Monday, November 24, 2008

Is contraception allowed under certain circumstances?

Q: We are firm in the Catholic faith and believe the teachings of the Catholic Church against contraception. However, are Catholics allowed to contracept under certain circumstances?

A: No. The teaching of the Church is:
"...there are objects of the human act which are by their nature "incapable of being ordered" to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object" [John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, no. 80]

"The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable." (Pontifical Council for the Family, Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, Februrary 12, 1997]
What follows is a compilation for ecclesial texts which present the Church's doctrine against contraception. I will continue to add to this list as I find more texts. This will allow you to study further what the Church teaches from ecclesial texts.

God bless,

  1. Pius XI, Casti Connubii
  2. Pius XII, Address to Midwives
  3. Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes
  4. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
  5. Pontifical Council for the Family, Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life
  6. CDF, Donum Vitae
  7. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor
  8. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio
  9. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae
  10. John Paul II, Gratissimam Sane
  11. John Paul II, Theology of the Body
  12. Benedict XVI, Address on the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae
  13. Benedict XVI, Message on the Occasion of the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

Monday, November 17, 2008

What changed in 500 years?

Originally Posted by Reformed
What changed in 500 years? The Protestant Reformation was based on essential doctrinal issues. It is my understanding that nothing has changed doctrinally in the last 500 years in regards to the Protestant Reformation.

In a letter to Zwingli, Luther wrote:
'If the world last long it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge.' (Contra Zuingli et Oecol., cited in 'Sola Scriptura: A Blueprint For Anarchy' by Patrick Madrid)
So, it appears that 500 years ago Protestants couldn't agree with Protestants with regard to the 'essential doctrinal issues.'

That hasn't changed.

One thing I encourage you to look at, however, is the early Protestant teaching on contraception, and compare it to today's Protestant teaching on contraception.

For instance, Luther sharply condemned contraception:
How great, therefore, the wickedness of [fallen] human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God! Indeed, some spouses who marry and live together . . . have various ends in mind, but rarely children.
Regarding the sin of Onan, as recorded in Genesis and involving the form of contraception now known as “withdrawal,” Luther wrote:
“Onan must have been a most malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. . . . Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed.”

John Calvin likewise wrote that
“the voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the [human] race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring.”
John Wesley wrote
'Those sins that dishonor the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he [Onan] did displeased the Lord—and it is to be feared; thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.'
The Synod of Dordt declared that Onan’s act “was even as much as if he had, in a manner, pulled forth the fruit out of the mother’s womb and destroyed it.”

The Eastern Orthodox taught, regarding the sin of contraception:
Concerning birth and the control of births the Greek Orthodox Church's stand is the following, in all respects in agreement with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ andthe heavenly Paul (1 Cor. 7, 1-6). According to this teaching, the husband and wife ought to unite conjugally without taking any prophylactic precautions whatever....If the husband and wife do not desire to have any children, thy ought to abstain from all conjugal relations while they are able to have children, and then to come together again in sexual union relying entirely and solely on God's omniscience. The use of contraceptive devices for the prevention of childbirth is forbidden and condemned unreservedly by the Greek Orthodox Church. [Greek Orthodox Handbook, 1958 (New York: Greek Archdiocese of North & South America), p. 46].
The Anglican Church (Church of England) repudiated contraception in 1908 in Resolution 41 of the Lambeth Conference, and again in Resolution 68 of the 1920 Lambeth Conference. In 1920, the conference argued:
'... we feel called upon to utter an earnest warning against the use of any unnatural means by which conception is frustrated....we believe that the question [of contraception] cannot be separated from the moral and religious issues involved.'
Resolution 15 of the 1930 Lambeth Conference broke with Christian teaching on this matter.

Who stands against artificial birth control still today?

On Feb. 24, 1961, a statement which approves of contraception was issued by the National Council of Churches of Christ, which consists of 25 major Protestant bodies and 8 Eastern Orthodox communions. However, because the Orthodox communions (at that time) recognized sexual abstinence as the only method of limiting their families, their delegates refrained from voting and thus dissociated themselves from the pronouncement.

Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians each support artificial birth control today.

Yet, before 1900 it would have been difficult to find any organized Protestant body defending the moral lawfulness of contraception.

God bless,