Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

"Catholic birth control"

1137. I have heard Catholics themselves say that their Church permits use of the Rhythm System, and that it is quite all right.

Such an absolute assertion is not justified. A thing that is lawful in exceptional circumstances where there are good reasons for it and the motives of the parties concerned are not evil cannot be described as quite all right as a general practice regardless of motives. The practice is certainly sinful if adopted systematically through selfish motives of ease and comfort, through human respect and craven conformity to fashion, or merely to escape the ordinary inconveniences of rearing a family.

1138. Does the Catholic Church agree that married people may just ignore the divine purpose of marriage?

No. She insists that they must keep the primary purpose of marriage in mind. She teaches that God wants from married people willingness to have the children that will normally result from the normal fulfillment of their marital duties. She does not encourage, but rather discourages the use of systematic periodic abstinence with the intention of avoiding children; and she only reluctantly permits that practice where there are sufficiently serious reasons for it. The Catholic Bishops of Belgium said, in a joint declaration in 1937: "Such a manner of using marriage without a very serious reason during almost all married life is opposed to the plan of Divine Providence for the propagation of the human race, represents a serious attack on the honor of marriage, and particularly on the dignity of the wife, and creates grave dangers for married people."

1139. Did not Pope Pius XI say, in his Encyclical on Marriage (1930). that married people who make use of such a practice are not acting against nature? He made no reference to the possibility of the practice being sinful. Is that not so?

The very context in which the Pope's words occur shows that he had in mind not normal but abnormal and difficult circumstances. He speaks of danger to the health of the mother. He condemns contraception. He speaks of the troubled conscience of one partner who has to endure, yet does not consent to the sinful practices of the other. And it is in the light of such circumstances that he declares the restriction of marital relations to the non-fertile period to involve at least not a perversion of nature in itself. But Pope Pius XI adds at once that the secondary ends of marriage which may justify this use of the non-fertile period must be subordinated to the primary end. This certainly allows for the possibility of sin in those who have no justifying reason, but who systematically restrict themselves to the sterile period for the sake of enjoying marital rights whilst at the same time depriving them of their primary end, the procreation of children. And it is significant that Pope Pius XII, in May, 1944, condemned the teaching of those who deny the primary end of marriage to be the generation of children, or who assert that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinate to the primary end but are equally principal with it and independent of it.

1140. If contraceptive birth control is considered sinful in itself, so also should deliberate non-contraceptive birth control.

Here we are concerned with the means by which the number of children is limited. The use of contraceptives is with the intention of deliberately frustrating vital biological functions whilst actually setting them in operation. That is an inexcusable perversion of life-processes. But merely to abstain from setting those biological functions in operation at given times is another matter altogether. That contraceptive frustration is sinful in itself is no reason why abstinence from marital relations should be considered sinful in itself, abstracting from all other considerations. As far as the actions themselves are involved, contraception means "abuse," whilst abstention means "non-use." But even in non-use, as I have said previously, the motives of the parties may be sinful and unjustifiable.

1141. In most married people, the desire of children is not the main reason for having their marital relations.

Although the procreation of children is the primary end of marriage, it does not follow that married people must always be adverting to it. They may be adverting only to secondary ends. But by the very nature of things the procreation of children is the main reason for the existence of the reproductive function. Take the natural function of eating. Obviously its main purpose is to keep an individual alive. But God has made the taking of food and drink pleasant, and a man may certainly sit down to table with the idea of enjoying a good meal without having to advert expressly every time to the main purpose of both the function and the pleasure attached to it; namely, the preservation of life. So, in marital relations, whilst the main purpose of the biological function is the procreation of children, there are secondary purposes associated with it and designed to promote it. Such actions are accompanied by lawful pleasure and are an expression of love and unity between husband and wife. These secondary purposes may be the immediate motive of the parties, and they may not be thinking expressly of the main purpose of the whole function at all. But the main purpose need not be adverted to, it must not be positively frustrated. If, at the time of such relations, nature itself is reproductively operative, then that God-given nature must be allowed to take its course.

1142. But the motive of those observing periodic abstinence is exactly the same as that of those using contraceptives, to avoid children. The only difference is that when they do have relations during non-fertile periods their actions are biologically natural.

Since, when they do have such relations, their actions are biologically natural no sin is involved in those. Abstaining from such actions by mutual consent during fertile periods also cannot be said to involve any sin in itself. If they systematically abstained from such relations during fertile periods for no other purpose than to avoid children, and not rather to avoid serious ill-effects upon family health or welfare which further children would involve, then their motive would be evil and their conduct sinful.

1143. If the Rhythm Theory were systematically and successfully applied by everyone there would be no population to speak of at all.

That is true. But remember that such a systematic practice, without any justifying reasons other than the sheer caprice and whim of married people, is not morally lawful. To marry with no intention of having children merely in order not to have them and for purely selfish reasons proceeds from a degraded concept of marriage; reduces conjugal love to selfish passion; is opposed to nature as such, since God could never have intended such an evasion of normal obligations; deprives husband and wife of a most important and even necessary condition of a happy and virtuous marriage; exposes them to the many moral evils of a selfish and pleasure-seeking existence, if not to infidelity and divorce; and contributes towards a race-suicide which is most injurious to the common good. AH those possible evil effects show that to intend a childless marriage, no matter what the means adopted, could not be a lawful intention in itself. Other and serious reasons are needed in each case before it could be lawful to make systematic use of even the Rhythm Theory, despite its freedom from the immoral abuse of using positive contraceptive measures.

1144. I know of a case where the practice resulted in the husband's infidelity and the eventual break-up of a Catholic family.

No Catholic teaching on this subject can be held responsible for that. The Church insists that recourse to periodic abstinence must be by mutual consent. No wile may decide upon such measures against the serious will of her husband, and if she does she is not without responsibility for his infidelity; not that this lessens his responsibility, for no matter what the provocation his own infidelity was wholly unjustified. She would share his guilt. But the fault in such a case would be in themselves, not in any justifiable use of the so-called safe period.

1145. 1 recently read an article in the "Readers Digest" entitled "Catholics and Birth Control" by J. H. J. Upham, M.D.

The author you mention was at the time president of the "Planned Parenthood Federation of America." That is the nice refined title of a society for the propagation of contraception in theory and practice, and to promote the distribution of contraceptive devices and drugs until they are as easily obtainable as aspirins or pocket handkerchiefs. The society has met with little opposition outside Catholic circles, and it has not hesitated to launch prejudiced attacks upon the Catholic Church as well as the most flagrant misrepresentations of Catholic teachings.

1146. Dr. Upham says that "since 1932 the Catholic Church has endorsed the rhythm system".

That is an example of the misrepresentation I have mentioned. How false the assertion is should be evident from all that I have hitherto said on the subject. The Catholic Church does not advocate the use of the rhythm system. Far from endorsing it in any wholesale fashion, she declares that the continued restriction of marital relations to the non-fertile period by married people is sinful where they have no serious reasons for doing so over and above the mere avoiding of children.

1147. He declares that "the Catholic hierarchy has in effect accepted the principle of planned parenthood."

By misquoting Catholic authorities and making the easy assertion "that it comes to the same thing in the end," these advocates of birth control hope to propagate the knowledge and use of contraceptives even amongst Catholics themselves. But the Catholic Church absolutely condemns the use of contraceptives under any circumstances and denies the unrestricted freedom of married people to make systematic use of the rhythm system without sufficiently grave reasons for doing so. No one could rightly call that accepting the principle of the "Planned Parenthood Federation," which both advocates the use of contraceptives and denies that husband and wife are subject to any moral law at all where their marital relations are concerned!

1148. A Catholic girl recently told me without a blush that she was about to get married, but that she was continuing at business. When I said: "Until your family begins to arrives he replied: "Oh, we're not having a family until after four or five years at least."

In the vast majority of cases, Catholic girls of the type you mention are ill-instructed in their religion, have not a truly Christian outlook on marriage, and are badly infected by the widely diffused paganism of the modern world. The new paganism thinks of marriage in terms of romantic love. The thrill of sex-experience is presented as the main thing, and children are looked upon as something merely incidental, a kind of optional by-product. But the Christian sees marriage as concerned far more with children than with mere pleasure. It is the God-appointed means, not only of handing on life to other human beings in this world, but of giving souls to Christ to redeem and making eternal happiness possible for them also. All I can say of such cases is that it would be far better for young couples to postpone marriage until they are willing to accept the children God would normally send. Even if they intend to make use only of the rhythm system they do not realize what periodic abstinence from marital rights during the first years of marriage will really mean, and how great is the danger that an extorted consent of a reluctant partner may develop dispositions which could lead ultimately to the wreckage of the marriage altogether. Furthermore, in the vast majority of such cases, there would not be sufficiently grave reasons for such a practice and their conduct from the very beginning would be sinful. What should be exceptional, they make normal. They begin with the idea of pleasure without obligations. Selfishness is exalted at the expense of duty. And since the dominant thought is to avoid children at any cost, the temptation is always there to have recourse to positive contraceptive means, both because desire finds the abstinence demanded by the rhythm system too irksome in the early stages of marriage, and because of the fear in any case of miscalculation if applying the system. Those who adopt the attitude you mention are not choosing the path that deserves God's blessing upon their marriage, nor the path that leads to their own future happiness. Their attitude is flippant, unchristian and more often than not, sinful. St. Paul wrote: "I will, therefore, that younger women should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, and give no occasion to the adversary to speak evil." I Tim., V, 14.



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