Quo Vadis, Papa Francisco? – CONTRACEPTION CONFUSION

FEBRUARY 25/MARCH 11, 2016

Quo Vadis, Papa Francisco?

22 – CONTRACEPTION CONFUSION

 

“Dear Pope Francis” –
A parish priest writes to the Pope following the confusion caused by his recent interview*

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/02/dear-pope-francis-parish-priest-writes.html

February 24, 2016

Dear Pope Francis: 

I write this letter to you as a priest to the Bishop of Rome and as a son to a father. I write with a heavy heart, and I know that heaviness of heart is shared by many of my Catholic brethren both clergy and laity.  

I watched the early news one morning last week to find that one of the headlines proclaimed that in an interview on the flight from Mexico to Rome you indicated that the Church’s teaching on contraception may be undergoing a change. As in the past, I went to the official translation of the interview to ascertain what you said. 

You never said that the teaching contained in Humane Vitae is no longer part of Church teaching. But you did speak about contraception not being an absolute evil and then went on to offer an example concerning Paul VI’s allowing nuns to use contraceptives because they were in danger of rape**, which, even if that were the case, is a context quite different from marriage. 

You must be able to see how secular reporters could take your words and jump to the conclusion that your words were a signal that the Church’s teaching on the moral evil of contraception is undergoing a change toward a more permissive view. 

Dear Pope Francis, you are not a good teacher in these situations. Teaching the truth about good and bad is a difficult task in a secular and self-centered world. It requires both clarity and nuance, neither of which was present in any of the conversations you had with the reporters. Often when I am perplexed or disheartened, I turn to the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman. Please allow me to send you the two following passages from his writings that I believe would be of great benefit to you and to all who are commissioned to teach the Catholic faith in an authentic manner. 

The first quote is from Newman’s Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, that amazing work in which Newman talks about conscience and its relationship to the teaching of the Church, specifically the teaching of the Petrine Office.

The sense of right and wrong, which is the first element in religion, is so delicate, so fitful, so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted—so biased by pride and passion, so unsteady in its course, that, in the struggle for existence amid the various exercises and triumphs of the human intellect this is at once the highest of all teachers, yet the least luminous.

Dear Pope Francis, what Newman is telling you and me is that teaching right and wrong is very difficult and must be approached with great humility and careful use of reason. Emotion and off-the-cuff remarks have no place in the teaching of right and wrong, and certainly no place in random remarks with reporters who are much more savvy than you are on how to get headlines in the morning news.

The second quote from Newman is from Development of Christian Doctrine, which some consider his magnum opus. This section deals with the need for Revelation in matters of faith and moral and the teaching role of the Church.

The common sense of mankind … feels that the very idea of revelations implies a present informant and guide, and that an infallible one; not a mere abstract declaration of Truths unknown before to man, or a record of history, or the result of an antiquarian research, but a message and a lesson speaking to this man and that … We are told that God has spoken. Where? In a book? We have tried it and it disappoints; it disappoints us, that most holy and blessed gift, not from any fault of its own, but because it is used for a purpose for which it was not given. The Ethiopian’s reply, when St. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, is the voice of nature: “How can I, unless some man shall guide me?” The Church undertakes that office.

The teaching Office of the Church is as important as Scripture. We do not believe in sola scriptura. And you, Pope Francis, are the head of that Teaching Office. But you are not the Church. You are the Pope, the Supreme Teacher of the Church. But you are not the Church, nor can the Church be reduced to you alone. 

 

 

The latter error of reductionism is embraced not only by worldly reporters but also by faithful Catholics. This is the result of the transformation of the papacy in the past fifty years into a world super star, which transformation is a deformation in the development of the doctrine of the papacy. That you bear the burden of the Supreme Teacher of the Church in an unbelieving world is the reason why you are loved by the Catholic faithful and are the object of their prayers. But please remember that your burden is the burden of the Cross, and therefore you must always be seen as a sign of contradiction by the world, such that when the world sees you and hears you, they see through you to the Cross of Jesus Christ and the love and mercy of God that the Cross shows forth. 

Please accept a piece of filial advice from a humble priest. Make a long, silent retreat this Lent and do what has to be done to listen to the God who is not heard in earthquake, storm or fire but in a tiny whispering sound.

Yours faithfully,

Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, Ph.D., D. Phil. (Oxon), Chairman, Classics Department. (Brunswick School, Greenwich, CT, USA)

 

 

*Pope Francis and Contraception: A Troubling Scenario

https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/pope-francis-and-contraception-a-troubling-scenario/

Posted on February 23, 2016
by 
Catholicism Pure & Simple
Emphases theirs

Continuing on with this important Catholic teaching of the immorality of contraception, E. Christian Brugger (senior fellow in ethics and director of the fellows’ programme at the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington), on the
National Catholic Register, had this to say yesterday.

 

In Pope Francis’ return flight to the Vatican from Mexico last Thursday, a reporter raised the issue of women threatened by the Zika virus, and then presented to the Pope two options for dealing with it: “abortion” and “avoiding pregnancy” (the reporter clearly meant the latter as a reference to the use of contraception). Could either or both be considered “the lesser of two evils?” he was asked.

What Pope Francis said, and the subsequent commentary offered by Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, on Vatican Radio the next day, invited a firestorm of discussion.

The Pope said very strongly that abortion is not, and could not, be a legitimate option. He said abortion “is an evil in and of itself.”

Referring to the “lesser evil” of avoiding pregnancy, the Pope said, “We are speaking in terms of the conflict between the Fifth and Sixth Commandment.” (The Fifth Commandment, of course, protects innocent human life and the Sixth safeguards the integrity of marital sexual relations.)

He did not say in what the “conflict” consists, and I am still at a loss to understand the comment. But he immediately went on to refer to “a difficult situation in Africa” where Pope Paul VI “permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.” He was referring to an oft-cited scenario, which some believe is fictional, of a group of missionary religious sisters in the Congo during the five-year-long period of civil war there from 1960 to 1965. Suffering rape and abuse at the hands of soldiers, their doctors apparently prescribed them anti-ovulatory pills to protect them against the rapists’ attacks. Since there is no evidence that the Holy See (under Popes John XXIII or Paul VI) ever condemned the sisters’ alleged actions, many have drawn the conclusion that Rome approved the use of contraceptives under the circumstances.

Most theologians today agree that the use of prophylactics to avoid pregnancy in cases of rape can be morally licit. Most subsume the case under the principle of double effect. Since the intention of the woman is not to render her sexual intercourse non-procreative, but to prevent the harmful effects of an unjust attack, the act, morally speaking, is not contraception, but self-defense.

An analogy might help to clarify this: A spear thrown by an aggressor is an extension of the aggressor’s attack. Foreseeing that one’s enemy might attack in this way, a solider would be perfectly justified in wearing a breastplate when going into battle as a prophylactic against the “finality” of the attacker’s attack, namely, the piercing of the solder’s heart. It is an act of proportionate (i.e., legitimate) self-defense against the aggressor.

So too, the migrating sperm in the birth canal of a rape victim is the extension of the rapist’s attack. Therefore, a woman foreseeing that an assailant might attack her in this way would be justified in protecting herself against the finality of the aggressor’s attack, namely, the fertilization of her ovum. She intends as an end the preservation of her health and as a means a proportionate (and so legitimate) act of self-defense. Since she never intends sexual intercourse, she cannot be intending to render her intercourse sterile. This case is fairly straightforward.

But the Congo case and the Zika virus case would only be (morally) analogous if the women threatened by Zika are not intending any sexual intercourse; if they fear rape at the hands of aggressors, and wish to avoid the consequences for themselves and any baby who might be conceived (e.g., the fearsome congenital condition known as microcephaly), they may use, as it were, a “uterine breastplate” to protect against their aggressor’s assault.

But a sexually active woman who uses contraceptives to avoid pregnancy can hardly claim she is engaging in an act of self-defense. If she chooses intercourse she chooses a procreative-type act. She may not want it to be what it is. And she may have strong reasons for wishing to render it something other than it is. But if unlike the religious sisters in the Congo, she chooses to have intercourse, her intercourse’s inherent procreativity is not an attack upon her, but a part of the fullness of the act she’s freely chosen. If she supervenes upon that act another act aimed at rendering the procreative-type act sterile, she intends what the Church has always condemned.

 

 

The constant and authoritative (and arguably dogmatic) teaching of the whole Catholic Church is that one may never intentionally render one’s sexual intercourse sterile. If there are good reasons for avoiding pregnancy — and avoiding a debilitating disease for a child not yet conceived is certainly a strong reason — then a couple should abstain from intercourse during the phases of the woman’s menstrual cycle where she is most likely to be fertile.

When Pope Paul VI was faced with questions of a moral nature about the anti-ovulatory pill, he saw clearly that if it were chosen to render intercourse non-procreative, the pill — like the condom, or vaginal barrier, or spermicide, or a retrospective uterine wash—was an instance of the type of behavior always and everywhere condemned by the Church. It was a contraceptive act. And he passed on the ancient judgment in Humanae Vitae when he condemned as intrinsically evil “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended — whether as an end or a means — to prevent procreation”

Seventeen years earlier, Pope Pius XII had said that this moral teaching “is in full force today, as it was in the past, and so will be in the future also, and always, because it is not a simple human whim, but the expression of a natural and divine law” (Address to Midwives, 1951).

Faced with the fear of conceiving a disabled child, we can understand why a couple might be tempted to have recourse to contraception to render their intercourse non-procreative. But by doing so they would be doing precisely what Paul VI condemned: i.e., performing an action, either before, during, or after sexual intercourse, which is specifically intended—as a means to avoiding the spread of infection—to prevent procreation. It is critically important to see the relevant distinctions between the Congo and Zika scenarios.

Pope Francis then said: “in certain cases, as in this one [the Zika case], or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” But as I have indicated it is not at all clear what relevance the Congo scenario has for the case of the Zika virus. Unfortunately, the Pope offered no further clarification at the time leaving the world press to conclude (understandably) that he had approved of contraceptive acts for women threatened by Zika.

Those of us who were concerned by the remarks awaited a clarification of the pope’s meaning by the Vatican. On Friday, Feb. 19th, the pope’s spokesman Fr. Lombardi commented on the pope’s impromptu remarks on contraception on the flight back from Mexico. Father Lombardi said the following:

“Now it’s not that the pope says that this option [i.e., “using contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations”] is accepted and used without any discernment; indeed, the pope made it clear that it can be considered [only] in cases of special urgency. […]
“So contraceptives or condoms, especially in cases of emergency and seriousness, may also be the subject of a serious conscience discernment. This is what the Pope said.”

Father Lombardi claims here that Pope Francis asserted that in cases of emergency women in good conscience may consider the use of contraceptives as a legitimate alternative for choice. (We may presume he is referring to women who are sexually active.) In other words, if serious circumstances prevail, women may do what the Church has always taught is gravely immoral, what no person under any circumstance or for any reason may ever rightly do. This is obviously problematic.

Some, perhaps many, will be elated by the Pope’s words. But those of us who support and defend the magisterium, in particular the successor of Peter, in their proper roles as guardians and interpreters of the deposit of faith, find Pope Francis and Father Lombardi’s words baffling and troubling. It appears that the Pope has asserted something that is false and contrary to salvation. I very much hope that I have misread the situation.

Whether or not I have, I would like to say two things. First, the extemporaneous remarks of a pope in an interview, and the commentary of his spokesman, do not constitute Church teaching. So these assertions are not guarded by the Holy Spirit and are not invested with ecclesial authority. Catholics have no obligation whatever to render to the pope’s words a “religious submission of mind and will” (Lumen Gentium, 25).

Second, Pope Francis is our beloved father. We esteem him in virtue of his office and will stand by him whenever he is falsely attacked. We wish for his good and for the good of the whole Church. And we certainly will never follow the pathway of Martin Luther into a rejection of papal primacy and apostolic succession. But the Church is Jesus’, not the pope’s or the bishops’ (and certainly not mine).

And so I say to beloved Pope Francis, my father:

“Please do not delay in reaffirming to the whole Church the truth and moral implications of the two-fold goodness of the marital act, which by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring (Canon 1055, §1); therefore if anyone acts intentionally against either the unitive or procreative goods, they ipso facto render their intercourse non-marital.”

 

**Pope Francis’ latest airplane presser remarks, post Mexico. Fr. Z’s take.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/02/pope-francis-latest-airplane-presser-remarks-post-mexico-fr-zs-take/

Posted on 18 February 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
All emphases are by Fr. Zuhlsdorf

Another trip, another presser, another post.

A priest friend wrote to me:

I’m writing a new prayer for all of us … a “Nine Hour Pope Plane Ride Novena.”

I will write now what I have written before.

 

 

Again, when I am elected Pope, We shall take the name of Pius X-II (“Pius Decimus Secondus” – or maybe “Clement Ganganelli”), We shall not give interviews or press conferences. We shall forbid the Lord Cardinals from speaking to the press without permission. We shall disappear into the Apostolic Palace for lengths of time so long that the press will begin to speculate that We may have died. Our encyclicals will be limited to five pages in Latin.  And Our first act as Supreme Pontiff will be to suppress the Jesuits.

Now … gulp… to this presser. And these remarks aren’t intended to reveal everything I think about it.

First, I read the transcript. I posted the link above.

Next, and this is important, I remind everyone that the Roman Pontiff doesn’t teach doctrine on faith and morals through off-hand comments to journalists ON AN AIRPLANE RIDE! So, relax about the contraception comment. It was meaningless. Moreover, I am pretty sure that that anecdote about Paul VI giving permission to African nuns to use contraceptives is an urban legend. We had a discussion about that in the COL Forum, which I ran for a long time. One of the former staffers is now working to dig up the files on that. More later, I hope.

As far as weighing into the issue of the American Presidential campaign and Donald Trump, after having celebrated Mass virtually on top one of the most politicized lines in the world, the US/Mexican border, I found his assertion that, as Pope, he doesn’t get into politics (“[I]l Papa è per tutti, e non può mettersi nella politica concreta, interna di un Paese: questo non è il ruolo del Papa) fairly amusing.  Moreover, his quip about building walls not being Christian is odd, considering that right outside the door of Santa Marta, where His Holiness lives, is a Big Damn Wall™ that encircles the Vatican City State and that after Francis’ election the Holy See had to buy an entire street from the City of Rome that runs alongside that BDW near to Santa Marta in order to create a secure No Man’s Land.

In any event, I don’t believe for an instant that the Holy Father understands anything about the positions of the any of the candidates in this presidential election cycle in any comprehensive way. He seems to have been reacting only to what the journalist included in his question about Trump. So his answer… meh.  Unfortunately we are now going to have to hear incessant commentary on it.

And he really doesn’t know the 2003 CDF document on “Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Status To Unions Between Homosexual Persons”? Okay. Maybe he doesn’t. Who cares? WE know it! And it is online right HERE.

That 2003 CDF document, especially addressed to politicians, says:

10. If it is true that all [ALL] Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, [!] in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided. This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

Finally:

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Now that this document has come up again, people will look at it again. That’s a good thing that came from this presser.   So, maybe Francis doesn’t recall immediately the content of the 2003 document, but he did affirm that Catholic politicians have to vote according to their conscience, and that their consciences have to be properly formed.  ”

[U]n parlamentare cattolico deve votare secondo la propria coscienza ben formata: questo, direi soltanto questo. Credo che sia sufficiente. E dico “ben formata”, perché non è la coscienza del “quello che mi pare.  …  A Catholic member of parliament must vote according to his own well-formed conscience. That’s it. I would say only that. I think that’s enough. And I say ‘well-formed’, because it isn’t the conscience of ‘whatever I like'”.

Right. Well-formed according to the mind the Church.  And the mind of the Church on homosexual unions and our obligation to resist any of that business is certainly and clearly spelled out in the 2003 CDF document. NO! to homosexual unions.

 

 

Also, Francis did a pretty good job with the response about civilly remarried people receiving Communion.  He said, among all the verbiage, “No”.

And he couldn’t have been clearer about what he thinks about abortion.

In sum, the Pope went to Mexico and he emphasized a few things which he thought were important to communicate there. Fine.  However, those things will now be buried in the news cycle because of his off-the-cuff quips.  The sliver of the MSM news cycle that includes the Pope will now obsess mostly about things that the Pope probably didn’t want to emphasize with his Mexico trip.

The moderation queue is ON.  I will cull comments severely. Don’t even bother if you simply want to bash the Pope.

UPDATE:

I’ve deleted a lot of comments.  Some of them were not bad, but I knew they would just stoke a fire I don’t want burning. The others… some of you lost my respect

UPDATE:

In a comment (not passed) one person wrote:

“Yes, there will be fallout and damage from this, but it is superficial.”

You can determine whether or not this is “damage”, but this gave Mr. Trump the news cycle for a couple more days very close to the South Carolina primary.

34 readers’ responses to this blog

 

 

**It’s not an urban legend, it’s a LIE: Paul VI did NOT give permission to nuns to use contraceptives.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/02/its-not-an-urban-legend-its-a-lie-paul-vi-did-not-give-permission-to-nuns-to-use-contraceptives/

Posted on 20 February 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
All emphases are by Fr. Zuhlsdorf

The other day Pope Francis, in the infamous post-Mexico airplane presser, said:

Paolo VI – il grande! – in una situazione difficile, in Africa, ha permesso alle suore di usare gli anticoncezionali per i casi di violenza. … Paul VI – the great one! – in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted permitted sisters to use contraceptives for cases of violence.

I’ve heard this before. I never believed it.

Years ago on the COL Forum (which I ran) we had a discussion about this. One of the staffers tried to dig up the old files. In the meantime he – The Great Roman™ – sent this information. It was not originally written in English, so I touched it up here and there… but not very much.

This reads like a soap opera, the one hand. It reads like a vicious campaign of lies and disinformation designed to confuse the faithful and undermine the Church, on the other. The urban legend (lie) is now so common that even high-ranking churchmen cite it as if it happened.   They aren’t lying, per se.  They are passing on something that isn’t true but that they think is true… even if it really doesn’t pass the smell test.

This whopper doesn’t pass the smell test. Paul VI told nuns they could use contraceptives… riiiiight. You decide.

My emphases and comments.

So far, I was unable to retrieve the COL Forum thread on this urban legend about Bl. Paul VI and contraception for nuns in Africa, but I had some notes stored and then idiocies about our Holy Faith have the ability to switch on my memory neurons to combat mode like yelling Saracens would do to a Templar knight who had been fasting and praying for a good fight the whole Quattuor Tempora of Lent.

You can search any archive, google any keyword, ask any historian or moralist, all you will be served with is old articles of pro-contraception authors repeating this story either with no supporting references or with no other evidence than references to older articles saying that “Rome” had OK’d contraception for endangered nuns in Africa at some point.

Notice, the more you go back in time, the more “Paul VI” becomes, more vaguely, “Rome”. Dig deep enough and you will find that “Rome” turns out to be just an article published, you guessed it, in Rome, precisely by the magazine Studi Cattolici, n° 27, in the year of our Salvation 1961. Title: “Una donna domanda: come negarsi alla violenza? Morale esemplificata. Un dibattito” (A woman asks, how to subtract oneself from violence? Exemplified morals. A debate).

Yes, I can hear you yelling at the monitor. Paul VI ascended to the Throne of Peter only in 1963.

And now I want somebody to tell me, with a straight face, that St. John XXIII allowed contraception.  Above all, I want them to show me where and when he did it.

Back to the article. The authors were 1) Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, later a bishop and a Cardinal but back then a respected moral theologian and the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Council, 2) Professor Francis Xavier Hurth, S.J., of the Pontifical Gregorian University, and 3) Msgr. Ferdinando Lambruschini of the Pontifical Lateran University (later Archbishop of Perugia).

Long and verbose story short, in that article Palazzini and Lambruschini explore a possible application of the “principle of the double effect” to the case of rape, where a legitimate end is pursued and the probable evil consequence is unintended. [NB: Double-effect!]

Fr. Hurth attempts an elaboration of Aquinas’ concept of genus moris and genus naturae where the moral status of an act can be different depending on its spiritual and physical characteristics. In fairness, I’ll note that, back then, chemical contraception was relatively new a subject. Tonsured moralists were unlikely to be all that familiar with the science and the physiology involved and it will take 1968 to hear an authoritative pronouncement on this specific subject, the reviled Humanae Vitae. And it came from that same Paul VI who is said to have allowed contraception, if only by way of exception.

 

 

That’s all.

No, really, there is nothing else.

The opinion of three moralists on a magazine, attempting to offer, I repeat, an opinion on a complex matter, gets quoted loosely and ad nauseam by other moralists and journalists and becomes “Rome” and later “Paul VI”.

They will tell you that that article legitimized the concept of “lesser evil”. Leaving aside the fact that we can never choose evil, no matter the scale of it, the fact is that in 1957 Palazzini had co-edited a widely used manual where the following is said (I quote a 1962 English edition of this manual):

“To choose the lesser of two evils is permissible [NB] if the lesser evil is not in itself a moral evil (sin), but a purely physical evil or the omission of something good or indifferent, from which in a specific case an accidental bad effect will follow, less serious, however, than that which another course would provoke” (Ludovico Bender OP, in Dictionary of Moral Theology, Ed. Roberti, Francesco, Palazzini Pietro. Transl. by H. Yannone. Westminster, MD: Newman, 1962).

Now, I am no moral theologian but contraception is in fact a moral evil in itself (see Humanae Vitae 16) and not a “purely physical evil”, much less “something good or indifferent”. Case closed.

Not many outside Italy know, however, that Cardinal Palazzini, was asked about this matter years later, and precisely in the ’90s when another such myth was concocted, seen that the Paul VI-Congo nuns version was losing credibility.  I am talking about the John Paul II-Bosnia nuns myth.

Those of us old enough will remember, during the Balkan wars articles begun to be published about “the Pope” or “Rome” authorizing nuns in Bosnia to take the pill in war zones. Palazzini is quoted in an article on that paper sewer some call La Repubblica which seems to have taken the place once occupied by the Osservatore Romano lately (OTOH, natura abhorret vacuum). The article was published on March 5, 1993. Link HERE.

Translated title: “The pill? Forbidden also for missionary nuns at risk of rape”.

Palazzini explains that all they were trying to do was to explore the possibility of actions aimed at preventing a pregnancy after a rape and before conception, supposing that possibility existed, in ways that have nothing to do with taking the pill for weeks for fear of a potential rape. So “Rome” (read: the author of an old article) denies having ever said that contraceptives are OK in certain circumstances.

[QUAERITUR] But what was this new article about and why were they interviewing Palazzini after 30 years?

Bear with me.

There had been stories of women raped in Bosnia (nihil sub sole novi). Fr. Bergamaschi, a Franciscan friar, had accused St. John Paul II of hypocrisy because the Great Pole had reaffirmed the constant teaching of the Church on contraception to the point of exhorting raped women to keep their babies but, according to Bergamaschi, had also authorized nuns to take the pill.  So journalists began to ask questions. [Agere sequitur esse.]

With the typically half-horrified and half-snarky tone, the reporterette of La Repubblica has to write that the Vatican is in fact unwavering in its position on contraceptives, even in the case of rape. The inhumanity! She quotes the then vice-director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Piero Pennacchini. His words:

“The Holy See never issued texts authorizing women religious to make use of contraceptives, even if they run the risk of being raped”. “I know of no official document by the Holy See on this”.

Disappointed, the journalist evokes Fr. Efrem Tresoldi, a missionary who says that he doesn’t know the extent of the phenomenon. “Surely” there is “talk” of contraceptives among missionaries. “Certainly” some nuns have been told to make use of contraceptives, says Tresoldi.  So, there are disloyal confessors or superiors of religious orders who tell nuns to act contrary to the doctrine of the Church.

OK Father, and what else is new? [Not much.]

Above all, since when disloyal members of religious orders are “the Pope”, or “Rome”? [When it fits.]

Unsatisfied, the reporterette turns to a missionary nun (she couldn’t find one from Bosnia so she asks one who had been in Africa for 12 years. Says the missionary nun: “Personally I have never heard of contraceptive pills”, “but there has been certainly the risk of (sexual) violence for many of us who lived though the great African upheavals. I don’t know if other sisters have been advised to take precautions”.

Back to Tresoldi, we are told that, of course, there is no official pronouncement, but that’s because John Paul II and his merciless minions are hypocrites who tell nuns to take the pill in secret even while they tell lay women to accept their fate and keep the baby.

That’s when the Repubblica hack turns to Card. Palazzini hoping to save the day with the lies of 30 years ago.

A few months after this article and others of the same kind, in July 1993 the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica (surprise!) [NOT] published what to this day remains the “doctrinal” foundation to the John Paul II-Bosnia nuns version of the myth: G. Perico, Stupro, Aborto e Anticoncezionali, volume III, Quaderno 3433, 3 luglio 1993.

Search all you want, this stream of the myth always goes back to this article.  [It sounds almost like the way all myths about Pius XII and the Jews go back to one source, a play in 1963, and that source was cobbled up by the KGB in a campaign of disinformation.]

No need to summarize it. Go read it if you want. I did.

He harkens back to the 1961 article and moves from there. [Surprise.] As happened with the Palazzini, Hurth and Lambruschini article, and even more given the firepower of the media of 30 years later, Perico’s piece sparkled lively discussions among moral theologians on the subject of contraception. Fine.

 

 

But that’s not the point. That point is that they have nothing, not one thing they can come up with to support the notion that Paul VI or John Paul II ever allowed contraception, when the facts, the known and easily accessible, official, constant and binding pronouncements of the Church show the exact contrary.

Discussions are NOT the teaching of the Church.

Off-the cuff-remarks are NOT the teaching of the Church

This is why on my bended knees I beg you all, Fathers, check your facts and, in John Wayne’s immortal words:

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much”.

44 readers’ responses to this blog

 

See also
https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/its-not-an-urban-legend-its-a-lie-paul-vi-did-not-give-permission-to-nuns-to-use-contraceptives/
Posted on
 
February 21, 2016
by 
Catholicism Pure & Simple

 

 

(Ed) Peters on reactions and claims about Francis’s off-the-cuff contraception remark

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2016/02/peters-on-reactions-and-claims-about-franciss-off-the-cuff-contraception-remark/

Posted on 22 February 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

From the canonist Ed Peters’ fine blog In The Light Of The Law. He doesn’t have a combox over there and doesn’t mind if we use his stuff here. DO, however, go over there to his place regularly. Emphases are from
Peters, comments mine:

Misunderstanding the (alleged) ‘Congo contraception’ case

Even by the standards of his reign, the presser Pope Francis conducted on his return flight from Mexico has provoked an unusual number of questions. [No kidding.  You should see my inbox, too!] I wish to address only one of those here.

Preliminarily, I note that the burden is not on the negative to prove that something did not occur, it is on the affirmative to prove that the alleged something did occur. [I sent a question to someone in the Press Office and I received no response.]

That said, though, it now seems all but certain that the ‘permission’ or ‘approval’ which Francis has claimed his predecessor Pope Paul VI gave for Congo nuns facing rape to use contraception simply does not exist. See e.g. Fr. Zuhlsdorf or John Allen*.

Unfortunately this myth has been invoked by the pope as if it were a fact of Church history, and, more importantly, in a way that suggests it might be a precedent to be considered in deciding whether contraception may also be used to prevent pregnancy in some cases of possible birth defects. That claim would take Pope Francis’ contraception remarks into a very different area. No longer are we musing about a point of Church history (as interesting as that might be), now we are dealing with Church moral teaching.

The stakes become dramatically higher.

[NB] So here’s my point: not only does the Congo nuns permission seem NOT to exist, but, even if it does exist in some form, it could NOT, [!] I suggest, by its own terms, be used by Francis (or anyone else committed to thinking with the Church) to call into question the Church’s settled teaching that “each and every marital act [quilibet matrimonii usus] must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (Humanae vitae 11) and that therefore “excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after conjugal intercourse [coniugale commercium], is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (Humanae vitae 14).

Obviously the Congo nuns case (or the Balkan nuns story in the 1990s, to take another variation of the myth) was not about martial acts, it was about religious women facing criminal acts of violent sexual intercourse; the Congo question was not about possible birth defects, it was about stopping rapists’ sperm from reaching ova that perchance had been ovulated. [IMPORTANT…emphasis mine]
Between women facing rape and wives worried about birth defects there simply is no parallel relevant to the moral question of contraception. One can like that fact or hate it, but one cannot change it or ignore it.  Moreover, Church teaching on the immorality of contracepted marital acts is, I believe, taught infallibly;
[Yes.] but, even if I were wrong about that technical claim, there is no question about what that teaching is, namely, that contracepting acts of marital intercourse, whether doing so as an end in itself or as means to some other end, is objectively immoral.

A discussion could be had, I think, on whether non-marital sexual intercourse is subject to the same moral requirements as that to which marital intercourse is held. [Ummmm….] Humanae vitae does not, as far as I can see, address that question. But, as to whether permission allegedly given to nuns to take contraceptive measures in the face of rape establishes a precedent for spouses wanting to contracept their sexual relations out of fear of possible birth defects, the conclusion seems inescapable: there is no parallel between the two cases, and so there is no precedent set.

*A note on Allen’s article cited above: As I feared he did earlier, Allen is once again arguing that papal non-action is papal action. [We knew that would happen, right?]

After claiming that then-Cdl. Montini was “close to the currents that shaped [the journal] Studi Cattolici” and that it “was assumed” that Montini approved of an article defending contraception by Congolese nuns, an assumption that Allen says “appeared to be confirmed later” when as pope Montini later promoted one of its authors, Allen tops off this journalistic house of cards with a zinger:

 

 

 

“The Vatican [sic] never repudiated the 1961 position [taken by theologians, not by Montini], so the takeaway was that it remained a legitimate option. To Italians — and remember, Francis’ ancestry is Italian … that meant Paul VI approved.”

Good grief. I say it again, good grief.  [I’ll call good grief… and I’ll raise another good grief.]

I can imagine not a few Italians are hitting the roof right about now over Allen’s opinion of their formal logic skills. But my question is, How many conjectures from assumptions based on silence may a journalist pile up before someone shouts Enough!? Here’s one for ya: God could have stopped this evil or that if He wanted to, but He didn’t stop it, so bingo, God is the author of evil. Talk about bad logic skills. Seriously, there are plenty of terrible things that John Allen has never written about, let alone condemned; may we assume that his silence on such matters signals his consent to them? If not, should not the same deference be accorded to a pope?

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BACKGROUND

Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Mexico to Rome

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-interview-from-mexico-to-rome-85821/

February 18, 2016

 

The presser: Viaggio Apostolico di Sua Santità Francesco in Messico con sosta a La Habana per l’Incontro con S.S. Kirill, Patriarca di Mosca e di tutta la Russia (12-18 febbraio 2016) – Conferenza Stampa di Papa Francesco nel volo di ritorno verso Roma

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2016/02/18/0136/00288.html

February 18, 2016

 

P. Lombardi commenta i temi affrontati dal Papa con i giornalisti (Fr. Lombardi’s explanation)

http://it.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/02/19/p_lombardi_commenta_i_temi_del_papa_con_i_giornalisti/1209799

February 19, 2016

 

 

Pope’s remarks on contraception and Zika virus cause controversy, confusion

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/popes-remarks-on-contraception-and-zika-virus-cause-controversy-confusion

By Pete Baklinski, February 18, 2016

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis has given another controversial press conference on his return from a papal visit, with one of his answers leading to headlines around the world saying the Pope has opened the door to contraception in some cases – specifically for Catholics in South American countries trying to avoid pregnancy due to concerns about the Zika virus. 

The pope was asked by one reporter whether the Church can “take into consideration the concept of ‘the lesser of two evils?'” when it comes to the question of preventing pregnancy to avoid transmission of the virus.

The pope opened his answer by categorically condemning abortion as a solution to the Zika virus, but on the question of avoiding pregnancy, he added: “We are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment.”

“The great Paul VI in a difficult situation in Africa permitted sisters to use contraception for cases of rape,” he told reporters.

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” the pope added. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

The pope’s answer, in particular the apparent parallel he drew between the case of the nuns’ use of contraception and the case of the Zika virus, has widely led to the interpretation that the pope was approving the use of contraception in some cases.

(Find a full transcript of the pope’s remarks on the plane here.)

In his famous 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI reiterated the Church’s long-standing and definitive teaching that artificial contraception is “intrinsically wrong,” namely that it is always and in every instance evil, because it contradicts the procreative purpose of sex. 

Some moral theologians have said that non-abortifacient contraceptives could be used in cases of rape as a means of self-defense against an aggressor. This distinction would not apply in the case of voluntary intercourse between couples concerned about Zika.

The pope’s remarks have already raised concern among many Catholics.

Maria Madise, manager of Voice of the Family, an international coalition of Catholic pro-life and pro-family groups, said, “The Vatican has yet to confirm Pope Francis’s comments, but whatever the meaning of those comments, the Church’s teaching has not changed and cannot change. Catholic teaching remains that contraception is wrong in all circumstances.”

“Whatever Pope Paul VI is alleged to have said regarding nuns in the Belgian Congo, in Humanae Vitae he repeated clearly the Church’s constant teaching that the separation of the procreative and the unitive aspects of the conjugal act is always wrong.”

 

 

“We have great sympathy for parents who may conceive a disabled child, but contraception is neither an ethical nor effective answer to the dangers of the Zika virus,” she added. “It should also be pointed out that hormonal forms of contraception can cause early abortions.”

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus, critics have pointed out that not one death has resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. However, when a pregnant woman contracts the virus, many health experts believe it can cause microcephaly in their unborn child.

The pope’s comments on contraception come one week after Catholics for Choice, a liberal Catholic advocacy group based in Washington, urged the pope through an advertisement in the International New York Times to change Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality so that women living in the epicenter of the Zika virus could use contraception as well as abortion to stop having children. 

In his response on Zika, the pope also offered a strong condemnation of abortion. “Abortion is not a lesser evil. It is a crime. It gets rid of one to save another. It’s what the mafia does. It is a crime. It is an absolute evil,” he said.

“Let’s not confuse the evil of ‘simply’ avoiding a pregnancy with abortion,” he said. “Abortion is not a theological problem, it’s a human, medical problem … a person is murdered to save another one, in the best of cases. In others, just to have fun.”

 

 

Pope Francis probably got his history wrong when talking about contraception and Zika

https://timeline.com/pope-francis-got-his-history-wrong-when-talking-about-contraception-and-zika-6a9d5d0960cd?gi=5f877eda7c90#.pmyirfmhz

By Tim Townsend, February 19, 2016

Pope Paul VI never mentioned the Belgian Congo and the mass rape of nuns

Lost in the Trump-Pope rap battle over who’s a real Christian was another newsmaking nugget from Pope Francis’ plane trip back to Rome — about the Zika virus and contraception.

In an answer to a reporter’s question aboard Shepherd One from Mexico, Francis indicated Catholic women could use contraception if they were in danger of contracting the virus. Unlike abortion, the pope said, “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.”

In supporting his case, the pope made a historical reference to one of his predecessors and the rape of nuns in 1960s Belgian Congo that left some Catholic theologians and historians scratching their heads.

Francis was speaking off the cuff, but he may have gotten his Catholic history wrong.

The Zika virus is hitting Catholic countries in Central and South America hard, and public health officials are telling women they should wait to get pregnant. But the Catholic Church opposes artificial birth control. (Instead, it promotes “natural family planning,” a practice in which women avoid sex during ovulation.)

Just ahead of Francis’ trip to Mexico, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil said contraceptives aren’t a solution to Zika, and “there is not a single change in the church’s position.”

Catholic policy around contraception is complicated, but broadly the church opposes artificial birth control because it interferes with the natural process of procreation. In the eyes of the Vatican, it simply isn’t OK to use contraception to avoid a pregnancy, even one that could result in the birth of a child with microcephaly.

To back up his comments on the plane about the Zika virus and contraception, Francis summoned the memory of one of his predecessors, Pope Paul VI, and a grim period of violence in the early 1960s during the Congo Civil War.

“Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” Francis said. “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

The Catholic News Agency explained that “in the early 1960s … the Vatican granted a dispensation to religious sisters living in the Belgian Congo who were in grave danger of rape due to civil unrest to use oral contraceptives.”

There was certainly rape in early 1960s Congo, but did the Vatican actually grant a “dispensation” for nuns in danger of rape?

In 1975’s Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, Susan Brownmiller wrote that while some believed there were racist rumors “designed to embarrass the cause” of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, accounts of rape — including of nuns — were meticulous and horrifying.

King Baudouin of Belgium commissioned a white paper, “Congo July 1960: Evidence,” released as anti-Congo propaganda, that detailed 794 rapes of Europeans over 10 days in July. One entry depicted the gang rape of two nuns in a prison cell. An American Universities Field Staff reporter subsequently talked to “shocked” priests who told him “[abortion] must be performed” on four other nuns who’d been beaten and raped.

The Rev. James Keenan, a theology professor at Boston College has looked into the debates over the Congo nuns in theological circles at the time, most of which occurred when John XXIII was pope. (Pope Paul VI was elected in June 1963.)

“Many major theologians weighed in favorably that the nuns had a right to prevent conception in the face of possible rape,” Keenan said.

In fact, there is a conspicuous lack of communication from either pope about the Congo nuns. John XXIII’s silence may have meant something. He didn’t censure any of the Catholic theologians who favored the idea, which some may have interpreted as tacit approval.

 

 

Cardinal Giovanni Montini, the future Paul VI — who, in 1968, wrote Humanae Vitae, the papal document that articulates the modern Catholic position banning contraception in normal circumstances — actually visited the Congo in 1962. But he didn’t write or say anything then, or as pope, about the issue of nuns and contraception, Keenan said.

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

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

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

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

The Congo nun-contraception story surfaced again in 1993 when Bosnian bishops invoked it to debate whether they should allow nuns to use the Pill or the “morning after” pill during the Bosnian genocide.

So, did Paul VI have anything to do with permitting nuns in the Congo to use contraception, as Francis suggested? Not everything the Vatican knows is made public. It’s secret filing cabinets are deep.

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

 

 

Did the Pope Just Permit Contraceptive Use?

http://www.onepeterfive.com/did-the-pope-just-permit-contraceptive-use/

By Steve Skojec, February 19, 2016

Short answer: yes.

Read this for yourself (with my emphasis):

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

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

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

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

The language, as always, is slippery. So why do I think he just permitted contraceptive use?

Because context matters.

The question he was asked took abortion off the table in order to make contraception look better by contrast – the proverbial “lesser of two evils.”

Pope Francis talks about “avoiding pregnancy,” which sounds like NFP talk, until he goes on to say, “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.”

Now, there are any number of Catholic researchers out there trying to track down the truth of this anecdote as we speak. My friends Hilary White and Oakes Spalding (of Mahound’s Paradise) believe this to be nothing more than a myth, invented to promote the idea that Bosnian women who fell victim to the war crime of rape could use the morning-after pill, as argued in this 1993 article by Jesuit Father Giacomo Perico (abstract in Italian, with link to protected PDF fulltext). Hilary also notes that Fr. Perico was trying to wring serious nuance out of Humanae Vitae as far back as 1969, which the Vatican did not oblige him on.

But even if what Pope Francis said was true — the moral implications of such an allowance set aside for a moment — this situation is different.

Zika fears have nothing to do with rape, or even with the transmission of the virus. They have to do with concerns about birth defects arising in a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex. And the science so far is sketchy on the connection between the virus and the defects, but again, let’s assume that this is true. Let’s assume that infected persons can transmit effects of the virus to an unborn child, causing microcephaly.

Why do they have to have sex? Why can’t they abstain?

 

 

If any Catholic decides they need to “avoid pregnancy,” abstinence during fertile times is the only moral solution. What would make this situation different? And even if they have a child with these defects, the child lives. They’re human beings. They still have value and dignity as a person.

But you’re still probably wondering, “Yeah, but ‘avoiding pregnancy’ to me still means, ‘NFP.'” I was thinking the same thing. Until I looked at it again. And again. So here’s the second part of what he said, again:

[A]voiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.

There is simply no way to separate the words he uttered from the context he uttered them in. He mentions this mythical case of “Blessed Paul VI” giving a dispensation for contraception in the same breath as he says, “avoiding pregnancy.” To him, these are equivalent. This is what his syntax is telling us.

Papal apologists are going to parse these words for their life. They’re going to say, “The pope said ‘avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.’ That’s correct. It isn’t.” They’re going to focus on his comments calling abortion a “crime,” which will serve as a distraction, since it’s the strongest statement he’s ever made on that issue. In fact, it’s so strong, it easily distracts from the more subtle bombshell he drops in the same answer.

But a bombshell it is. He is clearly, undeniably equating “avoiding pregnancy” with Pope Paul VI allegedly allowing nuns to use contraceptives. And considering the impracticality of trying to use a barrier method when a man willing to rape a nun is in mid-assault, we can assume that he’s thinking of hormonal contraceptives – which makes the situation even worse, since they are most likely abortifacient at least some of the time.

This is not okay. This is wrong. And people — people who are paid to answer questions about the Catholic faith and to educate you in what the Church teaches — are most likely going to tell you that this is fine.

And if they do that, they’re lying to you.

I cannot overstate how big this one is. If he doesn’t issue a clarification — which is going to require quite a lot of explaining — the upshot of this is that a sitting pope just contradicted the authoritative Church teaching on contraception. He just chucked Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubii and…well, all of it. The slope he just made is so slippery, I can’t even imagine how many Catholics will lose their footing…and there’s nothing but perdition at the bottom.

And at this point, I don’t even know what else to say.

Correction: the link originally provided to substantiate the claim that hormonal contraception can act as an abortifacient went to a story about Plan-B One Step “emergency” contraception; we have updated the link to a resource that provides some information about the abortifacient properties of the standard birth control pill, as well as information on other contraceptive methods.

Readers, including priests, have left 269 comments

 

 

Pope Francis and Contraception: A Troubling Scenario

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-francis-and-contraception-a-troubling-scenario

By E. Christian Brugger, February 24, 2016

In Pope Francis’ return flight to the Vatican from Mexico last month, a reporter raised the issue of women threatened by the Zika virus and then presented to the Pope two options for dealing with it: “abortion” and “avoiding pregnancy” (the reporter clearly meant the latter as a reference to the use of contraception). Could either or both be considered “the lesser of two evils?” he was asked.

What Pope Francis said, and the subsequent commentary offered by Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, on Vatican Radio the next day, invited a firestorm of discussion.

The Pope said very strongly that abortion is not, and could not, be a legitimate option. He said abortion “is an evil in and of itself.”

Referring to the “lesser evil” of avoiding pregnancy, the Pope said, “We are speaking in terms of the conflict between the Fifth and Sixth Commandment.” (The Fifth Commandment, of course, protects innocent human life, and the Sixth Commandment safeguards the integrity of marital sexual relations.)

He did not say in what the “conflict” consists, and I am still at a loss to understand the comment. But he immediately went on to refer to “a difficult situation in Africa,” where Pope Paul VI “permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.” He was referring to an oft-cited scenario, which some believe is fictional, of a group of missionary religious sisters in the Congo during the five-year civil war from 1960 to 1965. Suffering rape and abuse at the hands of soldiers, their doctors apparently prescribed them anti-ovulatory pills to protect them against the rapists’ attacks. Since there is no evidence that the Holy See (under Popes John XXIII or Paul VI) ever condemned the sisters’ alleged actions, many have drawn the conclusion that Rome approved the use of contraceptives under the circumstances.

Most theologians today agree that the use of prophylactics to avoid pregnancy in cases of rape can be morally licit. Most subsume the case under the principle of double effect. Since the intention of the woman is not to render her sexual intercourse non-procreative, but to prevent the harmful effects of an unjust attack, the act, morally speaking, is not contraception, but self-defense.

An analogy might help to clarify this: A spear thrown by an aggressor is an extension of the aggressor’s attack. Foreseeing that one’s enemy might attack in this way, a solider would be perfectly justified in wearing a breastplate when going into battle as a prophylactic against the “finality” of the attacker’s attack, namely, the piercing of the solder’s heart. It is an act of proportionate (i.e., legitimate) self-defense against the aggressor.

 

 

So too, the migrating sperm in the birth canal of a rape victim is the extension of the rapist’s attack. Therefore, a woman foreseeing that an assailant might attack her in this way would be justified in protecting herself against the finality of the aggressor’s attack, namely, the fertilization of her ovum. She intends as an end the preservation of her health and as a means a proportionate (and so legitimate) act of self-defense. Since she never intends sexual intercourse, she cannot be intending to render her intercourse sterile. This case is fairly straightforward.

But the Congo case and the Zika virus case would only be (morally) analogous if the women threatened by Zika are not intending any sexual intercourse; if they fear rape at the hands of aggressors and wish to avoid the consequences for themselves and any baby who might be conceived (e.g., the fearsome congenital condition known as microcephaly), they may use, as it were, a “uterine breastplate” to protect against their aggressors’ assaults.

But a sexually active woman who uses contraceptives to avoid pregnancy can hardly claim she is engaging in an act of self-defense. If she chooses intercourse, she chooses a procreative-type act. She may not want it to be what it is. And she may have strong reasons for wishing to render it something other than it is. But if, unlike the religious sisters in the Congo, she chooses to have intercourse, her intercourse’s inherent procreativity is not an attack upon her, but a part of the fullness of the act she has freely chosen. If she supervenes upon that act another act aimed at rendering the procreative-type act sterile, she intends what the Church has always condemned.

The constant and authoritative (and arguably dogmatic) teaching of the whole Catholic Church is that one may never intentionally render one’s sexual intercourse sterile. If there are good reasons for avoiding pregnancy — and avoiding a debilitating disease for a child not yet conceived is certainly a strong reason — then a couple should abstain from intercourse during the phases of the woman’s menstrual cycle where she is most likely to be fertile.

When Pope Paul VI was faced with questions of a moral nature about the anti-ovulatory pill, he saw clearly that if it were chosen to render intercourse non-procreative, the pill — like the condom, or vaginal barrier, or spermicide, or a retrospective uterine wash — was an instance of the type of behavior always and everywhere condemned by the Church. It was a contraceptive act. And he passed on the ancient judgment in Humanae Vitae, when he condemned as intrinsically evil “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse is specifically intended — whether as an end or a means — to prevent procreation” (14).

Seventeen years earlier, Pope Pius XII had said that this moral teaching “is in full force today, as it was in the past, and so will be in the future also, and always, because it is not a simple human whim, but the expression of a natural and divine law” (“Address to Midwives,” 1951).

Faced with the fear of conceiving a disabled child, we can understand why a couple might be tempted to have recourse to contraception to render their intercourse non-procreative. But by doing so, they would be doing precisely what Paul VI condemned: i.e., performing an action, either before, during or after sexual intercourse that is specifically intended — as a means to avoiding the spread of infection — to prevent procreation. It is critically important to see the relevant distinctions between the Congo and Zika scenarios.

Pope Francis then said: “In certain cases, as in this one [the Zika case], or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” But as I have indicated, it is not at all clear what relevance the Congo scenario has for the case of the Zika virus. Unfortunately, the Pope offered no further clarification at the time, leaving the world press to conclude (understandably) that he had approved of contraceptive acts for women threatened by Zika.

Those of us who were concerned by the remarks awaited a clarification of the Pope’s meaning by the Vatican. On Feb. 19, the Pope’s spokesman, Father Lombardi, commented on the Pope’s impromptu remarks on contraception on the flight back from Mexico. Father Lombardi said the following:

“Now it’s not that the Pope says that this option [i.e., ‘using contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations’] is accepted and used without any discernment; indeed, the Pope made it clear that it can be considered [only] in cases of special urgency. […]

“So contraceptives or condoms, especially in cases of emergency and seriousness, may also be the subject of a serious conscience discernment. This is what the Pope said.”

Father Lombardi claims here that Pope Francis asserted that in cases of emergency women in good conscience may consider the use of contraceptives as a legitimate alternative for choice. (We may presume he is referring to women who are sexually active.) In other words, if serious circumstances prevail, women may do what the Church has always taught is gravely immoral, what no person under any circumstance or for any reason may ever rightly do. This is obviously problematic.

Some, perhaps many, will be elated by the Pope’s words. But those of us who support and defend the magisterium, in particular the successor of Peter, in its proper role as guardian and interpreter of the deposit of faith, find Pope Francis and Father Lombardi’s words baffling and troubling. It appears that the Pope has asserted something that is false and contrary to salvation. I very much hope that I have misread the situation.

Whether or not I have, I would like to say two things. First, the extemporaneous remarks of a pope in an interview and the commentary of his spokesman do not constitute Church teaching. So these assertions are not guarded by the Holy Spirit and are not invested with ecclesial authority. Catholics have no obligation whatever to render to the Pope’s words a “religious submission of mind and will” (Lumen Gentium, 25).

Second, Pope Francis is our beloved father. We esteem him in virtue of his office and will stand by him whenever he is falsely attacked. We wish for his good and for the good of the whole Church. And we certainly will never follow the pathway of Martin Luther into a rejection of papal primacy and apostolic succession. But the Church is Jesus’, not the Pope’s or the bishops’ (and certainly not mine).

 

 

And so I say to beloved Pope Francis, my father:

“Please do not delay in reaffirming to the whole Church the truth and moral implications of the twofold goodness of the marital act, which by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring (Canon 1055, §1); therefore, if anyone acts intentionally against either the unitive or procreative goods, they ipso facto render their intercourse non-marital.”

E. Christian Brugger, the senior fellow in ethics and director of the fellows’ program at the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington, holds the Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

 

 

Pro-life and Catholic leaders voice grave concern over Pope’s contraception remarks

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-life-and-catholic-leaders-voice-grave-concern-over-popes-contraception

By John-Henry Westen, February 23, 2016

Pope Francis’ remarks on contraception on the plane returning from Mexico, affirmed by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, have launched an unprecedented issuance of public concern from Catholic and pro-life lay leaders, some begging for a clarification from the pope.  Excerpts from significant leaders have been reproduced below with links to their full comments.

Professor E. Christian Brugger (Senior Fellow in ethics and director of the fellows’ program at the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington, and Professor of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, holding the Stafford Chair of Moral Theology) wrote at the National Catholic Register:

Some, perhaps many, will be elated by the Pope’s words. But those of us who support and defend the magisterium, in particular the successor of Peter, in their proper roles as guardians and interpreters of the deposit of faith, find Pope Francis and Father Lombardi’s words baffling and troubling. It appears that the Pope has asserted something that is false and contrary to salvation. I very much hope that I have misread the situation.

Whether or not I have, I would like to say two things. First, the extemporaneous remarks of a pope in an interview, and the commentary of his spokesman, do not constitute Church teaching. So these assertions are not guarded by the Holy Spirit and are not invested with ecclesial authority. Catholics have no obligation whatever to render to the pope’s words a “religious submission of mind and will” (Lumen Gentium, 25).

Second, Pope Francis is our beloved father. We esteem him in virtue of his office and will stand by him whenever he is falsely attacked. We wish for his good and for the good of the whole Church. And we certainly will never follow the pathway of Martin Luther into a rejection of papal primacy and apostolic succession. But the Church is Jesus’, not the pope’s or the bishops’ (and certainly not mine).

And so I say to beloved Pope Francis, my father:

Please do not delay in reaffirming to the whole Church the truth and moral implications of the two-fold goodness of the marital act, which by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring (Canon 1055, §1); therefore if anyone acts intentionally against either the unitive or procreative goods, they ipso facto render their intercourse non-marital.

 

Jill Stanek, pro-life nurse turned speaker and famed blogger after having exposed “live birth abortions” at the hospital where she worked, in comments to LifeSiteNews said:

As a Protestant pro-lifer, I am devastated. I count on the Catholic Church to be the firewall on the contraception issue. The Pope is opening a Pandora’s Box. He is contradicting foundational Catholic doctrine, doctrine which is also a cornerstone of the pro-life movement, even if people don’t realize it. This shakes my confidence in the solidity of Catholic doctrine. I can’t believe this is happening. This constitutes a crisis for the Catholic Church.

 

Dr. Gerard Nadal, president and CEO of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer and an esteemed scientist and Catholic writer, wrote on his blog:

Even the dimmest wit in the Society of Jesus can make his thoughts plainly understood. So it must be that Pope Francis knew what he was saying when he broke with 2,000 years of sacred Tradition and magisterial teaching this week when he alluded to Paul VI permitting nuns being raped in Africa to use contraception to avoid pregnancy, and used that as the moral grounds on which to permit the use of contraception in the midst of the Zika virus outbreak….

For all of his stated love of the poor, Francis has invited International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes to a blood meal on the very poor whose dignity he portends to uphold. By invoking Paul VI and the Congo episode with artificial contraception, he ignored NFP and the volumes written by his predecessors.

To permit artificial contraception for Zika is to have sold the family farm, to permit it for all developing nations where endemic disease is present.

Public health doesn’t involve nonexistence. Public health concerns itself with preventing and curing disease. It is clear that the Holy Father doesn’t grasp this essential truth that I learned in training as a medical microbiologist. Public Health officers cannot morally and ethically resort to killing patients or preventing human reproduction as a legitimate means of addressing crises.

The same holds true for popes.

Francis should stick to matters concerning his Holy Office, and in all humility allow himself to be guided by the unchanging wisdom of 2,000 years of magisterial teaching.

He. Is. Peter. He should start behaving as such.

 

Dr. Ed Peters, famed canonist blogger, who has held the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit since 2005, wrote on his blog:

Even by the standards of his reign, the presser Pope Francis conducted on his return flight from Mexico has provoked an unusual number of questions.

It now seems all but certain that the ‘permission’ or ‘approval’ which Francis has claimed his predecessor Pope Paul VI gave for Congo nuns facing rape to use contraception simply does not exist.

Unfortunately this myth has been invoked by the pope as if it were a fact of Church history, and, more importantly, in a way that suggests it might be a precedent to be considered in deciding whether contraception may also be used to prevent pregnancy in some cases of possible birth defects. That claim would take Pope Francis’ contraception remarks into a very different area. No longer are we musing about a point of Church history (as interesting as that might be), now we are dealing with Church moral teaching. The stakes become dramatically higher.

So here’s my point: not only does the Congo nuns permission seem NOT to exist, but, even if it does exist in some form, it could NOT, I suggest, by its own terms, be used by Francis (or anyone else committed to thinking with the Church) to call into question the Church’s settled teaching that “each and every marital act [quilibet matrimonii usus] must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (Humanae vitae 11) and that therefore “excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after conjugal intercourse [coniugale commercium], is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (Humanae vitae 14).

Between women facing rape and wives worried about birth defects there simply is no parallel relevant to the moral question of contraception.

 

John F. Kippley, founder with his wife Sheila of the Couple to Couple League and of Natural Family Planning International, wrote on the Couple to Couple League blog:

To speak the divine truth about human love and to point out its counterfeits is not to be obsessed with these issues but simply to bear witness in an evil age.

Please keep praying for Pope Francis, especially that he will give the Church and the world a post-Synod document that will clearly convey the teaching of the Lord and his Church regarding love, marriage and sexuality.

In the light of other comments floating around, I think it can be said that Pope Francis could have and should have used these questions to evangelize the reporters.  He certainly should have pointed out that Humanae Vitae teaches that married couples can use periodic abstinence from the marriage act to avoid pregnancy.  That involves using natural family planning.  He should know and be able to teach that couples can use cross-checking systems of NFP at the 99% level of effectiveness.

He missed an excellent opportunity to remind himself and his audience the most difficult job of the Pope is to affirm the difficult truths, especially those that affect huge numbers of people.  He needs to remind himself and all of us that the entire world stands in the shadow of the cross on which our Savior died.  He needs to teach what Jesus taught—the price of discipleship is to take up one’s cross daily.  Certainly that applies to difficulties associated with love, marriage and sexuality.

 

Voice of the Family, an initiative of Catholic laity from major pro-life and pro-family organisations supported by 26 pro-life groups around the world, wrote:

Catholic campaigners for family values are disturbed by unconfirmed reports of comments said to have been made by Pope Francis on contraception.

The Vatican has yet to confirm Pope Francis’s comments, but whatever the meaning of those comments, the Church’s teaching has not changed and cannot change. Catholic teaching remains that contraception is wrong in all circumstances.

 

Philip Lawler, news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org, wrote:

But this time, the problem cannot be attributed to sensationalistic reporting; the Pontiff definitely conveyed the impression that he was ready to discuss the morality of contraception in the context of the Zika epidemic. The Pope’s own words are—at best—confusing….

The Pope’s frequent public interviews, and his unhappy record of maladroit responses, have become a predictable source of confusion, frustration, and even embarrassment for the faithful. In the distant past, then-Cardinal Bergoglio admitted: “Interviews are not my forte.” Thoughtful Catholic leaders should use their influence to persuade the Holy Father that he was right then, and is wrong now to use interviews as a regular facet of his public ministry.

 

Human Life International, the largest Catholic international pro-life organization, headed by Fr. Shenan Boquet, wrote:

Human Life International is extremely concerned that, rather than clarify the comments with references to the very clear doctrine of the church, Father Lombardi instead made statements that contradict established Church doctrine on contraception, referring to both the non-magisterial decision of Pope Paul VI to which the Holy Father also referred, and adding a reference to a non-magisterial statement from Pope Benedict XVI that contradicts Pope Benedict’s own explanation of the statement. We must repeat, with the Church, her own condemnation of the act of using contraception.

Headlines such as “Pope approves contraception in areas threatened by Zika virus” immediately went around the world following the interview, and since this misunderstanding is already being used to pressure bishops in Latin America, we hope to see a clarification on this aspect of the Holy Father’s comments as soon as possible. We hope that the clarification emphasizes the unchangeable teaching of the Church on the absolute immorality of the use of contraception for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy, even as the permissibility of natural methods of postponing pregnancy for serious reasons is affirmed, along with the need to ensure that those threatened by Zika receive the best possible prevention advice and support, and those affected receive the best possible care.

 

 

 

Two women theologians take on Pope Francis’ in-flight contraception remarks

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/two-women-theologians-take-on-pope-francis-in-flight-contraception-remarks

By John-Henry Westen, February 22, 2016

Among the many reactions to Pope Francis’ interview on the return flight from Mexico last week are the thoughtful reflections of two female theologians of note. Both Professor Janet Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and Dr. Monica Miller, a Ph.D. in Theology from Marquette University and Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, took up Pope Francis’ answer to a question about the Zika virus, contraception, and the “lesser of two evils.”

When asked about the ‘avoiding pregnancy’ in areas at risk of Zika virus transmission, Pope Francis spoke of the supposed permission given by Pope Paul VI to nuns in Africa to use “contraceptives in cases of rape.”  

“Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion,” he said. “In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” The Pope also suggested that the question of “avoiding pregnancy” in Zika zones could involve a “conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment.”

Responding to a request from LifeSiteNews Dr. Monica Miller said:

It is interesting to note that the reporter never used the term “contraception”—only whether “avoiding pregnancy” was the “lesser evil.”  First, of all it is not necessarily an evil at all to avoid a pregnancy—as couples can certainly abstain from sex, or use Natural Family Planning when there is a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. Thus if the pope simply meant to say that the Zika virus threat was such a serious reason for couples to avoid pregnancy – with recourse to methods that are morally licit – the pope did not teach that there are circumstances when the use of artificial contraceptives can be morally licit.

However, the pope’s response is confusing, unclear and certainly people can come away from it thinking that His Holiness did endorse exceptions to the Church’s ban on the use of artificial contraception. Why? Because, number one—the reporter characterized “avoiding pregnancy” as an “evil”—albeit a “lesser evil” and everyone knows that the Church considers contraceptive use as a moral evil, whether they agree with that position or not.

Then Pope Francis made the statement that there was or could be a conflict between the 5th and 6th commandment—thus giving the impression that there was some kind of a moral quandary or tension between moral goods that perhaps can only be resolved by compromising with recourse to a “lesser evil” in order to secure or protect the greater good—in this case the good of life. It was a rather odd statement, and Catholic moral theology does not speak in terms of commandments being in conflict with each other. Then—when the Pope used the situation of nuns in the Belgian Congo being permitted to use contraception to thwart the effects of rape—the Pope certainly gave more than the impression that in difficult, crisis situations persons may licitly use artificial contraception—when indeed the Church is quite clear that such use is never morally licit as contraception violates the meaning of the conjugal act.

The problem, as usual is the use of imprecise language, improper characterizations of moral issues that lead to serious confusion. One has to wonder why the Pope did not immediately launch into an endorsement of Natural Family Planning as soon as he heard the reporter ask about the licitness of “avoiding pregnancy.” A missed teaching moment descended into confusion. Hopefully Pope Francis prays that prayer to Mary, the un-doer of knots—as there are a lot of knots here that need to be undone.

Dr. Janet Smith, writing in the pages of Catholic World Report said similarly:

The (Principle of Choosing the Lesser Evil) PCLE does not justify a woman using contraception to prevent a pregnancy because she fears the child may suffer some harm during the pregnancy. Here a woman is choosing to do something immoral to prevent harm. This choice violates the fundamental principle that we must never do moral evil to achieve good. She would be intending to thwart the purpose and meaning of the sexual act in order to protect any child conceived from harm, but she is doing harm—to the marital act and her marital relationship—by using contraception to prevent a pregnancy.

There are all sorts of “harm” that spouses may wish to attempt to avoid by using contraception. In fact, one suspects that there is always some harm spouses are trying to avoid by using contraception—harms such as financial stress, inconvenience, threats to the mother’s health, sexual frustration, etc. The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception, for that would be choosing to do moral evil to avoid harm.

To suggest that some “emergency” or “special situation” would permit a person in conscience to use contraception does not align with Catholic moral theology. For spouses to use contraception is always wrong. How can any emergency or special situation justify what is always wrong? It is an improper use of conscience to use it to discern that it is moral to do what is intrinsically wrong in special situations. One job of the conscience is precisely to enable a person to honor moral norms in special situations. In emergencies or special situations we are not permitted, for instance, directly to kill innocent human beings even if great good could come from that death. Martyrdom is precisely a result of the refusal to do something that is morally wrong in an “emergency” or “special situation.”

 

 

 

Conflict between the Fifth and Sixth Commandments

Let us also consider the claim that there might be a conflict between the Fifth (“thou shalt not kill”) and Sixth (“thou shalt not commit adultery”) Commandments that would justify the use of contraception. What is the risk of violating one of those commandments by honoring the other? Is the reasoning here that those who conceive, for instance, a child with microcephaly are responsible for a kind of “killing of the child”? That is, their honoring their marital fidelity by having sexual intercourse open to life puts them in a position of endangering the life of a child conceived (a violation of the Fifth Commandment?). Or, if they refrain from sexual intercourse in order to avoid putting the life of a child at risk, is there the suggestion that that refraining is a violation of some kind of the Sixth Commandment?

This “conflict” seems to imply that to use contraception (which violates the Sixth Commandment) is a lesser evil than violating the Fifth Commandment and that spouses should be permitted to use contraception to avoid conceiving a child with microcephaly—seen as a kind of murder. But this reasoning is not sound for several reasons. First, to conceive a child with microcephaly is not a form of murder; life is always a gift, and even life as a person with microcephaly is a gift. There are undoubtedly serious challenges and difficulties in living with microcephaly and caring for someone with microcephaly, but one has not harmed a person by giving him or her life.

Moreover, spouses are not under an obligation to have sexual intercourse. If they believe their intercourse might lead to a problematic situation for which they are not prepared, they are free to abstain completely from sexual intercourse or abstain periodically. Spouses abstain for all sorts of reasons—because of physical separation, illness, and even such trivial reasons as a desire to watch sports on TV or to do the laundry. To abstain to avoid exposing a child to the danger of microcephaly would seem a respectable reason for abstaining.

These are some of basic principles that need to be kept in mind when assessing proposals to help women who live in areas where children conceived might contract lethal or disfiguring diseases. Contraception is not a moral solution. Use of a method of natural family planning is.

Read Dr. Smith’s full essay at Catholic World Report here.

 

Vatican affirms Pope was speaking about contraceptives for Zika*

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-vatican-affirms-pope-was-speaking-about-contraceptives-for-zika

By John-Henry Westen, Rome, February 19, 2016

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.

Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

According to Lombardi, the pope spoke of “the possibility of taking recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations. He is not saying that this possibility is accepted without discernment, indeed, he said clearly that it can be considered in cases of special urgency.”

Lombardi reiterated the example that Pope Francis made of Pope Paul VI’s supposed “authorization of the use of the pill for the religious who were at very serious risk” of rape.  This, said Lombardi, “makes us understand that it is not that it was a normal situation in which this was taken into account.”

On the plane Thursday, the pope was asked by one reporter whether the Church can “take into consideration the concept of ‘the lesser of two evils?'” when it comes to the question of preventing pregnancy to avoid transmission of the virus.

The pope opened his answer by categorically condemning abortion as a solution to the Zika virus, but on the question of avoiding pregnancy, he added: “We are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment.”

“The great Paul VI in a difficult situation in Africa permitted sisters to use contraception for cases of rape,” he told reporters.

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” the pope added. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

The pope’s answer, in particular the apparent parallel he drew between the case of the nuns’ use of contraception and the case of the Zika virus, has widely led to the interpretation that the pope was approving the use of contraception in some cases.

(Find a full transcript of the pope’s remarks on the plane here.)

In his famous 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI reiterated the Church’s long-standing and definitive teaching that artificial contraception is “intrinsically wrong,” namely that it is always and in every instance evil, because it contradicts the procreative purpose of sex. 

Some moral theologians have said that non-abortifacient contraceptives could be used in cases of rape as a means of self-defense against an aggressor. This distinction would not apply in the case of voluntary intercourse between couples concerned about Zika.

In addition to referencing the Congo nuns, Lombardi pointed today to Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on condoms in his 2010 book-length interview The Light of the World. Therein, Lombardi said, Benedict “spoke about the use of condoms in the case of risk of contagion by AIDS.”

 

 

In the book, Pope Benedict told journalist Peter Seewald that in some cases, such as that of a male prostitute, the use of a condom “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.” Pope Benedict followed the comments by saying that the Church “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.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith corrected mainstream media misinterpretations of those statements that falsely presented them as justifying contraception.  In its statement, the CDF said, “A number of erroneous interpretations have emerged” that have “caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality.”

“The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought,” the statement added.

The CDF statement also dismissed the suggestion that the use of a condom by HIV-infected prostitutes could constitute a “lesser evil.” This interpretation, it says, is erroneous since, “An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed.”

The CDF summarized the intention of the pope’s comments: “The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity.”

 

 

*Top American Catholic ethics body says no to contraception for Zika

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/top-american-catholic-ethics-body-says-no-to-contraception-for-zika

The National Catholic Bioethics Center, February 25, 2016

 

 

The Galatians Two Moment Is Now

http://www.onepeterfive.com/the-galatians-two-moment-is-now

By Steve Skojec, February 23, 2016

But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. – Galatians 2:11

It’s been almost a week since the Holy Father’s now-infamous comments about how contraception might be permissible for eugenic purposes (i.e., to prevent pregnancies at risk of birth defects due to the alleged effects of the Zika virus on a developing fetus.)

In my initial analysis of the pope’s comments, I made clear that there was no other possible interpretation. He wasn’t talking about NFP or a general program of abstinence. He was referring to artificial methods of birth control. And he justified this completely un-Catholic opinion by referencing what is almost certainly a completely made up story about Pope Paul VI doing something not really very similar in the 1960s.

I said in my original post that barring some very explicit clarification and correction from Pope Francis, we have now witnessed a sitting pope publicly contradicting infallible teaching. It should also be pointed out that this goes deeper — the Holy Father not only opposed the teaching of his predecessors, but the natural law itself, upon which this teaching is based.

Well, thankfully, a clarification was issued, and it certainly did make things more clear:

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.

Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

According to Lombardi, the pope spoke of “the possibility of taking recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations. He is not saying that this possibility is accepted without discernment, indeed, he said clearly that it can be considered in cases of special urgency.”

Lombardi reiterated the example that Pope Francis made of Pope Paul VI’s supposed “authorization of the use of the pill for the religious who were at very serious risk” of rape.  This, said Lombardi, “makes us understand that it is not that it was a normal situation in which this was taken into account.”

So to sum up: yes, he really did say what you think he said. But it’s apparently okay, because hey: he’s the pope!

I also told you that Catholic apologists would attempt to spin this as perfectly fine. I told you that when they did this, they would be lying to you. This isn’t, of course, just a white lie, like the parent who tells his children that things are fine in a moment of danger or financial crisis in order to assuage fears over circumstances outside the child’s control.

No, saying that things are fine in this circumstance is, in my opinion, a malicious lie, because it is one that will do irreparable damage to souls. Case in point: the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has now backed Francis’ statement:

 

 

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the Pontiff’s statement is not changing church teaching on the unacceptability of artificial means of contraception.

“The Holy Father was very clear and uncompromising about the evil of abortion. And we, your bishops, reiterate Church teaching: No matter that the child in the womb may be afflicted with some infirmity or deformity, it can never be moral to bring a deliberate end to human life. It is never for us to judge who should live or die!” he said.

The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate added, “He then proffered the view that the evil of contraception was not of the same magnitude as the evil of abortion. Clearly, this was sound moral reasoning. The evil of stealing a few pesos cannot be compared with the evil of plunder.”

Villegas noted that these positions are not in any way new, saying: “They have always formed part of Catholic moral theology and belong to the treasury of the Church’s heritage in health-care ethics.”

“They have always formed a part of Catholic moral theology…”

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Lies. Damned lies. Contraception is an intrinsic evil. Intrinsic evils are not able to be made anything other than evil — they cannot be mitigated by circumstance. (I’ve reached out to some very competent moral theologians to ask for help in explaining precisely why this thinking is wrong. I hope to be able to share that with you in a future post.)

Meanwhile, the spin continues. Church Militant has suddenly found it profitable to admit that we’ve had bad popes in the past, and that not everything a pope says is infallible or above reproach. Unfortunately, they’re wielding the “he didn’t say anything ex cathedra” defense in an attempt to convince everyone waking up in the Matrix that there’s nothing to see here. Fr. Z took a similar approach, saying that the fact that this wasn’t an authoritative statement renders it “meaningless.” Jimmy Aikin, of course, issued yet another list of things “to know and share”, in which he stated that “On the subject of contraception, [the pope] did not answer one way or another. Instead, he recounted a reported incident from the 1960s…”

Meanwhile, a Google search for “Pope Francis Zika contraception” turns up nearly million results, and many of those on the first few pages (beyond which not many searchers are likely to look) have headlines like this:

 


 

 

 

This is the upshot. This is always the upshot. We need to put the idea to death that just because a papal statement is not infallible it is meaningless.

Once a theological understanding of the distinctions between levels of Magisterial authority become the only way to determine whether or not the pope should be listened to, you’ve lost 99% of the world, and 90% or more of Catholics. The indefectible integrity of the deposit of faith is certainly objectively important. But on a subjective level, the only Magisterium that really matters in terms of what people believe and how this changes their behavior is, “The pope said X, so X is what Catholics believe.”

Full stop.

Get this through your heads, Catholic apologists. Your dissimulation on this issue is nauseating, and we’re way past playing footsie with the truth, or writing posts full of mental reservation. We just had the bishops of one of the most Catholic (by percentage of population) nations on earth give essentially a blanket opening to their faithful using contraception because of something the pope said on a plane.

I’ve been arguing since 2013 that a pope can do a lot of damage without changing a single iota of doctrine. Francis proves this with alarming frequency. Why are all Catholics of goodwill not on the same page? Why are so few of us lucid in our understanding that this is a pontificate which our Christian duty requires us to resist?

We must still respect the office of the papacy. We must still, barring any juridical evidence to the contrary, accept that Francis is the pope. But we have now entered a moment in history where our bishops must take action on this. We need something definitive from them about Francis. It is imperative to the salvation of souls that they tell the faithful not to follow Francis into his contradiction of Church teaching.

Pope Honorius I was posthumously anathematized by the Third Council of Constantinople, and arguably for less than Francis is doing now. Honorius was condemned more for failing to act than for the deliberate promotion of heresy.

Because of his failure, the council declared:

“We anathematize Honorius, who did not seek to purify this apostolic Church with the teaching of apostolic tradition, but by a profane betrayal permitted its stainless faith be surrendered.”

In later comments made to the bishops of Spain, Pope Leo II explained further, saying that Honorius was one who did not, as became the apostolic authority, quench the flame of heretical doctrine as it sprang up, but quickened it by his negligence.

Making excuses for Francis is no longer going to suffice. Looking for semantic loopholes that can be twisted into quasi-orthodox interpretations is disingenuous. Saying simply that we need to pray for Francis isn’t good enough. Waiting to see if God sends a meteor isn’t a solution. The benefit of the doubt can only be given when there is doubt. If there has ever been a time when episcopal spine was needed, this is it.

We have not always been at war with Eastasia. We have not always believed the things Francis says we believe.

Please, bishops. Do not leave us alone while the wolf in sheep’s clothing devours the flock. Please, do your duty and defend the faith, and the faithful. If you were waiting for the right moment to emulate Saint Paul in Galatians 2:11, this is it.

Readers, including priests, have left 393 comments

 

 

In wake of Pope’s remarks, Filipino bishops call for a ‘re-evaluation’ of contraception in some cases
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/philippines-bishops-back-pope-in-re-evaluation-of-contraception

By Pete Baklinski, Manila, Philippines, February 24, 2016

After years of heroically opposing a reproductive health bill in their country that now provides major government funding for contraceptives, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has done a surprising turnabout by throwing its support behind Pope Francis’ controversial off-the-cuff suggestion that there may be circumstances in which married couples can use contraception. 

Speaking about the Pope’s remarks last week onboard the papal plane where he stated that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas commented in a statement titled “Truth with Love and Mercy”:

He (the Pope) however usefully called attention to two important moral precepts: First, there may be circumstances that invite a re-evaluation of the judgment on artificial means of contraception; second, the prodding of conscience should always be heeded, as long as every effort is made to form conscience properly.

But Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews that the Church’s teaching on the evil of contraception is “unchangeable.”

“As the Brazilian bishops recently affirmed in addressing the threat posed by the Zika virus, the actual Church teaching on the matter of couples using contraception is unequivocal: The use of contraceptive methods by married couples to prevent pregnancy is always morally illicit,” he said.

READ: Vatican affirms Pope was speaking about contraceptives for Zika

Pointing to the doctrinal teaching against contraception as laid down in the papal encyclicals Casti Connubii (by Pope Pius XI in 1930) and Humanae Vitae (by Pope Paul VI in 1968), Fr. Boquet said that “doctrinal truths cannot be changed by a statement made in a press release or interview.”

The following quotes from each encyclical are especially pertinent:

—Casti Connubi 54: “But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good.

 

 

Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.” 

—Humanae Vitae 14: “Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.” 

Archbishop Villegas noted how the Pope raised the view during the plane interview that the “evil of contraception was not of the same magnitude as the evil of abortion,” and added, “Clearly, this was sound moral reasoning.”

But Father Boquet said the distinction is irrelevant in light of the above Church teachings against the use of contraception. 

“In light of these doctrinal teachings, it is difficult to understand the reference to the use of contraception as ‘a lesser evil,’ as compared with abortion. This may be the case, but it is morally irrelevant, since the same teachings that engage this question reaffirm that an evil may never be chosen that a good might come from it,” he said.

In 2012 while opposing a “reproductive health” bill (House Bill 4244) that, among other things, mandated sex education in schools and government-subsidized contraceptives under government health insurance, Archbishop Villegas, at that time, stated, “We are battling against contraception because we know it can harm your soul. Believe me. Contraception harms your soul. Contraception is corruption.”

Pro-life groups vigorously opposed the bill, which passed in December 2012, for forcing taxpayers to fund contraception and abortifacients, saying that behind the bill was a not-so-hidden population control agenda. 

In April 2014, the country’s Supreme Court upheld the reproductive health law, but struck down provisions of the bill that would have allowed minors to access contraception without parental consent, forced religious health providers to tell patients about contraceptive options, and penalized them for refusing to provide such information. The Court, however, upheld portions of the bill that mandated government-sanctioned sex-ed and fully subsidized contraceptive programs. 

Instead of outright denouncing the ruling, Archbishop Villegas praised it for strengthening parental rights and religious freedom, and encouraged his brother bishops to “move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to a truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love.”

 

 

Pope Francis appears to contradict, word-for-word, the doctrine of Paul VI and JPII on contraception

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/pope-francis-appears-to-contradict-word-for-word-the-doctrine-of-paul-vi-an

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, February 19/22, 2016

When Pope Francis appeared to tell reporters during an in-flight press conference Wednesday that contraception can be justified as the “lesser of two evils” in cases of danger of fetal deformity, he cited the example of Pope Paul VI. However, the claim made by the pope appears to contradict the precise words contained in Pope Paul VI’s own statement on the matter in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae of 1968.

The pope’s statement came in response to a question by a Spanish reporter who asked about the dangers of the Zika virus, which has been blamed for a rash of fetal deformity cases in Latin America. “As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of ‘the lesser of two evils?'” the reporter asked.

Pope Francis responded by insisting that abortion can never be justified, but implied strongly that contraception can. “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils,” said Francis. “It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil.”

However, the pope added, “On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.”  After reiterating that abortion is never morally justified, he said, “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

The pope’s reference to Paul VI pertains to an alleged decision made by the then-pontiff regarding a situation in the Belgian Congo during the 1960s, when nuns were in danger of being raped. The pope reportedly recognized that the women were not actively engaged in a sexual act but were passive recipients of an attack, and therefore could take measures to protect themselves from the intrusion of rapists. (UPDATE: It now appears that decision in question never actually happened.  Fr. Zuhldorf has the details here.)

However, in 1968, Pope Paul VI not only appeared to condemn the reasoning cited by Pope Francis in his in-flight press conference on Wednesday, but expressly rejected the same words Francis himself used.

In paragraph 14 of his celebrated encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, Paul VI condemns both abortion and sterilization as a means to avoid pregnancy from sexual intercourse as “absolutely excluded” as moral options. He then adds: “Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”

RELATED: The damage done – again – by the Pope’s interview

In what appears to be an almost perfect anticipation of the argument made by Pope Francis on Wednesday, Paul VI then goes on to add:

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these.

 

 

Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong (emphasis mine).

Although Pope Paul VI recognized that lesser evils might be tolerated for the sake of avoiding greater evils, he expressly condemned the notion that one could morally defend an act of contraception, which he calls “intrinsically wrong,” by claiming that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one. This appears to be the precise reasoning of Pope Francis.

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor (the Splendor of Truth), cited the same passage of Humanae Vitae for the purpose of condemning erroneous opinions in moral theology in 1993. In opposition to those theologians who wished to claim that intrinsically evil acts could somehow be justified under certain circumstances, John Paul II writes:

Reason attests that 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.

Pope John Paul II then quoted Pope Paul VI’s statement, quoted above, that contraception cannot be defended as the lesser of two evils. “With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: . . .” The quote cited above by Pope Paul VI follows, verbatim.

In Veritatis Splendor, John Pual also cites the following statement from a 1967 allocution by Pope Paul VI to members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer: “Far be it from Christians to be led to embrace another opinion, as if the Council taught that nowadays some things are permitted which the Church had previously declared intrinsically evil. Who does not see in this the rise of a depraved moral relativism, one that clearly endangers the Church’s entire doctrinal heritage?”

Despite the seemingly clear disparity between Pope Francis’ words and those of his recent predecessors regarding the intrinsic evil of contraception, the papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi is defending the pope’s statement, and is even citing Pope Paul VI to justify it.

“The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience,” Lombardi told Vatican Radio today. “This is what the Pope said.”

Lombardi added that the pope was speaking of “the possibility of taking recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations. He is not saying that this possibility is accepted without discernment, indeed, he said clearly that it can be considered in cases of special urgency.”

Lombardi reiterated the example that Pope Francis made of Pope Paul VI’s supposed “authorization of the use of the pill for the religious who were at very serious risk” of rape.  This, said Lombardi, “makes us understand that it is not that it was a normal situation in which this was taken into account.”

 

 

The damage done – again – by the Pope’s interview

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-damage-doneagainby-the-popes-interview

By Phil Lawler, (CatholicCulture), February 19, 2016

How damaging was the latest papal interview? Let me count the ways.

Today, no doubt, the Vatican press office will go into its now-familiar “clarification” mode. Loyal Catholic defenders of Pope Francis will argue that the Holy Father’s words were taken out of context. But this time, the problem cannot be attributed to sensationalistic reporting; the Pontiff definitely conveyed the impression that he was ready to discuss the morality of contraception in the context of the Zika epidemic. The Pope’s own words are—at best—confusing.

Questioned as to whether contraception is the “lesser of two evils” when the Zika threatens birth defects, the Pope replied, in part: “On the lesser evil, avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of a conflict between the 5th and 6th Commandments.” What conflict? Does he mean to suggest that in some cases, adhering to one of God’s laws might entail violating another?

In the next sentence, the Pope refers to the decision by Pope Paul VI, authorizing nuns in (what was then) the Belgian Congo to use contraceptives when they were threatened with rape. But that decision does not apply to the situation created by the Zika epidemic. Contraception is immoral because it violates the integrity of the marital act. In the Congo, the use of contraceptives was justified as a means of thwarting an act of violence. In Latin America today, some officials argue that, because of the Zika problem, contraceptives should be used to thwart an act of marital love.

No doubt the Pope’s defenders will argue—in fact some already have argued— that the Pope did not actually say that contraception could be justified. True enough. What he said was that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.” But in context, what other message were reporters likely to draw from his statement?

 

 

If you ask me whether it is justifiable to rob a bank, and I reply that bank robbery is not an absolute evil, haven’t I indicated that I am open to a discussion about whether bank robbery is licit in certain circumstances? Certainly I have not given the impression that I think bank robbery is always immoral.

Yet the Church teaches that artificial contraception, when used to frustrate the purpose of the marital act, is always immoral. UN officials are now suggesting that artificial contraception should be practiced by married couples routinely because of the Zika epidemic. Nothing in the Pope’s statement suggested that there is an inherent moral problem with that approach. I have seen defenders of the Pope remark that secular reporters generally don’t understand the Church’s teaching on contraception. That’s true; and nothing that the Pope said would further their education.

Moreover, in answering the reporter’s question about Zika, the Pope failed to point out the flaw in the major premise of the argument for routine contraception. That argument is based on the assumption that the Zika virus is responsible for microcephaly. But there is very little scientific evidence to support that assumption: a fact that the Pope’s own representative highlighted in a presentation this week to the UN. Proponents of contraception and abortion have been exploiting the Zika epidemic as a means of advancing their cause. The Pope had an opportunity to remind the world that the effects of Zika are not well understood, and to suggest that research should be concentrated on killing the disease rather than its victims. He missed it.

And speaking of missed opportunities, if Pope Francis had not made those remarks about contraception (and his provocative remarks about Donald Trump) the headline stories about his airborne press conference might have centered on a few other statements, which would have gladdened the hearts of shock-shelled Catholics. For example:

—The Pope said that Pope Benedict XVI deserves applause for his handling of the sex-abuse crisis, particularly in the time before his election to the papacy. “He was the brave one who helped so many open this door.”

—When pressed about his forthcoming post-synodal document on the family, and specifically whether divorced-and-remarried Catholics should be admitted to the Eucharist, the Pope said: “Integrating in the Church doesn’t mean receiving communion.”

But these statements, and other important comments by the Pope about his visit to Mexico and his meeting with Patriarch Kirill, will be barely noticed—drowned out by the noise about his comments on Trump and Zika.

The Pope’s frequent public interviews, and his unhappy record of maladroit responses, have become a predictable source of confusion, frustration, and even embarrassment for the faithful. In the distant past, then-Cardinal Bergoglio admitted: “Interviews are not my forte.”Thoughtful Catholic leaders should use their influence to persuade the Holy Father that he was right then, and is wrong now to use interviews as a regular facet of his public ministry.

 

 

UPDATE

Subject: URGENT: Ask Pope Francis to correct the contraception confusion

From:
John-Henry Westen | LifeSiteNews.com <lsn@lifesitenews.com> Date: Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 3:19 AM
To:
michaelprabhu@vsnl.net

Dear Michael,
It has been three weeks since Pope Francis made his troubling remarks on contraception and Zika that have caused so much confusion.
To date, there has been no clarification from the pope. In fact, a statement from Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has confirmed many people’s worst fears: that Pope Francis was, in fact, suggesting that couples could morally use artificial contraceptives in the case of Zika.
Numerous Catholic theologians and thinkers have pointed out that this idea clearly contradicts Church teaching on contraception as laid out in Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae.
At this point, it does not appear that Pope Francis intends to clarify his remarks. That’s why we’re launching
a petition
to the Holy Father, respectfully but firmly asking him to reaffirm the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

To sign
the petition, click here
 



My hope is that I will be able to deliver the signatures of tens of thousands of concerned Catholics and pro-life activists to the pope, or the appropriate person at the Vatican, when I am in Rome for the Rome Life Forum this upcoming May.
It is hard to overstate the damage that will be caused if the pope does not clarify his remarks on contraception.
Already countless millions of people have heard on the radio or TV, or read in the newspapers that Pope Francis is changing Church teaching on this issue.
Of course, we know that this is impossible! The pope can’t ever change established church teaching, let alone in an informal interview. But this time the confusion cannot be blamed on media misreporting. The pope’s remarks were, quite simply, confusing, and not just confusing – they were profoundly concerning.

 

 


As a Catholic, I view the pope as my spiritual father. I pray for him every single day. But when his words cause scandal – whether unintentional or not – I will not hesitate to approach him and to respectfully request that he act as a shepherd and protect his flock from the errors of the world.
I hope you will join me in prayerfully signing this petition, and then sharing it with your friends and family.
 



Finally, I hope that you too will join me in offering daily prayers for our Holy Father.
God bless.
For life and family,

John-Henry Westen
Editor-in-Chief
LifeSiteNews.com

 

https://www.lifesitenews.com/petitions/pope-francis-clarify-your-remarks-on-contraception

PETITION: Pope Francis, please correct the contraception confusion

Background

On his return flight from Mexico on February 18, 2016 Pope Francis responded to a reporter’s question about “avoiding pregnancy” for couples in regions affected by Zika with a confusing answer that has widely been interpreted as approving the use of contraceptives in some cases – a clear departure from established Catholic teaching on contraception. 

While in his answer the pope condemned abortion in the case of babies affected by Zika, he pointed to the example of nuns in the Congo who were allegedly given permission by Pope Paul VI to use contraception because of the fear of rape. The pope stated: “Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion.”

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” he added. “In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

The quotes sparked a worldwide media storm, with countless headlines appearing declaring that the pope had approved the use of contraception in some cases. Even the Phillippine bishops appeared confused, issuing a disturbing statement calling for the “re-evaluation” of contraception.  

The media’s reporting that the Pope was speaking specifically of use of artificial contraceptives for Zika was confirmed by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi himself the following day, when he affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when he said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.

Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

The notion that couples could use contraceptives on account of the Zika virus is clearly contrary to established Catholic teaching that “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (Humanae vitae 11) and that therefore “excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after conjugal intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (Humanae vitae 14).

Many Catholic theologians and pro-life leaders, Catholic and otherwise, have expressed their grave concern at the “crisis” in the Catholic Church caused by the Pope’s remarks. While off-the-cuff remarks cannot change unchangeable Church teaching, the distinct impression that the teachings have indeed changed has been left with most of the world.

After waiting weeks for an official correction, with none forthcoming, it is up to ordinary Catholics to appeal to the Holy Father to clear up the confusion. We respectfully but firmly ask the Holy Father to correct the confusion with a statement clearly reaffirming the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

 

Dear Holy Father,

We ask you to clearly reaffirm the teachings of Humanae Vitae on the “intrinsic evil” of contraception. Your statements on the plane returning from Mexico, confirmed by your spokesman, have created the false impression throughout the world that the Church’s teaching has changed. It is now believed that for serious reasons, couples may resort to artificial contraception to avoid pregnancy.

 

 

We pledge ourselves to support and defend the magisterium, in particular the successor of Peter, in their proper roles as guardians and interpreters of the deposit of faith. Having faith in your invitation to the faithful to express their concerns to you, we now appeal to you as children to their father in faith, to correct this false impression which is harming the flock entrusted to your care.

Sincerely,

[The undersigned]

 

 

STILL EARLIER: THE “RABBITGATE” CONTROVERSY

Don’t breed ‘like rabbits’: Was Pope Francis breaking new ground on birth control?

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/dont-breed-rabbits-was-pope-francis-breaking-new-ground-birth-control

By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter*, January 21, 2015 *Liberal

Pope Francis may have been elected by the Holy Spirit, but he seems made for the age of Twitter.

A case in point were his latest remarks, in which he affirmed the Catholic church’s ban on artificial contraception but derided the idea that “in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits” and produce litters of children.

“No,” he told reporters on his flight home from the Philippines. “Responsible parenthood.”

Moments earlier, Francis had signaled his approach to the vexed birth control issue when, with equally quotable verve, he said the contraception ban “does not mean that the Christian must make children in series.”

He noted that during a parish visit some months ago, he even “rebuked” a woman who was pregnant again after having seven children, all delivered by Caesarean section. “But do you want to leave seven orphans?” Francis told her. “That is to tempt God!”

Cue the tweets and the critiques. Rabbit breeders resented the pope’s use of a derogatory cliche about libidinous bunnies, while birth control supporters said the analogy demeaned people, who should make whatever decisions they want about the number of children they have and when they have them — or not.

Conservative Catholics and contraception opponents were also dismayed by the latest from a man who’s been dubbed the “blabbermouth” pope. He appeared to criticize traditional big families (the pope said three children seemed about right) as well as undermine advocates of natural family planning (controlling birth rates without using contraception) by seeming to give aid and comfort to the church’s enemies.

Francis even stumped some regular Catholics who aren’t used to hearing popes speak this way, especially not about birth control, long seen as beyond debate. “As a Catholic, it’s kinda shocking to hear @Pontifex say, ‘Catholics must not breed like rabbits.’ Really?” tweeted CNN anchor Carol Costello.

But was Francis saying anything new? Yes and no.

First, no, Francis wasn’t breaking new ground. He himself told an interviewer last March that Pope Paul VI’s famous encyclical reaffirming the artificial contraception ban, Humanae Vitae, was “prophetic” but said the real issue is “making sure that pastoral action takes into account that which is possible for people to do.”

In other words, there is the rule, but the church must be merciful and understanding — and use common sense. Some church conservatives saw that as more lamentable fuzziness from Francis and suggested that his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, a theologian with a reputation as a doctrinal hard-liner, would never have been so wobbly.

Yet in 1996, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict said much the same thing. He told an interviewer that couples who already have several children should not be reproached if they do not want to have more, and that questions about regulating births are personal pastoral matters that “can’t be projected into the abstract.”

Moreover, Paul VI mentioned “responsible parenthood” in his 1968 encyclical and cited the various “physical, economic, psychological and social conditions” that could go into making decisions about when and whether to have children, stressing the primacy of individual conscience.

That approach was taken directly from a document adopted a few years earlier by the Second Vatican Council, a document that said parents should weigh a variety of “the material and the spiritual conditions” in deciding whether to have children and also stressed that “the parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.”

That pastoral dimension and common-sense approach got lost in the social turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s, as everyone took sides in the culture wars and tended to reduce opponents’ views — as well as their own — to bumper-sticker slogans.

Also lost in that hubbub, however, was the fact that the church’s support for regulating births even by natural means represented a major shift in Catholic teaching.

In fact, in 1930, Pope Pius XI had issued an encyclical (in response to the Anglican church’s decision to OK contraception in some circumstances) saying every conjugal act must be open to the conception of children, an absolutist view that inspired decades of jokes and a memorable Monty Python song.

But in the early 1950s, the next pope, Pius XII, signaled a change when he said Catholic couples could regulate births by avoiding sex during a woman’s fertile times. That was a “significant” development of church doctrine, as Italian Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli wrote last month.

So is Francis signaling another change?

Not likely. He clearly reaffirmed the ban on artificial contraception as “prophetic,” especially given declining birth rates in the West.

 

 

Yet as Francis often does, he is shifting the focus from the “rules” to the principle behind the rules. He wants Catholics to be more open to life and family and children, however many they have, and he does not think that wealthy Western countries should be telling other societies how and when to procreate.

“For the poorest people, a child is a treasure. It is true, we must also be careful here,” Francis said. “But for them, a child is a treasure.”

 

 

It’s hard not to take the Pope’s remarks about big families personally

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2015/01/20/its-hard-not-to-take-the-popes-remarks-about-big-families-personally/

By Francis Phillips, Catholic Herald, January 20, 2015

Pope Francis told reporters that Catholics don’t have to be ‘like rabbits’

I confess that when I first heard on the news that Pope Francis, during an in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome from his journey to the Philippines, had stated that good Catholics are not required “to be like rabbits”, I groaned. What would the secular press do with this remark this time, I wondered? How much explaining away would Fr Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s hapless press secretary, have to do now, as he has done on so many occasions? Why couldn’t the Holy Father just have a quiet snooze on aeroplanes, rather than talk off the cuff as he is wont to do? Why do the media always have to misinterpret and distort what he says? And so on.

After all, we Catholics know that Church teaching on birth control, as prophetically stated by Blessed Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae of 1968 is not going to change. Further, we don’t want the teaching to change, however difficult it might sometimes be in practice. That’s why we are members of the Church: not to obey the Pope like robots, as people used to tactlessly suggest to me when they saw me out with my own large family in the past, but because – among other things – we believe that the ordinary magisterial teachings of the Church are the wise and beautiful teachings of Christ, her founder. Indeed, Pope Francis praised Paul VI’s encyclical during the same press conference and reaffirmed the Church’s rejection of population control programmes as “ideological colonisation” – meaning that poor Third-World populations are constantly pressured by the rich West to control their fertility in ways that are contrary to their traditions and their human dignity.

But while I knew exactly what Pope Francis was actually saying, I still groaned. That unfortunate phrase – his own homely idiom, no doubt – was used by feminists with derision against Catholics during the long and heroic campaign in the 1980s of the courageous Victoria Gillick, the mother of ten children, to stop contraceptives being prescribed to under-age girls without parental consent. Those people who read and listen to the secular press and who already have their own prejudices against Church teaching, will remember and repeat the word “rabbits” like a mantra, while we Catholics will sigh and point out as patiently as possible that that the Church has always taught “responsible parenthood” – and indeed, the Pope mentioned this too, during that hour-long meeting with reporters on his flight home.

What the Holy Father implied was that “responsible parenthood” is what matters, not specific family size. This will be different in each family and with each couple; while the use of artificial contraceptives is intrinsically life-denying it can also be irresponsible to have children thoughtlessly, without regard to issues of health and family circumstances. He cited the case of a woman who became pregnant for the eighth time after seven previous C-sections. “Does she want to leave seven orphans? That is tempting God” he commented.

But the problem with these remarks, unless they are carefully developed and explained within the context of Catholic teaching, is that they might cause confusion, not only outside the Church but also inside, among faithful families. Yes – people can have large families from selfish motives, just as they can limit their families from selfish motives. But what about large Catholic families, struggling to do what is right in their circumstances and under the normal pressures and demands of family life? They might, wrongly, take the Pope’s remarks personally and worry that they are being profligate and irresponsible. They have taken the biblical words “Go forth and multiply” seriously, at great personal sacrifice. They have already, in our secular society, been dismissed as “breeding like rabbits“; the Pope’s remarks will seem to undermine them, however much this was not intended.

And for those who would like to know exactly what “responsible parenthood” entails without getting the wrong impression from the papal press conference, I would recommend The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher. It has chapters like “Prudence and generosity in public conversation”, “The worst possible system, except for all the others” and “What’s so natural about natural family planning?” It is wise, down to earth and hilarious at the same time – quite good for a book about sex.

Finally, my brother has just walked into the room. When I told him what I was writing about and all my misgivings he challenged me: “No, I’m glad that the Pope has spoken. It might start public debate about the Church’s teaching. That’s a good thing.” We’ll see.

Readers have left 441 comments

 

 

Rabbitgate: Could This Be a Good Thing?

http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/1473-rabbitgate-could-this-be-a-good-thing
Traditionalist

By Christopher A. Ferrara, January 28, 2015

 

 

This article is my take on the impact of the latest scandal caused by the latest papal press conference at the back of an airplane: the one during the flight from Manila to Rome, reported around the world under the eminently predictable headline: “Pope Francis: Catholics Don’t Have to Breed like Rabbits.”

Objectors need not pester me or this newspaper with complaints about “bad translation” or the “whole context” of the Pope’s remarks, nor with such quibbles as “the Pope said be like rabbits, not breed like rabbits.” I have watched the entire interview in Italian and compared it with the transcript provided by America magazine and can confirm that the Pope said what he is reported to have said and that its “context” does not diminish but rather only exacerbates the scandal he has caused—yet again—by speaking off-the-cuff. 
That is, the scandal caused by Francis telling us what he really thinks, which is supposed to be the great benefit of his insistence on “speaking from the heart” rather than relying on prepared texts like his overly inhibited predecessor.

First of all, “Rabbitgate,” as the Catholic bloggers are calling it, is yet another example of a spectacle without precedent in the entire history of the papacy: a Pope who publicly and incessantly denounces his own subjects on account of their attachment to the doctrines and disciplines of the faith. Never before has the Church had to endure a Pope who condemns members of his own flock because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.” Never before has a Pope exhibited nothing but indulgence for dissenters from Church teaching on faith and morals at the same time he declares contemptuously—in an apostolic exhortation, no less—that “a supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism…”
But whereas Francis has hitherto confined his astonishing denunciations of orthodoxy and orthopraxis to ill-defined groups of the faithful, during the in-flight press conference on the way back from Manila he did something else the Church has never seen before: he denounced a lone woman he had met in a parish somewhere because she trusted in God to see her through an eighth pregnancy that would require a Caesarian section. Indulging for the umpteenth time an apparently insatiable desire to speak to the press, 
Francis added these infamous words to string of infamous pronouncements the likes of which no Pope before him has ever uttered:

This does not mean that the Christian must make children in series. I rebuked a woman some months ago in a parish who was pregnant eight times, with seven C-sections (cesareans). “But do you want to leave seven orphans? This is to tempt God! He [Paul VI] speaks of responsible parenthood.

Incredibly enough, the very Vicar of Christ provided the world media with enough identifiers to make it obvious to everyone who knows this woman that the Pope had personally “rebuked” her for being an irresponsible mother who has sinned by tempting God when in fact she is practicing heroic virtue by accepting all of the children God has given her, with the assistance of a procedure modern medicine routinely provides to mothers all over the world facing difficult pregnancies. (We all know and admire Catholic mothers who have given birth to healthy babies via repeated C-sections.)

Antonio Socci drove home the devastating point about this increasingly bizarre pontificate: “if she [the woman] had said she used the Pill or had divorced, he [Francis] would have said ‘Who am I to judge?'” Once again the Pope whose media-driven theme is “mercy and compassion” has displayed an utter lack of mercy and compassion for Catholics striving heroically to live their faith in conformity with the Church’s demanding yet liberating teaching.
But on this occasion our strange Pope went too far even for many of his staunch defenders. Not yet done with the poor woman, 
Francis went out of his way to denounce her a second time toward the end of the press conference. It came in response to a reporter’s loaded question about whether poverty in the Philippines is related to the fact that the average Filipino woman has three or more children:

That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth (child) and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is an irresponsibility [said with emphasis]. “No but I trust in God! [mocking the woman’s presumed conviction].” But God gives you methods to be responsible. Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood! This is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can seek and I know so many, many ways out that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

These words are a font of revelation about the mentality behind them. What sort of Pope would publicly denounce as an irresponsible tempter of God a faithful Catholic woman who trusts in His providence—a trust so obviously rewarded with many children safely delivered? What sort of Pope would use this woman as an example of Catholics who think they must “be like rabbits,” thus lending credence to the world’s vicious caricature of Catholic mothers? (The neo-Catholic bloggers on “Team Bergoglio” desperately wrenched the rabbit remark from its context of the woman Francis cited as an example of rabbit-like breeding, arguing that the Pope was merely generalizing about Catholic teaching).
Further, what sort of Pope would refer to “many, many ways out” of pregnancy, as if parenthood were something for which Catholics require an exit strategy? And what, by the way, does Francis mean by “many, many ways out” in the first place, seeing that abstinence, either permanent or periodic, is the only licit way to avoid conception, and this only for grave reasons?
But the revelations do not end here. 
Francis continued with these remarks about Filipinos living in poverty:

Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people [i.e., the poorest—le gente più povere], a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say “God knows how to help me” and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity. But let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.

 

 

 

Why does Francis think it “curious” that for the poorest people a child is a treasure? Why does he say that “even here”—with very poor people—”you have to be prudent,” as if to suggest that the very poor are entitled to be somewhat less “responsible” in begetting children because “for them a child is a treasure” and they have no other treasure? A child is a treasure for everyone, rich or poor, not just “for them [the poorest].” And if every child is a treasure for everyone God deigns to give a child, by what right did Francis twice condemn a woman—evidently not a very poor woman—who has brought eight children into the world with the help of a standard medical procedure?
All in all, the man the press has idolized as a humble and tender pastor of souls by way of invidious comparison with his predecessor has here revealed a rather serious mean streak and not a little condescension toward the poor. And even when the inevitable “clarification” came two days later, with the Pope this time reading a prepared statement at his Wednesday audience address praising large families and affirming that every child is a gift from God, there was not the even the hint of an apology to the woman he had calumniated before the entire world precisely because she had courageously accepted eight gifts from God.
“Rabbitgate” may be as much a turning point in the Bergoglian pontificate as Watergate was for Richard Nixon—a fitting development for a papacy that is being conducted 
as if it were a presidency. The blogosphere is bristling with the protests of Catholic mothers who have had multiple C-sections and by Catholic parents of eight or more children who are now noticing what this newspaper has been reporting for months: that there is something gravely amiss with this papacy, something the Church has never experienced before.
As a contributor to the resolutely middle-of-the road Aleteia.org 
has observed: “if Facebook is any indication, many large Catholic families are a lot less enamored of Pope Francis after ‘rabbits.'” While the same people have generally accepted without protest this Pope’s scandalous words and deeds, leaving mostly traditionalists to raise objections, this time Francis has struck rather too close to home for the “conservative” Catholic rank and file and new eyes are being opened. As the same writer observes: “If Francis after rabbits is diminished for you, so be it. Jesus Christ still reigns.”

A hearty amen to that.
The widening perception that Francis is out of control may be a crucial factor in solidifying the hierarchical and lay opposition that will be necessary to prevent the train wreck he clearly has in mind for Synod 2015 if the boasting of his handpicked leader of the Council of Eight is any indication. 
As Cardinal Maradiaga has just declared with all the recklessness that has earned him the title “Mad Dog” Maradiaga:

The Council propelled institutional renovations, following the logic of the Spirit. These reforms encompass all levels of the ecclesial organization… But the institutional and functional changes—alone in themselves— proved insufficient, superficial…. The Pope wants to take this Church renovation to the point where it becomes irreversible.

As Francis continues to tell us what he really thinks, thus alienating an ever-growing number of the faithful who are awakening to the reality that this papacy is dangerously dysfunctional, we can only pray that what we are seeing is the Holy Ghost writing straight with crooked lines. It may well be that what we must call the threat posed by Bergoglianism will be averted by the blunders of Pope Bergoglio himself.

 

Were You Hurt after the Pope’s Recent Comments that Catholics Need Not Breed lke Rabbits?

http://prolife365.com/breed-like-rabbits/
EXTRACT

By Kevin Kukla, January 26, 2015

Much ink has been spilled over Pope Francis’ recent remarks regarding the size of Catholic families. The pope made headlines by saying Catholics do not need to breed like rabbits.

His comments breathed a sigh of relief among many within the Catholic Church. But for those in more conservative wing of the faith, the remark stung a bit.

Look, I am going to pass on taking a critical shot at the pope. I am just choosing to add this to his growing list of controversial and questionable remarks. Such comments he often makes on his long flights, with journalists riding along.

Instead, I want to offer solace to those Catholics who may have been hurt by the pope’s remarks.

As the married, lay faithful, we have no control over what the clergy says or does. They are all made of the same material we are, namely fallen human nature. Thus, we need not let matters like this affect us as much as they often do.

 

 

The ‘Francis effect’ is silencing Catholic bishops, priests, and laity

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-so-called-francis-effect-is-silencing-catholic-bishops-priests-and-lait
EXTRACT

By Fr. Linus Clovis, May 22, 2015

The Rabbitgate affair was particularly hard on Catholic mothers worldwide, especially those who, at great personal sacrifice, had given birth to their children. The pope (Francis) who had said “who am I to judge” now says, “I rebuked a woman some months ago in a parish who was pregnant eight times, with seven C-sections (cesareans). ‘But do you want to leave seven orphans?’ This is to tempt God! He [Paul VI] speaks of responsible parenthood.” 

Not content with rebuking this particular woman, he extends it worldwide: “God gives you methods to be responsible. Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood! This is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can seek and I know so many, many ways out that are licit and that have helped this.”

 

 


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EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church

Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

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