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Catholicism Unwavering Against Contraception

Lately, I’ve seen comments from friends regarding their disappointment at the Church’s opposition to the RH Bill which now stands a good chance of getting passed in Congress. One of my friends even mentioned that maybe it’s time he leaves the Church altogether because he does not agree with Her on this issue. I couldn’t help but think about this matter some more – and react to all the negativity that the Church is getting because of her unwavering stand against contraception.

The Catholic Church has always been and will forever be a counter-cultural institution. She’s not here to win a popularity contest; the Church’s job is to preach the truth of God and His law of love. The Catholic Church has always been under attack for one reason or another whenever the truths She preaches does not agree with popular opinion.

The following are excerpts from an article that Dr. Robert Stackpole wrote in a series of articles entitled “Contraception: Indefensible or Indispensable?” that summarize the Catholic Church’s historical opposition against this matter.

Contraception Part 1: Indefensible or Indispensable?

The Catholic Church is not completely alone in its opposition to contraception. She is largely supported on this matter by the Russian Orthodox Church. In any case, the Church is not supposed to ride the wave of every social trend or conform itself to everything that is popular. Rather, the Church is “the Body of Christ” (see I Cor 12) – a supernatural organism in and through which the Lord Jesus Himself reveals His love and His truth to the world. As the Body of Christ on earth, she must teach only what is in accord with all that God has revealed to us through the Jewish Scriptures that Jesus accepted as the Word of God, and the writings of His chosen apostles (to whom He promised the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, e.g. Jn 16:13) as found in the New Testament. And, of course, we must also take into account the sacred tradition of the Church in unfolding that scriptural and apostolic faith, a tradition fashioned down through the ages by the reflections of saints, popes, and ecumenical councils under the guidance of the same Holy Spirit.

On the matter of contraception there can be no doubt at all. The consensus teaching of the popes, bishops, saints, and doctors of the Catholic Church down through the ages has always been that contraception is gravely wrong. It is not a new issue. People in ancient and medieval times tried a number of relatively ineffective herbal potions and barrier methods as contraceptives. Among the early Church Fathers who spoke most clearly on this subject were St. Epiphanius and St. John Chrysostom in the east, and St. Jerome and St. Augustine in the west. As Church historian John Noonan wrote in 1962:

Since the first clear mention of a contraception by a Christian theologian, when a harsh third-century moralist accused a pope of encouraging it, the articulated argument has always been the same… the teachers of the church have taught without hesitation or variation that certain [contraceptive] acts preventing procreation are gravely sinful. No Catholic theologian ever taught [up until 1962, that is] that contraception is a good act. The teaching on contraception is apparently clear and fixed forever… during that time you could approach any bishop in the world and he would tell you the same thing: contraception is gravely sinful.

By the way, the Christian consensus on this matter included not only Catholics but the great Protestant Reformers (Luther, Calvin, and Wesley) as well, and all Protestant churches up until 1930, when the Anglicans were the first ones to change their minds on the subject. The consensus held not only in times and places where women were relatively subservient and confined to the home, but also in Christian cultures where women were often well educated and exercised significant roles outside the home (such as areas of medieval Europe and the Byzantine empire).

Just to add: Around 1930, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical “Casti Connubii,” generally translated as “On Christian Marriage,” in which he reiterated what has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church: contraception is intrinsically wrong. [Reference: Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later.]

The Catholic Church has traditionally advocated against contraception, and She will never back down or compromise to it because this is against the Will of God. Accept the reality and deal with it. If in good conscience you cannot agree with Her teaching, then it might actually be best if you leave… The Church is not playing a numbers game, and if Her membership declines because of Her stand then so be it. If She be under violent attack because of Her continuing and forever opposition regarding contraception, then so be it. Ultimately the truth of this matter is on Her side, and someday everyone will come to fully understand why.

God help us all.

Jesus, I trust in You!

Related post: RH Bill and the Poor.

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