Contraception Redux

The push to allow contraception, made by certain contributors to a controversial 2021 book from the Pontifical Academy for Life, is an exercise in gaslighting, is culpably ignorant, and is also pastorally imprudent.

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Recently, the Pontifical Academy for Life released a document under the English title Theological Ethics of Life: Scripture, Tradition, Practical Challenges.i The 530-page volume collects the Proceedings of a 2021 interdisciplinary study seminar held in Rome. The authors of TEL intend to open—or, in the case of contraception, re-open—a dialogue between different opinions on controversial life issues.

TEL contributors delineate their contraception proposal in paragraph 172. To paraphrase: the Church recognizes that couples are being morally responsible and open to life when, faced with family planning complexities, they choose a natural system to avoid a pregnancy. Similarly, TEL urges the Magisterium to approve a couple’s contraceptive choice to do the same. As long as the latter remain generically open to life, their choice of contraception to prevent pregnancy in difficult circumstances should also count as responsible parenthood. If the couple avoid a contraceptive means that’s abortifacient, they would remain as “far from ‘the contraceptive mentality’” and antinatalism—“rightly criticized by Humanae vitae and Familiaris consortio”—as the NFP couple.

This essay follows TEL’s advice to open up a space for dialogue over the contraception issue. Toward that end, it brings a novelist, medical scientists, and an evolutionary anthropologist into dialogue with TEL’s contraception proposal.

A novelist

In her futurist, dystopian novel, The Children of Men,ii authoress P. D. James might just give the authors of TEL’s contraception proposal due pause. She’s “chillingly convincing” in her thesis that if the temporary infertility we choose through contraception would ever evolve into a permanent, universal infertility, the world that would open up before us would look just like ours, only even more sexually crass, even more morally jaded, even more inhospitable to human life.

With her story set in Britain in 2021 AD (substitute any future date you wish), James unfurls a panoramic view of a world depressed by childlessness. She systematically demonstrates the connection between temporary sterility-now-turned-permanent and every other kind of social evil, including the denigration of human life, the suppression of the essential meanings of marital sexual love, and the disintegration of marriage and the family. In effect, James is saying: ‘once life in its transmission is not respected or can no longer be honored, every other stage of life is threatened and every other purpose of human sexual expression is polluted.’

Oxford historian Dr. Theodore Faron, the main fictional character of The Children of Men, offers his opinion about the origin of the disease of universal infertility. Reflecting over the past 25 years, Faron enters the following into his diary:

Much of this I can trace to the early 1990s: the search for alternative medicine, the perfumed oils, the massage, the stroking and anointing, the crystal-holding, the non-penetrative sex. Pornography and sexual violence on film, on television, in books, in life, had increased and become more explicit but less and less in the West we made love and bred children. It seemed at the time a welcome development in a world grossly polluted by over-population. As a historian I see it as the beginning of the end.iii

James’s shots across the bow are reminiscent of the predictive warnings in Lewis’s Abolition of Man and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. They cry out for the reader’s attention—and that of TEL authors. Through the thoughts of her main character, James implies our 21st century progressive view of contraception not only manages to suppress or deny the beauty of procreation but in the process of sex becoming lifeless, it also becomes loveless and even pleasureless.

In the face of the permanent separation of procreation from sex, Theo Faron writes in his diary:

Sex can still be a mutual comfort; it is seldom a mutual ecstasy. The government-sponsored porn shops, the increasingly explicit literature, all the devices to stimulate desire—none has worked. Men and women still marry, although less frequently, with less ceremony and often with the same sex. . . . Sex totally divorced from procreation has become almost meaninglessly acrobatic.”iv

Through all of this, the implications of James’s underlying hypothesis shouts out at the reader—and TEL contributors. Do we, as a society want to continue to think the choice to be infertile through birth control is a benign state, a neutral choice, even an enlightened choice? Or are we going to wake up and take a more critical look at what originally was hailed, among other things, as a panacea for our marital and overpopulation problems?

James hastens to demonstrate a society with zero population growth is a society that inevitably becomes top-heavy with the aged. From a utilitarian stance, the British elderly of 2021 represent a drain on resources, both societal and familial, as they prove to make little contribution by way of productive output.

James argues the solution to this contraception-induced difficulty was termed “The Quietus,” the systematic murder of the old, the sick, and the senile. Today people are routinely dismissed if they view euthanasia as a sequel to contraception. But James capitalizes on that connection. Another character in her book describes the Quietus and the attempts by government officials to make this option of suicide appear to be a freely-willed, pleasant choice on the part of the elderly. Commenting to Theo, this character recollects:

You’ve heard of the Quietus, I suppose, the mass suicide of the old? . . . . I remembered one picture, I think the only one ever shown on the television: white-clad, elderly beings wheeled or helped in to the low barge-like ship, the high reedy singing voices, the boat slowly pulling away into twilight, a seductively peaceful scene. Cunningly shot and lit.v

Remorselessly methodical, P.D. James holds a very powerful mirror up to every wrinkle and wart of our contraceptive society. She captures for us, in almost sickening detail, what we could very well look like 20 to 30 years hence—or perhaps what we already look like.

And the only hope for that future world is surely also one of the greatest hopes of the world today: the birth of a baby, the fruit of a loving act of sex open to life. In a scene reminiscent of the nativity of Christ, the author of The Children of Men pictures government officials and common persons coming to look at, and pay homage to, what turned out to be the savior of the universe of 2021. Only the birth of a baby, James seems to be saying, could reverse Theodore Faron’s prediction that birth control or elective infertility was, indeed, the beginning of the end.

James’s hypothesis ought to hold our imaginations—and those of the authors of TEL—captive. What if the infertility we freely elect through contraception would become a universal disease, an imposed curse, not something we choose, but a phenomenon we are condemned to learn to live with? Would we want the kind of world—lifeless, loveless, pleasureless—that follows from procreation permanently separated from sex on a universal scale? If not, why would we ever freely elect infertility or deliberately render our fertile acts of sex sterile, and intentionally bring the same effects into our world on the heels of that choice?

Should we not want, after all, to seriously consider taking another direction, choosing some other option that enhances our humanity precisely because it reflects God’s plan for human procreation?

Medical scientists

Of course we should. And the hope is that the contributors to TEL would want to do the same.

First, these authors—transdisciplinary dialogue enthusiasts—should be perfectly prepped to listen to Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers at the Saint Paul VI Institute. No strangers to research themselves, they should naturally appreciate the investigative productivity of the Institute. Four decades of clinical research have guided the growth and fruition of the Institute’s goals. To develop the FertilityCare System into a versatile, effective, standardized, and value-based natural system of family planning. And to make this natural system available to couples around the globe by training national and international physicians and teachers in the science of FertilityCare. A family planning system, by the way, that works even for couples in “difficult situations”—without recourse to contraception.

Second, the professional spirit amongst TEL contributors should intellectually prepare them to adjudicate three issues. Does the panoply of Institute services afford 21st century couples a human solution to family planning? Do these services provide couples a healthy and holy means to a Christocentric marriage? Do the Institute’s protocols offer couples solutions to difficult family planning situations that simultaneously honor the full procreative and unitive truth of their marital sexual love?

Third, these philosophical specialists, given their modus operandi of dialogical research into the controversial issue of contraception, are perfectly poised to address another important matter. Does the FertilityCare System provide an antidote to the fallout from the regnant contraceptive mentality that, as P. D. James shows us, wreaks havoc on human sexual expression, marriage, and the family?

Fourth, TEL experts should be aptly primed to give due diligence to a recent critique of their contraception proposal from nine international medical clinicians.vi These physicians lodge one principal complaint. What could justify TEL’s attempt to solicit official Church approval of contraceptive family planning in the face of the following medical data?

  • The best study to date, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that oral contraceptives “raise the risk of breast cancer in an epidemic scale.”
  • Research demonstrates the use of contraceptives raises the woman’s risk of myocardial infarction and stroke by 60 per cent.
  • Widespread contraceptive use has plunged our society into a “demographic winter” and a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases, often precursors to infertility.
  • Current medical studies suggest the natural method known as symptom-thermal double-check is “five times more effective than the condom” in preventing pregnancy.
  • Women would be more hesitant to use the contraceptive pill if they were fully informed about the possibility that one of its mechanisms could eliminate an early embryo by preventing its implantation.
  • Women who have discovered natural methods of family planning tell their providers they “feel good as women again; they feel truly emancipated for the first time, and connected to their bodies and sexuality.”
  • Women inform their healthcare providers they “no longer want a pastor who assumes that the ‘ideal’ is not for them, who approves of contraception, minimizes abortion, and considers divorce inevitable. . . . They want to fulfill the ideal that the Church has maintained for centuries.”

In sum, the clinical experience of these doctors proves that couples using natural methods can follow the Catholic Church’s directives on fertility regulation—even in difficult situations—without deviating from Humanae vitae.

An evolutionary anthropologist

Evolutionary anthropologist Lionel Tiger highlights two contemporary “mysteries” haunting the man/woman relationship.

First mystery: the inevitable change in its respective productive and reproductive roles. As men’s income and wealth decline (because women’s wealth has risen), men not only assume a proportionally smaller interest in their “mates and offspring” but simultaneously acquire a belligerent disposition toward the latter and the world in general.

Second mystery: the increase of single mothers and abortions despite the fact that an unprecedented number of “improved” contraceptives continue to flood the market.

Tiger identifies what he’s convinced is the root cause of these mysteries-turned-tragedies, these personal and sociological disorders. In terms that would directly challenge the wisdom of TEL’s moral approval of contraception, he contends:

I think the introduction of widespread contraception use in the 1960s caused this revolutionary break between men and women. It put biological disputes at the center of our national life—women’s rights, abortion, out-of-wedlock births, the turmoil among African-American men and the rise of angry white men. The pill emancipated women and placed into question existing moral and religious systems that focused on controlling sexual behavior. . . . After the pill, women could be sexually liberated and still remain in control while at the same time men had less and less control of the impact of their own sexuality. . . .

I do not think anyone is to blame here in the sense that they planned a raid on civil society and got away with it. As it happens frequently, technology (contraception, in this case) has generated an unexpected result: more abortions, more single-parent families, more men abandoning their role of being good providers and a higher divorce rate (emphasis added).vii

Codetta

Evidence-based medical science and cultural analysis show contraception is a dead end. According to a famous Thomistic axiom, an idea or an action is good if it conforms to right reason. According to P.D. James, Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, and Lionel Tiger, TEL’s contraception proposal defies reason in at least three ways.

It’s gaslighting. It attempts to convince couples the contraception-induced personal, marital and sociological degradation they see everywhere actually does not exist. Or, at least, won’t negatively impact their lives.

It’s culpably ignorant. It fails to give due shrift to what’s right under TEL’s nose. The FertilityCare system, a research-based, natural system of family planning, is nationally and internationally available to help couples avoid a pregnancy without intentionally suppressing the procreative good.

It’s pastorally imprudent. It deprives contracepting couples opportunities: to practice the logic of complete self-gift in their sexual acts, to acquire the virtue of marital chastity, and to experience the freedom of transformation in Christ.

Endnotes:

i I obtained the English translation of Etica Teologica della Vita: Scittura, Tradizione, Sfide Pratiche from Professor Roberto Dell’Oro, Director of the Bioethics Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA.

ii New York: Alfred Knopf, 1993.

iii The Children of Men, pp. 7-8, emphasis added.

iv Ibid., p. 116, emphasis added

v Ibid., p. 47.

vi Zenit, “Nine Scientists Correct the Pontifical Academy for Life” (full original text), 29.09.2022.

vii This quote, from a commentary in U.S. News and World Report [July 1, 1996] is a summary of the thesis of Tiger’s book, The Decline of Males, Golden Books Publishing, 1999.


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About Sister Renée Mirkes 21 Articles
Sister Renée Mirkes, OSF, PhD a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, directs the Center for NaProEthics, the ethics division of the Saint Paul VI Institute, Omaha, NE. She received her masters degree in moral theology from the University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX (1988) and her doctorate in theological ethics from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (1995).

26 Comments

  1. Well written for the most part. Thank you. I take exception to the following submissions though: “As men’s income and wealth decline (because women’s wealth has risen), men not only assume a proportionally smaller interest in their “mates and offspring…” and “Second mystery: the increase of single mothers and abortions despite the fact that an unprecedented number of “improved” contraceptives continue to flood the market.” Men are not making less because women are making more. There is not a zero sum pot of wealth, where one making more necessitates the other making less. I submit men are assuming a smaller interest in their mates and offsprings because fewer are 1) marrying and 2) believe they are important to the family after the last 30 years of being denigrated in our media and culture. Furthermmore, increase of single mothers is at least on part due to a direct consequence of government paying females to have babies with government payments instead of being married (since that decreases the government pay out). In the USA, we are on at least the 3rd, possibly 4th now, generation of people replacing government for fathers in having children, begun in the late 70s with our Aid to Dependent Children. I will never forget that in 1979 an unmarried colleague of mine got pregnant with her 2nd child at 20 years old..why? She specifically said she would then make enough money to quit her job and raise her 2 children. How many women have 4 or 5 children for this reason? To “earn their living”? In the USA our “compassion” has led us to create a class of humans who have never had a father or grandfather, who have never seen anyone go to post high school education and work for a living , and who thus roam the streets aimlessly as teens and young adults, one gender mainly running in gangs, the other mainly creating yet another generation of lost souls. I cry for them, and for their lost lives. As for abortion in an age of plentiful contraceptives, to finish your thought, far too often, the female is told “if you love me you won’t make me wear this” or “have my baby if you love me’..then finds herself pregnant without any love or marriage. So abortion happens. There is no sense of long term thinking or consequences, and tremendous pressure to “just do it”. Not to mention there has been a definite idea of using abortion as contraception. Before anyone says that is not true, I lost a friend in the 80s who wanted me to go to her 4th abortion at age 28, and I declined. She viewed it as no big deal. And that was 40 years ago.

    • The good comment above helped me see what a dystopia is inhabited by many U.S. working poor people and lower middle class people. I see three factors:
      (1) THE SIXTIES CULTURAL REVOLUTION: The Sixties Cultural Revolution created a dominant laissez faire approach to sexuality and gender roles. Whereas for most of human history the strict norm was sex only in lawful marriage between one man and one woman, suddenly sex any time for any reason between any consenting adults was the new norm. What a catastrophe!
      (2) LBJ’S “GREAT SOCIETY”: The Great Society programs under President Johnson used massive money handouts as a cure for poverty (By contrast, FDR’s New Deal programs were all WORK based–if you refused to work, you got NOTHING from the government.)
      (3) REAGAN REVOLUTION: The Reagan Revolution under President Reagan revived the old radical Laissez Faire economics of pre-FDR New Deal era. Whereas FDR’s New Deal policies made it possible for a husband to work one 40 hours a week job and support his wife to stay at home and raise 6 or more kids, under the Laissez Faire radicalism of the Reagan Revolution, both husband and wife had to work full-time just to survive, barely!. Also, under the Laissez Faire radicalism of the Reagan Revolution, most of our good paying industrial jobs were eventually shipped overseas, and many other jobs were knowingly given by Reagan-voting conservative businessmen to millions of illegal immigrants, who would work for peanuts with union organizing, no benefits, and no government oversight for worker safety. Whereas the Minimum Wage, as established by FDR’s New Deal, was originally a living wage by which a husband could fully support his wife and six kids, under the under the Laissez Faire radicalism of the Reagan Revolution the Minimum Wage became a teenage wage for part-time high schoolers working at McDonald to earn money to buy rock and roll albums.

      [NOTE: The American Solidary Party is a new political party that preaches what I have written above. The party’s platform is based on Catholic Social Teaching and Catholic Pro-Life Teaching. Quite a few Catholics have joined that party; I am one of those. But regrettably the party’s leaders don’t seem very serious about becoming a major party that could defeat or replace either the Republicans or the Democrats.]

      • “Whereas FDR’s New Deal policies made it possible for a husband to work one 40 hours a week job and support his wife to stay at home and raise 6 or more kids, under the Laissez Faire radicalism of the Reagan Revolution, both husband and wife had to work full-time just to survive, barely.”

        Your points were legitimate up until this one. These are tired, old DNC talking points. You showed your hand. People were barely surviving under Carter, the hapless fool, and a democrat to boot.

      • There is a multitude of economic misinformation in above comments beginning with the notion that a minimum wage helps anyone or ever has helped anyone. It was never a “living wage,” not should it have been. What is does effectively is destroy jobs and employers and expand poverty. It helped to expand the Great Depression. One of the most important jobs I ever had paid me not one single cent, but I agreed to it, and my boss and I defied the law as I acquired skills for a much better job. The rollback of idiotic regulations thanks to the Reagan administration had the effect of an ingress not an egress of American industrial jobs, and the displacement of men in the workforce has much more to do with the pervasive cultural cowardice, seconded by such things as falsified “Catholic social teaching” that refuses to, under this rewriting of Catholicism pontificate, fault the religions of socialism or feminism for anything. Many years ago, I worked as an electrical engineer on my way to becoming a physicist and of the women engineers I worked with, only about one in twenty displayed any level of competence at all compared to a ten to twenty percent incompetence level among male counterparts. But if you dared to so much as note this reality, you were in grave danger of being fired on the spot for being a sexist opposed to a “strong woman.”

    • Once a mother works and makes good money (a reason a lot of them went to work was for the health insurance) they are less likely to put up with their unbending spouse. Women are generally better at admin/service jobs and the need for masculinity as far as tough guy, and jobs for life with pensions, has declined.

    • WOW, Pauline! Why is it that men get off free when abandoning their families? How many times my heart breaks when we see a single mother with five kids and the father no where in sight. Often he is with his new partner, repeating his prowess. God save the lost families.

  2. We’ve had over 50 years of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and over 50 years the invocation on a mass scale of the corrosive “primacy of conscience” doctrine, with a wink and nod approval from the hierarchy. Such a liminal, limbo state of affairs is not sustainable. Something’s gotta give. Things will either return to the pre-Vatican II norm, or the dam will burst.

  3. “If the temporary infertility we choose through contraception would ever evolve into a permanent, universal infertility, the world that would open up before us would look just like ours, only even more sexually crass, even more morally jaded, even more inhospitable to human life”.
    Author Ms James cited here by Sr Mirkes foresees the inevitable, that which is already in progress. Alluded to by Sr Mirkes’, our Catholic Church that’s beginning to conform more to the new age church of Aquarius, guided by Archbishop Paglia, appointed by Pope Francis I as president for the Pontifical Academy for Life, and grand chancellor for the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. With credentials like that the aficionado of homoerotic murals can apparently cook things up as he wishes.
    Sr Mirkes very well versed in the catastrophic outcome of embrace of the pill by Catholics, the widespread opposition to Humanae Vitae – now this considered official doctrine considered for revision by the named Dicasteries.
    Well, what more can be said that simply repeats the assessments of so many orthodox Catholics reaching back to Card Mario Caffarra and the Dubia. He was eulogized by a Dominican group Isola di Patmos:
    “Regarding the personality of Carlo Caffarra, we talked about intelligence, culture, honesty, love for the Church, pastorality. All true. But in my opinion, the true heart of his spirituality, is testified by some episodes of his life, where love is intertwined with pain. With Saint Paul, he has been able to say and still tells us, ‘There is no other boast for me than in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Gal 6,14].
    Caffarra, a holy prophet of our day, foresaw the evil. The insidious attack on the traditional family, in effect, an attack against the Holy family.

  4. A greater theme: sexual suicide. Read Fr Hardon’s comments on this. Worry not – the sexually rebellious couples are beginning their disappearing act. Pleasure now leads to pain later. Think of birth rates and culture… Not that we should really care about preserving this godless and hedonistic society. No need to be provoked then.

    “The reason why we have such massive slaughter of the innocents […] is because in the super-developed nations, like our own, we have become a fornicating society, an adulterous society, a masturbating society, a homosexual society, and a contraceptive society. Unchaste people are selfish people. They will not stop at murder if an unborn child would be a burden to their indulgence and sexual pleasure.”

    Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

    • He seemed to touch on all the bases! Yes, we are not honouring God as we ought to, yet should married couples have some input as to whether they want to bring another child into the world? We are in God’s plans, however He is never constrained by our plans.

      The “Song of Solomon” is an outstanding guide for married couples. Solomon asked God for wisdom and the Lord provided him with the right avenue for all matters in life, both spiritual and worldly.

      God bless you.

      • The “input” you mention is chastity. We are all called to be chaste, married or single. This is considered a bizarre concept now, even among Catholics.

        • Chastity is a noble pursuit. When a man and woman marry, they are to respect one another and most important, to honour what God has given them in marriage.

          Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

          Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

          1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

          Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.

          1 Corinthians 7:1- Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. …
          God bless you

  5. Euthanasia absolutely is an outcome of contraception. The entire developed world is greying and ageing. In the not too distant future we may face a majority population of those over 65 and fewer young people in the workforce paying taxes to keep programs like Medicare and the NHS afloat. With so many elderly demanding finite healthcare resources the incentives for euthanasia will increase.
    The average age of residents in the rural US county we used to live in is now 60. I realize that rural areas have had more issues with young people leaving and older demographics but I think it’s an illustration of things to come. Even in that very rural and conservative part of the country birthrates are at rock bottom. Women are waiting too long to begin families and contraception is what makes that possible.

    • I have already begun to ask myself what medical treatments I would want and when (stuff like hip replacement–not likely I would have one, tbh–maybe knee?) once I really get into old age (in my early 50’s so not quite there yet). Do I really want to fight cancer at age 76 with my husband being 90?
      .
      But my impression is the Church commands us to fight until the bitter end or it is suicide/murder. My father was very happy no “pro-life” nurses were around when my mother passed after a very ugly battle with cancer and starvation, and they decided to cease life support. When it came his time, he tossed aside the papers that would have authorized nutritional support. I might have been able to override that and authorize brain surgery (the doctor was willing, but dubious of the outcome).
      .
      I remember reading an article in which Mother Teresa said something to the effect the West was an awful place to die. I can’t help but wonder if our medical prowess no longer serves us very well.

      • I don’t think we’re going to be seeing the same sort of heroic efforts to keep the elderly & cancer patients alive as we might have experienced in the past.

        The Church doesn’t teach that every single medical intervention is required if it causes more distress than it’s worth in situations where there has been a terminal outcome diagnosed, or a patient is in the process of natural death. We can refuse those heroic interventions if we choose to but euthanasia’s a whole different category.
        And if you’ve turned 50, you’re probably getting annoying, multiple mailings from AARP. They’ve lobbied against legislation that would protect healthcare workers’ freedom of conscience in matters of euthanasia, feticides, etc. AARP sells themselves as an advocacy group for the elderly but that’s not really the case.

        • Feeding tubes, even ones that require surgery and must be monitored, are considered “ordinary” and are not to be denied even a dying patient. I assume a Catholic patient of “sound mind” is required to have one (by the Church).

          We don’t get much from AARP and have no interest in joining for the reasons you state and others.
          .

      • Kathryn, there is a misconception that the Church requires fighting death by all means available. Mrscracker is correct. Pius XII outlined 1957 what is now acceptable in Catholic medical ethics. He clarified the right of the patient to refuse medical technology if it poses a spiritual burden:
        “A more strict obligation would be too burdensome for most men and would render the attainment of higher, more permanent good too difficult. Life, health, all temporal activities are in fact subordinated to spiritual ends” (Pius XII Address to International Congress of Anesthesiologists 11 24 1957).
        Furthermore, opioids may be used to alleviate excruciating pain even at the risk of death, sedation in such instances is also acceptable.
        In concurrence, “The purpose of this audience was to seek clarification about the use of opioids at the end of life to reduce suffering. Three questions had been formulated from the previous year’s Italian Congress of Anesthesiologists and sent to the Holy See on this specific issue. The Pope responded during this audience remarking that there was no moral obligation to withhold pain medication that could elevate suffering. He further remarked that the suppression of consciousness that can occur with opioids was consistent with the spirit of the Christian gospels” (Abstract, Why Would the Pope Have A Private Audience with Anesthesiologists? The Origin of the Doctrine of Double Effect and Its Application to Pain Control. National Library of Medicine, 2020 march 19).

  6. It’s worth pointing out that contraception–already a pastoral concern in the Middle Ages– didn’t begin with the Pill. It only got tidier and openly acceptable. Europe went through the Demographic Transition by 1870 (!) when enough people were practicing some form of “family limitation” to affect birth rates. Currently, almost every part the developed world has a rate below replacement level. (South Koreans are averaging .8 child per woman’s lifetime.)

    But falling birth rates aren’t enough, claims the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement:
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/calls-for-humans-to-stop-having-children-go-extinct-grow-in-media-circles-to-breed-or-not-to-breed/ar-AA15vVw2?cvid=9f1dfeb32add4cff856d6ad29f41f30c

    I am increasingly concerned that someone will take this to its logical conclusion and unleash a weaponized plague to exterminate the human species.

  7. “TEL contributors delineate their contraception proposal in paragraph 172. To paraphrase: the Church recognizes that couples are being morally responsible and open to life when, faced with family planning complexities, they choose a natural system to avoid a pregnancy.”
    And that is the gist of it, isn’tit? They are right. I saw through that right away when faced with these matters in the 1970s. Yes, there are some legitimate reasons to forego procreation in marriage, but those situations are not the norm and the Church used to define them well. But foregoing procreation in those situations was a mutual decision of chastity, not “periodic” chastity. You are either chaste or you are not. NFP itself is an attempt to thwart fertility outside of God’s plan for marriage. So their base premise is actually correct.

  8. Excerpts…
    “The best study to date, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that oral contraceptives “raise the risk of breast cancer in an epidemic scale.” and many more physical and mental threats to the woman’s health”.
    The best study to date, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that oral contraceptives “raise the risk of breast cancer in an epidemic scale…” Is this the new norm?

    With verified side effect exposure to the woman, where is the FDA?

    God end this dilemma.

  9. It’s my understanding that birth control pills can cause abortions by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. This goofy “pastoral” crap coming out of the Vatican is making me crazy.

  10. The Church’s teaching on sex has “developed” over time. Do I understand that St Augustine thought intercourse for pleasure (but not procreation) sinful? Was it not taught at some point that intercourse on Sundays and Holy Days was sinful? Did not St Alphonsus Liguori develop the view (rather late) that intercourse for pleasure (and not just procreation) was legitimate? Do parents have the right, after prudent morally informed consideration, to limit births? Was this always acknowledged? But if now acknowledged, did they not always have that right? But now thought only by “natural means.” But before the invention of the thermometer and the understanding of the fertility cycle, such limitation was only legitimate by abstinence?
    It seems obvious that Humanae Vitae’s warnings about the direction of modern sexual liberation are all too obviously valid. But it also seems to me that the lived practice of immense numbers of believing pious married Catholics ought to provoke at least as much reflection as an interpretation of natural law which, if I understand it, even Jacques Maritain had difficulty in supporting. And, of course, the traditional method of birth control, not involving chemical/medicinal means was/is coitus interruptus.

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