not in the fertile stage of her cycle, or whatever). So in the case of an elderly couple beyond childbearing years, the sexual union remains structurally oriented towards procreation.

    Such is obviously not the case for the same sex couple, however: same sexual acts of their nature cannot be procreative, while — all things being equal — heterosexual acts are always structurally procreative.

    That’s the beginning of a response… let me know where I’m unclear, and I’ll try to clarify.

  • When I comment on subjects like this my post is in danger of being deleted, which is ok, I have to answer to God for me, not whomever does the deleting.

    That being said:

    With the Catholic Church, the children are really just pawns. The real battle is keeping the pews full, I think for the power that gives the Church. I would like to think otherwise but I really do not, based upon personal experience.

    When divorce happens, the Church does and says nothing, to heal a marriage, when it is clear to the Church, as they have all the evidence they need in nullity cases, that a marriage has simply been abandoned and the abandoner has taken the spoils, including the children.

    Rather, should not individual priests and bishops in authority, address the situations, especially when these are presented to the Church for nullity investigations and work, tirelessly, pastorally and with canonical strictures, to restore marital union? Especially so when nullity is shown NOT to exist?

    No such thing happens, at all!

    No, Chris. I do not agree it is about the children. It is about power and control, although it should not be that way.

    If you must delete this, go ahead. I did not mean any disrespect by it. I just commented on my personal experience and from what I have heard from others, who have been through it.

    Regarding marriage, I believe, the chemical inability to make the sperm/egg do not invalidate, the inability to “perform the act” necessary for procreation, either physiologically or psychologically, is what validity and hence, real marriage, hinges on, provided the people are free of all other impediments.

  • If I’m following you correctly, Karl, two comments come to mind.

    First, there are programs present in the Church which try to heal broken/dying/weak marriages… Retrouvaille comes to mind.

    Second, I’m not sure what you think clerics can do to get two people back together who refuse to do so.

    Can you elaborate or clarify?

  • Going there would hijack the topic. I simply wanted to infuse my personal experience into my comment.

    I have never, once, seen the slightest concern for the scandal and abuse our five children have experienced by any of the priests or bishops who were supposed to pastor them. To this day the scandal is encouraged.

    Our acceptance of divorce has prepared the groundwork for this “dumbingdown” of marriage.

    It is about the children and their souls, that is clear, but I do not see the Catholic Church as having the moral high ground. Not over divorce, Chris.

    God is teaching his Church, if it will listen to spouses like myself and others who have seen its evil deeds, to repent and to LISTEN. Bur for twenty years, the ears of the Church have been sealed, in my personal experience.

    I hope, whatever it takes to break the back of the dead consciences of the Catholic intelligencia, lay and clerical, is done. They do not listen. They listen to “experts” they DONOT

  • LISTEN to their victims.

  • The Church must defend marriage, period, not selectively in the face of a homosexual challenge.

    It must cease allowing its teachers to stress the “benign” nature of divorce. It must do so with strong canonical sanctions. It must hold to account, with formal canonical sanctions those who abandon marriages, particularly when they do not seek counsel from the bishop or when they abuse those few specified canonically allowed circumstances when separation is allowed.
    Wrongful divorce must not be unaddressed, in public and those who refuse, without substantive, serious reasons, to work, endlessly if necessary, at reconciliation, especially if there are children involved, should be formally and very much in public, be admonished and in short order, formally excommunicated, if the refusal to work toward healing the marriage continues. All those who cooperate, formally, with the support of the unrepentant, should similarly be held to account, with more vigor if they are a religious or in any position of authority/importance in the Church.

    The Church has lost all credibiliy due to its generations of laxity regarding marriage. This is constantly used against the Church and justifiably so.

    Unless this is addressed and addressed, last year, the Church is the hypocrite it is so often accused of being.

    May God have mercy on His, very unfaithful Bride. It is those of us who are struggling to be faithful to both our spouses and our faith, who God requires
    His Bride to listen to. The Pope and the rest of the Catholic clergy need to understand how much harm they do each day our cries are left unanswered with almost anything but disdain, from those who should know better.

  • Karl,
    When you write that “the Church” has been moving in the direction of accepting divorce, I believe you should modify that by saying many [most?] priests and bishops have been moving in this direction. And it is, as you rightly note, part and parcel of the sexual scandals. Once start hedging – even in the smallest manner – on matters of Church teaching, the hedging simply grows.
    The hierarchy is mealy mouthed when it comes to the use of the pill. Most of the pills are abortifacient. All of them sterilize. How often do priests and bishops note this? How often do they remind the faithful that they are committing a mortal sin by the use of the pill?
    But I believe there is a mistaken notion that our bishops, as such, are a saintly lot. They are not. You have but to read a bit of the history of the episcopacy to realize that bishops do not contribute much to the list of saints, to those we are enjoined to emulate. They are for some reason a timid lot.

  • Unfortunately too true. We must remember that the priesthood and episcopacy are charisms, gifts for the good of the Church, and not holiness. A mother at home raising her children may have a far greater place in heaven than many a bishop.

  • How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?

    That is really the incorrect question – it should be “How is SSM going to strengthen marriage as an institution?”

    And the answer is, it is not. It will only further hide the now barely recognized fact that the proper end of intercourse is procreation.

  • I think there’s a real serious question whether ANY church in the USA takes marriage seriously–with (ironically) the possible exception of the Mormons. Among Catholics, even those who cannot remember the number of the commandments, let alone the content of the list, can tell you that when we want to divorce and remarry in church, we just get an annulment on some (frequently bogus) “psychological” ground. This happens no matter how long the supposedly invalid marriage has lasted or how many children it produced. This last point is especially important; the annulment regime now in force is saying that it is NOT important to stay married “for the children’s sake.”

  • ron chandonia, I agree that there have been serious abuses in Catholic Church annulments. But the idea of an annulment does not hinge on whether the apparent marriage lasted many years, nor on how many kids there are, nor on whether it is better for the kids’ sake to stay together. If a couple never did get married to begin with, despite appearances, then it means that they have been living an error for however long the apparent marriage has been going on, whether short or long. I accept that a long-lasting arrangement suggests that there must have been a real commitment to permanence, but there are other commitments needed for the marriage to have taken place to begin with.

    I know a couple who got married 20 years ago, and got an annulment 2 years ago: the guy had been a pornography addict and sexual deviant the entire period. He was incapable of a real commitment to marital fidelity at the time of the wedding, because he was addicted to porn.

    The Church usually states that if a couple has kids, they both have a deep, serious obligation to see to their welfare even if a divorce or annulment occurs. How can it be better for the kids for the Church and society to pretend that a marriage took place when it didn’t. I should think, generally, that a couple with young kids, who discover that they never did truly marry, ought to ask themselves whether they might have a moral obligation to actually make real the apparent marriage that they had been living in action, for the sake of the kids. But of course, nobody discovers this without a marital breakdown, and at that point it is often difficult to establish that it really would be better for the kids if their mom and dad got married even when they hate each other.

    Given that at least 30% of heterosexuals don’t seem to have a grave problem with the very idea of homosexual marriage, it is probable that many, many people don’t understand marriage enough to actually form a marriage bond with another person. Given that, it should not be surprising that many annulments are granted correctly.

  • May one not also ask what is the difference between gay “marriages” [sodomy] and marriages in which the female uses the pill to sterilize herself? Marriage is not even chiefly for procreation. Procreation is an added blessing. To reject that blessing is to reject the Almighty.

    Consider also the vow “until death”. As Harry Truman remarked “if a man will not keep his word to his wife, to whom will he keep it”? The Church does not prohibit divorce when it is but separation. It prohibits divorce – it points out the breaking of the vow – for “remarriage”.

  • Gabriel,
    It is my understanding that the Church does not so much prohibit divorce as simply not recognize it. Indeed, while legal separations may be favored over divorce as such, I believe that the Church understands that divorce under civil law is often necessary in order to ensure protection of the weak — usually but not always the wife or children. Consequently, what is not permitted is remarriage (absent an annulment of course), since the first (without an annulment) the marital sacrament remains in place and remarriage constitutes adultary.

    Thanks for the Truman quote. I was unaware of it.

  • How mislead and scandalous these comments are.

    How easily you have swallowed the Kool Aid of divorce to think that it is anything but condemned.

    Do you reacall it says…..God Hates Divorce. How easily man has rejected the expressed Will of God and searches for rationalizations for his sins.

    Watch and learn as society and the Catholic Church decay for their self-serving attitudes, especially towards marriage. The reconing will come.

  • Karl,
    Emoting about Kool Aid is not productive. While I’m hardly an advocate of divorce, and it is certainly true that the rate of broken marriages is scandalous, the fact is that obtaining a divorce in and of itself is not understood by the Church to be a sin. Indeed, the Church views a civil separation and a civil divorce indentically. Neither has any effect whatsoever on the marital Sacrament. The Church recognizes that the parties are not morally enjoined from selecting whichever legal route leads to greater justice under our civil law system. This is especially important in the case of serious abuse. Neither legal approach, however, permits “re-marriage” in the Christian sense, even if civil divorce does so under civil law. The sin occurs if a person bound by the marital sacrament to his spouse remarries or otherwise has relations with another regardless whether the married couple are separated, divorced, or neither. Note the important fact that the Church does not view civil divorce as disturbing the status of a Christian marriage.
    Of course, as I noted the rate of divorce is evidence of deep and disturbing problems within our society. The wounds, especially to children, are incalculable. But divorce is a symptom of sin, not the sin itself. This is pretty straightforward Church teaching.

  • Karl,
    Catechism 2383:
    “The Church teaches that the separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases. The Catechism states: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.”

    Which is to say “divorce” is a civil separation, not a breaking of the marriage vow.

Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

Sunday, May 9, AD 2010

When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies the number one sex symbol going away was the actress Raquel Welch.  What little I had heard of her opinions seemed to be those of a conventional Hollywood liberal.  Therefore I was shocked by this column she wrote for CNN on the anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill:

Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values.

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6 Responses to Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

  • Putting these two quotations next to each other was a stroke of genius. Many thanks!

  • Amazing how these two different kind of people’s opinions could be brought together in agreement.

  • Divine Wisdom as it’s best…Thank You…GOD!!!

  • “‘I know one thing you don’t. I know the difference between right and wrong. They didn’t teach you THAT at school.’

    Rose didn’t answer; the woman was quite right: the two words meant nothing to her. Their taste was extinguished by stronger foods – Good and Evil. the woman could tell her nothing she didn’t know about these – she knew by tests as clear as mathematics that Pinkie was evil – what did it matter in that case whether he was right or wrong?

    ‘You’re crazy,’ the woman said. ‘I don’t believe you’d lift a finger if he was killing you.’

    Rose came slowly back to the outer world. She said, ‘Maybe I wouldn’t.’

    ‘If I wasn’t a kind woman I’d give you up. But I’ve got a sense of responsibility.’ Her smiles hung very insecurely when she paused at the door. ‘You can warn that young husband of yours,’ she said, ‘I’m getting warm to him. I got my plans.’ She went out and closed the door, then flung it open again for a last attack. ‘You be careful, dear,’ she said. ‘You don’t want a murderer’s baby,’ and grinned mercilessly across the bare bedroom floor. ‘You better take precautions.’

    Precautions. . . . Rose stood at the bed-end and pressed a hand against her body, as if under that pressure she could discover. . . . THAT had never entered her mind; and the thought of what she might have let herself in for came like a sense of glory. A child . . . and that child would have a child . . . it was like raising an army of friends for Pinkie. If They damned him and her, They’d have to deal with them, too. There was no end to what the two of them had done last night upon the bed: it was an eternal act.”

    (The inimicable Graham Greene, Brighton Rock)

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A Second Victimization

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote another New York Times editorial condemning the Church. It’s not worth reading; it’s the same stuff about the Vatican is not the Church, but the real Church are the ones helping the needy (i.e. the ones doing what Kristof likes-except for obviously Mother Teresa b/c she didn’t like contraception) and the Church needs to expand its ideas on women and contraception in order to avoid the sex abuse crisis. For example

That story comes to mind as the Vatican wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set: scandal, cover-up and the clumsiest self-defense since Watergate. That’s what happens with old boys’ clubs

That’s not interesting. We’ve heard it before. What is interesting is his blog. He himself comments on the article.

One question that I’m still puzzling over is this: how much difference would it make if the Vatican did admit women as deacons, or ordain them? It’s certainly true that women can be abusers as well as men. The painful report of the Irish Commission of Inquiry last year made that clear, with accounts of nuns brutally mistreating children and in some cases raping them. Likewise, ordination of women is no guarantee of popular support: mainline Christian denominations have been ordaining women, and still losing ground to more conservative Evangelical denominations.

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9 Responses to A Second Victimization

  • Too bad he never met a Catholic who could’ve converted him.

  • Just a slight correction: Kristoff is actually an outspoken opponent of abortion, which actually makes the junk he peddled in his column all the more disappointing.

  • I don’t see what’s so objectionable about the portion you quoted. He didn’t say any of the stuff you attribute to him unless you decide to read only every other word of every other sentence.

  • restrainedradical:

    What’s objectionable is that he knows that he wants to see happen will do very little to actually make children safer-yet continues to connect it to the sex abuse scandal and admits it by saying that he knows that women can be abusers as well.

  • He admits no such thing. You inferred it, improperly. Women can be abusers and the presence of women can make children safer.

  • What is objectionable is that he wants the church to okay gravely immoral contraception and that the Church is an institution founded by men.

    My experience outside of the church ie public school system and many different Protestant denominations is that the presence of women do not make men more moral. Admitting women to ministry in Protestent cirles leads quickly to heresy.

  • restrainedradical:

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the column but just the quoted portion (or every other word of the quoted portion…not sure which you took the time to read). This is what he said:

    “That old boys’ club in the Vatican became as self-absorbed as other old boys’ clubs, like Lehman Brothers, with similar results. And that is the reason the Vatican is floundering today.”

    Now compare

    “One question that I’m still puzzling over is this: how much difference would it make if the Vatican did admit women as deacons, or ordain them? It’s certainly true that women can be abusers as well as men. The painful report of the Irish Commission of Inquiry last year made that clear, with accounts of nuns brutally mistreating children and in some cases raping them.”

    So we went from “Boys club is the reason” to “I’m puzzling whether it would make much of a difference.” It is proper to infer that he is admitting that the thesis advancing by his column is not true; that at the very best his thesis would be “Admitting women would help decrease the liklihood of this problem.” That’s a big difference to admit/acknowledge.

    So he’s already admitted that he doesn’t believe in the thesis he advanced, that he failed to mention in his column that women are also abusers and he failed to admit that admitting women had not helped make other denominations relevant (which is not what the column suggests).

    He then puts in the throw-away paragraph. He makes 3 assertions: it would attract more priests (which is not relevant to the crisis), that for mystical reasons women would magically produce democracy and transparency, and that women could change the Church’s teaching on contraception. it is not till the very last two words of the paragraph that he remembers what the column is about and adds “and child abuse,” suggesting that women are more against child abuse then men (which also is given no support).

    He’s not looking to child abuse. All of the goods he discusses are irrelevant or marginally connected to the issue. Combined with the doubts and stats he admitted in the first paragraph I quote, the inference is proper. He knows his connection isn’t strong but he wants to promote contraception & women priests so he does so anyway, taking advantage of the emotional reaction to child abuse in a way that he ought to apologize for.

  • Working on the issue-spotting, I see, Michael. ;-).

    The instrumentalization of abuse victims to serve as Exhibit A in the argument why the public schools, excuse me, Catholic Church needs to be radically redesigned in the author’s image, is one of the more unsavory aspects of the coverage of the scandals. I think this is an error often made in good faith; people are not that good at sorting out the differences in their sincerely held beliefs. Nevertheless, the fallacy on display is often:

    1)Abuse is bad,
    2)I think these Church teachings are bad,
    3)The correlation of bad things happening in an institution with bad teachings implies causation (regardless of what the evidence shows)

    And, of course, a similar thing happens to defenders of the Church, where the syllogism often runs:

    1) The Church is good;
    2) The liberal media is bad;
    3) Ergo, the bad liberal media is wrong when it says bad things about the good Church.

    Throw people on each side reasoning in this manner, and truth quickly becomes a casualty. I think your post is perceptive insofar as it captures the mask slipping a bit as Kristof questions the assertions he has casually made in arguing for his preferred reforms. At the same time, I am not sure this is morally blameworthy as much as it is a mental blindspot. People really aren’t that good at thinking rationally; at least not for long and not on that many topics. I usually use MSNBC and Fox News as my primary examples of that, which, for some reason, some people find only half-persuasive.

  • It might be more persuasive if you used CBS, NBC, ABC, NY Times, WAPO, CNN and MSNBC as opposed to Fox. 😉

Sanger: "We Want To Exterminate The Negro Population"

Tuesday, February 9, AD 2010

“We Want To Exterminate The Negro Population”

— Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. [1]

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24 Responses to Sanger: "We Want To Exterminate The Negro Population"

  • The fruit of liberalism, leftism and “Demokracy” which is but the other side of the coin whose head is “Socialism.”

  • I hate to complain, but if we’re going to win the argument on abortion, we need to be fastidious. The quote that you use as a title for this article is badly taken out of context. If you use that particular quote, you’re inviting an embarrassing refutation. Sanger said a lot of things that would offend modern people. Don’t use this one.

  • Yeah, not sure it’s a good idea to have a headline like on a blogpost. It could appear that American Catholic is saying that.

  • Interesting that EMILY’s List has an ad on this vid–are they hoping to cash in on backlash?

  • I have a different complaint. These sorts of arguments aren’t very convincing. Should we boycott Volkswagen because it began as a Nazi program? Convincing pro-choicers of their error requires addressing their concerns, not the concerns of their ancestors.

  • Gee, Volkswagen branched out from trying to kill Undesirables to trying to kill everyone?

    Dang, how did I miss that story?

  • As an American Catholic, the basis of my ‘anger’ with Planned Parenthood is that they receive Federal funding under false pretenses. They are the main US organization to procure and facilitate abortions, the US abortion-brokers, though stated reason for their existence is to provide family planning education.

    From a superficial viewpoint, founding of Planned Parenthood is not unlike the founding of Nazi party in Austria and Germany during the 1930s by a charismatic crackpot supported by those with nefarious and inhumane intent and purpose, that incidentally was detrimental to human society as a whole, and individually by outright killing of fellow humans in an effort to eliminate opposition to their supremacy.(

    The Planned Parenthood gang stoops to lies and distortions to gain political leverage and provide a political platform for one stated purpose while setting the stage for another purpose altogether, in part funded by our tax dollars. This ‘fact’ may be disputed, but I did receive 5-8 expensive colorful fliers in a State political election 3-4 years ago asking for support of their candidate because of unfair authority of ‘pharmacists making decisions about woman’s reproductive rights’ in filling certain type of prescriptions, which was indisputably wrong information.

    According to 2001 estimates, 76% Americans are Christian adherents (with 25% of US population Catholics). This ‘fact’ is barely disputable, with data showing a wide majority of Americans as Christian, and a major denomination the original Christians.

    There is a consistency between Constitutional rights and Christian beliefs that women have a basic right to bear a child, a healthy child as a gift from God, especially if provided necessary attention to fetal growth and development. So is Planned Parenthood promoting support of delivery of healthy babies, even similar to March of Dimes efforts in minimizing congenital birth defects? I think NOT. I don’t this is a debatable fact.

  • Yeah, using that as a headline was a terrible idea, it DOES make it sound like the the blog authors are the ones advocating genocide. The next conclusion one is led to by the picture of Barack Obama under the title is that Obama is the one who said it. It is not explained why a picture of Obama is even included.

  • ….because he’s standing in front of a huge wall covered with “PLANNED PARENTHOOD” in huge, red letters?

    Even if one didn’t know he’d spoken for PP in the past, it does kind of offer a large chunk of dark humor, kind of like having a chicken for the “spokesman” of KFC or something.

  • PP is no different than the KKK.

  • I think that’s a very serious concern as regards the title of this post — and given that know Tito is not able to be at the computer for long stretches at the moment, I’ve gone ahead and edited it.

  • restrainedradical’s Volkswagon comparison would be more convincing if PP no longer lauded its founder.

    Sanger’s portrait hangs in the board room of PP’s Atlanta office. Good luck finding Hitler’s portrait in any VW office.

  • The creation of an affordable People’s Car was actually one of the better and legitimate initiatives of the Third Reich (legitimate from a fascist perspective). A better comparison might be with buying Zyklon B if it were being marketed as a chemical to rid your yard of all pests from Ants to Zionists. I just don’t see that happening.

  • About the first comment… I don’t understand why all Americans seem to just misunderstand the whole of socialism? Would someone please answer?

  • Like the portraits of slaveowners in the White House?

    If the point of this post was to argue that Sanger should not be celebrated, then I join the author and I think even many PP supporters would approve Many would probably support a campaign to remove Sanger’s portrait from the boardroom. Other PP supporters might say that her racism is but a small stain on an otherwise great woman.

    But if the point is to paint PP as racist, you’ll have to provide modern-day evidence. And if the point is to discredit the larger pro-choice movement, you’ll have to tackle the issue of abortion itself, not these tangential stories of Depression-era activists.

    I only point this out because I see this sort of tactic often and I just don’t think it’s effective. To use another analogy, it’d be like someone using the priest sex scandal to imply that the Church is on a mission to molest children.

  • “But if the point is to paint PP as racist, you’ll have to provide modern-day evidence.”

    Perhaps the fact that reps of PP are on tape having no problem accepting a donation from someone who explicitly wishes to have his donation used to abort black kids.


    Then we have the charming habit of Planned Parenthood locating their abortion clinics in or adjacent to minority neighborhoods.

  • Hey Foxfier,
    Meebbe we better get rid of the Interstate Highway system while we’re at it–that was another idea that owes some inspiration to the Nazis.;-)

  • Thanks Darwin!

    The quote is attributable 100% to Margaret Sanger.


    If you can come to those conclusions then let me introduce you to some truthers and birthers.

  • I agree w/ restrained radical. I’m seeing this line of attack cropping up more and more and it disturbs me b/c I think a) it’s not fully accurate and b) it’s ineffective and possibly harmful to our cause.

    The racist roots of planned parenthood and it’s founder don’t necessarily mean that’s what planned parenthood stands for today. Planned parenthood stands for unrestrained sexual freedom and abortion as their cash cow backup plan. Simple. Evil. They think they’re providing a good – that women need these “services” in order to fully realize their freedom. Sex is good. Sex without consequences is better and is the ultimate goal. So yes, they provide their evil twisted services in poor neighborhoods (which tend to be disproportionately minority populated) because that’s where their clients are. That results in a disproportionate impact on black children, but in their eyes that’s disproportionate for the good – minority women are getting what they (and all women) need. I see no evidence of a Sanger-like intent to reduce the number of black children b/c they are undesirable. Abortion and sexual freedom are the only desired ends here. As for the undercover tapes, I never found them as damning as everyone else did. Certainly it showed me that PP people have no principles (though, what do you expect from people who literally make their living on blood money). However, I don’t think it evidenced a racist motivation on their part. They think they’re providing a good and I’m SURE that look at minority specific donations as a benefit to a poor minority (like a minority specific college scholarship). That they didn’t care that the person giving the money was a racist doesn’t mean they were acting in a racially motivated way. Even the one employee who said she “was excited b/c she’d never done this before” seemed to me to be stalling for time and trying not to piss off the caller so she could still get the money. Again – no principles at all, but none of them seemed to be REALLY agreeing w/ the caller so much as yessing him just to get the money.

    We don’t need this line of argument b/c I think it is open to valid dispute. The pro-life movement has everything it needs in the scientific fact that a human life is being taken. Point out the disparate effects, sure (just like it’s good to point out that 1/3 of this generation is missing). However, it’s counterproductive to attribute that impact to a racial motivation that I see very little evidence for.

  • CT,

    I respectfully beg to differ.

    I am on the board of a pro-life organization and am quite familiar with the many practices that PP does.

    The racist beginnings of PP are carried on through their policies and actions.


    I can see your point to a certain degree, but if we are playing by the liberal playing book, then PP is inheritantly racist and they should be called out for it.

    Especially when a the first president of African heritage has spoken at a PP event, it’s amazing how Margaret Sangers plan to use “social activists” within the “negro community” has panned out.

  • Perhaps the confusion is between the word ‘racist’ and ‘eugenicist’. PP is formerly named the Birth Control League and it was designed to exterminate the ‘inferiors’ so that we can be the masters of our own evolutionary process and become gods. Yeah, in its simplest form PP is the modern manifestation of the first lie.

    As for the modern agenda of PP, it is no different than it ever was. The only difference is the masterful deceit of masking the true intentions with socially acceptable images and politically correct terms.

    Anyone, especially a professed Catholic, that thinks PP is simply trying to help women make choices is sorely misguided. The are designed to kill as many babies as possible because lower-forms of humanity are a cancer on the planet and for our master race to thrive we need to reduce the population of undesirables including effete fag**ts, nig**rs, kik*s and the lowest of the low: Orthodox CATHOLICS.

    Ugly words. Face the truth. This is what PP is all about. Be honest. There is nothing defensible about this anti-human conspiracy.

    Not to mention their desire to engineer humans with embryonic stem cell and cloning technology. The massive dollar supporters of PP want to engineer eternal life for themselves to reign as gods over their homo-simian slaves. It is insanity.

  • American Knight, I’m not sure if something in my post lead you to believe PP is “simply trying to help women make choices.” I know PP has an evil agenda. But I just haven’t seen any evidence that this agenda is currently racist at an organizational level. Yes they are designed to kill as many babies as possible, but I don’t know that they care which babies they kill (ie I see no design to kill black babies b/c they’re black). They’ll kill anyone’s baby as long as they pay and I don’t think they care at all how that falls on the racial spectrum.

    Tito, I still don’t see how those investigations show racism on the part of the employees rather than an indifference to the racism of the caller so long as money is coming their way. Now, maybe that indifference IS a sort of racism and I’ll give you that. But the accusation is that PP in it’s current form carries forth the same overt/race-elimination kind of racism that it’s founder had. I would like to see more than quotes from their founders and videos showing that employees don’t care where their money comes from.

    Just for the record – I absolutely abhor PP and in NO way do I think they provide anything good for anyone. In my above post, I was referring to PP supporters’ subjective perspectives that abortion is a good thing to provide for women.

  • CT, I hope I did not make you feel as though I thought you support Planned Parenthood. I was just emphasizing that their agenda is a general reduction in population with a specific emphasis on the ‘undesirables”. The largest percentage of killing centers are in ‘minority’ neighborhoods. A third of the babies killed are black. Poor whites and South American Indians are considered as undesirable as Negros.

    Planned Parenthood is ultimately a tool of the Devil; however, it has a human face and the humans that perpetrate it are in favor of having a small white Super Race rule the world and a ‘manageable’ amount (500,000,000 or so) of sub-human, engineered homo-simian slaves. This only sounds like science fiction until the science catches up with the fiction. The fiction is not a fantasy it is an evil delusion that is shared by a sick cadre of rich trans-national eugenicists.

    To think otherwise is to disregard a large part of the New Testament. Don’t give the Devil and his minions the benefit of the doubt. The Evil One is real and he presents destruction as a pleasurable goal.

  • Here’s the thing. If a neutral person were to read that quote, “we want to exterminate the Negro population”, they’d assume that Sanger was a monster. But they might also find the whole quote on any number of internet sites:

    “The minister’s work is also important, and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation, as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs.”

    Sanger wasn’t calling for the extermination of black people in that quote, she was seeking to prevent that false impression from getting out. The truth is, she didn’t want to exterminate them, she just wanted to thin out their numbers because she believed them to be inferior. Given that truth, we shouldn’t use selective editing to make it sound worse than it is. There are plenty of words and actions of Sanger’s that can make the argument fairly.

You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, AD 2009

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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19 Responses to You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Oleson makes a lot of sense, and my own feelings of despair over the current same-sex marriage debate (despite its repeated losses at the ballot box) have a lot to do with the uncomfortable notion that we’re fighting over the hollow shell of something. If we’re fighting for what everyone else calls “marriage” but is actually the personalist-emotivist vestige of that institution, then we’re doomed to lose the debate. That ship sailed long ago, and it had contraception, divorce, and the sexual revolution stoking its boilers!

    Oleson misses a few points, however, that can be employed in a rational argument for traditional marriage. In addition to the indissoluble and procreative nature of marriage, there are other social/cultural reasons for giving heterosexual marriage preferential treatment. I quite liked the analysis by Canadian professors Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson (neither Christian, one gay) seen here:


    Based on their cross-cultural/historical analysis of marriage, they conclude that the culture surrounding marriage must accomplish several things:
    (1) the bonding between men and women to ensure cooperation for the common good
    (2) the procreative aspect (plus child-rearing at least until adulthood)
    (3) bonding between men and children
    (4) a healthy form of masculine identity apart from “provider” and “protector” which have been joined gradually by women
    (5) the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults.

    One of the most important things a culture can do is socialize its males; marriage (traditionally understood, with all the duties it entails) is one of the best ways to do that. If the culture fails to support heterosexual marriage by taking away the unique, ritualistic way that it encourages men to “settle down” and “grow up”, we’re in for a lot more trouble than we realize. Yet again we see that marriage has a public/social character that is poorly understood by most Americans today.

  • I have long recognized that the word marriage as it is now being debated does not mean what it has traditionally meant. It certainly does not mean what the Catholic Church means when it says the word marriage. I have somethimes wondered if the suggestions to use the word marriage for heterosexual unions and the phrase “civil union” for homosexual unions might be better replaced among Catholics by a suggestion to abandon the word marriage altogether. It has already been hijacked by the broader culture and there really isn’t much we can do about that. Let the broader culture have the word marriage and let that word refer to heterosexual “marriages” and homosexual civil unions. We on the other hand would use the prhase “sacramental unions” and its meaning would be restricted only to what has traditionally been meant by marriage. I know this isn’t the best option – but in the end it might be the most we can salvage from the wreckage that seems to be coming upon us.

  • It seems to me, however, that the grassroots resistance towards same-sex marriage might stem from the recognition of what marriage really ought to be. Though the failure rate is so high for the real, most people still cling to and hope for the the ideal. That’s not a bad thing, when one considers the alternative is a mercenary cynicism.

  • I’d love to think that you are right, cminor, but I tend to think that the resistance is from a (correct) recognition of what marriage ought *not* be, rather than what it *ought* to be… I guess it’s good that they have that, but it’s still pretty paltry.

  • Stephen Leacock summed up the matter concisely: what was once a sacrament has become a contract.

    Which incidentally reduces all children to bastards, having no claim on the progenitors.

  • I think it is true that we are not in a fight to avoid the redefinition of marriage, but that we are in a fight about whether or not to include homosexual couples in an already redefined marriage. As you point out, that is a battle that can’t be won. I do not see how one can support artificial contraception and reject same-sex marriage without at least some hint of bigotry.

    One interesting question follows: will this logic have any purchase on the large number of Christians (Catholic and Protestant) that oppose same-sex marriage but have been using contraception for at least two generations?

  • What about a faithful Catholic couple who entered into marriage with the full knowledge of sterility? Should we not consider that marriage?

  • RR: “at a fundamental level, marriage is oriented and structured towards childbearing, even if pro-creation never in fact occurs” (emphasis added).

    The same thing applies to a couple that marries beyond the age of fertility… while they will never bear children, their relationship remains fundamentally ordered towards them.

  • Can you spell that out further for me? How is a marriage where procreation is a biological impossibility, fundamentally ordered towards childbearing? And where does that leave people like Caster Semenya who have genetic or hormonal abnormalities which make their gender ambiguous?

  • Because the factors which render the act of sexual love sterile are “outside” of the action itself, as well as outside the intentions of the couple (i.e. all things being equal, they wish they *could* bear children).

    I don’t see that the infinitesimal number of people with indeterminate sexuality have any bearing on this debate.

    What’s your larger objection, RR?

  • Thanks. I don’t have a larger objection, just had questions.

  • Gotcha. Just wanted to see if there was another question “lurking” behind these or not… feel free to follow-up or ask another.

  • RestrainedRadical,

    Excellent questions!

  • I think there is some misunderstanding about the question of procreation in a marriage. The text is in Genesis: “Increase and multiply”. As the footnote in my [old] Bible comments “This is not a precept. God addressed the same words to the birds and animals who cannot receive a precept. It is a blessing”.

    Further, we use the word “procreation”. In a sense husband and wife are responsible for the body of the child [confirmed by DNA]. But it is God who creates the soul.

    For the matter of couples beyond child bearing age, consider Abraham and Sarah.

    The point is not to interfere with the conjugal act.

    Contraception [most of which methods are abortifacient] is properly defined as mutual masturbation. It is degrading to both parties, but particularly to offensive to the woman.

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  • It is ironic that the net result is that couples who do not, and never will have children, can get married – but couples who do have children, or who want to have children, will be denied marriage.

    Very directly, the argument that same-sex couples can’t get married because marriage is all about having children, means that hundreds of thousands of children across the US are being denied married parents by people who claim that marriage ought to be all about protecting children.


  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

  • Jesurgislac, if marriage means an institution which is intrinsically about sexual love leading to childbirth & childrearing, and which is intrinsically indissoluble, are you interested in said institution?

    When I meet the right woman. 😉

    Same-sex couples are as likely to have that kind of marriage as mixed-sex couples.

    It would be possible to deny marriage to any couple who physically/biologically couldn’t have children together – but that would mean no woman past the menopause could be allowed to marry, no man with a vasectomy, no woman with a tubal ligation.

    It’s a question of whether you really believe married parents are beneficial to children. If so, there’s no excuse for denying the children of same-sex couples married parents – but that’s what opponents of same-sex marriage do – usually justifying it by claiming that as they believe the children of same-sex couples are already in sub-standard families, those children should be further discriminated against by being denied the benefits of married parents.

  • Jesurgislac:
    Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage has done a great job of outlining the custody issues if same-same unions take place. Also, tax disadvantages of marriage now. Interesting to note her stats on how few same-sex attracted pairs actually “marry.” In other words, she completely blows you ideas about how beneficial same-sex unions are just because they call them selves married.
    You might want to consider the marriage question from the civil rights perspective. In this country our rights are alienable because we are endowed with them by a Creator. Highly doubtful the Judaeo-Christian Creator our Founding Fathers had in mind is okay with a contractual arrangment between two adults of the same gender as marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is first and foremost a covenantual relationship -the first unit of civilization. Family, cland, tribe, nation – follw OT history and you’ll see what I mean.