Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Where’s the Holy Spirit in the Contraception Debate?

I just came across this letter that I wrote in response to “Pew View: Doctrine + Reality = Disconnect ± Hypocrisy,” a Guest Commentary by James P. Walsh and “Both sides are wrong” a letter to the editor by Woody Nedom in the March 16, 2012 issue of The Valley Catholic, the San Jose, CA, diocesan newspaper. I still find it appalling that the bishop's newspaper would print articles and letters strongly critical of Church doctrine on contraception and other moral issues.  See also a related post I wrote  titled Contraception and the Average Catholic, which  describes my experiences with how a "moral" theologian  taught at the bishop's Institute for Leadership in Ministry against the Church's prohibition of contraception and other doctrines.

James Walsh’s Guest Commentary in The Valley Catholic is an angry stew of an article, mixing praise for John Rock as the inventor of The Pill and of in vitro fertilization with chunks of criticisms of Catholic Church doctrines, which he labels as disconnected with reality, backward, and hypocritical. In the same issue of The Valley Catholic, the first letter, by Woody Nedom, in the "Letters to the Editor" section refers to the Catholic bishops’ “irrational opposition to birth control” …. “a doctrine that should no longer exist and that harms the credibility of the Church.”

“What is such an article doing in a diocesan Catholic newspaper? And “Why is such a letter prominently featured in the same issue?” are questions that a devout Catholic might well ask. So I’m asking. [It won't surprise you that I never got an answer.]

Left: John Rock, the only Catholic doctor who signed a petition to legalize birth control in 1931 [From the the Wikipedia article on John Rock.]

Walsh’s article is heavily seasoned with his beliefs that Church doctrines victimize women, minorities and the poor. Without citing any proofs, he also states that the same doctrines somehow benefit old males and those perverted priests who have preyed on the young.  It appears as if he throws in a completely off-topic mention of the sex abuse scandal with an aside about the old male hierarchy to try to make his stew more palatable to the like-minded.

Also, oddly enough, Walsh throws in a blurb about the 2008 book, The Fertility Doctor: John Rock and the Fertility Revolution, even though book reviews are not usually published about books that have been out for four years.

Rock is no hero. Rock, along with many others, wanted the Church to join with the Protestant denominations who abandoned the universal Christian condemnation of contraception starting in 1932. Walsh and Nedom are in the camp that believes that Pope Paul VI’s restatement of the ban on contraception in Humanae Vitae was due to that pope’s “weakness and timidity.”

None of those who despise Humanae Vitae seem to be able to glimpse the evident work of the Holy Spirit in how that so-called weak and timid Pope was able to stand up against the so-called “experts” and reaffirm the Church’s traditional teaching on this matter. Part of what seems to be lacking in opponents of that document is Faith in the discernment of the Church’s Magisterium.  Also lacking is an understanding that Church doctrine is not defined by majority vote.

In spite of the spiteful contrary claims, the Pope prophetically predicted the damage to the status of women, to the family, and to society that would result if birth control became the norm. If you haven’t read Humanae Vitae yet, read it. You might just be amazed at how true his predictions were about the harm that would come if contraception was fully accepted.

Fortuitously behind the scenes, and far away from the Vatican, by the grace of God, a Polish Archbishop and doctor of philosophy had been teaching for years a reasoned defense for the Church’s position against contraception, that was published as Love and Responsibility. . The young Archbishop Karol Wojtyla was one of the experts consulted by Paul VI before the pope released the encyclical.  The arguments of the Krakow archibishop were not used in full in the encyclical, which author George Weigel says is a large part of the reason why the encyclical was not received with more acceptance.

When Wojtyla became Pope, he presented his philosophy of marital love in a series of talks to papal audiences that has become collected under the title Theology of the Body.

I can’t begin to address all the misinformation about how contraception reduces the “need” for abortions. But I remember speaking in 1989 with a high school counselor who provided birth control information to her students, who frankly admitted that out of wedlock births and abortions have skyrocketed since education about contraception was made widely available. It is completely unnatural and has devastating consequences to teach that the intimacy that belongs in marriage should be encouraged inside and outside of marriage, for the pleasure alone.

The natural outcome of intimacy between a man and a woman is conception. When a pregnancy results, which it often does, no matter what form of contraception is used, the conception of the child is seen as a failure. The woman who conceives is often blamed and abandoned, and the child who is conceived is often killed.

At the time when The Pill was being touted as “natural birth control,” no one, including the experts knew how The Pill works. Now it is agreed that The Pill uses hormones that put the woman’s body into a state of false pregnancy for year after year and inhibit ovulation. Doctors know now that The Pill has serious consquences for women's health, with highly increased risk of breast cancer. They also have discovered that The Pill also is an abortifacient.

Eggs often do get released, and conception often does occur, but The Pill makes the lining of the womb inhospitable. Metaphorically speaking, the conceived child then dies because there is no room for him in his mother’s womb.

Walsh notes that that his parish bulletin in 2011 listed 28 twins, a contrast to only one set of twins in his first Communion class, and sees in this explosion of twinning the result of the work of John Rock.  What Walsh doesn’t note is that the Catholic Church forbids in vitro fertilization.

Here are a few reasons why: In vitro fertilization starts with the use of pornography and masturbation to obtain the father’s sperm, continues with the use of dangerous doses of hormones administered to the woman to achieve the creation of multiple fertilized eggs (known as human beings to those of us who care). When any of the new lives that are conceived are found to be imperfect or superfluous, they are destroyed.  Those multiple sets of twins Walsh saw in his parish bulletin were most probably the survivors of what would often have been sextuplets if the doctors and the parents had allowed all of the “superfluous” children to live.

Walsh writes that Rock lived and died within Boston’s Irish Catholic Church, but as I read once in a New Yorker article, Rock left the Church when it didn’t accept his pitch that The Pill was a natural form of birth control. And Rock died in New Hampshire, not Boston.

"Heaven and Hell, Rome, all the Church stuff--that's for the solace of the multitude," Rock said. … "I was an ardent practicing Catholic for a long time, and I really believed it all then, you see." From “What the co-inventor of the Pill 
didn't know about menstruation 
can endanger women's health” March 10, 2000 
Who do you trust?

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