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

Wednesday, February 15, AD 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Well said, Mandy.

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

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

  • Pinky,

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

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

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

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

  • jvc,

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

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

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

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

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

  • @jvc,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Call to Arms: Oral Contraception and its Insult to God

Monday, January 31, AD 2011

Christianity does not simply ask followers to respect life, nor does it insist they denounce the everyday sins of humanity. Truly devout living compels us to actively defend the right to life, which is our duty as the children of God.  However, the defense of life involves education and exposing disturbing signs of moral decay. Heavily responsible for these recent immoral trends, dangerous forms of unnatural contraception are an increasingly-valid threat and widely misunderstood. Although the bible asserts that children “are a blessing to be cherished and cared for when given,” these methods of pregnancy prevention challenge those words with their blatant disrespect for life, increasingly leading young adults astray.

Nevertheless, many families continually choose these “convenient” forms of contraception to control their family size. Even unmarried couples now frequently use these forms of birth control to recklessly satisfy their sexual desires. Even more troubling still are the countless young people engaging in sex freely because a variety of dangerous contraceptives apparently allow it. The use of these products isn’t just an insult to relationships or marriage, but an attack on the entire foundation of children and the family itself.

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16 Responses to A Call to Arms: Oral Contraception and its Insult to God

  • OH, dear. We have someone else who is confident He knows what GOD thinks.
    And isn’t it coincidental, that God thinks just as he does.

    I will defer to your greater knowledge of the side effects of oral contraceptives. I will assume you are correct. Therefor I agree, they should be taken off the market. But my reason is that children and an unsuspecting public seek a remedy for problems that an uncaring society and church ignore. They are victimized and those that do it commit the unloving acts.
    Allow me to point out what I see as the flaw in your reasoning. You adopt the current reasoning of the church that sex is warranted only for the purpose of creation. Therefore, contraception and same sex acts are immoral because they involve sex with the intent to avoid creation of life.
    1. The rhythm method sanctioned by the church requires, a well planned, premeditated effort to thwart pregnancy. If the state of mind is critical to sin, Rhythm is the greatest offender.
    2.Many person are born sterile or rendered so for many reasons beyond their control. Eg There is a couple of doctors (male) who were both rendered sterile by mumps in childhood. They are in a monogamous same sex marriage. No matter what they do, they can do nothing to avoid procreation. God already did that for them. Are these the fortuities upon which eternal damnation rests?
    I’m a Catholic but i don’t think God gives a hoot about sexuality except as it reflects an unloving act. Personally, I think abortion is unloving. But I haven’t “been there” and am reluctant to judge because, judging is also unloving.

  • Antonio,

    Apparently you know better than Jesus.

    Good luck with that line of reasoning as you explain yourself to Him in the hereafter.

  • Antonio has much to learn about the “why’s” behind Church teaching. He also has much to learn about modern NFP and how it contrasts with the old rhythm method. Google is your friend.

  • OH, dear. We have someone else who is confident He knows what GOD thinks.

    Evidently we do.

    I’m a Catholic but i don’t think God gives a hoot about sexuality except as it reflects an unloving act.

    So you call out Tito, who is simply re-affirming the 2,000 year history of Church teaching, for supposedly entering the mind of God, but you find your own un-biblical and anti-Catholic perspective to somehow be authoritative?

  • “I’m a Catholic but i don’t think God gives a hoot about sexuality except as it reflects an unloving act.”

    But this is just the Catholic position. When you start thinking hard about what “love” is, you eventually end up with the Catholic position on the indissociability of the unitive with procreative aspects of the sexual act that express that love within marriage. So you’re in agreement with the Church, despite your thinking that you’re not.

  • OH, dear. We have someone else who is confident He knows what GOD thinks.
    And isn’t it coincidental, that God thinks just as he does.

    FIrst of all, it’s not like I really really wish contracpetives were evil just for the sake of it. I accept Church teaching because it is the teaching, and it is not contrary to reason.

    Second, are you claiming to know the mind of God? If so, why should we believe you – you are just as fallible as the next guy. If not, then how do you know this isn’t what God thinks?

    You adopt the current reasoning of the church that sex is warranted only for the purpose of creation (sic).

    Allow me to point out the flaw in your reasoning – this is not the Church’s teaching. The teaching (as mentioned above) is that the unitive and procreative aspects cannot be separated – more specifically, you cannot thwart the procreative aspect to engage in the unitive to the exclusion of the procreative.

    Using NFP (for a grave reason) does not thwart the procreative aspect as, by its nature, periods of low fertility are part of the system, and there remains a possibility of procreation regardless. Homosexual acts, by their nature, are only ordered to the unitive – they can never be procreative, evah.

  • thank you for proving my point. I respect your opinions but they are after all, just our opinions—Not Gods.
    Jeremiah long before Jesus announced that God had written his Word in our hearts not by scribes on stone or paper. The most we can do then is to search diligently and honestly as we can, that which we call conscience.

    I believe and submit to Church Dogma. As for Church Teaching, I refer to my conscience what the church writes on their stone tablets(teachings)

  • Jeremiah long before Jesus announced that God had written his Word in our hearts not by scribes on stone or paper.

    How do you know that…………..except through words written by scribes on paper (or papyrus)? Can you channel Jeremiah directly?

  • And didn’t Jesus anounce something about whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, etc., etc.?

  • thank you for proving my point

    First of all, not to nitpick, but proper grammar and capitalization would help me take you just a bit more seriously. Just because this is a blog doesn’t mean that you can dispense with the rules.

    Second, simply retorting that someone has “proved your point” isn’t really an argument. It’s an admission that you don’t really have any arguments to muster in rebuttal, so you’re now going to engage in cutesy rhetoric that make you seem like you somehow know what you’re talking about. It fools no one but yourself.

    I believe and submit to Church Dogma. As for Church Teaching, I refer to my conscience what the church writes on their stone tablets(teachings)

    If you can’t see why these statements are in contradiction, then there’s not much more I can say in response to you.

  • I believe and submit to Church Dogma. As for Church Teaching, I refer to my conscience what the church writes on their stone tablets (teachings)


  • I apologize for the bad grammar and poor sentence construction. I tried to jam in a response while on break. This is not offered as an excuse, just an explanation. I would be the first to complain of the same thing. Sorry.
    It wont happen again.
    in appreciation

  • Pacem.

    Here is today’s blessing/miracle direct from God Almighty through Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

    This evening as I (LIRR carries me home) left to pick up the wife from work at the ICU I said a little prayer for safety and acceptance of God’s Will. And, as I passed St. Ann’s RC Church said a couple prayers, hat off, as customary. When you hear a siren – an ambulance coming to the ER – you say a prayer for the person in need. The nuns and brothers taught us that.

    Picked up Mother and got home safe. Glory be.

    Miracle. Junior went outside. He called us to hear the front left tire pfffttting and flattening. I had run into something sharp on the road that busted the tire. But, God brought us home.

    Now, the first Commandment (it is not a “shalt not”) God gives us six or seven times in Genesis is variously to His creatures and to man: “be fruitful and multiply” and “go forth and procreate.”

    A man and woman in the sacramental marital conjugal act participate with God in creating new human life. Interfering with that blessing thrusts God away from us and pwerverts the commanded creative act and that is NO GOOD.

    Contraceptions are sins against God, nature, and creation.

    We Catholics believe in the forgiveness of sins. We are fallen and sin, and need Grace, and need to pick ourselves up and pray for Divine Assistance to not sin. Repent, confess, do penance, amend lives, do good works and glorify Almighty God.

  • I am always amused (and should be angered) by the lack of female debaters when it comes to the topics of contraception and abortion. Never hear much from them. Could it be their too busy working to support kids and lazy fathers. Apparently you guys have all the time (and energy) to discuss what effects women and children but not enough time to make their lives easier. Haiti is a prime example of your “lofty” sanctified disconnect. If only you could do more to remedy the situation for the millions living and being born who this god of yours apparently doesn’t know or care that they exist.

  • Lack of women? It appears you have perhaps not read many contraceptive debates…it always seems women are the most opinionated…as well we should be. Allow me, as a woman, to express my thoughts on the subject.

    I am a young woman, 23 years of age, who graduated summa cum laude from a state university and was the valedictorian of her college. I am now a working professional. My husband and I were married this past June and I would not touch oral contraceptives, or any contraceptives for that matter, with a ten foot pole. Allowing something so contrary to both science and reason to separate us in our most unitive and loving of acts horrifies me. I truly pity the women who believe the lies that doctors and money hungry pharmiceutical corporations have told them- that their fertility is a disease that they must medicate themselves against. The lies of my grandmother’s generation 50 years ago must be ended.

    The ability to carry a human life within your own body is woman’s most glorious gift…something men will never be able to do. I believe in a truly feminine mindset that this privilege of carrying and nurturing life within should be celebrated, not medicated.

    I do not quite understand how Haiti is relevant to this topic, but it is obvious that if human beings, children, are not treated with respect and dignity at their earliest beginnings, how in the WORLD are they to be respected later in life? One logically follows the other. Teach the world to respect children, the weakest among us, and respect for their stronger adult forms will follow naturally.

    Something very hurtful must have happened in your past to have such a bitter and negative view of Our Heavenly Father, whose loving heart allows His children free will and Who watches suffering that comes with our free will with much sadness. I know from past experiences that verbage can never heal the hurt and so please know that I am sincerely sorry for your pain. I will keep you most diligently in my prayers. God Love you.

  • Marilyn Closterman needs to get out more and meet men like us commenting here. While I have not met any of the other gentlemen on this thread personally, I’m willing to bet that none come close to Marilyn’s caricature of men.

Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

Tuesday, November 23, AD 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)

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

  • Steve Kellmeyer’s analysis is brilliant and depressing:

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

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

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

    The clarification is significant.

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

    Here’s the problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I said yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hey Tito,
    Add me to the chorus?

    By the way, good point Michael B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That is my grave worry.

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

  • Donald,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Tito,

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

  • Tito,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Why do you think this is a *farce*?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Okay, if we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, WJ is correct. So there is no debate between us. Jimmy Akin has done an admirable job recently and less recently trying to give a layman’s explanation of this… see here ( from 2005 and here ( from the other day (Tito linked it on Monday).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I think he blundered in a number of areas actually:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Donald,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    HV is a beautifully written and simple document.

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

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

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

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


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


    I’m confused! Confused. Confused.

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

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

  • Chris,

    I was paraphrasing and mocking Damian Thompson.

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

  • Tito,

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

  • Chris,

    No biggie.


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

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

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

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

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

  • Don,

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    It’s a first step.

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

    I feel much better.

    I’m purchasing the new book by Peter Seewald.

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

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

    L’Osservatore Romano needs to be purged.

    First the editor, then the rest of the staff.

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

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

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

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

  • Glad you found the actual words helpful, Tito.

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

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Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

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

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

Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion

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

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

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

The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

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

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

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

(Hat tips:  The Pulpit & Henry Karlson)

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

On Not Having Sex At Harvard

Sunday, July 25, AD 2010

From the New York Times:

There was a time when not having sex consumed a very small part of Janie Fredell’s life, but that, of course, was back in Colorado Springs. It seemed to Fredell that almost no one had sex in Colorado Springs. Her hometown was extremely conservative, and as a good Catholic girl, she was annoyed by all the fundamentalist Christians who would get in her face and demand, as she put it to me recently, “You have to think all of these things that we think.” They seemed not to know that she thought many of those things already. At her public high school, everyone, “literally everyone,” wore chastity rings, Fredell recalled, but she thought the practice ridiculous. Why was it necessary, she wondered, to signify you’re not doing something that nobody is doing?

And then Fredell arrived at Harvard.

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0 Responses to On Not Having Sex At Harvard

  • We need more Janie Fredells and Mary Anne Marks

  • We need to pray for them and the many others that have to live in a sex-saturated society such as ours.

  • Unforetunately one night about a year ago, I stopped at a serious tv documentary which was about a Catholic author who found extensive non marital sexual activity at Catholic colleges which went on to note then the gradual regrets of the females but with this caveat…that the females doing this outnumbered the males doing so but not by much.

  • Something which seems to be downplayed in the article is the belated realization that the annoying evangelicals of the first paragraph had a point.

    I think that both young evangelicals and young Catholics are young; they have things to learn about life. The evangelicals in this case seem to have not learned how to read Janie Fredell so as to speak with a potential ally in a winsome way.

    But Janie herself seems to have misunderstood her circumstances; it took immersion in Harvard to wake her up. Little or no sex amongst unmarried teens in Colorado Springs? I doubt that. The evangelical chastity ring culture may have seemed odd to her, but it grew up as a response to something. It was a rallying cry for Jesus, but also against a threat.

    The whole secular world is engaged in undermining the sexual virtue of the young so as to preemptively undermine their relationship with God before it can grow into something world-changing. From the WWJD shirts to the multicolored bead-bracelets to the chastity rings, evangelical expressions of counter-cultural fervor are like the redness and puffiness of a histamine reaction. They may border on kitch, but they are the signs of an immune system rising up to fight an invader.

    Miss Fredell is a Catholic; I hope however that now that she’s seen the infection up close, she’ll give her evangelical brothers and sisters their due props.

  • Catholics who insist that evangelicals have had a baneful effect on us (as evidenced in the recent sparring with Vox Nova) tend to deny the importance of chastity as a criterion of Christian fidelity. In so doing, they deny the importance of what the Church teaches is the very groundwork of a just society: strong family life. It may take people like Miss Fredell, educated in an elitist environment but respectful of the position of the evangelicals, to help our co-religionists to see the light here.

  • I’m not sure delaying sex until one is 30 is “pro-family.” I take that back, 30 is when they want folks to get married. Abstinance programs tend to delay sex only until 18-21. Certainly that is better than 14 or 16, but that is more a public health issue. If stop gazing at evangelicals long enough, we’ll see that they aren’t retaining their youth either.

    The time between when one is capable of producing a child and when one gets married has traditionally been called adolescence. Our model has now stretched that well past the early twenties. Having a large adolescent culture is not pro-family.

  • MZ, I do have to agree with you – adolescence has been unnaturally extended well beyond its due course. Largely due to materialism I would wager.

  • I take that back, 30 is when they want folks to get married.


  • I’m unclear what relation, if any, MZ’s comment is meant to have with the article quoted.

The Disgrace of Cardinal Danneels and the Belgian Catholic Church

Sunday, June 27, AD 2010

This past week, Belgian police raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgian, as well as the home and office of recently retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels, during an investigation into the sexual abuse of children.

Rorate Caeli provides the full text of Pope Benedict’s letter to Abp. André Joseph Léonard, Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels and President of the Belgian Episcopal Conference, responding to the unfortunate series of events:

I wish to express to you, dear Brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and my solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out in Mechlin Cathedral and in places where the Belgian Episcopate were assembled in plenary session. During that meeting, aspects related to the abuse of minors by members of the clergy were to have been treated, among other things. I have myself repeated numerous times that these grave facts should be treated by the civil order and by the canonical order in reciprocal respect for the specificity and autonomy of each one. In this sense, I wish that justice will follow its course, ensuring the rights of persons and institutions, in respect for victims, with the recognition, without prejudices, of those who wish to collaborate with it and with the refusal of everything that could darken the noble duties that are ascribed to it.

As Rorate Caeli notes, there is a “one-sideness” and “tone-deafness” to the papal remarks. The impression is exacerbated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone,

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21 Responses to The Disgrace of Cardinal Danneels and the Belgian Catholic Church

  • And there are still many people that “pooh-pooh” pointing out the wrongs of our bishops.

    Well I’m glad I never listen to their crocodile crying.

  • “Those expressing frustration over the impertinence of the Belgian police’s raid…” include the pope!! This is truly horrifying to me.

  • This is the particularly disturbing in light of Danneels having been considered papabile in some circles. We certainly have the Holy Spirit to thank that we don’t have someone so obviously tainted at the healm at this time.

    On the Vatican response — their press office is pretty notoriously amateur. I wonder if they responded to the accounts in the populat press on the first day without actually having looked into the details first.

  • So these sorts of statements released with the pope’s “signature” are routinely not written by the pope himself?

  • I reread the entire article over at The Brussels Journal.

    Cardinal Danneels disgusts me almost as much as Weakland did.

    Cardinal Danneels should be handcuffed and taken into custody until a trial date is set for his cover-up of the sickness inside the Belgian Catholic Church.

  • This looks like an absolutely horrible mess, far worse than the scandala in Ireland and the US. I can understand how a kid who went through this grows up with an implacable hatred of the Catholic Church. It appears that Cdl Danneels and his band of brothers were allowed to get away with it for so long precisely because they were part of the liberal establishment. All too often these prelates, instead exercising close pastoral care and supervision of the spiritual life of Catholics, spend their time holding forth on matters of peripheral concern such as Israel and immigration. I suppose this is the preferred way to ease their conscience. Cdl Danneels is famous for allowing Muslims free rein on Catholic property.

  • Cardinal Danneels used his standing as the prelate of Belgium to push for his most extreme liberal causes at the expense of the souls he was suppose to shepherd.

    This should be a warning to Cardinal George, O’Malley, and the rest of the liberal cabal at the USCCB that they need to heed the spiritual needs of their flock instead of pushing the Democratic Party agenda and warming up to Teddy, Nancy, and John Kerry.

    This disgusts me to no end.

  • This is a pissing contest between the Belgian liberals and the conservatives. Obviously this was part of a sex education program instituted by Daneels to be au currant with other European nations. If yoyu’ve not seen some of the things that is being taught to 13 year olds in ‘secular’ education, it would make you wretch. However I noticed that this article omits the last paragraph from the Journals article which expressed the responses from other Cardinal prelates around the Globe on such a course.

    “I received letters of support from cardinals from all parts of the globe. “I share your concern. It is important that you do not leave the matter uncontested,” wrote Cardinal Meisner of Cologne; “You have good reasons to be concerned,” wrote Cardinal Wamala of Uganda; “I feel strongly enough to write to Cardinal Danneels in the hope that he may enlighten me,” wrote Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines; “If I have the opportunity to discuss with Cardinal Danneels the matter you have drawn to my attention, I will do so,” wrote Cardinal Williams of New Zealand; “I shall try to do something in order to help you,” wrote Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo; “I am aware that your concerns have been brought to the attention of Cardinal Laghi, Prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education,” wrote Cardinal O’Connor of New York.”

    None of this mitigates due process or even begins to construe a legal linkage between the abuse cases and sex education courses. If so, American courts will be extremely busy in the future.

  • Robert C.,

    I read the same article and my question is, did those bishops and cardinals follow up those letters of support by contacting Cardinal Danneels and investigating these allegations.

    Regardless, if this is true, Cardinal Danneels should be scrutinized with a thorough investigation of his memoirs.

  • Danneels is clearly much at fault here, and I would imagine that at the very least he’ll end up like Law.

    At the same time, as I think about it, the search of the crypt remains a pretty over-the-top act. I mean, seriously: outside of a Dan Brown novel who is going to be hiding incriminating documents in the crypt of a dead bishop? If you want to get rid of incriminating documents, the obvious thing would be to get rid of them not bury them in a place which would result in the maximum possible scandal if they were found there. (If the shredder is un-handy, I believe that a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the leopard” is traditional.)

    While having no interest in cushioning Danneels’ long overdue fall from grace, it seems fairly reasonable of Rome to be upset over the crypt opening — even if it was only drilling a couple holes and peeking around with a camera.

  • Raiding the tombs is absolutely over the top.

    As one Vatican observer said, not even during the communist era did such acts occur.

  • Exactly correct, Darwin.

    I do think people need to support a proper investigation if there are justified reasons for it; on the other hand, I do not think that allows extreme police-state like tactics.

  • “not even during the communist era…”


    Much worse happened in the communist era, and continues to happen under communism today, but the Vatican ignores it.

    Churches and shrines are routinely bulldozed in communist China and in Vietnam. Tombs mean nothing to them.

    Why does the Vatican ignore the millions of Catholics put to death by communism?

  • Come now, is the entire clergy abuse scandal really the fault of “liberal” bishops? Worldwide? Seems to me there has been plenty of scandal to go around.

    Certainly, the protectors of perps like Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado were not hardly the liberation theology types, including the past Bishop of Rome.

    The problem is an old-boy network of fraternal pandering and protection, not unlike what was often seen in groups like Freemasonry and the Mafia.

  • RSG,

    including the past Bishop of Rome.

    Yes, anti-Catholic bigots are a dime a dozen.

    Thanks for that bit of nawlidge.

  • The paedophile clerics and their friends in the Belgian Church hawe sown the wind, now their reap the storm, their reward. I hope the police will investigate them carefully in minute details and jail them with harsh sentences.
    Their fellows in the US will take their turn soon.
    I am sorry for the Pope and for Card. Bertone.
    The Pope may err in that issue: The pontifical infallibility doesn’t stretch up to protect these criminals, even if our Holy Father haas but a few responsibility in the laissez-faire which was the policy of his predecessors.
    There is an URGENT need to sweep and clean vigorously the Temple of God. The door is wide open to push these evil men out.

  • Fr. Marciel was pathological. He used the Church and his alleged orthodoxy as cover for his pathology but never sought to change the Church into his sad image. Clerics who promoted catechisms like those noted in the links were trying to change the Church to advance their pathologies. Quite a difference.

  • The church will fight the homosexual paederasty that has pushed its liberal agenda for too long under a false interpretation of Vatican II. The liberal mafia must be identified and cast out from wherever it has infested the Church.

    This is battle royal.

    Support the Holy Father.

    The church is fully aware of the persecution and murder of Catholics around the World. See ACT (Action for the Church in Need)

  • The Patriarch of the West, The Pope is infallable on faith & morals but on issues like homosexual pedophila John 23, Paul 6 & John Paul 2 will have a lot to answer for in that horrible day they face G-D. Under their regimes liberal-socialist theology and a cabal of homosexual priests, lesbian nuns, and queer monks were given free reign and grew worldwide. The denigration of the 16oo yr old divine liturgy (Mass) liberation theology perverted seminaries since the ambiguous pastoral council called vatican 2 was the crack in the wall liberal socialists had been looking for, for the last 100 years. They found it in john 23rd aggoriomento. Even the socialist pope Paul 6th finally admitted the stench of satan had entered the church,(with the help of the above hierarchs).It is up to this good and holy Pope Benedict 16th to mop up the mess of these previous Popes.

  • Millions voted by walking out of the Catholic church in the years since Vatican 2 (rightly or wrongly). What was Holy & Sacred prior to this council suddenly became profane & illegal and anyone who dared to attend the ancient liturgy or question a liberal parish priest were ridiculed and shunned as fanatics. When in fact the real fanatics were the socialist, liberals aka “usefull” idiots liberal periti and “theologists” like Kung, hierarchs like weakland, mahoney,Brown,Gumbleton,Daneel, law & suenan not to mention the author of the venacular service called the novus ordo missae the freemason Archbishop annabal bugnini.

  • In a parting thought I will predict, since I’m NO prophet that the so-called Liberal branch (infestation) in the Catholic church will go the way of the Anglican schismatics, the american & Canadian episcopals and the heretical church of Horny Henry 8th, the so-called church of England.

Last Weeks Top-Ten Catholic Posts

Sunday, June 27, AD 2010

Here are this past weeks Top-10 most visited Catholic posts from The American Catholic for June 20-26:

1. Parish Shopping by Michael Denton

2. McChrystal Should Be Fired by Donald R. McClarey

3. Sharia in Dearborn? by Donald R. McClarey

4. G.K. Chesterton on Lincoln by Donald R. McClarey

5. Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium by Chris Burgwald

6. Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2) by Darwin

7. Toy Story 3 by Michael Denton

8. Planned Parenthood, What Happened to the Money? by D.R.M.

9. Under the Roman Sky by Donald R. McClarey

10. I Am Shocked, Shocked! by D.R. McClarey

Honorable Mentioned

Top 25 Catholic Blogs by Technorati Authority by John Henry

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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2)

Tuesday, June 22, AD 2010

[Continued from Part 1]

Restraint, Relationships and Planning Parenthood

When I say that we “naturally want to avoid having children” at certain times, I would imagine that the image that comes immediately to mind is of birth control, abortion or infanticide, and most traditional societies have seen these in some form or other. However, I’d like to turn our attention to something so basic and so prevalent that we don’t think about it much.

From an anthropological point of view, the entire structure of our romantic and family relationships serves as a way to control childbearing, limiting it to situations in which offspring can be supported. Consider: Requiring that young women remain virgins until marriage ensured that children will not be born without a provider. Nor was the decision to marry, when it came, a strictly individual affair. Marriage was negotiated and approved by the wider families, because the families were in effect committing to help support the new family unit being created. Many cultures also required the husband’s family to pay a “bride price”, not simply as compensation for the lost contribution of the daughter to her own family, but as proof that the husband was of sufficient means to start a family.

Once in place, this set of cultural mores and laws provided an easy way to adjust to want or plenty:

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12 Responses to Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2)

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  • Chastity is very important both in and outside of marriage.

    “And the set of moral and societal norms surrounding marriage provide us with a way to manage that fact responsibly in order to have children only when we believe we can support them.”

    I agree. But, unfortunately our society’s norms and sense of morality has changed over time leading to a deterioration of family values, which has also in turn led to a break up of the traditional family unit.

    Plus, the Catholic Church has been quite remiss in promoting and teaching proper fertility treatment alternatives to IVF that are in line with Catholic teachings.

    But, Fr. Benedict Groeshel did recently host a show on Catholic fertility for couples with fertility issues.

  • I wondered if you’d mention Ireland. People think of the Irish as baby-crazy, but that has not always been the case as you say.

  • As a cradle Catholic I agree with your assessment. The only thing I don’t agree with is the use of birth control (aka condom) when your married and don’t want children. My spouse is a Medical Doctor and also disagree with the method the church authorized since it is not as full-proof as birth-control or condom. Let me correct myself hormone birth-control we are also against. My question I guess is why is the church against condoms even in marriage?

  • Marriage requires an openness to procreating and condoms inhibit that openness or are a barrier to that openness.

    Here is chart analyzing all forms of contraception and it shows reasons why the Church is against each form of contraception.

  • Alex,

    As Teresa says, the Church’s opposition to barrier forms of birth control are based on the understanding that they falsify the procreative nature of the sex act. From a Catholic point of view, there is not a moral difference between the use of hormonal and barrier methods of birth control.

  • Alex,
    While it’s hard to see at a glance because the columns are out of alignment, the chart to which Teresa links gives typical use effectiveness ratings (it’s not specified on the page but it looks to be measured in terms of pregnancies per hundred users) for all methods. Pregnancy rates for the fertility-acceptance methods allowed by the Church are actually lower than they are for barrier contraceptives–quite a bit lower if you exclude the now disused calendar rhythm method.

    These methods do demand a high degree of self-discipline, which many couples are unwilling to impose on themselves.

  • Alex..again…abstaining when the wife is fertile teaches sexual control, which is essential and the reason why couples who utilize NFP don’t divorce or stray.

  • The problem I see with NFP is not the theoretical admissibility of the practice, but with the widespread disregard of the Church’s requirement that such mean be used only for grave reasons.

    Now customarily one does not simply judge his own case– he submits the matter to an independent person. Hence, those having recourse to these methods should be doing so only after consultation with an orthodox spiritual advisor, who can judge the facts of a couple’s situation and determine if there truly is a grave cause for avoiding cooperation in the creation of new life.

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  • Sorry, for my delay in responding back. Thank all of you for the comments. We have looked into this method further and also reading Gregory K. Popcak’s “Holy Sex!” is the ultimate guide to a fulfilling, happy, yet virtuous sexual life.” I have to recommend this book because it does lay out what NFP is in detail and makes it sound so.. much more loving … read the book if anyone was like me… Thanks

Whats That Purple Building, Daddy?

Wednesday, June 16, AD 2010

Pornography has taken off with the advent of the Internet.

Now you can get streaming video and pictures of exploitive acts of all sexual natures and variety.

Viewing pornography can be addictive.  It can also destroy your soul, not to mention your relationships with women and how you view women in general.

It is said that your eye is the window into your soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:22-23)

Then why do you view pornography?

A documentary film titled What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? explores how pornography destroys souls, families, and this nations fabric of life.  It also shows what you can do to fight this evil.

Former porn users, Mark Houck and Damian Wargo, co-founders of The King’s Men, have taken steps to fight pornography by engaging in a strategy to close down Coyotes, a strip club in their own backyard. They succeeded! This inspirational video tells you how they went about it and outlines a plan of action for others to follow.

What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? will give you a fresh insight into how pornography is affecting everyone in America, and how men can successfully fight against this evil in their own lives and in their communities.

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11 Responses to Whats That Purple Building, Daddy?

  • Thanks for this. This is a movement that needs to grow. I don’t have statistics in front of me, but believe me I’d be lowballing it to say that 8 or 9 out of 10 men view pornography regularly, especially with the advent of the internet. Porn addiction is a real thing, and it is every bit as difficult to kick as drugs.

    We need movements like this that put a public face on the resistance, a group that lets men know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, and we need to fight back against this industry that exploits women (by reducing them to their physical appearance) AND men (by appealing to their basest, strongest sexual urges to make money).

    Porn is typically a private problem, and most individuals feels alone in the struggle. Let’s get this monster out into the light, where we can overcome it together.

  • Nice. Porn is shown prominently in the anti-porn trailer and documentary itself.

  • TAD,

    No it is not.

    Scantily clad women are out of focus and in the background, hence the warning.

  • They are not always out of focus or in the background. Despite the clear warning, the film itself is pornographic.

  • TurnAroundDude is the Catholic Anarchist who has been banned from this site, in yet another pathetic, and transparent, guise to leave a comment on this blog.

  • Catholic Anarchist redefines the concept of “pathetic.”

    Nothing less than a modern-day crusade against pornography and pornographers is required. On the website, the makers of the video take credit for costing one porn business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    If we had real Catholic leadership, indulgences would be promised to those who caused similar financial and other kinds of serious damage to the pornography industry. As far as I’m concerned, it is the top threat to families and the souls of children and young adults today.

    Of course, within the boundaries of the law, moral and civil. Maybe instead of focusing on trying to cripple the economy of Arizona, for instance, the outraged Catholic left could try and cripple the finances of the porn industry.

    Wonder what our friend will think of that suggestion?

  • Wow, reading the comments at Mother Jones is pretty eye-opening…

  • Andy,

    I completely agree.

    It is an addiction and Catholics must be on alert for those to help those in need.


    I read the first few and I stopped.

    The contempt for Christians was unbearable.


  • Thank you all for making a video to help those of us who want to help others’ but not sure where to even begin.
    The Kings Men are Awesome!!!

Men Need to be Men

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

The King’s Men is an organization for Men to (re)discover what it means to be a man, a real man, a Catholic man as well as a manly Catholic.

As men we lead and protect the family.

We need to be active in the life of the Church.

We need to learn more about our Catholic faith and much, much more.

In today’s society and culture the role of men have been degraded, feminized, or ridiculed.  Our roles as men have been degraded to eliminate ‘gender bias’ by militant secularist humanists.  We have been feminized to the point of denying our natural gifts of being a leader, provider, and protector.  And we have been ridiculed by being attacked as misogynists.

This has taken such a toll on our role as men, we have forgotten what it means to be a husband, father, and a leader in the Church.

Mark Houck and Damian Wargo of The King’s Men apostolate explain this and much more in a 35 minute segment of EWTN‘s Life on the Rock.

Part 1 of 4:

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12 Responses to Men Need to be Men

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  • I simply don’t get Donald’s obsession with “manliness” and the military. Ain’t those two obsessions signs of fascism? That’s what I learned in my history class.

  • Why look, it’s the Catholic Anarchist who has been banned from this site, adopting the guise of “Ricky the Teenager” to call me a fascist yet again. I do have to give the Catholic Anarchist a half point on this post. His understanding of both fascism and history certainly never got past the sophomore level.

  • In all fairness, if Michael, oh , excuse me, “Ricky” really was/is an American public school student, it’s no wonder his understanding of fascism would be so flawed.

  • Fascinating… “Ricky the Teenager” and “TurnAroundDude” both share the same IP address, which originates in West Virginia…

  • Not that Michael doesn’t often have interesting things to say, but if we did ban him from commenting, shouldn’t we remove these comments? If we’re wrong, ‘Ricky’ and ‘TurnAroundDude’ can e-mail us from a legitimate e-mail address (rather than the obviously fake ones used those comments) and we can apologize for mistaking the user of that IP Address with Michael.

  • I have put the ban on the Catholic Anarchist’s ip of the day. Tito the post author can decide what he wants to do with “little Ricky’s” comment.

  • John Henry:

    There is no way I want to lose “Ricky the Teenager” from the records. It’s too funny if it is Michael I. He once made fun of me from trying to use a pseudonym (granted it was Aragorn but still…) and I’d like evidence of Ricky the teenager for posterity’s sake.

  • Fair enough, Michael D. I noticed some of Michael I.’s more outlandish posts and threads had disappeared over at VN. I suppose there is something to be said for posterity; and Ricky the Teenager is a much more original handle than Aragorn….. 😉

  • Happy to help with your record keeping!

  • Thanks Donald.

    He’s staying (at least the IP address) in the banned column.

Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

Sunday, May 9, AD 2010

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

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

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6 Responses to Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (The inimicable Graham Greene, Brighton Rock)

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