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Catholics and Pro-Life July 7, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, General Catholic.
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From the blog of Fr. Angelo Geiger, a Franciscan of the Immaculate, comes some very powerful words written back in November 2008, after Catholics were the determining factor in electing the extremely pro-abort Barack Hussein Obama:

The vast majority of Catholics don’t have the moral fortitude or political will to really be pro-life, because we have been evangelized by the purveyors of lust [I seriously doubt most Catholics, especially most Catholic men, have any clue how often they commit sins of lust. – ED] We have not been witnesses to Christ and we don’t have the determination to be so, because we have put our trust in the world and what it has to offer.

How many people, even those in the pews, actually believe that fornication is a sin, let alone pornography, masturbation and lustful desires and thoughts? In principle most Catholics do not believe that lust is wrong unless it “hurts” someone else—whatever that means. So how can anyone like this be expected to put aside all their personal opinions and political fears and vote for someone they cannot stand because the Church says that we must vote pro-life?

We must have our contraception and our dirty little fun. Kids must be “protected” from anything that is not “age appropriate,” that’s true, but we wouldn’t dream of depriving anyone of their “rights,” or even presume to know what’s best for society at large when it comes to matters of sexuality.

I will go a step further and critique the whole “new chastity movement.” I use that term so as not to be construed as disagreeing with the “Theology of the Body” of the late and saintly Pope John Paul II. I agree that that a more positive approach to the teaching of chastity is necessary, and that the insights of the Theology of the Body are important. However, some (notice the emphasis) of the promotion of these insights seem a bit gnostic and disingenuous.

I say gnostic, because it is asserted that this new way has been kept a secret until now, and with the new indoctrination all the old problems of original sin, scrupulosity, prudishness and guilt will be minimized. It is suggested that we will be naked without shame almost to the point of original innocence. Who is kidding who?

I say disingenuous, because there is an underlying cause for the new approach that has nothing to do with a “new revelation.” That underlying cause is simply the fact that the vast majority of Catholics refuse to give up their contraception. Some alternative had to be devised, just as some alternative had to be devised for Catholics who refuse to give up divorce and remarriage. [Fr. Geiger  in these last few paragraphs has been referring to the interpretations of the ‘Theology of the Body’ popularized by Chris West.  Fr. Geiger has a series of strong critiques of Christopher West’s discourses on the Theology of the Body, of which this post is something of an introduction.  For more, see here. – ED].

I believe many use Natural Family Planning for the right reasons. I also believe that many use it as a substitute for contraception, because that is the way it has been promoted and because many of us have lost hope that there is an alternative.

I know I put myself out on a ledge with some of these views, but I don’t disagree with Fr. Geiger at all.  Polls and other data show that most Catholics simply must have their contraception.  I don’t think it unreasonable to conclude that for many who use contraception, and thus deviate from Church doctrine, deviating still further in terms of supporting a pro-abort candidate for political office is no big moral issue.  Contraception is the ‘third rail’ of the Catholic priest.  This is the single least talked about Catholic doctrine I know of – so very few priests will ever touch this subject.  The only contender is divorce/remarriage, which goes hat in hand with contraception. 

I’ve tried to explain both traditional Church doctrine on contraception, and the views my wife and I share, but I haven’t seemed to made much headway convincing many people the necessary imperative of being fully open to the procreational aspect of marriage throughout married life.  This is a deeply personal topic, yes, but it’s also an area where many Catholics have seemed to accept the reasoning of the dominant culture without question.  Having too many kids is too expensive, it makes your life too complicated and difficult, it will take all the fun out of your marriage, you won’t be able to afford college, etc, etc – these are many of the reasons I have heard why folks just can’t accept Church doctrine and so contracept.  My experience with six kids has indicated that none of these reasons are really valid, but they are accepted by so many Catholics as absolutely true.  This is an area of the Faith where ‘protestantization’ appears to have made the most deep and lasting impact – Catholic attitudes on contraception have come to ape those of America’s protestant majority.  And contraception seems to be some sort of ‘gateway;’ once accepting of contraception, Catholic moral standards in other areas, from rates of porn use and masturbation to divorce and remarriage rapidly fell in line with the average for all Americans – another area of capitulation with the dominant culture. 

I don’t think this capitulation is irreversible.  I pray that we might start hearing priests mention that contraception use is still a grave sin occasionally in homilies/sermons – that would be a start.  I think we need to start a lay organization that will help to spread this core Church doctrine, as well.  And we need to keep pushing back on the culture – we Catholics should be distinct from the dominant culture, not utterly submerged in it and indistinguishable from it.  And pray.  If this post makes any sense to you, pray pray pray for a change of hearts and minds.

Comments

1. Subvet - July 7, 2010

Very good post, not the least being your own commentary.

For a long time I couldn’t come to an understanding of NFP and it’s use. How could it be the Catholic version of birth control with such a high rate of failure? (I have no faith in any statistics showing how effective it really is, my wife’s Catholic friends all seemed to experience failure with it and they were ALL medical professionals)

Finally the understanding I came to was that recreational sex without the result of children couldn’t happen, all the NFP in the world wasn’t worth a hoot if the aim was sex without kids. It would therefore require a couple to completely abstain from sex if they didn’t want kids. Sounds completely countercultural but thats what Catholics are supposed to be.

I wonder if that mindset of “no kids, no sex” wasn’t fairly prevalent at one time but died out during the 50’s & 60’s? That was when “sex without consequences” became a popular idea. Is it possible many couples prior to then routinely abstained with little or no problem?

Our culture is so sexually obsessed now that question seems bizarre. In a world where advocates of “personal freedom” lobby for teen abortions without parental consent (sex amongst teens thought of as inevitable) it’s difficult to think that at one time normal people MAY have routinely chosen to “go without” for months or years.

What would your thinking on the subject be?

tantamergo - July 8, 2010

“Finally the understanding I came to was that recreational sex without the result of children couldn’t happen, all the NFP in the world wasn’t worth a hoot if the aim was sex without kids.”

YES! Pope Pius XII, in his exhortation to Italian midwives in the late 50’s, actually described the phenomenon you go on to talk about – couples that choose not to have children are called to live in virtuous continence, a form of chastity the foregoes sex for some reason. Even still, the prime aim of marriage is procreation, and so it would require a serious reason to forego having children. But reading this speech, its clear that he was referring to a phenomenon that was at least somewhat common at the time. There were married couples who, for various reasons, did not think they could appropriately have a child, and so they lived lives of continence, foregoing the marital act.

But in today’s culture, such thinking would be considered bizaare. It’s a sign of how far so many in the Church have ‘fallen,’ if you will, in accepting the thinking of the dominant culture, which is both nihilist and bacchanalian at the same time. There was at one time a very distinct Catholic culture, especially in Europe, but even in the United States, but now it is very hard to find distinguishing characteristics of Catholic life outside of small, isolated communities. I pray that the resurgence in cloistered religious will help to provide an example of that ‘living apart’ that Catholics are called to do, while still engaging the world. Even having a large family is considered very countercultural today. My wife and I repeatedly get asked rather rude questions about our family – “don’t you know what causes that?,” or “are you going to stop now that you’ve got your boy?”, things like that. Even among many Catholics, there is a certain sensitivity around people with a large family, as if we’re some kind of rebuke of their lifestyle.

It’s going to take a ton of prayers and a ton of work to even begin to change the tide. It is amazing to me how quickly what were widely accepted Catholic moral principles were thrown aside in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Literally centuries of accumulated effort was thrown away in the space of a few years. It is incredibly easy to lose that moral foundation that underpins a culture, and it takes decades or longer of effort to begin to get it back. Present trends are not good. My own personal thinking is that we’re headed for a cultural/societal calamity of epic proportions, something akin to the Fall of Rome, before things will begin to turn around in the disastrous aftermath. From what I have read, Pope Benedict feels the same way.

2. frangelo - July 8, 2010

tantamergo,

Thanks for the post and the links. I have just updated the TOB compendium with the latest entries.

God bless.

tantamergo - July 8, 2010

Fr. Gieger –

You are most welcome, and thanks for your blog! I ordered Dawn Eden’s thesis, but haven’t received it, yet. I can’t wait to read it. I’m about to take a trip, I hope I get it today so I can read it.

Dominus vobsicum!

3. mrcatholic730 - July 9, 2010

Until a few years ago, I socialized quite a bit in local 30-something single Catholic adult circles. Every couple I’ve known over the last 15 years who entered Matrimony as faithful, informed, JPII-loving, magisterial-loving, rosary-praying, Novus Ordo-attending Catholics, with only two certain exceptions, seemed to have stopped after at most three children. From what I have heard, NFP is practically touted as the eighth sacrament in the local Christopher West fan club. My hope is that the courage of a priest to preach against using artificial contraception includes the courage to preach against using NFP in less than grave situations.

tantamergo - July 13, 2010

That’s precisely my view. NFP is not a Catholic Church approved contraception replacement, it is a form of timing the marital act to make conception unlikely, only to be used for grave reasons. It has instead become viewed and taught by many within the Church as “Catholic birth control.”


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