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!

Continue reading...

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.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/surgeon-birth-control-pill-a-molotov-cocktail-for-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
    http://www.womenofgrace.com/en-us/media/tv/details.aspx?id=608

    .
    See, “Lifesite News” article pertaining to same:

    “Texan surgeon gives hope to sterilized men seeking wholeness”

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/texan-surgeon-gives-hope-to-sterilized-men-seeking-wholeness
    .
    Hope this is helpful to you.

NFP: Not Just Natural Birth Control

Wednesday, April 18, AD 2012

If you think you’ve found the key to a better life, the most natural thing in the world is to want to rush out and convince everyone else to do likewise. We want to shout from the rooftops, “Hey! Better life to be found here! You can too!” As someone who finds significant meaning and happiness in the Catholic understanding of sexuality and prohibition of contraception, this view (and the approach to natural family planning that springs from it) is indeed something that I think other need to hear — but as a result it’s doubly frustrating when it seems like it’s being “sold” wrong.

This is why my teeth went a little on edge when I ran into what ought to have been a very encouraging article to see in the Washington Post detailing the efforts of young and faithful Catholic women to re-explain the Church’s teachings on contraception to the modern world. Here’s the section that threw me off:

Yet the images the church uses to promote its own method of birth control freaked her out. Pamphlets for what the church calls natural family planning feature photos of babies galore. A church-sponsored class on the method uses a book with a woman on the cover, smiling as she balances a grocery bag on one hip, a baby on the other.

“My guess is 99 out of 100 21st-century women trying to navigate the decision about contraception would see that cover and run for the hills,” McGuire wrote in a post on her blog, Altcatholicah, which is aimed at Catholic women.

McGuire, 26, of Alexandria is part of a movement of younger, religiously conservative Catholic women who are trying to rebrand an often-ignored church teaching: its ban on birth control methods such as the Pill. Arguing that church theology has been poorly explained and encouraged, they want to shift the image of a traditional Catholic woman from one at home with children to one with a great, communicative sex life, a chemical-free body and babies only when the parents think the time is right.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that my limited experience of dealing with interviews is that what you say and the way you come off in the article are often very, very different. So I don’t want to suggest that McGuire was misrepresenting NFP. It may well be that the WaPo writer talked to her for a long time, wrote up the article in good faith, yet ended up infusing it with an attitude that’s just — off.  (And indeed, I see that Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary (quoted elsewhere in the article) feels like what came across in the article is not exactly what she was trying to convey.)

That said, I think the message that the article conveys is problematic in that it simply doesn’t reflect all that accurately what it’s like using NFP, and when your advertising message doesn’t fit the reality of your “product”, user dissatisfaction is sure to follow. Emily Stimpson covers this well in a post titled Truth in Adverstising:

Continue reading...

100 Responses to NFP: Not Just Natural Birth Control

  • So… how does this differ from birth control?

    Every line of that excerpt from Emily Stimpson makes it sound like NFP is primarily a “birth control” method, sans the chemicals.

    How many NFP practicioners understand that they need grave reasons to utilize NFP? 1%? Does that make them better people than condom users? Seriously?

  • So… how does this differ from birth control?

    There’s no form of artificial birth control that I’m aware of that people use in order to get pregnant.

  • Paul, how many Catholics do you know using NFP to get pregnant rather than specifically avoid pregnancy?

    I would put the under 30 crowd at about 90/10 avoiding pregnancy rather than getting pregnant.

  • how many Catholics do you know using NFP to get pregnant rather than specifically avoid pregnancy?

    Um, well, we did. Moreover, what’s your point?

  • I think that what JVC is trying to say is that NFP is often used with a selfish mentality and that using it for the wrong reason is potentially sinful. Note please, that that is what HE means and I am not agreeing or disagreeing with him.

  • Pingback: sspx fr. corapi nfp hunger games subsidiarity solidarity | ThePulp.it
  • JVC,

    So… how does this differ from birth control?

    Every line of that excerpt from Emily Stimpson makes it sound like NFP is primarily a “birth control” method, sans the chemicals.

    The difference between using NFP to avoid pregnancy and using artificial birth control to avoid pregnancy is that NFP involves not having sex because you don’t want to get pregnant at the moment, while artificial birth control involves using artificial means to strip the sexual act of its procreative character (allowing you to have sex anyway without worrying about the act’s procreative implications.)

    How many NFP practicioners understand that they need grave reasons to utilize NFP? 1%? Does that make them better people than condom users? Seriously?

    Using NFP to avoid pregnancy is fundamentally different from using a form of artificial birth control such as a condom, because it involves not having sex — something which is always licit even between married couples. (Thus, for instance, if I rushed home right now and had sex with my wife, we’d almost certainly get pregnant. That does not, however, mean that I am morally required to do so, or that I need “grave reasons” to remain at work for the rest of the day.)

    I addressed this in detail a while back in a series of posts dealing with the question of the “contraceptive mentality” and whether one can accurately characterize the use of NFP as participating in the contraceptive mentality.

    http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2010/07/real-sex-vs-contraceptive-mentality.html

    Certainly, it is possible for people to use NFP in a manner that is selfish, but that remains fundamentally different from using artificial birth control which is an inherently sinful act. Not having sex is not an inherently sinful act (or sin of omission.)

  • Ive heard a lot of comments about NFP being de facto birth control. Probably, in the attempt to then make the next step to ‘just take a pill’. But wht I have only heard from my wife and never in comments sections, is the result of NFP. Which aside from not taking the well established health risks, but the fact that (my wife) has learned so much about observing her body, that go beyond just ovulation. She has shaped my opinion as a scientist who studies cancer, yet is a male who will never know what it’s like to give birth or deal with women’s issues. Does one suppress their bodies with drugs or does one listen to their body and make adjustments if,when needed to maintain health. If drugs are medically necessary for ones health, then we should consider the benefits, and not assume there are no costs.

  • how many Catholics do you know using NFP to get pregnant rather than specifically avoid pregnancy?

    Um, well, we did.

    Ditto.

    I would put the under 30 crowd at about 90/10 avoiding pregnancy rather than getting pregnant.

    “42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.” — Steven Wright

  • Does one suppress their bodies with drugs or does one listen to their body and make adjustments if, when needed to maintain health.

    Mark, my wife and I share a similar experience here. And really, it has shaped our approach to medicine and nutrition. The human body is amazing.

  • Using NFP deliberately to avoid pregnancy without a grave reason is in fact tautologically
    birth control. Call it natural birth control, if you want. Does it carry the same moral sanction as someone who has sex but uses contraception? Obviously not. But let’s not pretend like the intent is not identical: acting in a certain way as to strip sexuality of its procreative nature.

    I can’t tell if you quoted Emily approvingly or disapprovingly, but that is the exact vibe I get from that excerpt. She cheers on the notion that there is a way to control a person’s fertility in the same way as contraception but without the moral consequences of chemicals or a condom. Totally absent from her comments is any context discussing the Church’s position that NFP must only be used for grave reasons.

    The fact that NFP cultists refuse to entertain the possibility that the Church proscribes that NFP must only be used for certain circumstances is exactly what causes NFP to be little more than “natural” birth control for most of its users.

  • Paul, you have a difference experience among young Catholics? Pray tell. What portion of the under 30 crowd that you know is using NFP to get pregnant rather than avoid pregnancy, on end, for years?

  • An “in truth very wide” latitude to use NFP to space births is Magisterial, FYI: http://zippycatholic.blogspot.com/2008/04/broadband-nfp.html

  • 63.576% Jvc.

    I don’t know, I don’t run polls among my friends to determine these figures, nor am I that much of a busybody. All I know is that my parish is nicknamed St. Baby’s for a reason, and it’s not because the parishioners there are making an all out effort to delay pregnancy.

    Although if I had to guess, if a married couple is Catholic, using NFP, and under the age of 30 – the proportion using it as a means of avoiding pregnancy is far, far less than nine in ten. Of course I’m just guessing – as you are. I’m just not pretending my guess is authoritative fact.

  • JVC,

    Using NFP deliberately to avoid pregnancy without a grave reason is in fact tautologically birth control. Call it natural birth control, if you want. Does it carry the same moral sanction as someone who has sex but uses contraception? Obviously not. But let’s not pretend like the intent is not identical: acting in a certain way as to strip sexuality of its procreative nature.

    But this is precisely the thing: NFP specifically does not strip sexuality of its proceative nature. That’s why using it to avoid pregnancy involves not having sex through a good portion (quite often the majority) of the cycle.

    What the Church teaches is not that one must get pregnant with some given frequency, but rather that sex is intimately tied to reproduction, and that if one is trying not to get pregnant this means a huge disruption (and diminution) of one’s “sex life” (to use that most modern of terms.)

    That one can use periodic abstinence to avoid pregnancy for a period of time and can also use artificial birth control to avoid pregnancy for a period of time is a red herring. It’s like arguing that because eating a healthy diet in the first place and gorging and purging can both result in being a healthy weight, that they are therefore functionally the same thing. (After all, either way you’re not obese!)

    I can’t tell if you quoted Emily approvingly or disapprovingly, but that is the exact vibe I get from that excerpt. She cheers on the notion that there is a way to control a person’s fertility in the same way as contraception but without the moral consequences of chemicals or a condom.

    I am quoting her approvingly, and precisely because I think she provides a good corrective to the WaPo piece (which does suggest that NFP is just natural birth control.) For instance, Emily points out:

    At the same time, rejecting contraception in general requires trust—trust in God’s will and God’s provision. It requires generosity—a willingness to put others needs before our own. It requires a spirit of poverty—detachment from the extras our culture says are essentials. And it requires a heart that delights in pictures of fat smiling babies, that believes babies are precious gifts from God, not a reason to run for the hills.

    Basically, it requires that we be everything our culture has programmed us not to be.

    And also

    NFP is not Catholic birth control. It’s the Catholic world view…lived out in the bedroom.

    Now, you’re correct, she does not specifically state that couples should only avoid pregnancy for “grave reasons”, but frankly I think that this is a term which people at times go a bit overboard on. As Bob notes, it’s not as if the popes have suggested that one must be in a “all our children will starve to death if we have one more” or a “my wife will die if she gets pregnant” situation in order to space pregnancies using NFP.

    “Therefore, in our late allocution on conjugal morality, We affirmed the legitimacy, and at the same time, the limits — in truth very wide — of a regulation of offspring, which, unlike so-called ‘birth control,’ is compatible with the law of God.” – Pius XII, Morality in Marriage (emphasis mine), from Papal Pronouncements on Marriage and the Family, Werth and Mihanovich, 1955

    Paul, you have a difference experience among young Catholics? Pray tell. What portion of the under 30 crowd that you know is using NFP to get pregnant rather than avoid pregnancy, on end, for years?

    Like Paul, I don’t take polls, by my observation among other young married Catholic couples (though we have now crossed over into our early 30s) is that most couples use NFP to lengthen the natural spacing they would normally experience between children out from 12-18 months to something more like 2 or maybe 3 years. Other than those struggling with infertility (or who did not find a spouse until late in life) I know very few NFP using couples you don’t have significantly more than the average number of children. (And that’s probably fairly natural, since having to abstain from the marital act most of the time — and often the times when the wife is most interested — is a very good incentive to give having more children another thought.)

  • It looks like there’s actually a pretty good article on the USCCB website dealing with the question of “When can we use NFP?”

    http://old.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/seriousq.shtml

  • NFP specifically does not strip sexuality of its proceative nature.

    By definition, excluding the possibility of procreation stripes sexuality of its procreative nature. This is what regular practitioners of birth control do, whether it is artificial or “natural.” Are they both morally evil? No. But the intent is the same. Your food example fails. The method is obviously very different, but the intent is identical.

    I am amused at how NFP enthusiasts cheer one quote from Pius while ignoring another. Have at it. What are those wide limits? It is amazing how the term “wide” for NFP enthusiasts somehow means “literally anything you can come up with.” Are there ANY restraints that you can think of? How about for most NFP users? Have the vast majority of NFP users ever restrained from using NFP due to the reasons Pius gives?

    Darwin, I don’t get the sense that you aren’t a level headed person. Including on this issue. I don’t know how old you are. But the sense I get from the majority of practicing Catholics in my age group (under 30) is that NFP is a perfectly acceptible form of natural birth control. I don’t think older Catholics have a clue to what extent this is the case.

    Paul, nice smarmy response. Have a nice day.

  • Darwin, thanks for the link. I will take a look — I have appreciated Mary Shivanandan’s writings in the past.

  • jvc,
    Frankly, I think you are wrong. If you care read through the article Darwin linked regarding our bishops’ input on this, you might scroll down and see the section on Grave and Serious:
    Paul VI in his encyclical, Humanae vitae (1968), while condemning the use of all contraceptive methods for even grave (gravia) reasons declared licit the recourse to the infertile periods if the spouses have good (just and seria) reasons to postpone even indefinitely another pregnancy.
    I think you are conflating two concepts here: Contraceptives are not permitted for even grave reasons. Also, recourse to infertile periods (periodic abstinence, NFP, etc…) is permitted for just and serious reasons. Just/serious has a different connotation than grave.

  • JVC,

    By definition, excluding the possibility of procreation stripes sexuality of its procreative nature. This is what regular practitioners of birth control do, whether it is artificial or “natural.” Are they both morally evil? No. But the intent is the same. Your food example fails. The method is obviously very different, but the intent is identical.

    The distinction I would make here is that I don’t think it’s the intent that is the actual problem from a moral point of view. (For instance, if a woman is unmarried, I’m sure she wants to avoid getting pregnant. That is good! So long as she achieves this by not having sex.)

    Similarly, I think we’d probably agree that if a couple were to decide to avoid pregnancy for a year by not having sex for that entire year, this would also be morally acceptable, even though their intent would clearly be the same (not get pregnant) as that of a couple using contraception and having sex frequently.

    Using NFP is simply a means of engaging in selective abstinence. The fact that its selective rather than total gives the couple a means to express their unitive love for one another via the marital act — which is a good of marriage — though obviously less frequently and less freely than if they were not selectively abstaining. And since they are not attempting to actually strip the fertility from the act itself, they of course realize that if they’re wrong about this being an infertile time in the cycle, they may very well get pregnant.

    What are those wide limits? It is amazing how the term “wide” for NFP enthusiasts somehow means “literally anything you can come up with.” Are there ANY restraints that you can think of? How about for most NFP users? Have the vast majority of NFP users ever restrained from using NFP due to the reasons Pius gives?

    Well, obviously the Church states that the bearing and raising of children is an end of marriage, to clearly it would be unacceptable for a couple to marry while intending to never have children by using NFP.

    I guess I don’t see that I’m competent to sit down and make our a list of what would or would not be a just and serious reason not to have another child at the moment. I imagine it would vary a lot from person to person. My own experience (my wife and I are both 33, we got married at 22, and we have 5 kids) is that practicing NFP strictly enough to actually avoid pregnancy is sufficiently frustrating that it’s a pretty good way of causing us to reexamine on a very frequent basis whether we are ready to stop using NFP and see when the next child will come.

  • From my perspective, there aren’t enough Catholics using NFP for me to get my boxers in a wad about the motivations of the tiny minority of the faithful who do. Honestly, I don’t get the need to get up in the face of those who practice it (“cultists”–nice) This discussion–which recurs with great regularity on the internet (if almost nowhere else) is a prime example of the circular firing squad in action.

    See also, “Gnats, Straining at.”

    My experience is the same as Darwin’s. Speaking from my own experience, our six-month old is the result of a re-assessment of our reasons for using NFP.

  • I read the piece by Mary. She seems to have a nice summation of the issue without providing a lot of answers. Here, as anywhere, it would be nice if the Church provided more leadership and more answers so we don’t have to argue over language from documents 50 years old.

    Darwin,

    The distinction I would make here is that I don’t think it’s the intent that is the actual problem from a moral point of view.

    You don’t think that there is a moral problem with having the same intent as the people practicing artificial birth control? I must be misreading you. Perhaps what you mean is, the primary moral problem is the method, which I would agree. But I don’t think that, given that the intent is identical, the moral position of those practicing “natural” birth control is oh-so-holier than those practicing artificial birth control.

    Similarly, I think we’d probably agree that if a couple were to decide to avoid pregnancy for a year by not having sex for that entire year, this would also be morally acceptable, even though their intent would clearly be the same (not get pregnant) as that of a couple using contraception and having sex frequently.

    I guess I can’t follow the rest of your analogy because I am not sure it would be morally acceptable for a married couple to avoid having sex for a year. That would seem fairly contrary to the intent of the marriage sacrament.

    And since they are not attempting to actually strip the fertility from the act itself

    I understand what you mean by this, that they are not stripping each occasion of the act of fertility. The problem that I have is that, when done over a sustained period of time without the reflection of serious or just reasons, they are stripping the overall purpose of that act within marriage of its fertile purposes.

    Can you see how this would run the risk of devolving into the same utilitarian errors of the culture on this issue?

    guess I don’t see that I’m competent to sit down and make our a list of what would or would not be a just and serious reason

    I would hope you are competent! You are or have practiced NFP, yes? The Church calls for you to consider whether there are serious/just/grave/whatever reasons to practice NFP. Surely you and your spouse at least discussed the reasons for this before launching into it?

    Most often today, a problem I see with my peers is that they dive into NFP as if it is the norm, precisely because they avoid or are ignorant of the fact that the Church requires cause to practice NFP. I think it is the failure to consider this that causes the practice to devolve into natural birth control and the utilitarian view of sexuality from our culture.

  • Darwin:

    What some are trying to say on this point is that the method is a secondary (though hardly unimportant) consideration in the matter. It’s the individual motivation we are talking about. If one is preventing pregnancy the motivation must be suspect, unless it is a genuine, unmistakably grave reason.

    What are those grave reasons? I’m not enough of a moral theologian to answer that question, but I do know that merely, wanting more money in the bank, a vacation every year, a second car, a 50″ tv set, the finest schools for my children, more free time between the spouses, a bigger and better house, my wife’s desire to work outside the home and many other reasons like that certainly do not qualify as “grave”. And that’s the rub. I will wager that the vast majority of Catholics who use NFP use it for a similar unimportant reason and that is why many call NFP merely “Catholic contraception”, in the same way the horrendous annulment process has become “Catholic divorce”.

    Sadly, most priests and Bishops are useless (worse than useless, really) when discussing NFP because many of them are so gutless and afraid to offend that they allow Catholic couples to practice NFP willy-nilly. This is certainly one of the causes of the extreme problems the Church is now facing, and will be facing as the years go on. The sooner we face up to the fact that NFP has been a disaster for the Church, despite some Papal encouraging words, the better off the whole world will be.

    Young, poor and foolish, my wife and I started using NFP after the birth of our first child. I cannot imagine how many little souls we didn’t bring into the world at that time that could now be a joy in our lives. It was a stupid thing to do.

  • Dale, you might not like my term cultists, but they are out there. I don’t think anyone blogging on this website qualifies, but you don’t have to look very hard to find blog after blog devoted exclusively to this issue, with many promoting it as another Solution To Everything.

  • I guess I don’t see that I’m competent to sit down and make our a list of what would or would not be a just and serious reason not to have another child at the moment. I imagine it would vary a lot from person to person.

    Bingo. The Church does not even provide such a list. This decision is between each couple and God, for every situation is unique.

  • I think DC is right; we can all agree that having sex during an infertile period is morally okay. Look at sterile people; their whole lives are infertile periods. Abstaining from sex during a fertile period seems okay too; every time we do something other than copulate we are abstaining. Doing both knowingly shouldn’t be a problem then.

  • Actually, the Solution to Everything is the Big Green Egg, which really does have a cult.

  • The Church does not even provide such a list? Did you actually read the article that Darwin linked to?

    PS- Darwin, please feel free to correct my HTML error above with the italics…

  • but definitely, NFP is not supposed to be the norm. It’s supposed to be the exception.

  • This decision is between each couple and God, for every situation is unique.

    This is the constant refrain of NFP promoters who dismiss any idea that there must be just/serious/grave/whatever reasons for using NFP. I would like Big Tex to provide a circumstance or a situation where NFP would not be proper.

    Or, rather, should NFP be the norm in Catholic marriages? Would it be ideal if every couple marrying in the Church use NFP? In other words, is NFP the ideal within every marriage? If not, why not?

  • . I will wager that the vast majority of Catholics who use NFP use it for a similar unimportant reason and that is why many call NFP merely “Catholic contraception”, in the same way the horrendous annulment process has become “Catholic divorce”.

    At the risk of being accused of being smarmy again, the plural of anecdote is not data. While I’m sure that there are people out there who do engage in the behavior you decry, but why are you so certain that this pertains to a majority of people practicing NFP? I keep hearing these rather generalized statements being thrown out there by you and jvc, but neither of you is backing these assertions with proof.

    Again, consider the population of people who use NFP. This is a subset within a subset of Catholics. As Dale said, the percentage of Catholics even using NFP is small (although the percentage among practicing Catholics would be much higher). Are these the type of people obsessed with acquiring 50 inch televisions? Perhaps your experience is different than mine, but where I am I do not see this type of behavior. Then again, maybe my experience is outside the norm.

  • Paul, it’s the majority of people I know who talk about it. You have your experience, I and others have ours.

  • Paul, it’s the majority of people I know who talk about it.

    Could you please clarify? Do you mean the majority of people you talk to about NFP, or the people you talk to and employ NFP?

  • And by the way, just so I am clear, I’m not suggesting that most people who have used NFP haven’t used it at some point to space pregnancies. I just doubt that a majority have done it for frivolous reasons.

  • The majority of people I know who a) talk about it and use it or b)talk about it with the intent of using it when they get married. In other words, the majority of people who talk about it and have an opinion about it. Hope this clarifies.

    Yes, I fully concede that this group of people may not be representative of the larger population. Nor necessarily would your social circle. It is my experience, though.

  • The Church does not even provide such a list?

    Meant to say exhaustive list. And no, the Church provides no list that details the situations in which it is and is not licit to have recourse to periodic abstinence to space children. Good luck trying to find one.

    This is the constant refrain of NFP promoters who dismiss any idea that there must be just/serious/grave/whatever reasons for using NFP. I would like Big Tex to provide a circumstance or a situation where NFP would not be proper.

    Or, rather, should NFP be the norm in Catholic marriages? Would it be ideal if every couple marrying in the Church use NFP? In other words, is NFP the ideal within every marriage? If not, why not?

    From whence did you ever get such an idea that I would dismiss the notion that there must be just/serious/grave/whatever reasons for using NFP? To your request, NFP would be inappropriate in saving up for a Porche or 747 or because mommy doesn’t look good in maternity clothes. On the flip side, NFP would appropriate in other situations. For one, a doctor may indicate to a woman that pregnancy is ill-advised based on her health. Or, an up-coming trip to visit relatives 2000 miles from home. Each family’s situation here is unique.

    I do think NFP should be the ideal within marriage. It works rather well to space the little monkeys out, as well as when the doctor says no babies for a little while. Additionally, it’s a fantastic tool to aid in co-creating another one of those little monkeys we all find so precious (dirty diapers aside). The discussions that occur with each new cycle really develop the ability for a couple to pray together as well as communicate openly, honestly, and intimately. And as phase two approaches, and the attraction between spouses intensifies (as Darwin mentioned), said attraction really helps one cut through the B.S. on a couple’s reasons for postponing a pregnancy (i.e. Is this really a just/serious/grave/whatever reason?).

    So, jvc, I think you have taken the pendulum and gone far, too far to the right on this issue. For one, I think you are too easily dismissive of the intensified phase two attraction between spouses and how it can influence a couple.

    I also think you are doing yourself a disservice in equating grave reasons and serious/just reasons. Grave reasons insinuates finances/health issues. Just/serious reasons, which is the language used by our bishops, are broader and generally address (as does HV) situations such as the time in which we live.

    Lastly, I think you (and Ike) have an incomplete understanding of NFP and the Church’s teaching here. It sounds as if you believe we are supposed to be providentialists (think Duggars) when it comes to our family sizes and situations. Rather, NFP when taught with the mind and heart of the Church emphasizes prayerful discernment. The language used in the CCL course is specific: postpone/achieve pregnancy, as opposed to (what seems to be your main thrust in this discussion) prevent pregnancy.

  • I do think NFP should be the ideal within marriage.

    Source?

  • Maybe the blog should stick to less controversial subjects like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? 🙂 I see 150 comments at least on this thread by midnight! Now I will scamper away from this particular minefield!

  • I got nothing.

    At my age, it is not an issue.

    It was once between my conscience, Father Confessor, and me. And, none of us spoke of it outside of our unique, little group: the Confessional.

    I attended pre-Cana so long ago they still had the wine.

  • I do think NFP should be the ideal within marriage.

    Source?

    Do you understand what “I do think” means? Now, do you have a source that says it should not? Moreover, you and I have a different understanding what NFP is apparently:

    jvc: NFP = way to not get pregnant
    Big Tex: NFP = way to postpone kids if need be, AND way to aid/pinpoint conception

  • Don,

    Maybe the blog should stick to less controversial subjects like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    No kidding…

    JVC,

    In not particular order:

    I do think NFP should be the ideal within marriage.

    Source?

    It seems to me that Paul VI’s section on “Responsible Parenthood” in Humanae Vitae does basically endorse the idea that couples should understand the fertility implications of the wife’s cycle and make prudent decisions about when to conceive accordingly (i.e. use NFP).

    With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person. (9)

    With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them.

    With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

    Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.

    You don’t think that there is a moral problem with having the same intent as the people practicing artificial birth control? I must be misreading you. Perhaps what you mean is, the primary moral problem is the method, which I would agree. But I don’t think that, given that the intent is identical, the moral position of those practicing “natural” birth control is oh-so-holier than those practicing artificial birth control.

    I don’t think that the intent of “not get pregnant” is in and of itself morally good or bad. A nun does not intend to get pregnant. That’s fine, because her action is being celibate.

    The thing that a contracepting couple does which is sinful is “have sex while removing the procreative element of the sexual act”. This is wrong. The thing which a couple using NFP to avoid pregnancy for a time does is “not have sex during fertile time”. This is not wrong (so long as they are mutually agreed upon it.)

    I guess I can’t follow the rest of your analogy because I am not sure it would be morally acceptable for a married couple to avoid having sex for a year. That would seem fairly contrary to the intent of the marriage sacrament.

    I’m not sure how one could get to the idea that spouses not having sex for a period of time would be immoral. I’d have to go look up citations, but there are several instances of saints (other than Mary and Joseph, who were clearly a special case) who mutually made vows of celibacy with their spouses from a certain point on in their marriage.

    The problem that I have is that, when done over a sustained period of time without the reflection of serious or just reasons, they are stripping the overall purpose of that act within marriage of its fertile purposes.

    I don’t think you’re correct on why the Church would see a couple that avoided pregnancy for a long time without just and serious reasons would be behaving wrongly. It’s not that it would be removing the sexual act of its meaning, but rather that it would be a failure of generosity and openness.

    I would hope you are competent! You are or have practiced NFP, yes? The Church calls for you to consider whether there are serious/just/grave/whatever reasons to practice NFP. Surely you and your spouse at least discussed the reasons for this before launching into it?

    There are a lot of situations in which I think it is next to impossible to lay out specific and universally applicable rules on questions like “when is it okay to delay pregnancy” or “what is modest dress” or “what sort of art will elicit lustful thoughts”. I think I am pretty capable (with God’s help — and also with the help of very much enjoying sex and not wanting to give it up half the month) of figuring out whether my wife and I have, in a given set of circumstances, serious reasons to put off having another child. I don’t think that I’m capable of saying, “In all circumstances, X is not a good reason to postpone pregnancy” unless I pick something downright silly like “because the wife wants to pursue a hobby of skydiving” or “because they want to go on a cruise every year” or “because the husband wants his wife to stay thin all the time”.

    Similarly, I feel quite comfortable telling my daughters “you may not wear that outfit” even while I am not comfortable laying down some universal law of what is and what is not modest for all people in all places and times.

    Dan,

    Young, poor and foolish, my wife and I started using NFP after the birth of our first child. I cannot imagine how many little souls we didn’t bring into the world at that time that could now be a joy in our lives. It was a stupid thing to do.

    While I can certainly see why one would regret not having been more open to fertility at a certain point in one’s life, I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s not accurate to think of there being specific little souls who get denied a chance at life because we don’t happen to have sex on the given night on which they would have been conceived. Souls are created by God at the moment that a human being actually comes into existence (at conception) and so while we might be guilty of a lack of generosity or openness at a certain point in our lives in regard to bringing new lives into the world, it’s not as if we have some sort of chute or quota waiting for us that we do or do not fulfill.

    Similarly, if a couple finds that they are afflicted with infertility, it is not as if God is denying them the little souls they so desperately want. As bodies, we just are what we are. Sometimes we conceive, sometimes we don’t.

    I will wager that the vast majority of Catholics who use NFP use it for a similar unimportant reason and that is why many call NFP merely “Catholic contraception”, in the same way the horrendous annulment process has become “Catholic divorce”.

    This appears to be a fairly wide chasm of experience. In my experience, Catholic couples using NFP are mostly just using NFP to have children every 24 to 36 months rather than every 14 to 20 months. They also have far more than the average number of kids. (Some NFP instructors we knew had 10.)

    Now, some people might see the desire to have children “only” ever 2-3 years instead of one ever year to be a failure to be open to God’s will. Maybe for a few people it would be. I think for the vast majority of families, however, that is simply a matter of prudence. Especially as one gets older and the number of kids mount, it helps for the wife to be not-pregnant for a year or two at a time. And that’s not even taking into account the people who have serious medical or financial reasons not to have more children at the moment.

  • Darwin,

    How do you make the connection between that quote from HV and the idea that NFP should be the norm? Of course couples should be familiar with the concept of fertility. How do you go from there to the idea that the Church mandates that couples practice something that regularly prevents pregnancy? Are couples that leave their family size up to God bad Catholics? Is it preferential for parents to determine the exact number of their children?

    NFP enthusiasts seem to be of the assumption that human marriage was somehow deficient before the advent of NFP. Something tells me that families got along just well before either artificial or natural birth control came along. When did we become so distrustful of the natural processes that God created?

    The thing that a contracepting couple does which is sinful is “have sex while removing the procreative element of the sexual act”.

    And they do this if they choose to practice NFP for the purpose of not getting pregnant when they have no serious or just reason to not become pregnant. Can you see that this is a possibility?

    I don’t think you’re correct on why the Church would see a couple that avoided pregnancy for a long time without just and serious reasons would be behaving wrongly. It’s not that it would be removing the sexual act of its meaning, but rather that it would be a failure of generosity and openness.

    So the Church would not have a problem with a couple engaging in sexual intercourse for utilitarian purposes, with the cover of NFP to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy?

    Do you think that it *could* remove the sexual act of its meaning, to use NFP just because a couple has no interest in having children?

  • I guess I can’t follow the rest of your analogy because I am not sure it would be morally acceptable for a married couple to avoid having sex for a year.

    Young people bug me.

  • Art, I could be wrong. I know there are plenty of saints who stopped having sex. But I thought there had to be some kind of reason, like you had to be beyond your childbearing years and you had to have the intent of permanently not having sex. Dunno.

  • But I thought there had to be some kind of reason

    Fifty years and fifty extra pounds. That’s two reasons.

  • Art,

    Young people bug me.

    The kids are looking at me funny and demanding to know why I’m laughing so loudly.

  • The kids are looking at me funny and demanding to know why I’m laughing so loudly.

    So it isn’t the scotch talking?

  • This is just my very humble opinion, but I personally believe that any couple with the commitment and motivation to practice NFP at all, for any reason, is already way ahead of the game as far as being open to life and conquering selfishness.

    To complain that a couple who is faithfully practicing NFP is not doing so for serious enough reasons is, to me, like complaining about someone finishing 10th in the Boston Marathon or “only” coming home with a bronze medal in the Olympics. Yes, perhaps they didn’t perform perfectly, but the mere fact they were in the competition AT ALL is a huge accomplishment!

    If a couple were really concerned only about making lots of money, having a nice home, preserving mom’s figure, etc. chances are they are not even interested in NFP in the first place. If they are really as selfish as the “typical” contracepting couple, they won’t even bother with NFP, or they will give it up and revert to contraception after a short trial period.

    There may be other cases in which ONE spouse is interested or willing to try NFP but the other won’t hear of it, or agrees only grudgingly to try it and eventually pressures the other spouse to give it up. In those cases, it may not matter how unselfish and open to life the faithful spouse is, if the wife or husband won’t go along, there isn’t a whole lot they can do about it other than threaten permanent abstinence, separation or divorce — none of which will facilitate being open to life!

  • Wow, a lot of riled up people her today. Some excellent thoughts. Here’s mine: (1.) When the first protestor to NFP called it “Catholic B.C.” and were not refuted loudly and strongly from the pulpit by our teachers – bishops and priests – that arguement belonged to the protestors and they only got louder as the years rolled by. In college debate I learned those many, many years ago – frame the debate, define the terms, win the debate. We did that and one season went 147-0. (2.) Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing.” For the first 4 years of our marriage we used NFP, then accepted the Lord’s gift of three beautiful baby girls born within 20 months of each other. Then, sadly, we gave into the “power of the pill” and had no other children. A couple years ago, at a couples retreat, we admitted to each other that that decision has afflicted out marriage for at least the last 20 years. Alas, we cannot recover those lost years and lost children. The Lord has forgiven us and renewed our love and marriage in Himself. So, my advice to anyone contemplating using NFP bring it to the Lord in prayer and as someone above said recognize that it is the Catholic lifestyle. And also remember it is called, after all, narural family planning not natural family avoidance. IMy wife and I wish we had had the fortitude to live as real faithful Catholics back then. If only we had bothered to really read Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “On Human Life.”

  • “how many Catholics do you know using NFP to get pregnant rather than specifically avoid pregnancy?”

    Again, we did as well–twice–both when we were under 30.

    Also, don’t discount what NFP does to your heart–starting out using it to avoid pregnancy might be opening the door to God for Him to work on your heart and your attitude about children and family size. I know I had “plans” for a much smaller family before I accepted the Church’s teaching on contraception but I’ve become open to having more children. I probably would not have even entertained the idea of having a larger family if I had used contraception, but I would not have even started using NFP if my instructor had not emphasized its efficacy for avoiding postponing pregnancy bc I wouldn’t have “trusted” it enough to get us through the end of school.

  • JVC,

    How do you make the connection between that quote from HV and the idea that NFP should be the norm? Of course couples should be familiar with the concept of fertility. How do you go from there to the idea that the Church mandates that couples practice something that regularly prevents pregnancy?

    Well, it seems to me that “responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions.” suggests that understanding how to tell when the wife is and is not fertile is okay (thus, understanding the workings of NFP.)

    When he says “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time,” it seems to me that he’s saying that “responsible parenthood” can mean either using that knowledge to have more children (should that be the prudent course) or to avoid having children for a time or indefinitely (should that be the prudent course.)

    Are couples that leave their family size up to God bad Catholics?

    No.

    Is it preferential for parents to determine the exact number of their children?

    I don’t think it’s necessarily preferable (nor necessarily bad) but more to the point it’s usually not possible. I don’t think I know any couples who have never conceived “by accident” while using NFP. (In that sense, I suppose it is a bit like birth control. A lot of my secular friends at work had at least one “accidental” child while using contraception.)

    NFP enthusiasts seem to be of the assumption that human marriage was somehow deficient before the advent of NFP. Something tells me that families got along just well before either artificial or natural birth control came along. When did we become so distrustful of the natural processes that God created?

    I think there were simply different pressures on couples at that point. Just because there wasn’t NFP and artificial birth control doesn’t mean that fertility didn’t cause strife between couples.

    So the Church would not have a problem with a couple engaging in sexual intercourse for utilitarian purposes, with the cover of NFP to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy?

    Do you think that it *could* remove the sexual act of its meaning, to use NFP just because a couple has no interest in having children?

    I’m not clear what you mean by “engaging in sexual intercourse for utilitarian purposes” — or at least, all the ideas I’m coming up with at the moment sound more like dirty jokes than serious possibilities.

    Let me see if I can sum up:

    – I do not think that periodic abstinence can ever remove the reproductive meaning from the marital act.
    – I do think that a couple might in some circumstances be guilty of a degree of selfishness in using periodic abstinence to avoid pregnancy without good reasons — and given that selfishness is sinful, I do thus think that it is possible to use NFP sinfully.
    – I think that for the majority if couples, using NFP will in and of itself prove a very good safety mechanism to prevent them from behaving selfishly, because at the age you’re most likely have cause to actively avoid pregnancy, abstaining during the fertile parts of the cycle is seriously un-fun.

    (And now I see that Elaine has summed it all up more concisely and better than me anyway, so I’ll just post.)

  • Very few individuals have sex using contraceptives because they are loving, cherishing and appreciating the other, or being delighted in each other and each other’s company, or being in love with the other person to whom they are promised. It is an abuse of another person to whom they may be married to work off uncontrolled sexual urges, frustration or need for exercise which is what most sexual activity is about with contraception. “Saint Teresa (Martin), the Little Flower’s parents Louis and Zélie met in 1858, and married on July 13, 1858. Both of great piety they were part of the petit-bourgeoisie, comfortable Alençon. At first they decided to live as brother and sister in a perpetual continence, but when a confessor discouraged them in this, they changed their lifestyle and had 9 children. (from Wikipedia)They intended to devote themselves to prayer and did so for one year. Devoting oneself to prayer is the intent of and reason of Natural Family Planning. To grow spiritually and come to realize in one another, each person as a gift from God, who may become another child or remain in a secret place in our hearts. My girlfriend told me she used to lie in bed and listen to her mother and father giggling affectionately most of the night, two friends who happened to be married. The expression of God’s love for mankind expressed in the conjugal act is a gift that remains ever present, ever fulfilling, never needs reworking unless one chooses to bring another person into creation through procreation. The two concepts of prayer and procreation that are the substance of NFP, whereas the use of contraception is an insult to God, to the other person and to oneself.

  • “families got along just well before either artificial or natural birth control came along. When did we become so distrustful of the natural processes that God created?”

    Well, people were able to prepare nutritious meals before vitamins, carbohydrates, calories and proteins were discovered. Does that mean that someone who reads the nutritional information on their food labels and counts the calories and carbs in their food because they want to lose weight, control diabetes, achieve maximum fitness ahead of a marathon, etc. is being “distrustful of the natural processes that God created”? Or does it simply mean they are exercising their KNOWLEDGE of those natural processes in a way that is best for their health?

    There are secular promoters of NFP, or as they prefer to call it, “fertility awareness” who practice it not for religious or moral reasons but simply because it allows women to work with their nature rather than against it — not only for purposes of avoiding or achieving pregnancy, but also as a means of knowing what their “normal” cycles are like and knowing when something is “off” or wrong. God created women to be fertile in cycles and NOT all the time, so how can it be wrong to know about it, and exercise that knowledge prudently? I think this knowledge would be valuable for no other reason than knowing exactly when you could expect “Aunt Flo” to arrive every month… but I digress.

    I’d like to run with the food analogy a little farther because I think it might help us understand how NFP differs from artificial contraception. To me, NFP can be compared to losing or managing one’s weight by proper diet and exercise. You still eat real food with real nutrients, and digest it normally, so you are still fulfilling the natural purpose of eating; but you are doing so in moderation. (Total abstinence would be like going on a permanent fast, with the difference that while YOU won’t die of starvation if you “fast” from sex permanently, your marriage might!) Contraception, on the other hand, is like resorting to bulimia or diet pills to lose weight. You are attempting to go on enjoying food as much as you want and whenever you want, but in a way that actively interferes with the digestive process and ultimately will be very bad for your health. See the difference?

  • Well, I’m a total noob about NFP, and we used the little I know to get pregnant…. Family friend asked for help, I made some simple suggestions to her; their firstborn is adorable and nearly two.
    So non-observant non-Catholics use it to get pregnant, too!

  • I hate these NFP arguments because it usually goes nowhere. Anyway, as I intend to write a book or article series on this issue someday, I guess this is the price I will have to pay …

    No one answered the thrust of jvc’s original objection.
    Basically, these NFP promoters are appealing to women who desire to practice contraception in an attempt to get them off ABC. Despite the fact that their goal is an openness to life, it is marketed in such a way as to convince these women that NFP is a better approach while running the risk that the women they are appealing to will be convinced to go natural, but simply as an alternate means to ABC. So they still do not have the openness to children that really is at the heart of what is wrong with contraception. Almost all the popes and saints who spoke of contraception said it was wrong because it is unnatural, but said that the consequence of that unnatural act was wrong too – it limits the number of children without “just” reason(s).

    It isn’t either/or. It’s both/and. It is not enough simply to practice NFP. You have to do it for “just” reasons, which Dr. Taylor Marshall demonstrates by quoting past Magisterial teaching – most Catholics only reference Humanae Vitae and interpret discontinuously from the broader Tradition (i.e. see Bob’s comment). He also says, drawing on that same Tradition, that the “just reasons” are not as many as we would like to believe (because most couples unwittingly use NFP selfishly too – something Dr. Marshall stated as well), and that there are some objective standards – it isn’t all left to the couple.
    cantuar.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-can-only-use-nfp-for-grave.html

    Btw, if it is true that the “just reasons” are very few, then that would make them also “grave reasons” – which would take the substance out of the semantic argument that NFP promoters often use.

  • @ Big Tex and Paul Zunno
    1. Most people use NFP more to avoid (or “space” or “delay”, if you prefer) pregnancy than to achieve pregnancy. No statistics necessary – just have to talk to enough people, read enough articles, and use common sense.
    2. Most of the NFP couples do have a lot of children – at least relatively speaking, but those families are still half the size of families 50-75 years ago, and half the size of some couples I know who I am guessing have used NFP seldom or at all. In other words, sure, most NFP couples are “open to life” – at least in the sense of not practicing ABC, but that does not mean they are not using NFP for “unjust” or mainly selfish reasons.

    @ Big Tex
    “The Church does not even provide such a list. This decision is between each couple and God, for every situation is unique.”

    An unfortunate necessity because, yes, every situation is different.
    The downside to this is it’s a lot easier to practice NFP without “just reasons”. And many do.

    @ Big Tex
    jvc: “I do think [not using] NFP should be the ideal within marriage”
    Big Tex: “Source?”
    Dr. Taylor Marshall, citing the Magisterium, with ensuing comments:
    cantuar.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-can-only-use-nfp-for-grave.html

    @Darwin Catholic:
    You say: “Not having sex is not an inherently sinful act (or sin of omission)”.
    Yes and no.
    Perpetual continence has always been highly praised.
    However, sexual union with the intention of avoiding children has always been condemned.
    The Church, being the common sense mother She is, says if you have “just reasons” for doing so, it’s okay, but if not, it is a sin – not of “omission” (abstaining during fertile periods) but of “commission” (consummating during infertile periods).

  • The four statements that pretty much hit the nail on the head on this issue:

    1. Dan: “I will wager that the vast majority of Catholics who use NFP use it for a similar unimportant reason [I would qualify this by prefacing it with “sometimes”] and that is why many call NFP merely ‘Catholic contraception’, in the same way the horrendous annulment process has become ‘Catholic divorce’”.

    2. “Sadly, most priests and Bishops are useless (worse than useless, really) when discussing NFP because many of them are so gutless and afraid to offend that they allow Catholic couples to practice NFP willy-nilly”. [Or because they don’t really understand the Church’s teaching themselves – or dissent from it]

    However:

    3. Darwin: “Practicing NFP strictly enough to actually avoid pregnancy is sufficiently frustrating that it’s a pretty good way of causing us to reexamine on a very frequent basis whether we are ready to stop using NFP and see when the next child will come”. [However, I would say that the more we talk about the spiritual benefits to NFP – and NFP promoters do that in spades – the more likely these will override the desire for sexual union]

    4. Dale Price: “There aren’t enough Catholics using NFP for me to get my boxers in a wad about the motivations of the tiny minority of the faithful who do”.

    Out of all these points, I think the one that is most pertinent is Comment #4.

  • Wade St. Onge,

    I’ve run into the Dr. Marshall piece before, but it strikes me as a flawed piece of guidance for the following reason. He (rightly) quotes Pius XII in his address to midwives in which the pontiff says:

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

    But what Dr. Marshall proceeds to do is to take the list of indications “medical, eugenic, economic and social” and define them so as to make them things that arise only very rarely.

    So, for example, on medical reasons, Dr. Marshall says:

    The women’s life is in jeopardy or a circumstance would endanger the newly conceived child’s life (eg, the mother is going through chemotherapy or other treatment that would damage or kill a newly conceived baby). In regard to serious medical reasons, Pope Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae n. 16, also spoke of “reasonable grounds for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife.” So then, psychological problems could also be considered serious. If mommy is clinically schizophrenic, or clinically depressed, then I imagine a spiritual director is going to give the green light on NFP.

    The thing is, Pius XII and Paul VI don’t say things like “only if the mother or baby will actually die” or “only if the mother has severe, clinical psychological issues”. The popes say something fairly broad (Pius XII even specifies that the circumstances he’s speaking of are not rare) and Dr. Marshall seems to be at pains primarily to narrow things down a great deal. I don’t necessarily see him as performing a helpful service in implicitly telling people who may be suffering from scrupulosity, “Look, it may be that your wife is having a really hard time dealing with the two kids currently under two (not to mention the other four) and that her body is taking longer to recover from the last pregnancy than it did back in her 20s, but by golly if you don’t think she’d die if she got pregnant you just don’t have just cause to wait an extra year to get pregnant!” Dr. Marshall’s discussion of the other criteria starts to border on the silly. (For instance, when he specifies that “social” reasons would mean “Viking Invasions. Concentration Camps. Black Plague. Hiroshima.” but then backs down and suggests that “perhaps” if a couple were living under the brutally enforced one-child policy of China it might be okay for them to use NFP to avoid pregnancy.)

    If people actively feel called to be providentialist in their approach to fertility, more power to them. I just think it’s a really bad idea to “bind up heavy burdens for others to carry” when the Church doesn’t actually tell us that we have to.

  • What the hell is a “providentialist”? Is that the new NFP cult word for people who let God determine how large their family size should be rather than programmatically deciding for themselves the same way the ABC people do?

  • Oh, I see. Protestants. Nice slur. Yeah, the people not practicing artificial or natural birth control are Protestants. Right.

  • I just think it’s a really bad idea to “bind up heavy burdens for others to carry” when the Church doesn’t actually tell us that we have to.

    You mean like the NFP cultists who insist that a Catholic marriage is incomplete unless the couple is practicing NFP?

  • Oh, I see. Protestants. Nice slur.

    Aside from the fact that it’s not a slur nor the intention of the use of the word, would you have preferred Darwin use a term like, say, cultist?

  • Paul, do you actually deny that there is a cult following among many NFP-ers?

  • If by “cult” you mean “tiny number of adherents, routinely subjected to suspicion and ridicule,” then yep.

  • jvc, a providentialist is one who uses no means of fertility regulation whatsoever. There are Catholics and Protestants who take this avenue. The Duggar (you know, the one from the TV show) family is one such extreme example.

  • Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life.

    That’s a pretty important catch from the allocution–“such as those which not rarely arise.”

    Unless, of course, I was being a frivolous cultist for wanting to delay bringing a sixth child into a two bedroom, 880 square foot house with no basement, garage or even driveway.

    As they say, mileage varies.

  • And Darwin beat me to the punch on Dr. Marshall’s commentary. Good show, old boy!

  • “Psychological reasons” – sounds like the same clause upon which most of the annulments are granted today (apart from lack of form).
    Dr. Marshall gives examples because most NFP bloggers shoehorn every conceivable reason in to these four in order to use NFP – just as canon lawyers shoehorn every possible human defect into the “psychological disorders” clause in order to get an annulment. I don’t think his examples are too far off from the thinking of Pius XII – considering the examples orthodox moral theologians of the time gave.
    ….
    Perhaps Dr. Marshall is too strict – but then again, NFP bloggers are too lax – but they (you?) don’t acknowledge that as a possibility.
    ….
    If you’re scrupulous, it’s best to err on the side of the NFP bloggers. If you’re too lax, it’s better to err on the side of “providentialism”. That’s a good rule of thumb – coming from a scrupulant whose seminary run ended because of it.
    ….
    “I just think it’s a really bad idea to ‘bind up heavy burdens for others to carry’ when the Church doesn’t actually tell us that we have to”.
    So should I feel content to go to confession and Holy Communion only once a year during the Easter season?
    And should my priests quit urging me and my fellow parishioners to go to confession every two to four weeks?

  • Whoa there…

    Most providentialists I have known have been Protestants, but I have also known Catholic ones.

    I had certainly not been aware that the term was pejorative (other than to people who think having lots of children is in and of itself bad — and those people already think I’m bad). It’s not my intention to use it as such. I just needed a term to specifically designate people who make an active decision to simply have as many children as God gives them. Another term I’ve heard is “quiver full”, but to my knowledge that’s more an approach of actively trying to have the maximum number of children rather than doing nothing to space them out further and just waiting to see what God provides.

    You mean like the NFP cultists who insist that a Catholic marriage is incomplete unless the couple is practicing NFP?

    I’ve never heard anyone claim that — though I have heard people at least claim (reasonably I think) that Catholic couples getting married should at least know the rudiments of how NFP works so that they’ll be able to turn to it in more depth should they ever need it later. And yes, there are some (perhaps slightly odd) people who more or less make talking about NFP online a hobby. I think that’s a bit odd, but then I spend time online arguing about politics and talking about brewing beer and shooting antique military rifles, so what do I know?

    At the risk of being seen as playing the age trump card: I think you said you were in your mid 20s, which means I’m roughly ten years older and have been married a good bit longer. (At least, I’ve been assuming you’re married.) If I can speak from that vantage point for a minute: Because it’s so counter-cultural to be a young married Catholic these days (whether using NFP or just trusting in God in relation to family size) there’s a tendency of people to get very, very absolutist about their marriage choices. NFP, theology of the body, providentialism, whatever it is that they’re into becomes The Most Import Key To A Good Marriage. While the enthusiasm is well motivated and good, it often gets worn down quite a bit by the realities of 10-15 years of married life. Not that marriage isn’t good: it’s a constant source of joy to me. But there is something to the old saw of “I used to have five theories and no children. Now I have five children and no theories.”

    In the process, a lot of people who can be annoying because they were talking about NFP all the freakin’ time realize that there’s more to life than charts and mucus (and that NFP is not as fun to use as they thought.) And other people who really felt like NFP was all a bunch of trying to ignore God’s will realize that when you have three kids under four and are out of seats in your car and have a mountain of consumer debt from a couple of family emergencies over the last year or two — you’re too tired to have sex most nights anyway. And that abstaining off and on in order to actually have two or more years between the next few children is not that big a deal.

    It’s from that perspective that I think it’s important to stick to the bottom line: The Church says that you may NEVER using contraception, but that spacing pregnancies using periodic abstinence is not a problem so long as you have a good reason.

  • One last thought: It seems to me (and I think this follows pretty naturally from Pius XII’s quoted statement) that the degree of seriousness one needs as a just reason is pretty directly proportional to the length of time one is seeking to delay pregnancy.

    Thus, for instance, “We have to make a major family trip in three months and I don’t want to be in the middle of morning sickness while we’re traveling” might be a perfectly good reason to abstain during the fertile parts of the cycle for a couple months, but “We like to go on a trip every year and that’s hard with a baby” is a bad reason to simply never get pregnant again.

    If I seem like I’m being fairly lax here, one of the contexts I’m working in that all the NFP users I know really just use it to get a 2-3 year spacing between children — a spacing which is totally natural for some couples, but those who are very, very fertile would otherwise find ourselves having children less than a year and a half apart. As the number of children mounts, that kind of spacing can become very hard, not only on one’s ability to raise one’s existing children well, but also on the wife’s body.

    If I thought most NFP users were using it to put off pregnancy indefinitely, I might be more interested in looking at when it’s acceptable to use. But the only people I know who are doing that are people who do have medical problems such that any pregnancy would end up being a major danger to both child and mother.

  • Wade St. Onge [However, I would say that the more we talk about the spiritual benefits to NFP – and NFP promoters do that in spades – the more likely these will override the desire for sexual union] Notice that a spiritual director instructed Louis and Zelie Martin to abandon their perpetual continence and bring forth children. A relief because there is one more capable and willing to assume responsibility for the decision in procreation.

  • Mary: “Notice that a spiritual director instructed Louis and Zelie Martin to abandon their perpetual continence and bring forth children. A relief because there is one more capable and willing to assume responsibility for the decision in procreation”.

    A relief – and yet a burden. They desired religious life but were not accepted, so sexual intercourse was a bitter-sweet thing – a good that brought forth children, but also a reminder of the greater good they were missing out on.

  • Mary: ““Notice that a spiritual director instructed Louis and Zelie Martin to abandon their perpetual continence and bring forth children. A relief because there is one more capable and willing to assume responsibility for the decision in procreation”.

    So then you would disagree with Dr. Taylor Marshall that decisions about whether or not to practice NFP should be done with a trusted spiritual director – and should not be practiced without his agreement?

  • Pingback: NFP: Not Just Natural Birth Control | St Anne Center for Reproductive Health
  • I used NFP to get pregnant with my second child. It took us 3 months to get pregnant with our first and 1 weekend to get pregnant with our second. My best friend tried unsuccessfully for 10 months to get pregnant and once I taught her how to chart, she took her charts into her doc who could tell her why it was taking a while to get pregnant (late ovulation in her cycle due to coming off of Norplant 10 months prior). She had scheduled a doc appointment to help with her fertilization and got pregnant the week before, thanks to using NFP and understanding her body.

  • Hey everyone. This is my first post here. I wanted to say DarwinCatholic and Elaine’s first post I agree with. My situation is a little different. So before I go on with my 2 cents I’ll tel lyou what it is. I’m single, 23 , in college, I read about NFP from many places so I know what I am getting myself into when I get married. I’m preparing for it now so when the “hardness” of it hit’s the pill may be less bittersweet. I trust in God and I’m doing what I can to be a good example of a young Catholic. When I get married I will probably still be in debt, live with my folks and just getting started out on a job if there are any left. My wife will be paying off her debts and be starting to work. I will also have a $500 truck payment.

    Are there people in worst cases than me I’m sure it is, but am I going to use NFP? YES! First any method is not 100% effective, I leave the other 2 percent up to God so he wants that 2% to kick in than so be it. BUT ABC is different it’s telling God to take a hike I don’t want any chance of being open to life. SO JVC that is the difference. It’s not about wanting to have a 60″ tv, a beach house, or a Porsche I don’t want any of those things. I want to be able to give a life, a life from God a good life, and in order to be established as such I would need and we would need as a married couple to postpone pregnancy. The cost of ABC and what it has down to society is way more important and worse than bickering about just/grave/ this that upside down and sideways.

    I know it’s going to be hard, Katie at NFPandME has said so. But I am not shutting out the potential for a life.

    Honestly JVC I think when people read your post who want to know more about NFP. They see that if they don’t have those grave reasons then say “well so I shouldn’t use NFP, than what are the options”? ABC is the option they’ll see and go for. I don’t like the bickering, and I’m not saying this in anger, and I’m not saying this like I’m an expert on the matter. Nor am I a Saint, I’m a hopeless sinner who found hope in Christ, and I want people to see the joy had in NFP. I know so many couples who don’t talk with each other or who when board have sex. We put a grand canyon between sex and procreation. NFP closes the gap. I think about it almost daily and make sure that I’m not doing it for me, I’d be doing it for my future wife. I’m the last of my family so Jesus knows that kids are on the docket for me, ideally 3-4 would be nice. So clearly postponing YES, plus if she wold decide hey Nate I can work part time and so I’d like to be a mom, then I’m all open to have kids, will it happen like that it could it could not, that’s why I’m not just thinking of me or something vain. Just wanted to give my two cents, not trying to start a fight. God Bless you all.

  • Wade St. Onge:
    The word I ought to have used is “counseled” instead of “Instructed”. “Instructed” carries the weight of obedience without consent, or cooperation. Persons willing to use NFP are usually more self-directed. God is missing from much of what is written. Thomas More wanted to be a priest, but was sent home, too. It is God’s will pointing the way. Accepting God’s will in all things, not only NFP, makes life joyful. Marriage, children are all gifts from God to help us to mature into the human beings we are supposed to be. The greatest good is doing God’s will in whatever He tells us. “Do whatever He tells you.” Our Lady.

  • Wade St. Onge:
    You are dealing with a person who believes that sexual surrender to a spouse is valid for the other only when there is a possiblity of another person being conceived and it is no more different putting off intercourse than waiting for heaven.

  • Your analogy does not work.
    Waiting for heaven is not a choice. Abstaining from intercourse is.
    Furthermore, it is not the abstaining that is a problem – it is the sexual intercourse deliberately only during infertile periods without just reason that’s a problem.

  • Wade St. Onge: Haven’t you answered your own question? “it is the sexual intercourse deliberately only during infertile periods without just reason that’s a problem.” 1) natural intercourse is ALWAYS open to children. St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, St. Camillis de Lellis whose mother was 68 years old when he was conceived. This is a fact, as doctor said once about popping an egg, or two after menopause. To those who expect to practice NFP, let it be known that the possibility of procreation is ever present. Although there may be less likelyhood, then when it is probable. Increased intercourse brings forth more likelihood. Not trusting in Divine Providence completely imposes the fear and anxiety. But what you are saying is that there are times when a couple is forbidden to have intercourse and that is not right, that the couple is not free to have intercourse during low fertility because the couple did not have intercourse during high fertility. A married couple is always free to have intercourse. A man’s conscience tells him when he has avoided doing God’s will.

  • Mary, you are contradicting Church teaching.
    If a couple practices NFP without just reason, it is a sin. That’s what the Church says, not just what Wade St. Onge says.

  • Actually Wade, I think Mary is closer to Church teaching on this one that you are.

    You appear to be claiming that if a couple didn’t have a just reason for abstaining from intercourse during the less fertile parts of the cycle, then it is immoral for them to have intercourse during the more fertile parts. As Mary points out, this is not true. It is not, immoral for a married couple to engage in the marital act, whether it is at a time likely for them to conceive or not.

    It is true that a couple may be guilty of selfishness and failing to fulfill the purposes of marriage if they tried to avoid pregnancy for reasons that were not just — but neither the act of abstaining from sex (during periods when conception was more likely) nor the act of having intercourse (during the periods when conception was less likely) would be the sin in such a circumstance. The sin would be a sin of the will — the resolution to try to avoid the gift of children for bad reasons.

  • What frustrates me here is the reduction of NFP to a mere method of birth control. Sheesh… NFP involves more than avoiding pregnancy. The thrust of the original article here is that NFP is NOT just natural birth control, but those here who seem to be down on it are indeed reducing NFP to natural birth control.

  • “What frustrates me here is the reduction of NFP to a mere method of birth control. Sheesh… NFP involves more than avoiding pregnancy. ”

    This is why I hate the term “NFP”. “Natural Family Planning” is not Natural (really, is it natural to temp every morning, stretch your cervical mucus, and chart?) and it’s not “Family Planning”, because let’s face it, a high percentage of the children conceived from NFP are marginally planned at best, frequently after a couple of glasses of wine on a night when the older children went to bed early.

    But seriously, I vastly prefer the term “Fertility Awareness” because that is what the couple is doing: Charting the woman’s symptoms to become aware of the couple’s combined fertility. The couple can use this awareness to achieve or avoid a pregnancy, or they can just not care. Whatever they do, this awareness is an excellent barometer of the woman’s help.

    While some people are worried about people using Fertility Awareness to improperly not become pregnant, this isn’t much of a worry. Although the “perfect use” rates for all methods of FA are quite high, couples have to be very highly motivated to actually avoid pregnancy using FA.

    You see, it is no longer socially acceptable to want more than 2.3 children, and we assume that this is the norm, but people have been having larger families for years. A couple who relies on merely FA and self-control to prevent pregnancy will have their motives tested every month. On one side is the rational mind of man and woman. On the other side is millions of years of evolutionary biology urging reproduction. Unless there truly are “serious reasons”, the rational mind has no chance.

  • There is one aspect of Natural Family Planning that ought to be heard but is dissociated from the whole. This is nursing an infant into childhood. A nursing mother does not ovulate and the chances of a nursing mother becoming pregnant while she is nursing a baby is not in nature’s plan. Pharaoh’s sister called for a wet nurse for the found child Moses and Moses’ sister brought the child to his mother. There is a note of a child being weened at four years of age and a celebration that the infant survived into childhood, and the mother is now ready to bear more children, spacing her children at five years apart, in the bible, but I do not remember who the child is. It may have been Isaac. But of course, in Israel, the men had many wives who would give them many children. In modern America, there are many voices who discourage nursing an infant and outright deny a woman’s right to freely practice her motherhood. I know several women who did indeed nurse their children as well as speaking of experience. After one year I was sidelined as a weirdo, and after a while I thought that the government was going to be called.

  • Paul, how many Catholics do you know using NFP to get pregnant rather than specifically avoid pregnancy?

    I would put the under 30 crowd at about 90/10 avoiding pregnancy rather than getting pregnant.

    In response to jvc….I didn’t read all of the comments but I just wanted to say that I am under 30 and not only am I using NFP to achieve pregnancy but I live in a Catholic community with my husband (he is studying for his PhD) and every woman I know on the street (most under 30 or in their early 30’s) are also using NFP to achieve pregnancy. It’s only common sense that a woman would use NFP to also achieve pregnancy.

  • Mary,

    In the main, yes. The one thing I would point out,though, (from experience!) is that some women simply do not have much infertility after birth no matter how conscientiously they nurse. (The which I bring up only because for a while CCL tended to rather coy about this fact, but we’ve known a lot of other people who found themselves quite surprised by it.)

  • I’ve been thoroughly pooped out by this thread, so I stopped responding awhile ago, but I have to ask a follow-up to Katie’s comment.

    Out of curiosity, what do you mean by you live in a “Catholic community”? Like a Catholic university? A particularly Catholic town?

  • DarwinCatholic says:
    Thursday, April 19, 2012 A.D. at 11:40am

    Darwin, thank you for the clarification. Perhaps it would just be easier to describe them as non-NFP, non-ABC practicing Catholics? Seems like the most accurate description, especially if the term “providentialist” is an explicitly Protestant term.

  • What frustrates me here is the reduction of NFP to a mere method of birth control.

    Perhaps the problem is that this is exactly what every promoter of NFP that I have ever heard has sounded like. And it is always discussed in the context of how ABC is wrong. It wasn’t even until years after I heard about NFP that I found out that some people were using it to get pregnant.

  • Jim says:
    Saturday, April 21, 2012 A.D. at 9:22pm

    I agree with the jist of Jim’s comments. Making oneself aware of the nature of fertility is prudent. Making it out to be another solution to everything, which the term NFP and marketing of NFP fall into, is the reach.

  • Nathan, thanks for your kind words, and welcome to this blog! I’m encouraged to see a young Catholic man like you taking an interest in this topic. I think you are a good example of exactly what I was talking about… you wouldn’t even be interested in NFP if you were totally selfish and unconcerned about doing God’s will.

    As for all the “bickering” you see taking place about what reasons justify NFP, for what it’s worth… I seem to remember that the most accurate translation of the actual term used in Humanae Vitae is simply “serious” reasons — meaning, not frivolous or selfish, but it doesn’t have to be a life or death reason either.

  • Darwin: “It is not, immoral for a married couple to engage in the marital act, whether it is at a time likely for them to conceive or not … Neither the act of abstaining from sex (during periods when conception was more likely) nor the act of having intercourse (during the periods when conception was less likely) would be the sin in such a circumstance. The sin would be a sin of the will — the resolution to try to avoid the gift of children for bad reasons”.

    That makes no sense. This “sin of the will” is carried out in concrete action. How else do you “avoid the gift of children” than by limiting sexual intercourse to the infertile periods?

    You could say what you said above about any sin. You could say stealing is not a sin; rather, theft is “a sin of the will – the desire to possess an object that is not yours”. That is true, and that is what motivated the sin, but the actual sin that was committed was taking the object, just as with using NFP for unjust reasons the sin is committed when the couple limits sex to the fertile period. So the act of sex itself is sinful …

    Pius XII: “If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, ***while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality*** [i.e. having sexual intercourse only during the infertile periods], can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.”

  • Wade St. Onge,

    Pius XII is saying exactly the same thing that I am: “the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.”

    Now, while it’s true that all sins involve an act of the will, and that it is that act which is actually the sin, I don’t think your stealing analogy holds. The difference is that stealing something actually is wrong. Thus, while it is the act of taking something which is not yours that is the act of the will in relation to the sin, the taking of something not ones own is itself wrong. (The act of the will remains key in that if you stole something, believing you had not right to it, but in fact it was something you were free to take, your sin would be just as great even though your action, from an objective point of view, would not actually be wrong.)

    A man having sex with his wife is not wrong. Neither is a man not having sex with his wife at a given time — even if the purpose of not having sex at that time is to avoid the possibility of getting pregnant during his wife’s current cycle.

    I think your error here is in seeing that mis-use of NFP in order to treat sex as a strictly non-procreative form of sensuality is sinful, you’re trying to zero in on some specific act on which to locate the sin. Given that periodic abstinence consists of having sex during less fertile times and not having sex during more fertile times — the obvious options are 1) labeling abstaining from sex during more fertile times as sinful or 2) labeling having sex during the less fertile times as sinful.

    What the Church actually teaches is that neither 1) nor 2) is sinful. It is not wrong for a couple to perform the marital act or not to perform the marital act. Nor is the marital act made wrong because one believes it to be highly likely that conception will not occur (as is the case not only with certain parts of the normal monthly cycle, but also with couples who are afflicted by infertility or who have passed the age at which the wife is likely to be able to conceive.)

    What can be sinful is the desire/attempt to experience a “full sensuality” completely unconnected with procreation.

    Now, that said, I think, frankly, that one of the best ways to defeat this “false appreciation of life” that Pius condemns is the practice of NFP, which you seem so suspicious of, specifically because using NFP to try to avoid conception very much does not allow for a “full sensuality”. Trying to avoid conception via NFP means abstaining about half the time, and typically the time when the desire of the spouses (particular the wife) are much, much greater. As such, for the couple which starts out just wanting to space their children farther apart or put off having more children for a while, using NFP creates the awareness that it is impossible to have a “full sensuality” that is not procreative.

  • “I think, frankly, that one of the best ways to defeat this ‘false appreciation of life’ that Pius condemns is the practice of NFP, which you seem so suspicious of, specifically because using NFP to try to avoid conception very much does not allow for a ‘full sensuality’.”

    1. I am as suspicious of NFP as Pius XII was.

    2. NFP is just a subset of “temporary continence” – something that the Church has always encouraged and something that the Catechism of Trent suggested Catholics practice during Lent. Most Catholics who practice NFP today seem largely ignorant of the rich Catholic Tradition of temporary continence within marriage, which was encouraged as a fast from sex the way that we are also to fast from food and meat during specific days and seasons. Most people who practice NFP today do not realize that the benefits of NFP are simply benefits that come out of temporary continence or “fasting from sex”. Due to this ignorance, most Catholics think the only reason to practice temporary continence is to space children. But even if you are trying to conceive, temporary continence is still a good and beneficial practice that the Church recommends. How many NFP practitioners today know that and practice that? I would say the number is close to zero.

    3. You obviously did not read Pius XII in context, because he was specifically referring to an abuse of NFP in that quotation. How can the practice of NFP be the best remedy to an abuse of NFP? If it was, there would be no need for Pius XII to warn against it, because its practitioners, by the very practice of NFP, would defeat this “false appreciation of life”.

  • “A man having sex with his wife is not wrong.”

    Even if he wears a condom?

  • I have a feeling that we’re going in circles, so I’m going to give this one more response and then I’ll leave it to you to have the last word should you so wish.

    Most Catholics who practice NFP today seem largely ignorant of the rich Catholic Tradition of temporary continence within marriage, which was encouraged as a fast from sex the way that we are also to fast from food and meat during specific days and seasons…. I would say the number is close to zero.

    Well, FWIW:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/10/26/nfp-and-fasting/

    You obviously did not read Pius XII in context, because he was specifically referring to an abuse of NFP in that quotation.

    Pius XII talks about the danger of people seeking to “avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality”. My contention, based on experience and that of all other NFP users that I’ve had occasion to talk to, is that abstaining half the time (and because of the way in which women’s hormones work — the half during which their desire is much higher) is very much not “satisfying their full sensuality”. Yes, it’s a step up from the long periods of total abstinence which a prudent husband and wife might need to have were they not able to track the wife’s fertility, and were there serious reasons for them to not conceive at the moment, but it is very much not a satisfying “sex life” (to use the modern term). It feels incomplete.

    Indeed, the times that do tend to feel complete are when they are not engaging in periodic abstinence — either because they are hoping to conceive or in the few months right after having a baby. Thus:

    How can the practice of NFP be the best remedy to an abuse of NFP? If it was, there would be no need for Pius XII to warn against it, because its practitioners, by the very practice of NFP, would defeat this “false appreciation of life”.

    That is, in fact, exactly my point. And I would argue that it is because of the increasing realization of this over the last 50 years that the Church has come to promote NFP fairly actively: because it is to a great extent a self correcting system which, through experience, teaching Catholic couples the Church’s understanding of the nature of sexuality.

    This doesn’t mean that those who don’t use it (or any other way of spacing children) have a less perfect understanding. Rather, it is the best practical counter to the contraceptive mentality. Those who wish to space their children and commit to doing so through NFP (rather than succumbing to some immoral means of avoiding conception) learn at a very deep and experiential level the inextricable connection between sexual intimacy and procreation, and that the “fullness” of marital intimacy can only be achieved when the couple is ready to get pregnant.

    “A man having sex with his wife is not wrong.”

    Even if he wears a condom?

    Now you’re knowingly taking me out of context. You and I both know that to the Church’s mind there is no similarity between a couple having fully natural intercourse while knowing they are unlikely to conceive, and using artificial means to strip the marital act of its fecundity.

  • Darwin Catholic: While nursing a child may not have an impact on ovulation, nursing a child does make an impression on the husband who surrenders his wife to be the mother of his child. Perhaps that is what makes his wife so desireable. “To have and to hold” to remember that moment of procreation in each other’s arms….

  • Having sex while married is licit.
    A married couple agreeing to not having sex is licit.
    Becoming aware of your fertility so that the couple knows when sex is unlikely to lead to conception is licit.
    Using this information to make a decision about whether or not to have sex is licit.

    Therefore, using fertility awareness to avoid pregnancy is, in itself, ALWAYS morally licit.

    Like anything else, of course, it may be done for selfish or improper reasons. But the sin is the selfishness, not the means of how pregnancy is avoided. Still, the abstinence is difficult enough that this problem is often self-correcting in most couples. For those for whom it is not, there is usually some other relational, sexual, or emotional problem or the couple is sub-fertile and the abstinence is shorter and not that much of a burden.

    I think the idea that fertility can be pinpointed with 99% accuracy is “too good to be true” for some people and they are trying to find sin where there is none.

    As for re-marketing, Billings LIFE (Australia) http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org/ seems to have done a good job in marketing NFP (which they call “fertility education”) to a secular audience. They put medical information first, which is what fertility awareness is. Fertility education and Catholic theology are two different things and combining them weakens both. Often this leads to the absurdity of promoting something that is “99% effective at preventing pregnancies” as a way of being “open to life”.

In The Birth Control Controversy; The Mocking of Conservative Religious Women By Militant Secularists Will Soon Backfire

Sunday, February 19, AD 2012

We have all seen the supposed polls indicating that 99% of Catholic women use birth control. However, has anyone ever bothered to look at who conducted the poll? It was the Guttmacher Institute; the driving force behind abortion and other leftist social movements.  Finally someone in the Mainstream Media (The Washington Post) has weeks after the fact realized the untruthful nature behind this canard. This is just one of many red herrings thrown at religious conservatives to discredit and mock them. It seems some in mainstream media are making it their mission to ask former Pennsylvania Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum every question imaginable with regard to birth control. Whatever happens to Santorum in the primary race, it does seem as if the Hand of Providence is helping bring up the topic of birth control and the faithful alternative of Natural Family Planning.

While there is some dispute between Catholics and some Evangelicals on birth control; there are signs that many Evangelicals are seeing what Catholics and some Orthodox Jews have long believed about birth control. In my previous book and forthcoming book; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism, I cite quotes from Chuck Colson and R Albert Mohler, two towering figures in the Evangelical world. They have genuine affection for Pope Paul VI’s 1968 prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae which cemented the Catholic view on birth control in the modern birth control pill era. If you want to really rile up a militant secularist you might mention that it wasn’t until 1930 that the first religious group (the Anglican Church) even approved of birth control. The Progressive Teddy Roosevelt said the idea of birth control was “ridiculous” and even liberal hero Dr Sigmund Freud said the whole concept was “narcissistic.”

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) the late women’s rights activist, who used birth control back before any religious group approved of it, spoke out forcefully against abortion and birth control once she converted to Catholicism later in life. She told men and women that in using birth control they were becoming engaged in a culture that was disconnecting them from God’s plans, along with not using their bodies in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Though her women’s rights and libertarian economic views remained, she became a social conservative, who lashed out at Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, something you aren’t likely to hear or read in the mainstream media.

Families that adhere to the clinically proven facts of Natural Family Planning are treated as if they are some sort of religious nuts. Militant secularists in the corridors of power (Legislative and Fourth Estate) have even thrown out their favorite term “sexually repressed.” Now this term is so widely repeated in our popular culture, perhaps we should examine where it came from. Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) of the infamous Marxist “Frankfurt School” came up with the term. Marcuse left pre-World War II Germany and taught at Columbia. Marcuse believed in free love and surmised that the more narcissistic society was with regard to sexual relations, the better the world would become. Before his death, he claimed his prized student was 1960s militant radical Angela Davis. Marcuse was way out in left field in his day and yet the militant secularists in our pop culture have made him seem as mainstream as Dr. Phil. When societies turn away from religion they embrace the crazies like Marcuse; sadly something has to fill the vacuum and it is usually the ideas which come from the half baked among us that do so.

Continue reading...

3 Responses to In The Birth Control Controversy; The Mocking of Conservative Religious Women By Militant Secularists Will Soon Backfire

  • Your last paragraph is a good prayer for Lent – I won’t limit it to women though.
    Having read the Left in Tatters from 1/25/10 link, I saw that Fr. George Rutler commented; and think you would enjoy his 2/19/12 column on the Church of Our Savior site.

  • PM, thanks for bringing Father Rutler’s column to my attention. As usual, he gives us something to ponder, pray over and act upon. Initially a year or so ago when I wrote the article to which I linked and he commented, I had no idea that he read this site. I contacted him to thank him and he thanked me. It was all so very humbling. He told me that a friend suggested he read my article. He went on to say that we all have a part to play in building up the Faith. In retrospect we should all do more to thank God for giving us those like Father Rutler.

  • Pingback: MONDAY EXTRA: GLOBAL CULTURE WAR | ThePulp.it

HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

Tuesday, February 14, AD 2012

In a bizarre way President Barack Obama, through his Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) has united religious orthodoxy across the spectrum as never before. In its wake liberal religiosity is going the way of striped pants, bell bottoms and lava lamps; something that is only seen on rare occasions usually when too much alcohol is flowing. At the precipice stands liberal Catholicism, for soon there will be no need for them to retain any religious presence. Liberal Catholic mouthpieces like the National Catholic Reporter are destined to go the way of so many other products whose users outgrew the usefulness of what they read and believed.  Mainline liberal churches have imploded all the while the numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals continue to grow. Apparently the liberal religious elite are so smart, they have disappeared into the mists of history.  Even if the current baby boomers remain religious, their liberal minded children have by and large abandoned the faith to the whims of Hallmark and Deepak Chopra styled spirituality.

In my last book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that having worked in the Church with a good deal of liberals I cannot think of a single instance in which their children retained their liberal views and also practiced their Catholic faith. I have met their children and while some have become Evangelicals and others have seen the light and come over to orthodox minded Catholicism; those who have remained liberal would only darken a church door if a close relative passed away. Sadly not only have they left their faith but many can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Their compliments are reserved for Big Government and Libertinism.

I am not writing this to sound clever or flippant or negative, simply to relate what I see. In many ways, the tide is turning like never before, and we can’t say that Jesus didn’t tell us that wheat would be separated from the chaff. Indeed we can’t serve two masters and the liberals by and large have thrown their lot in with the Herod’s of the world. While the liberal elite pretend to live oh so sophisticated lives; they in reality are nothing more than a fallen character in a 1980s hair band ballad video, succumbing to the vices on Sunset Boulevard that the liberal elite relegated to some degenerative red state tourist. As angry as we may be at the religious left’s venom and their apostasy, they most certainly need our prayers and we should never forget that supposedly wise people can be fooled as much as anyone by the dark side.

In my previous article, I noted the striking metaphor of the pall of smoke hanging over the Acropolis in Athens caused by rioting Greeks who could no longer pay for their extravagant lifestyle. They are merely the first example of a culture that has aborted and contracepted itself into oblivion, prophetically predicted by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. For the Greeks, Big Government had the answers and their Epicurean ancestors had the lifestyle that seemed oh so appealing. However in reality they couldn’t pay the bills because charged with the simple mission of reproducing they felt it too complicated of a task.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

  • Pingback: WEDNESDAY MORNING EDITION | ThePulp.it
  • when they get rid of the carol keehans and all the clowns running our
    institutions their own way i’ll believe the tide is turning.

  • The Holy Spirit is truly at work here to rejuvenate our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by separating wheat from the chaff just as Jesus Christ Himself promised us, oh so, so long time ago. + Laudetur Iesus Christus +

  • Good essay, Doug. But Donald’s essay on “The Catholic Left Falls into Line” is sadly depressing because the regime in charge will listen only to the Catholic Left. The Bishops have to start public excommunications. 1st Corinthians chapter 5 comes to mind.

  • How will this affect our Catholic universities?
    Wouldn’t it be great if a Catholic college taught Catholic faith, doctrine and morals. Girls living in an all girls dorm. No overnight visitors. Religion classes, including Catholic philosophy and Church history be taught for 4 years. Wouldn’t it be great to have Catholic universities that teach science AND morals.
    .
    And I agree with Paul P above, the Church REALLY needs to address the Liberal Left, anti-Church Catholics who work against the Church Monday-Friday, but go to communion on Sunday and publicly call themselves good, devout Catholics. This would be HUGE for us folks in the pews – I find it hard to talk to my children about the faith when Catholics in public life (politics) promote ideas opposite of the Church teachings but call themselves good Catholics (“I will punch you in the face with my rosary”)

  • too many gifted and talented individuals are not even attempting to dip their toe in the waters of entrepreneurialism because it may be too much work.

    And: too much financial punishment — high taxes, in other words — for those who do dip their toe in that water.

  • Amen. Amen. Amen. I can sense the shift in the air… a slow grinding shift building momentum… the teeth gnashing from the enemy is sentient also.

  • Mr. Hartline, I would love to read your books. Have you considered formatting them for kindle?

  • Vicki I hope that when my new book tentatively titled; “The Tide Continues to Turn Toward Catholicism” comes out, we should have a kindle option available for my books. Thank you for your interest. Honestly all of you out there who fight the good fight in your special way are all part of that turning tide.

The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

Monday, February 13, AD 2012

The militant secular left thinks they have won a victory with President Barack Obama’s “Accommodation” with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate ordering religious based institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and the morning after abortion pill. Some of the left couldn’t contain their glee, one guest on MSNBC described President Obama’s move as “brilliant.” In their distorted thinking they surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.

First of all, the militant secular left continually cites the Guttmacher Institute’s polling, which is about as accurate as the daily pronouncements of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Secondly, it is one thing for Catholics to go against the Church’s teachings, it is quite another to say they are proud of it and want more Big Government telling them what they and the Catholic Church to do. The sheer nuttiness of this was illustarted in a discussion which occurred on Sean Hannity’s the Great American Panel seen on Fox News last week. One of the participants Jehmu Greene told fellow panelist Andrea Tantaros that without birth control she wouldn’t be here. When the incredulous Tantaros wondered how that could logical be, Greene went on a tirade that demeaned women who have children and or decide to work at home.

For years the militant secular left has treated pregnancy as a disease and families as inconvenient truths interfering with their own narcissistic ends. Powerhouse television shows like Sex and City helped to illustrate this point. Katharine Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote some time ago how disgusted she felt seeing men demeaned as objects in the Sex and City movie, the very treatment feminists have railed about for years.

However with the narcissistic Sex and City lifestyle comes another reality playing out in the streets of Athens, Greece and soon to come to a city or country near you in the western world. The declining birth rate means the youngest among us will have to eventually have to pay for a culture that aborted or contracepted itself into oblivion. The generous benefits demanded by those cultures, especially from the militant secular left can only last so long. As the old saying goes; “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The ancient Greek world gods who hailed narcissism and hedonism and whose lifestyle was proselytized by the Epicureans seem as irrelevant as ever as the pall of smoke hangs over the Acropolis, a fitting metaphor for what the militant secular left has wrought.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

  • November 2012 cannot come soon enough!

    Here is additional evidence (as if it were needed) that one is repreating oneself when one uses the words liberal and idiot in the same sentence.

    This rank stupidity is the reason the economy continues to flounder and why government should be limited so that it can inflict limited harm on us.

    With his talents, Obama ought to be on an urban street corner dealing “three card monty.”

  • T. Shaw – but instead liberalies are letting the executive branch play monopoly in the WH with other people’s money and no rules because cheating etc. is easier. The jail corner says send someone you don’t like directly to court. The community chest cards are awards for using racist and bigot on opponents.
    What a waste.

  • Pingback: Catholic Teachings Not Subject to Polls « POWIP
  • Regarding – The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism
    Published Monday, February 13, 2012 A.D. | By Dave Hartline

    I agree with everthing the writer has said, but I have trouble with one thing.
    Are we willing to fight as hard for the living child after birth as we are for the child in the womb? Are we willing to provide a higher level of education, of health care, of food and housing OR do we prefer to pay in the back end when the unwanted, uncared for, fatherless child becomes a miscreant; someone on drugs, alcohol or at least in poor health or pertetuates more unwanted pregnancies…
    I would rather put the same energy and money to providing the programs the child would need to be a caring, involved citizen rather than a fatherless child in a broken home with little love and education. I hope to see Catholics turn a cheek and start realizing that if we want to lower the abortion rate holistically, the best way to do it is to educate and provide the necessary programs so woman don’t find themselves in an unwanted pregnancy to begin with. It does start at home, but the home alone will not win the battle…we must help, with love.

  • My friend, I have no doubt that you mean well and sincerely believe that old canard that the Militant Secular Left has been pushing concerning not caring for those who have been born. Let me tell you why it is a canard. My wife and I have been blessed with the gift of adoption. I can tell you first hand what a great gift it is and how long it took. Sadly parents wait untold lengths of time and spend untold amounts of money to adopt, jumping through all kinds of hoops.

    Years ago when we decided to adopt, we sat down with an adoption specialist who told us that before Roe v Wade there were about two million couples who couldn’t have children and wanted to, and about two million women who didn’ think they could raise a child in their current situation. It was a Providential give and take, something that Roe v Wade took away. Adoption wait times and costs continue to grow because millions of parents who want nothing more than to love a child have to wait while millions of unborn babies are aborted.

    Sadly ever since Roe v Wade, and most notably now the militant secular left treats pregnancy as a disease, all the while children are called “punishments” by our very leaders. We are also told that we are ignorant because we “cling to religion.” God help those who will have to answer for that.

  • Pingback: TUESDAY RELIGIOUS LIBERTY EXTRA | ThePulp.it
  • “In their distorted thinking they [the Militant Secular Left] surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.”

    The split is already present in the Church in America, and has been since Vatican II. Many “liberal” Catholics feel more animosity toward the Church, and her Bishops, than they do toward the militant secularists who oppose the teachings of the Church. Obama is merely using that split in an attempt to secure his political base for 2012. You may think this will not work, but many “liberal” Catholics, in the end, will side with Obama versus the Bishops.

    I hope I am wrong, but the political calculation that Obama has made may work. Those who oppose his HHS mandate, did not vote for him in 2008 and will not vote for him in 2012. However, many on the Left who voted for him in 2008, who have recently had serious doubts about Obama, will now be MORE inclined to support him in 2012, not less inclined. It is a classic divide-and-conquer electoral strategy, based on the very theological and ideological split that already exists in the Church.

    President Obama is merely exploiting what already exists. Again, I hope and pray that I am wrong, but he may very well succeed in exploiting the divisions that already exist in the Church.

  • Tom D, I have no doubt that militant secular left who call themselves Catholic will rally behind President Obama, including those who work within the Church. Having worked for the Church in various capacities, I know their names, believe me. However, the rank and file Catholic will be upset by this, even those who voted for President Obama, believe in contraception and attend Mass here and there. Those Catholics who have a nagging suspicion of Big Government will also find this more than a little disturbing.

    However, I must reiterate this point again. There are people who vocally call themselves Catholics who haven’t attended Mass regularly since the Ford Administration. Yet, they proudly they say they are Catholic. Take for example someone who is a lukewarm Methodist or Lutheran; they will probably say they are Christian but won’t attach a demoninational tag behind their name, thus taking their church off the hook when it comes to matters that may look heretical to their respective churches. This doesn’t take place with Catholics because of our strong sacramental and ethnic identity. In the depths of their soul, they know what is right but their flesh is weak.

    The only Catholics who will openly rally to President Obama are those who wear their heresy on their sleeve as a badge of honor. Even though far too few of the faithful actually follow the Church’s teachings, in their heart of hearts they know the Church is right and thus will abandon those who openly want to stick it to the Church.

  • Pingback: HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy | The American Catholic
  • I think the joke is on the Left–because the mandate is not only unconstitutional but also illegal; see this long article: http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.4654/pub_detail.asp. It made me realize the mandate really was an assault on the Catholic Church–and a stupid one, blatantly violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, for no rational reason because contraception IS readily available. You wonder whether the most powerful man in the world ever listens to the numerous lawyers he has available (never mind the people in his inner circle who give him contrary advice, like, in this case, Joe Biden and Bill Daley). I think many Catholics will still vote for Obama, but hope and believe fewer than in 2008, and I hope that people of other faiths will stand and work with us in turning him out of the White House.

As Our Modern, Western Culture Begins To Implode, The Catholic Church Is Our Last, Best Hope

Sunday, January 31, AD 2010

Channel surfing the other night, I came across a slew of 1980s “coming of age” movies on cable television. With all of their flaws (too much sexual innuendo, which is mild by today’s comparisons,) one can easily see a positive theme of a bright future and endless possibilities running through this genre of films. I had almost forgotten that in the 1983 film Valley Girl, Julie played by Deborah Foreman actually chastises her hippy parents for their suggestion that if she and her new boyfriend Randy, played by Nicholas Cage, want to explore their sexuality it would be alright by them.  Julie rebukes her parents for having such beliefs as well as the nostalgia surrounding their involvement in the 1960s anti war movement; after all it was the era of Ronald Reagan. Everything seemed possible; it was Morning in America again. Many of these movies were set in California which at the time exuded excitement for those of us growing up in colder, Midwest climates. Economically, California was booming and it was also the heart of a growing and diverse music scene.

Fast forward some 25+ years later and many of today’s films have a dark undercurrent with more than a little subtle leftwing political and cultural propaganda running through them. While there are certainly hopeful signs in Hollywood, especially with the advent of stars like Eduardo Verastegi and his movie Bella and associated Metanoia Films, (Click here for my interview with Eduardo Verastegui,) the secular film industry has fallen even farther into the cesspool. Sadly the Golden State’s economic boom seems but a distant memory, which was bound to occur when California’s Big Government mentality rivaled that of Sweden or the Canadian province of Quebec. The bigger question remains; is California setting the trend once again for the nation and the western world, and if it is what hope is there? The hope remains as it always has not in mortal man and the latest left wing hypothesis about the world’s failings, but in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to As Our Modern, Western Culture Begins To Implode, The Catholic Church Is Our Last, Best Hope

  • Pingback: The Coming Open Rebellion Against God « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy « The American Catholic
  • Fulton Sheen said that the time of evil would come upon mankind. Pope John Paul said a great darkness has descended on the earth. And we are living in this age of darkness and evil made transparent . The light of Christ is shining so brightly now that all of mens hearts and actions are coming into the light and being exposed for who and what they are. This is a great time of purification and God is getting ready to move mankind into a very important direction. You are either with Christ or against Him, There will be no middle ground. That is why it seems that it is all imploding but what is really happening is a time of great grace before the time of great judgement!

  • Man, where have I been for not finding your web site earlier – loved every word spoken.

    will be e-mailing you later brother. Praise Christ for you taking a stand and speaking His truth. We are so hungry for JUST the truth. Fr. John Corpie tells it like it is – and there is standing room only when he speaks somewhere. Holy Mother Church needs to feed her sheep – I am so tired of shim milk. Where is the beef that I may feed on the deep things of God.

    God bless brother – Later.

    In Christ,
    Don

If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

There is a undercurrent in American society that somehow believes that if the mafia ran things, the country would be better off. There was one city (Newark, New Jersey) where the mafia once controlled much of the city. When their grip on power was done, the city was in tatters. The same could be said for liberals running religion.

Continue reading...

40 Responses to If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

The Construct of Rebellion

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor.  Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds.  If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.

Continue reading...

55 Responses to The Construct of Rebellion

  • Well said, Dave. Thank God for Mary’s heel crushing the head of the serpent that is rebellion, or the whole place would have turned into one boring, childish, real-life version of “Wayne’s World.” It’s no wonder so many folks despise her as she has done what they ought to be doing.

  • What is the evidence for The Porsche?

  • My compliments for a well argued post. I am unaware of the O’Brien site or books, but I cannot disagree with any of your assessment nor your conclusions. I have been making a similar argument via my Canadian blog (http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com) trying to point out the logical contradiction of modern day relativism – a contradiction that exists because moderns no longer possess a knowledge or sense of the role of the church in times past. I offer the following taken from one of my posts written when the European court ordered the removal of the crucifix from Italian classrooms:


    Where I freely admit that the governing authority of any school should be able to either choose or not to present this symbol of Christian/Catholic faith, it is entirely another thing to deny the right to express their faith/convictions/belief in the public square. The principle that is expressed as “separation of church and state” also implicitly includes the freedom to express those values that we believe are the path which leads to the betterment of all humanity.??Read the story, and ask yourself whether the secular argument that leads to this European suppression of the freedom of speech of believers is any different from the agenda that marks the direction of North American society today.??This story is proof positive of the price of failing to argue in defence of the principles which are the accumulated human reasoning that stretches back to the earliest days of recorded history. Whether the moral principles of our modern civilization evolved as the refinement of simply human wisdom, or whether it is a still imperfect vision of God’s will, they have brought Western civilization to the point where we are today. The “rights” that are now so suddenly being tossed aside in the last twenty-five years are the foundations upon which the right itself is rooted. The poisoned fruit of the civilizational tree now endangers the root from which it sprang. ??Freedom of expression of faith in the public square must be respected; it is the essential corollary of the freedoms of thought and speech. I pray that leaders of our faith, our Bishops, would look to the European (or Québécois for that matter) social experiment and heed the need to “teach”, in every forum possible, the wisdom and teaching of our Church: to educate those raised in the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” generation (the first generation of essentially uncatechized “C & E” Catholics (i.e., “Christmas and Easter”) who now have moved into society’s corridors of power) of the wisdom of these first principles before they use the levers of power to shape the debate. ??Freedom of life… Freedom of belief… Freedom of speech: these are the Bishops’ menu of first principles to defend in full. Let’s pray that they fashion sumptuous salad of arguments, no matter how appealing the dessert table secularism seems to offer. ??Society needs strong bones to grow and prosper. We eat of the poisoned fruit at our own peril.

    Fr. Tim

  • Excellent commentary, Fr. Tim, which very much reflects why us California voters are now being put on trial for having the temerity to vote for changing the Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

  • Pingback: Helping A Fellow Warrior Member… | The JosephRatliff.com Blog
  • Lest one begin to think that this is all new, I quote St. Basil to the western bishops in the 4th Century:

    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to nought; the discoveries of innovators hold sway in the churches; men have learned to be speculatists instead of theologians… The aged sorrow comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep.90]

  • Thank you Dave for letting history teach us, at least some will repeat the errors and call for a “king” to rule and guide or other idols instead of our Lord and Savior. Your recent Times article was excellent also.

  • Dave, you’ll be thrilled to know that Spirit Daily posted this today in its second most prominent spot.

  • Thank you for writing this. Thank you for mentioning the Blessed Mother crushing the devils head.I attend morning mass and pray the daily rosary for conversions and repentence(for many years) and within the last month have had 3 people say they want to come back to the church and I have been taking them to Sunday mass with me. One has already talked with the priest.The other I am taking to a Catholic healing service. The 3rd is actually an unchurched person who accepts what I am teaching him and wants to talk to the parish priest. When the Blessed Mother said she will give graces of conversion and repentance when you say the rosary, she means it. Thank you.

  • Great article !! Truer words were never spoken. We need to hear more of the truth to stir all Catholics
    into reality and into standing up for the Church and our rights.

  • There are 3 essentials ingredients in the Church that keep any soul on the correct road. The Eucharist. Confession and the Rosary. Stay faithful to these and you and your household will be saved. The world is passing away and we are passing through it to something that we can not even begin to understand. Show mercy to all those who are in darkness.

  • As a simple un-educated mother of seven I read the whole article Construct of Rebellion, and thought it was most informative and full of truth.
    However, what it was lacking was the matter of placing some blame on the church itself for the departing of so many Catholics from their true faith during the 2000 years of excistance.
    I asked should the church not have been more alert and listened to the complaints from the faithful on some liturgical customs and for the lack of education in the full deep meaning of scripture and the bible, also the lack of explaination the dogmatic reasons for truth?
    Even the fathers of the church were weak at times and had to also endure the evil one.
    Now we have at least been assured through the workings of the wonderful Popes we have had with John Paul and Benedict that the church will always remain. Both of them have used the media and every other medium to prove that the Catholic church is the only true one to embrace all of the world’s people.

  • as one person commented I echo: Confession, Mass, the Eelfucharist….and let the world blow its up and fall into hell…..or let it REPENT FAST.

    sanctuaryhouse.tumblr.com…….. CALL IT UP…

  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Diocese is coming unglued because it embraced dissent and New Age occultism. Visit: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com

  • I am wondering which diocese in Worcester Roger is talking about.Eileen George gives monthly

  • teachings there and she is veryorthodox andoutstanding catholic

  • The same diocese which hosts a “Commission for Women” which has New Age links. The same diocese where numerous children have been sexually abused. The same diocese where a Holy Cross professor (and ex priest) promotes homosexuality and is “married” to another man. I could go on but you wouldn’t accept the facts.

  • How does Eileen George feel about the College of the Holy Cross sponsoring Planned Parenthood on its campus? How about the Newman Center at Fitchburg State College promoting homosexuality as a simple variant of normal sexuality as well as homosexual “marriage”? Is she concerned that the Diocesan Commission for Women has links to Joyce Rupp? Read what Donna Steichen and other orthodox Catholics have had to say about Rupp.

    With all due respect for Eileen George, the Diocese of Worcester is losing many of the faithful (75 of 120 parishes are in economic crisis by the Diocese’s own admission) for a reason.

  • Holy Cross has engaged in homosexual agitprop:
    http://hccns.org/articles/news/081115_homosexual-promotion.htm

    Sorry Martha, Eileen George’s presence in the Worcester Diocese doesn’t justify that.

  • While I agree with your basic outline, there are two things that bother me with what you wrote: 1) The many grammatical and typing errors. Sorry, but when people have a good idea and they’re trying to communicate it, it helps to do so with correct punctuation and without typos.

    2) Whether or not people believe what Michael Brown wrote in his book or posts on his site is no indication of their adherence to the truth or lack thereof and no one should take it as such. Mr. Brown may be a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes is of the same quality as his work on Love Canal. Mr. Brown is not the sum total of the Catholic Faith. That comes to us from the apostles and their successors.

  • Pingback: The Construct of Rebellion « Mary’s Anawim
  • Thomas, while you may claim to be an excellent grammarian, you might want to brush up on your reading skills. Where did I say or insinuate that Michael Brown is the sum total of the Catholic faith?

  • “Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.” A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.

  • “…self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church…” It’s the authority of the Church that’s being rebelled against. Not Michael Brown.

    Thomas, are you simply here in an attempt to wear down the author of this article?

  • No, John, I’m not. I made two observations about what I consider to be an otherwise well-constructed argument – grammar and saying that not liking Michael Brown’s book is part of the construct of rebellion.

  • No Thomas, you wrote: “A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.”

    No one said that Michael Brown is the authority being rebelled against. Instead, the author of the article wrote about, “..self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church..” That’s the Church. Not Michael Brown.

    You are engaging in dishonesty.

  • On the contrary, John. The author writes (with my edits): “However, the pull of being accepted by the world is tough even for self-professed, orthodox-minded Catholics. For example, the secular scholarly world rolls its eyes and snickers at modern day miracles and apparitions. One of the most popular Catholic websites, Spirit Daily, is one such site that makes mention of both. However, mention you read this site and you are bound to be looked at with suspicion even in the world of orthodox-minded Catholicism…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.”

    Hence my statement that in order to rebel, one must have something authoritative against which to rebel. Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.

  • This kind of dialogue appears to be feeding the egos of the individuals. Are we working for our own glory or God’s. I think the best road to travel is the one of Humilty and Love. Why not focus on ourselves individually and see where we are on the road of repentance and reconciliation.

    Better still why don’t we focus on Christian Unity and do positive things, – let us do the will of the Father and not our own, let us take this opportunity to love one another and at least celebrate Easter on the same date every year. At least the rest of the world will see that we are united on the essence of our faith; the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.
    It is only through unity that we will have :
    Peace, Love and Reconciliation
    Mary Joanne
    onedate.org

  • I don’t appreciate your unfair criticism Mary. I was merely attempting to defend what the author wrote. Hiw words are being twisted. There is no peace without truth Mary. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not falsehood.

  • The author wrote, “…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics…”

    What the author is saying is that because some rebel against the Church’s authority, they even reject or disregard Our Lady’s appearances to mankind. Our Lady always leads people to Jesus her Son and His Church. The author is not saying. or suggesting in any way, that Michael Brown is some sort of ersatz Magisterium of the Church or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    To suggest otherwise is to engage in dishonesty.

  • Thomas, you are demonstrating the pedantic nature of the “lawyerly” arguments for Relativism. Argue all the brush strokes away and soon the painting itself will no longer exist for you.

  • “Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.”

    I agree. I read Spirit Daily, probably more than I should, and I always come away from the site with confusion, not peace.

    What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval. I certainly believe Mary has and still does appear in the world, but there are so many alleged apparitions, and many of them contradict each other.

    I certainly don’t believe they should all be thrown out, but they need to be examined. Michael Brown is always going on about today’s Church “throwing out the mystical”, but I don’t believe that’s a fair claim. Why is it so “bad” to discern these apparitions, and if something about one doesn’t make sense, discard it? Why did God give us intellects if He doesn’t want us to use them?

    Michael Brown may be well-intentioned, but the net result of reading his site is confusion.

  • Elizabeth writes “What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval.”

    Elizabeth, calumny is a sin. I would refer you to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say in that regard. Mr. Brown has said – repeatedly – that we MUST accept the Church’s final decision on ANY apparition site. And this includes Medjugorje. For you to imply that Mr. Brown is someow failing to discern the authenticity of an apparition site or that he does not accept the Church’s ultimate authority is preposterous.

    Gaudium et Spes (specifically No. 28) forbids judging a person’s interior dispositions. I suggest you meditate very carefully on that teaching.

  • In Fides et Ratio, No. 16, Pope John Paul II teaches us that, “The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    Faith and reason are described by His Holiness in this important Encyclical Letter as two lungs. Imagine how difficult it is to breathe properly with only one lung!

    Michael Brown is all for discernment of private revelation. But, along with St. Paul, he believes that we shouldn’t despise prophecy. Understand the difference?

  • peter santos: You accuse Elizabeth of sin because she expresses concerns about a Catholic writer and speaker. You accuse her of “judging a person’s interior dispositions”, and then lecture her on how she should meditate on Church documents.

    Elizabeth states that, in her opinion, Michael Brown relies heavily on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. This is not judging Mr. Brown’s “interior dispositions”, but simply stating fact. On Spirit Daily, Mr. Brown mentions the “1990 prophecy” VERY frequently, and is quick to defend Medjugorje. Yes, he does state clearly that we should accept the final decisions of the Church on these matters. But, that does not negate what Elizabeth wrote.

    It seems to me that because you disagree with Elizabeth YOU assume evil motives on HER part. She says nothing in her post that would constitute the “sin” you claim she has committed. YOU are the one who has accused someone of sin because of a post. Elizabeth makes no such accusation.

    As an aside, I follow Spirit Daily and have for about 4 years now. I enjoy reading both the links and Mr. Brown’s own articles. Much discernment is needed in digesting these writings, clearly, as Mr. Brown’s opinions do not constitute official Church teaching. Stating that plain fact is NOT a sin, Peter.

  • For Elizabeth to assert that Michael Brown believes all apparitions or private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval,” is calumnious. It’s a lie. He has written against certain private revelations which were obviously false. The rest he commends to the Church.

    Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.

  • For Elizabeth (and anyone else who falsely accuses Michael Brown of accepting all apparitions), I submit the following words of Mr. Brown himself from 2005:

    Discerning Apparitions A Difficult Process

    [Q & A by Michael H. Brown]

    In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of alleged apparitions, locutions, stigmatics, and healers. Which are real and which are not?

    I would never attempt such a list, because I don’t have the authority to do so. We simply go by what the Church has decided, unless there is not yet a decision, in which case we try to exercise discernment.

    How do you tell if an apparition is real?

    This is one of the hardest questions in the world to answer. The process of what we call “discernment” is intensely complex. It’s also very personal. There is no formula. Some apparitions miss certain criteria and yet bear signs of authenticity while others seem to fill most standards but have problems at their very root. In the end, only through prayer and fasting can we get a true inkling. It is the spirit — not the mind — that discerns.

    You mean a “gut feeling”?

    No. I mean a feeling in the depths of the spirit after a period of fasting. When we fast, we are more sensitive to evil. We are more likely to know if it is present. This is very important.

    But aren’t there some tips to discernment?

    In the Bible it says that “by their fruits you will know them,” and so this is certainly one major facet. But we have to be careful about what we consider “fruits.” I have seen many cases in which people adhering to what turned out to be a deceptive circumstance had a great first impression, or even found the visit a major step in their return to the faith, to their conversion. God can take good from evil. He can draw with crooked lines. It is for that reason that we must be careful in speaking negatively about a circumstance, even if there are indications of problems; we don’t want to discourage those who have had good experiences.

    Are there often problems?

    Most claims of apparitions, visions, or locutions are a mix — in other words, there are parts that seem inspired, parts that come from the person’s subconscious, and parts that may be from a source that is deceptive or demonic. All of us are in touch with God and those who feel they have a special “line” of communication may in some cases have such a special gift, although too frequently this leads to ego, and ego leads to a person putting his or her own spin on what they think they have been “told.” This is very common, and why so many predictions do not materialize: The prophecy was not a direct communication but filtered through the ideas, preconceptions, and feelings of a person. It is the demonic component that of course concerns us the most. A demonic influence can cause not only spiritual trickery but also deep discouragement, division, and illness.

    Is divisiveness a standard of discernment?

    Certainly, it’s one. Now, remember that even with the authentic apparitions like Fatima or Lourdes or Medjugorje, which the Pope discerned as worthy of devotion (in recently publicized private letters), there is resistance. There is spiritual warfare. And that can lead to division. There will be some division. But that division usually is far outweighed by good fruits such as conversion. If division is the main effect, or if there is constant, lasting rancor, and a lack of peace, then there is a problem with the apparitions. We can also say to watch out for pride among the seers, attempts at self-promotion, and the spawning of a cult-like following. Cults in the bad sense of that term are a bad fruit (there are also holy cults, when proclaimed as such by Rome). Those who begin to exclude others because they don’t believe in a certain apparition are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, Who tells us through the Church that we don’t have to accept a private revelation. Meanwhile, we must watch for prophecies that are too gloomy and dark, that give messages of tremendous specificity, that ramble on at great length, and that contain messages threatening people who don’t believe in the particular revelation. There are some messages that have denounced anyone who won’t help purvey a private revelation. As soon as I see that, I know there is deception.

    What about those that mention the anti-christ?

    We have to weigh these with special caution. In my discernment there is truth to the coming of a personage of evil, and certainly major events, but we have to be cautious about believing that the coming scenario will exactly fit the scenarios spawned by those who have speculated on specific end-times schedules. Are we in the end times? We are at the end of an era. It is a very, very important time. It is not the end of the world. What is about to happen will fit the general prophetic pulse we have heard now for nearly 25 years (since the onset of Medjugorje, which caused an explosion in private revelation), but it will occur in ways we don’t specifically anticipate and that make sense (the feeling of, “oh, yeah, of course”) only in retrospect.

    What percent of seers are authentic?

    It’s impossible to say. What we can say is that very, very few are corporeal apparitions at the level of a Lourdes or Fatima. “Corporeal” is to see the Blessed Mother as a full-bodied, multi-dimensional apparition similar to the way we see another person: with eyes wide open. Some who claim this are imagining it, are projecting a “vision,” and a vision can be authentic, but it is not at the level of an apparition.

    How prevalent is actual demonism in alleged revelations?

    It is not uncommon. That is one way to put it. This is the fast lane of mysticism, which is one reason the Church is cautious. I might add that I am always perplexed by why a local bishop usually uses the term, “no evidence of the supernatural,” to dismiss a troublesome apparition. Often, there is plenty of evidence of the supernatural, but it’s supernaturality that is coming from the wrong source. At the same time, and overall, private revelation is of great benefit and as in Jesus’ time, among the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is sorely neglected by the official Church.

    Is the U.S. Church more closed and skeptical toward apparitions and phenomena like weeping statues than other nations?

    Yes, due to our scientific bent, much more skeptical.

    Why do you believe in Medjugorje?

    I have been there I think seven times, and I didn’t believe in it the first few hours I was there. I thought it was collective hysteria. Then I started to see phenomena myself — a lot of it — and tremendous, tremendous fruit, whereby virtually everyone who was going there was experiencing a deepening of faith or outright conversion unlike any other religious encounter with which I was familiar, just really profound and in most cases lasting. I had never seen people touched on such a massive scale. Dozens of millions have been affected in a way that can be compared only with older sites such as Lourdes or with trips to the Holy Land. Medjugorje leaves a feeling of peace and well-being and conversion.

    Whereas a false apparition?

    Another way of discerning a false apparition or a false anything is that it tends to drain you. It takes your energy. This is a hidden means of discernment: it takes more than it gives. It is temporary. This is often a good way to evaluate any situation, although like everything else in this field, there are exceptions (no foolproof means of discernment). We are very open to mysticism — it is crucial to our time and to any time — but we urge folks not to become involved in new such claims unless they are fasting and staying close to the New Testament. Daily reading of the Bible puts us in the correct frame of mind and is probably the best way to discern an apparition.

    06/27/05

    As for his acceptance of Medjugorje, there is nothing against faith there. A decision has not been made regarding that alleged apparition site. Mr. Brown has already said that he will ACCEPT THE CHURCH’S DECISION.

    Elizabeth is engaging in calumny. She should make this right.

  • I don’t understand where you’re coming from. How can you be so bold as to assume I’m in a state of mortal sin? Isn’t that up to God to judge? Not you?

    What exactly IS the “1990 prophecy”? Has it undergone Church scrutiny? Has it been submitted to any Church authorities for discernment and/or approval? I have been reading Spirit Daily for about 5 or 6 years. This is what I meant by an unapproved private revelation. There is no source and no mention of it ever being submitted to the Church.

    Medjugorje is different. It hasn’t been formally approved by the Church, but the Church is more than aware of it, so to speak. Not so with the 1990 prophecy.

    There is good on his site (his articles on Maria Esperanza, but much that leaves me, and others I’m sure, scratching their heads. There is a lot of stuff from his “mailbag” that makes me wonder. How much of this is real, and how much of it is coming from people’s overwrought imaginations? He needs to be more careful when presenting these viewpoints and some sites he links to. It’s all very confusing and doesn’t help the average person on their spiritual journey. That is all.

  • Elizabeth, Peter never said you are in “a state of mortal sin.” Your dishonesty is showing again. He wrote, “Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.”

    You falsely accused Mr. Brown of accepting ALL private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval.” This is – objectively speaking – calumnious. But rather than acknowledging that your post was false and unjust, you now assume a defensive posture and accuse Peter of judging your soul.

    When will your dishonesty cease? You are behaving very poorly.

  • I know what I wrote. I don’t appreciate Elizabeth’s false accusation against me.

  • This is the time I will ever read or visit this site. I’ve been accused of being a poor reader, of trying to wear down an author after a mere two posts, being dishonest, being egotistical, twisting words which were clearly written, and of being a relativist. Elizabeth comes along and gives her opinion that Michael Brown relies too heavily on Marian apparitions and personal revelation and she’s accused of calumny. There is no engagement of ideas here, only personal animus. The impression one is left with is that if one does not agree with everything written at this site, then that one is necessarily part of the construct of rebellion. Not exactly the best impression to leave with anyone.

  • Sorry, meant to say “This is the last time I will ever read or visit this site.”

  • Thomas, you’re not here to participate in a “dialogue.” Like Elizabeth, you’re here to level false accusations. Read Peter’s post of Michael Brown’s article from 2005. He does not accept all private revelation uncritically. Nor has anyone (including himself) held up Mr. Brown as “the authority” on all private revelation.

    As Christians, let us refrain from such falsehoods.

  • I will never cease to be amazed how the internet has the capacity to take a solid, well formed argument for the faith, and transform it into this demonstration of the classic “my father can beat up your father” form of analysis (or in this case, “my Mary can beat up your Mary” such as this thread has morphed into.

    Will wonders ever cease.

    Yes indeed, a great illustration of how the the internet is a wonderful tool for the faith… or is it that the internet is the place to witness the faith of tools?

  • Apparently Fr. Moyle has no problem with calumny. Maybe he should brush up on his Catechism. If this thread has “morphed” into something unproductive, it is because of unfair allegations and misinterpretations.

    Asinine comment Father. With all due respect for your priestly office. Asinine.

  • “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2479).

    I would exhort those who visit this thread to read Michael Brown’s 2005 article on discerning private revelation and hold Elizabeth’s false accusations up to the light of truth.

  • I agree with you Peter. Where was Father Tim when Elizabeth was leveling a false accusation against Michael Brown? He chides you for exposing Elizabeth’s false accusation against Michael Brown and showing it for what it is and describes it as a “my father can beat up your father form of analysis.”

    Father is a disappointment.

  • I am closing this thread.

    In the future please stay on the topic at hand.

  • Pingback: If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Have Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters) « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: As Our Modern, Western Culture Begins To Implode, The Catholic Church Is Our Last, Best Hope « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: The Coming Open Rebellion Against God « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Lent 2010; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholic Orthodoxy « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Why They Attack Pope Benedict XVI « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Liberal Dystopia of Political Correctness « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Margaritaville Christianity; God’s Way Or Our Way? « The American Catholic

Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

Tuesday, October 20, AD 2009

The dream of orthodox minded Catholics and Anglican liberals came true on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 as the Vatican announced that traditional minded Anglicans, clergy included, would be welcomed into the Catholic Church with their own Anglican style rite (though not exactly a rite of their own.) The promise Jesus made that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church is now once again being made manifest for those who chose to recognize it (Matthew 16:16-20.) What King Henry VIII started Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have salvaged. The English and their former empire (if they wish) can return home again.

Since many conservatives may now leave, religious liberals too have high hopes as the worldwide Anglican Communion can possibly fulfill their wish of unbridled liberalism. However, it is becoming plain to see that it is for all intents and purposes the liberal’s wish is now turning into a death wish.  The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes. Even with fawning mainstream media coverage, every liberal Protestant denomination has seen their numbers plummet in recent years, some as much as 50%, while Catholicism, with all the negative banner headlines, continues to grow around the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury seems a truly tragic figure cut from a Shakespearean play trying to hold together what a murderous king wrought. It couldn’t be done and so we may now see the implosion of the Anglican Communion, especially in the only region that had any vibrancy, Africa. The African and Asian continents have long been the hope of the One True Church. Fortunately, the embers of truth can also be seen in North & South American seminaries and even in Europe, where the Faith had seemed all but dead.

Continue reading...

50 Responses to Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

  • Dave,

    Perhaps the future King of England will be relieved of this meddlesome title and realize that crossing the Tiber is his country’s best hope.

    Too many quotes to pull from a great article.

    King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.

    We can see the many problems in todays society as we see our nation succumb to sex on demand. Where sex becomes our identity and all vices turned to virtue.

  • “King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.”

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    What if Henry and Catherine had been able to accept her infertility as God’s will for them, and fully embraced their only daughter Mary, or another relative, as a potential heir; or allowed the succession to pass to another noble family, placing their trust in God to protect the nation, rather than violate the law of His Church? Maybe things would have been less stable in the short term, but a lot of grief would have been avoided in the long term.

  • Elaine,

    You are correct!

    And how eerily similar it is in todays dark climate of secularism.

  • And to think the church’s detractors blast it for being so medieval when the secularists themselves seem to be eating the bitter fruits of ol’ King Henry XVIII. Kudos to Dave for a splendid article … loved the “Tortoise of Truth vs. Hare of Relativism” comment!

  • I became Catholic in 1998 when I was 23 and I was horrified by what I saw taking place within the Church and also outside of Holy Mother Church in society and other churches.

    I could never explain my yearning for the traditional Mass and the traditional ways ~ except to say that I, a young 20-something, yearned for a GROWNUP approach to the Faith. Seriously! All of this Liberal crap is so immature and childish and even the young Catholics of ten years ago and today just can’t stomach it.

    Now I’m just… shocked to the core!! I thought that this “dying” of the Christian faith was a bad thing, that this meant that Christianity was going to flicker out and pretty much die and we Christians that were left over would be a rarity.

    Now I see exactly what is going on and it’s so awesome! This death of all of these Reformation protest-churches (protestant!) is opening the door wide for the regrowth of the Catholic Faith all over the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Where I live, you can see how much Christianity has totally died a death ~ and I used to think, “What an spiritually sterile place I’ve come to.” But now I see that… “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray ye the Lord of the Harvest sends workers into his harvest…”

    The situation is not so wretched and hopeless after all!!!!!

  • A great, and might I say predictable 😉 article Dave.

    And I have been meaning to buy your book for ages.

    MUST – BUY – DAVE’S – BOOK !!!!

    God bless.

  • From another era ” The shot heard around the world”. Dave, you have not lost your ability and rhetoric to bring insight and hope to those who love our Church and its tenets and traditions. Boy is the tide ever turing. Those Catholics who have espoused relativism and have tried to change the foundation of the Rock must be in total shock. God Bless and long live Benedict XVI.

  • “The last four decades have seen liberal Christianity reach out to every sort of relativistic idea, whim and group. The western intellgentsia praised these efforts even as liberal churches emptied of their adherents.”

    Christians trying to change in order to satisfy agnostics and atheists is foreordained to end in spiritual death.

  • Once again Dave puts everything together perfectly! I am passing this on to the young person whom I am sponsoring in RCIA.

    Thanks again, Dave and commentators!

  • I’ll be very curious to see how the African Anglicans respond to this… they tend to be more evangelical (“low church”) than the TAC, and hence (presumably) less-likely to swim the Tiber, despite their “merely Christian” orthodoxy.

  • Elaine,

    You’re not quite correct.

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    It has been noted by many that Henry’s romps with his mistresses likely caused Catherine’s inability to have a male heir. She wasn’t infertile; they simply had absurd infant mortality. What is that a symptom of? Syphilis. A sexually transmitted disease. Indeed, Henry satisfying his lust probably was at the heart of the whole thing.

  • I think the responses of people in the US like Mims are indicative of the evangelical Anglican reaction; to paraphrase, “it’s nice they agree with us the liberal Anglicans are bad, but we’re not gonna start worshiping no pope or Mary.”

  • Not to mention, as we know today, a male heir (or lack thereof) comes from the genes of the father, not the mother. So it was Henry’s fault he could not get a male heir.

  • Andy — you’re correct in saying Catherine wasn’t “infertile” in the strict sense; she got pregnant plenty of times, but only had one child live to adulthood, while all the rest were miscarried, stillborn, or died shortly after birth. And it’s quite probable that syphilis or some other STD contracted from Henry’s “romps with his mistresses” had something to do with it.

    However, Henry and Catherine themselves had no way of knowing that, so as far as Henry’s actual intentions were concerned, it was his determination to have a legitimate male heir that was the heart of “the king’s great matter.”

    Also, remember that Henry and Catherine’s one surviving child grew up to be known as “Bloody Mary” because of her counter-persecution of Protestants during her brief reign. Well, that would likely never have happened if Henry hadn’t treated her like dirt and tried to force her and her mother to give up their Catholic faith, and Mary to admit she was a “bastard,” after his marriage to Anne Boleyn. She might have been a really good queen if only she’d been treated with some respect in her younger years.

  • Elaine, Catherine wasn’t infertile. She got pregnant 4 or 5 times. Henry’s proable syphilys caused sickly children.

  • Kung would tool around the narrow streets of the Germany university town of Tubingen in his Porsche leaving the poor bicycling Father Ratzinger in the dust. Some forty years later, the Tortoise of Truth had passed the Hare of Relativism.

    I laughed out loud at this–a vivid image!

  • The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes.

    Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

  • Pingback: Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward... - Christian Forums
  • Great news, great article. We need these people who love Our Lady, love a dignified liturgy and love the Pope. They will teach our liberals and the rest of us much.

  • I hate to be the one to rain on this parade but…

    1000 conservatives join the Church: Front-page news.
    1000 liberals leave the Church: Just another Monday.

    If it’s numbers you want to talk about, Catholicism isn’t doing too well. Catholics are leaving the Church just as fast as Anglicans are leaving theirs. If it were its own religion, ex-Catholics would make up the 2nd largest religion in the US. In my experience, the most common response to “What religion are you?” is “I was raised Catholic but…”

    I don’t think this “to hell with liberals” attitude is productive. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to the right and to the left.

  • Actually Restrained Radical it is the other way around, the mainstream media loves to stick to the Church with breaking news headlines whenever something bad happens in the Church. However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans? It isn’t so much reaching out to the left or the right that is the Church’s mission; it is to preach the truth of the Gospel of Christ, no matter how popular or unpopular it may be at any given time.

  • “There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to right and to the left.”

    How about this — why don’t those conservative Anglicans just remain with their coreligionists who have embraced homosexuality, woman priests, etc.

    They should, instead, reach out with both hands to those on their left and simply accept them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    The same with us Roman Catholics.

    We should reach out with both hands to those on the left, those who advocate abortion, those who support homosexuality, those who promote woman priests; and simply accomodate them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    Did not Christ preach in Matthew 18:17 that those who dissent from the Church are to be treated, not like a heathen or a publican, but as somebody whose errant beliefs we should accomodate?

  • “However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans?”

    Front page of the New York Times.

    e,
    No doctrinal changes were made to accommodate the conservative Anglicans. I’m not advocating any of the following but here are some examples of what’s possible on the orthodox left: women deacons who marry and baptize, openly gay celibate priests, married priests and bishops, a more democratic election of bishops, radical liturgical reform (rock bands, dancing, etc.), a higher bar for just war, maybe some wiggle room on contraception, pushing for liberal causes like weapon bans, torture bans, more lenient sentencing, selective conscientious objector status, gays in the military, environmental protection, universal health care, minimum wage, unionization, world courts, etc.

  • Yeah — I’ll look forward to having Mass celebrated where in it, heavy metal bands perform, various break dancing takes place, and the Communion served is actually an Oreo cookie, with Elton John serving as its chief celebrant.

    Nice liberal utopia you have going there.

    Personally, I’d rather have a Church with a few, but very faithful, people (as even then Cardinal Ratzinger had once envisioned) as opposed to one entertaining the numerous masses, the majority of which yield to heretical beliefs/practices.

  • Restrained Radical, studies have shown that articles in the mainstream media’s newspapers and in their respctive network and cable news channels are terribly skewed against the Church. I would ask you to visit the Newsbusters site of April 2008 and see how television and the print media covered Pope Benedict’s visit to New York City. Listening to Katie Couric (and many others) beforehand, one would have thought Americans would greet the Holy Father with demonstrations, not the genuine admiration that was shown by those in the Big Apple and rarely discussed by those news organizations.

    Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.

  • “Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.”

    Front page of the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post, and LA Times. That’s as mainstream as you can get. If you didn’t read about it in the MSM, I suggest you find better news sources.

    Judging by the web traffic, the Anglican news wasn’t very popular with readers. No surprise there. The Average Joe doesn’t care.

  • Restrained Radical thank you for proving my point, the truth is the truth whether it is popular with the mainstream media or not and the Average Joe or not. The plummeting liberal denominations wanted to be liked so much they tried to appeal to everyone and to paraphrase GK Chesterton ended up appealing to one one. When the faithful of these dying groups come to realize where the truth has always existed (the Catholic Church) they can’t wait to swim the Tiber.

  • Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    Restrained Radical,

    I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

  • Why is it that only conservatives can be faithful Catholics? How do women deacons diminish the quality of the soul food you want and decreases your chances of reaching heaven?

    The new apostolic constitution should teach us the opposite lesson. The one true faith can accommodate different paths. The NO doesn’t detract from the TLM. The Church can appeal to conservatives and liberals.

  • Restrained Radical. the point is we either follow the teachings of Christ and the Church he established or not. We can’t make up our own ideas to go along with the whims of society. Pope Benedict has spoken of the Dictatorship of Relativism where sadly too many in the religious world model the Church after soicety.

    It is important to note that Jesus and the Early Church were counter cultural which is why the Church slowly grew, instead of rapidly. We must recall that in the Early Church everything thing matter and practice (especially as it pertained to sexuality) was permissible in the secular world. The Church wouldn’t even permit divorce let alone the varying sexual practices and orgies that were commonplace in the ancient world. Actually, if the Church really wanted to grow it would have permitted all of those things, since they were commonplace. The Church did not, which is eventually after many decades and about three centuries, the secular world saw the wisdom in the Church’s teachings and beliefs.

  • The Early Church didn’t have an Anglican Use, received Communion in the hand, probably sitting down, had Mass in the vernacular, women deacons, married clergy, and bishops elected by the laity. One can be liberal and orthodox.

    The Church thrived through inculturation. Traditionalists (those who believe it should be the only way, not merely an option) arbitrarily pick some point prior to Vatican II and say “That’s were the Church must freeze.” Evangelical Protestantism thrives today despite the fact that its members are more socially conservative than Catholics, mostly because it is extremely liberal in style. Too liberal for my taste but the point is that one can be liberal and orthodox.

  • Restrained Radical, with all due respect the Early Church was about as far from the liberal model of thinking as one could imagine. Public confessions, shunning of anyone in the secular world who was living a promiscuous lifetsyle (which was just about everyone who wasn’t a believer.) In addition what the priest or bishops said was stricly adhered to, as early as 96 AD we have records of the Church in Corinth sending a letter to the Pope (Clement I believe) asking what to do to resolve a theological matter. Keep in mind the Holy Father had to live in hiding and St John the Evangelist wasn’t that far from Corinth on Patmos, we can see the weight they put in obediance and orthodoxy.

    Remember when occasion heresies emerged where, say for example, someone didn’t believe in the Eucharist, the faithful themselves would volunteer to organize armies to wipe them out. As late as the 1400s, St Joan of Arc wanted to organize an army to wipe out Jon Huss in Bohemia and she wasn’t alone. As you can see for many of the faithful no quarter was given to liberalism and personal interpretations of Scripture.

    As for modern Evangelicalism, as I predicted in my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” much of the mega church movement has already stalled and in some cases is in a free fall, some have turned to the Emergent Church movement and some have even become dissolutioned with that idea. Some big mega churches in Florida and other locations have folded up their tents and closed because of financial problems or because a charismatic pastor was replaced by someone less than charismatic. By 2020 mega churches of the world will, by and large, be a thing of the past. In times of trouble the faithful increasinly want to embrace the truth and to paraphrase Mark Shea, not “my own personal revelation of the moment.” The liberal self absorbed model is thankfully being replaced by the truth. The Dictatorship of Relativism is out and Pope Benedict XVI is in, Thanks be to God!

  • Tito:

    Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    You demonstrate remarkable reasoning here, Taco Man! I am deeply humbled. Although, it is not I that you are actually agreeing with here; it is more so our great vicar of Christ himself who’ve taught me much.

    Restrained Radical, I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

    AMEN!

    It’s like that “Salt of the Earth” metaphor that then Cardinal Ratzinger had elaborated on in that same-titled book:

    He envisions a largely post-Christian world in which the church will be on the defensive, smaller in numbers, but, he hopes, more coherent and committed in its faith.

    Quality vs. Quantity: Personally, I believe Christ would rather have the few and the faithful as opposed to the many and the heretical.

  • e, I sometimes wonder if Benedict might be mistaken, and we instead see the emergence of a huger, committed Catholic Church.

  • Pinky,

    A Catholic Church blessed with a multitude of faithful Catholics would be a great blessing, I grant you that.

    Indeed, there is nothing more I would want than sharing the authentic Christian faith with those who genuinely adhere to it.

  • Restrained Rad, reading over this article and your comments, I think we’ve got a failure to communicate. I’ve seen four different things labelled “liberal Catholicism”:

    1) orthodox Catholicism which illuminates a person’s politics toward compassion for the poor and needy, which Americans call liberalism

    2) hope for the increased allowance of some of the newer (or very old) religious practices within the orthodox Catholic faith

    3) disobedience, or permissiveness toward disobedience

    4) doctrinal dissent, or permissiveness toward doctrinal dissent

    You mention things that could potentially fall under all four categories. I don’t think anyone here would dispute the holiness of concern for the well-being of the poor. Liturgical development and changes in specific rules of Church discipline are fine (although I’m personally shell-shocked, and I’d like to see things left alone for a while). Breaches in Church discipline for the sake of disobedience, well, that gets into motivation, and I’m glad I don’t have to decide what falls under category 2 or 3. The last category is full-on wrong.

    I think this article lumps categories 2 through 4 together.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the more “Catholics” that leave the Church, the better. They’ll leave room for the truly Catholic Catholics! We don’t need the Liberals and cultrual Catholics in our ranks, holding us back and trying to control our Church so that they can justify their sins and their lifestyle choices ~ or their sheer spiritual laziness that only brings them to Mass on Christmas and Easter.

    This is no rain on our parade ~ it is a cleansing of Holy Mother Church! And good riddence! Those empty spots left by lukewarms and Liberals mean we have more space for real Catholics!

  • Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

    There is much more to being Catholic, and much more to being Anglican, than taking sides in the culture wars.

    Your suggestion here shows that your real religion is culture war nonsense.

  • Precisely Michael. I find this “war” mentality very disconcerting. Do we really want people to “leave the Church?” Perhaps we should want them to continue in their process of conversion, as we are called to — not get out. One might gather that people who wish these things have no hope for these people — perhaps they do have it. It is surely hard to discern.

    But what I cannot gather is, how is sitting around in judgment of others’ Catholicism, or lack of it, to our spiritual betterment? Have we made it through that narrow gate, or are we confident we’re going to pass through it? For the way toward destruction is wide and spacious.

    Judgment comes to the hypocrites and sanctimonious just as it does to the unrighteous — and from my reading of the Gospels, more harshly. Sometimes I get the impression, because it is so incredibly hard to imagine otherwise, that the people who evince such, dare I say, a pharisaic tendency don’t offer anywhere near the number of prayers for ‘bad’ Catholics, for their conversion, and for their ultimate salvation at the mercy of God with all the sinners that has ever lived in the history of our species than the condemnations and persistent flammatory rants about these people and their spiritual and moral failings — no matter how objective they be. Does holiness not demand more of us?

    It is too easy to sit around and list the spiritual and moral failures of an individual, or a categorized group. It is another thing to reach out, to try to be the difference to these people. Sometimes this requires not be stridently and coldly objective. I did not convert because people were telling my that a “gay lifestyle” was going to lead me to Hell. I converted because there was a vibrantly orthodox priest that loved me as a person, who did not see me merely as a dissident Catholic. It is so reductionist to reduce a person merely their worldview or personal struggles, no matter how much those things define them. A person is made fundamentally in the image and likeness of God — there is our starting point and dare I say, our ending point.

    This has nothing to do with accomodating heterodox theological or moral views, or shifting away from orthopraxy. If I seem self-righteous, pray for me, the unbelievable sinner I am. To take one of the dissident issues very personally, I would rather be a sinner who made it through the narrow gate and a saint in heaven by the unfathomable mercy of God that struggling homosexuals can pray to (and are prayed for by), whose life may have changed theirs, before I ever sat in stridently objective judgment of “those people” who might as well leave the Church and let more orthodox people enter in a nice exchange.

    “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

  • You’ve made the mistake that these people are judging.

    They want to feed their souls.

    The modernists in the Catholic church, some not all, want a church that cannot exist.

    I completely agree about a church swap.

    The modernists do more harm by leading others astray. They’ve done more harm than good.

    Your comments are full of assumptions that are unwarranted.

  • Do they want to feed their souls? If I wasn’t aware of the fact (and maybe not an orthodox Catholic), I might not have guessed.

    Moreover, I do not understand how the fact that dissenting people wishing the impossible legitimizes “swapping” them for people who would wish to enter the Church. For afterward: would they return? Would we go after them? Or would we leave them to their “liberal” ways?

    I cannot see why we cannot simply invite those who wish the fullness of truth and be the Catholics we need to be to our brethren who are on the fringes of orthodoxy. Why do they need to leave? I’m not a huge fan of the “get out” mentality. I don’t think it’s reasonable.

    Even if modernists do harm to the Church from within, I don’t see how those desperately insistent on orthopraxis — as good and noble the intention is — but if it is done to the point of throwing virtue out the window, I’m not convinced that some, particularly the most extreme traditionalists, do not bear culpability as well.

  • Eric,

    You may be describing an obscure minority.

    I’m all for church swapping, but I believe it is more rhetoric than anything else.

    I’ve witnessed many, many priests, even today in the archdiocese that you and I share, continue blurring the lines between the teachings of the church so that anything is permissible.

    Believe me, just because Pope Benedict’s initiatives have sprung doesn’t mean that those that want to harm the church are gone, nor are they sincerely ignorant of the truth. I have had to bite my tongue often to post about these dissident priests in our archdiocese. I have decided to let Cardinal DiNardo do it quietly rather than make more of a scandal than it already is.

    Yes, extreme traditionalists do bear culpability. The way they judge others without getting to know the person. They way they lack charity and gossip about others behind their backs. Especially how snobby they can be. I have friends who are extreme traditionalists and I see how uncharitable their behavior can be. And I do call them out on it all of the time.

    As far as church swapping, it represents my sentiments of how disgusted I am at both priests and laypeople that continue to teach, proselytize, and live worldly lives and values openly and without a sense of wrong that gets my gander. Believe me there are more than 10 times those type of people than there are extreme traditionalists.

    Believe me, they will leave (not all, some or maybe many) under their own recognizance before we ask them to leave (which no one has asked them to, but have only suggested on websites such as ours). Once they learn more of what it means to be a Catholic than to be of the world.

  • Has Eric and Michael Iafrate ever even consulted Scripture itself and look towards why Jesus Himself said that those who dissent from Church teaching (Mt 18:17) are to be treated as a heathen or publican?

    How many heretics in the early church won the hearts of innocent Christians simply because they were welcomed and embraced by those in the Church herself, which seemed to legitimize them and their heretical beliefs?

    An example of this is to be found within the Arian heresy which insinuated itself through countless ranks of the flock simply because of this error.

    Such a case is to be found today where many countless Catholics have succumbed to the Protestant notion that there is no such thing as the ‘Real Presence’, as traditionally defined by the Church, and that the Eucharist is nothing more than merely a symbol.

    Those naive continue to fall into such heresy because of how Catholics like Eric and Michael Iafrate would rather ’embrace’ such Catholics instead of subscribing to the same treatment of them as Jesus Himself had prescribed.

    It is no wonder why heresies such as this continues to gain ground amongst the majority of Catholics today within the Church but errors such as ‘abortion is a right, not an act of murder’ is likewise adopted and embraced not only by those who truly believe in such a horrendous notion as this but also by the innocent who unwittingly accept such an error because errant Catholics like their CCD teachers tell them it is so.

  • Wow, I checked back and found quite the debate going on. All I can say is this in response to the statement, “The one true faith can accommodate different paths”: So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.

  • “So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.”

    The problem being that there are those Catholics who would gladly accomodate the rats, even if innocent members of the church itself suffers that black plague of heresy which would tragically claim the very lives of many of the Faithful.

  • e.,

    So e., when are you going to add a pic to your avatar?

  • Pingback: The American Catholics Top-10 Most Visited Articles « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy! « The American Catholic

Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

His Eminence the polite and soft-spoken James Francis Cardinal Stafford head of the Supreme Tribunal of james-francis-cardinal-staffordthe Apostolic Penitentiary gave a lecture on November 13 at the Keane Auditorium at Catholic University of America last week titled, “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul“.  In it Cardinal Stafford critiqued President-elect Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,“ and he further added that Obama ran an “extremist  anti-life platform”.

Here are some highlights of his lecture:

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” by beginning a new sentiment where one is “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

The lecture, hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, pertained to Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and celebrating its 40 anniversary this year.

Stafford also spoke about the decline of a respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the original values of marriage and human dignity.

“If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” said Stafford, an American Cardinal and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See. “In the intervening 40 years since Humanae Vitae, the United States has been thrown upon ruins.”

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Cardinal: Obama "Aggressive … and Apocalyptic"

  • Interesting. I wonder if the Pope was sending a sharp message to Obama via Stafford?

  • Message sent loud and clear. One wonders if the first assault by Obamaites will be on all forms of human life protection or packing the FCC to snuff out the Fairness Doctrine. In truth, most of those allegedly terrible talk hosts are pro-life. Thanks to Cardinal Stafford for heads-up from The Boss.

  • Apparently the good Cardinal didn’t get the memo. Obama was the true pro-life choice and that far from being apocalyptic and extremist, he is our great hope for the end to abortion in this country and a great promoter of life. After all, we are told that nobody is really for abortion – leaving aside those who choose to abort their children, the doctors and staff that perform the procedure, those who consider it a right, and those who would prefer their grandchildren be aborted lest their child be “punished” with a child of their own – it’s pretty much true.

  • Pingback: Andrew Sullivan’s Rage Towards Cardinal Stafford’s Lecture « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • Cardinal Stafford is indeed typically soft-spoken… that he would come out *so* strongly speaks volumes.

    And he can’t be dismissed as a wingnut in clerics… he was fairly strong against the invasion of Iraq.

  • Speaks great volumes indeed.

    Something is afoot and I don’t believe that the recent boldness of American bishops along with Obama winning the presidency is pure coincidence (being a Catholic nothing is coincidence).

    I can’t put my finger on it, but we may be experiencing something akin to the tumultous 60’s, but towards a virtuous path, not that demonic path back then.

  • T- methinks you are sniffing out something real. There will be a humdinger of a kerfuffle between Pro-Life and Anti-Life (Obamaites) in the next three years. Time for American Catholics- aka America’s Happy Middle Managers- to do something they are reluctant to attempt in any endeavor. Choose.

  • Should Roman Catholics be single issue voters? Both of these candidates supported issues in conflict with catholic doctrine. Should McCain supporters repent also?

    McCain supports the death penalty for federal crimes. McCain says we should extend use of the death penalty and implement stricter penalties for violent felons. McCain supported legislation to prohibit the use of racial statistics in death penalty appeals and supports banning it for persons under eighteen.

  • Jamel,

    One issue carries more weight than the other and more grievious.

    I can understand the reasoning that you are stating.

    Though “one-issue” Catholics is a straw man argument.

  • Jamel – Catholics are not required to be single-issue voters. Many Catholics, however, feel that the moral significance of abortion outweighs many of the other issues.

    For instance, there are 1.3-1.4 million abortions every year in the U.S., whereas about 55-65 people are executed. It is hard to make the case that these are of equal significance if you believe that abortion takes a human life.

  • Moreover, people often overlook the fact that Democrats are not monolithic on capital punishment. Both Clinton and Obama support capital punishment.

  • Pingback: CNN Wolf Blitzer’s “Diatribe” of Cardinal Stafford « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective