Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!

A site dedicated to thinking through the common objections to the Catholic Faith as well as questions of a general religious nature.

Location: Prague, Oklahoma, United States

Just your basic 21st century priest trying to bring the Gospel to everyone who will give it a fair hearing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Donatism and Contraception: Mismatched Cousins
This one is a work in progress because it is a little complicated. The question is less about contraception and is more about how does the Church teach and how does the Church insure the veracity of her teaching. Any comments you want to send me via email would be appreciated. I'll leave a note letting you know when it is complete.

Dear Father:
With all the priests’ Scandals, etc. and Bishop O’Brien convicted of a felony, the first in U.S. History, Why ? doesn’t our Religion lift the Ban on contraception and let thousands of married Catholics stop lying about their marriages. Teach to follow sexuality outside of marriage, and stop teenagers from getting pregnant, but let legally married couples have their children and the number they can and will take care of. Look at all the starving people in the world. Received unsigned.

At the outset, let me clarify a policy of this column. I have no problem with withholding someone’s name or hometown if they so request. But I do not answer unsigned letters. I am making this one exception. After that, if the letter comes without a signature or address, it goes directly into the round file.
You seem to make the assumption that the teaching authority and the truth value of the Church’s teaching rest upon the impeccability, i.e. the personal holiness, of those who hand on the Church’s teaching. This is incorrect. The power to teach with authority comes from Christ and is imparted in the conferral of the sacrament of Holy Orders. So even if a guy is a terrible sinner or even a convicted felon, this doesn’t detract from the authoritative weight of his teaching.
Now, this may come as a surprise to most readers, but the 1969 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae is not the first instance where the Church teaches about contraception. To find that you have to go back all the way to the Book of Genesis. In Genesis , we read about the sin of Onan. Because of the death of his older brother, Onan is asked help his sister-in-law a child so there would be a proper heir. But Onan says no to this and “spills his seed on the ground.” The Church has recognized two “evils” present in Onan’s actions: 1. Selfishness in the masterbatory dimension and 2. Selfishness in trying to withhold himself from God’s plan. Children

The irony is that couples aren’t lying about their marriage when they aren’t using contraception. They lie about their marriage when they are.


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