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Scott P. Richert

Reader Question: Why Don't Priests Preach About Birth Control?

By August 12, 2010

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This week's Reader Question comes from Steve Cantu, who writes:

Is using birth control a mortal sin? If yes, does the Catholic Church believe that those practicing birth control would go to hell due to the state of the soul at death? If the answer is yes, then why do I not hear priests speaking on this and warning people at Mass of the consequences of their actions. Please do not give the obvious answer: "Well, if they are Catholics, they already know the consequences of their sins." Even if I know what the Catholic Church teaches as the consequences of specific sins, my parish priest could have an influence on my decision to use birth control if he spoke out against it at Mass. It seems to me to be an avoided subject.

This is a very good and very involved series of questions, to which, unfortunately, it is impossible to give a simple answer. That said, let's examine each of Steve's questions in turn.

As the Baltimore Catechism, with typical concision, explains, "To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will."

In Casti connubii (1930), Pope Pius XI declares: "any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."

So there we have the "grievous matter." "Sufficient reflection" and "full consent of the will," however, are a bit more tricky.

Because there is so much confusion about the morality of the use of artificial birth control, sparked both by widespread and vocal dissent from the Church's teaching and by the lack, as Steve points out, of catechesis on this matter by priests who uphold the Church's teaching, I think that, in many cases, Catholics who use artificial birth control have not given the matter sufficient reflection.

As for full consent of the will, even that may be less than complete for some. For instance, if a husband insists that his wife use the Pill, and she submits out of a desire to please her husband or to maintain peace in the family, that's something less than full consent. Likewise, a husband who does not want to use artificial birth control but who has intercourse with his wife even though she uses the Pill is not fully consenting in the sin.

All of that said, the Church's teaching has always been clear: Those who die in a state of mortal sin risk eternal damnation. (We can never say for certain that someone who seems to have died in mortal sin has gone to hell, because we do not know what God in His mercy may have done.)

Because of poor catechesis and immersion in a culture that is passively anti-Christian at best, and often actively anti-Christian, many Catholics today do not know the consequences of their sins. Even if a priest at a Catholic funeral refrains from declaring that the deceased is already in heaven, the deceased's friends and family will usually say so. The possibility that anyone might end up in hell, or even in purgatory, simply isn't considered by many Catholics today.

So why don't we hear more priests speaking out about artificial birth control? The best spin I can put on it is that many priests regard this as a pastoral matter better handled on a personal basis—say, in Confession. But since many Catholics never go to Confession, and many others go very infrequently (at most once per year), and most priests have congregations that are large enough that they don't have the opportunity to interact with parishioners personally, that's not really a satisfying answer.

For some, cowardice undoubtedly plays a role, by which I don't necessarily mean moral cowardice but a practical cowardice. Knowing his parish's finances, and knowing that the majority of married couples in his parish are practicing some form of artificial birth control, a priest can come up with lots of excuses for not preaching on something that might drive donors away. He can convince himself that the right way to approach this is to try to draw his parishioners closer to Christ, and let Him sort it out.

While I wouldn't endorse such reasoning, there may actually be a certain practical wisdom in such an action. After all, every Catholic today who is using Natural Family Planning made a conscious decision either to quit using artificial birth control or to embrace NFP rather than artificial birth control. Since people do make this decision on their own, one can see how a priest might convince himself that the best course of action is to shepherd his flock in the right direction without ever mentioning the immorality of artificial birth control.

Most couples I know who are using NFP today came to it through the efforts of their fellow laymen. A priest who avoids the topic might still welcome a presentation on NFP from the Couple to Couple League, allow a parishioner to place NFP-related material in the church's literature rack, or even be willing to have the parish sponsor an NFP teaching couple.

The lack of teaching from the pulpit provides a tremendous opportunity for evangelization by the people in the pews. If you support the Church's teaching on birth control, why not make the most of that opportunity?

More on Natural Family Planning:

If you have a question that you would like to be featured as part of our Reader Questions series, please send me an e-mail. Be sure to put "QUESTION" in the subject line, and please note whether you'd like me to address it privately or on the Catholicism blog.

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August 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm
(1) Bill says:

Well, here we go! the Answer is indeed part of the problem, its not a complication issue at all… Here it is YES the Catholic Church views artificial birth control as a Mortal Sin…One Mortal Sin kills your soul, die in the state of Mortal Sin, – go to Hell
SIMPLE and straight forward – thats it!

August 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

Bill, which part of the Baltimore Catechism’s definition do you not understand? “To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.”

It’s sad to say, but many Catholics today lack serious moral reflection on all matters, let alone the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. That, as I explained in detail above, largely stems from poor catechesis. The shepherds of their souls have not done a very good job of forming their consciences.

That increases the moral culpability of those shepherds, but it decreases (though it does not remove) the moral culpability of the poorly catechized sheep.

Would that life were “SIMPLE and straight forward”—but as the Baltimore Catechism makes clear, even in a better catechized day, it never was.

August 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm
(3) victor says:

after our third child my wife wanted her tubes tied i signed the paper so she could have it done. i guess that was a mortal sin too. Victor

August 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm
(4) Karyn says:

Perhaps not all priests really believe that birth control is a sin. I completed RCIA this year and I asked the leader if there was a person to talk to about NFP matters because my husband and I are really nervous about using NFP (we already have four children). She didn’t really guide me to the Couple to Couple League – instead she told me that groups such as the Jesuits are more liberal and believe birth control is okay (I have no idea if this is true). I wouldn’t be surprised if some priests feel the way the RCIA leader feels.

August 14, 2010 at 12:20 am
(5) Will S. says:

Scott, you say “Likewise, a husband who does not want to use artificial birth control but who has intercourse with his wife even though she uses the Pill is not fully consenting in the sin.”

This is false, because the husband in question has the choice to not have intercourse. By choosing to do so, knowing that his wife is on the pill, he fully consents to the sin. If you are thinking that the husband does not, in fact, have this free choice to abstain due to the marital obligation, that is also false because no person has an obligation to sin.

Similarly, a “desire to please a spouse or to maintain peace in the family” does not excuse one from full consent because, while these things represent pressures that affect the decision someone may make, they do not limit the person’s full exercise of their free will.

On the other hand, if one spouse were forced by the other by such things as threats, intimidation, violence, verbal and/or psychological abuse beyond that spouse’s ability to resist, then yes, full consent is not present.

Lastly, every person should be aware that God cannot be deceived. He knows what is in the depths of the heart. If you know that you are committing objective mortal sin, then no amount of rationalization will remove your guilt. As all of the saints never ceased to repeat, we must rather die than commit even one mortal sin.

July 29, 2011 at 8:05 pm
(6) Vince Pereda says:

Will, thank you for your response to Scott’s assertion regarding “husband not having full consent to the sin.” I totally agree with you. The husband has the choice of not participating in the sin of wife using contraception and if he goes ahead and has intercourse knowing that she is using the pill, then he is committing a sin because he is consenting to his wife’s sin. Whle the husband may not be able to force his wife not to use contraception, i.e., the pill, he does not have to go along with her decision because of “free will.”

August 14, 2010 at 8:49 am
(7) Deb says:

It really is sad the Catholic Church has not educated us properly in how to discern a Mortal Sin. Same related to 16 year olds getting married and then trying to get an annulment 30 years later or so. The annulment thing concerns me. I had no idea of the consequences, yet, I have waited 1 year so far for an annulment, am I going to die with a mortal sin on my soul?

August 14, 2010 at 11:00 am
(8) Sara says:

This is something I’ve constantly wondered about and asked about and still have no answer to (even after reading this – sorry Scott). I do not understand the distinction between NFP and other forms of birth control. I’ve heard two arguments for why one is okay and the other is not, and neither one is, in my opinion, valid.

Argument #1 I learned in my pre-Cana, when another girl asked why the Church allows NFP but not other forms of birth control. We were told that NFP, when used correctly, is 93% effective (something like that), so, and I quote, “you are always open to the possibility of life”. I’ve never heard of BC that is more than 99.9% effective, so even then, there’s the possibility that you’ll be the one in a thousand who still gets pregnant. And your odds go up if you’re overweight. Now, if you argue that the person who gets pregnant on BC will simply have an abortion (I’ve heard this one before – apparently people on BC are completely morally bankrupt), and are therefore not open the possibility of life, you’re talking about a separate sin.

Argument #2 – Some BC works by preventing an implanted egg from attaching, therefore causing abortion. This may be true of some BC but NOT ALL. Before starting any BC, I made absolutely sure I knew how it worked. There are many other ways BC works, such as by shortening the amount of time the egg is in the fallopian tube, which doesn’t seem much different from using NFP to make sure you have intercourse during a part of the cycle when the chance of pregnancy is low, and contrary to popular belief, taking BC while you are pregnant will not cause a miscarriage.

Like I said, I do not understand the distinction. Perhaps some guidance from our priests on the issue would be necessary, and I could see why one is acceptable and the other is not. I’m certainly open to rethinking my decision to use BC, but the evidence I’ve been presented with thus far is weak.

July 29, 2011 at 10:17 am
(9) Shannon says:

Thank you Sara for this insightful comment. I’ve been thinking the same thing, but have not been able to articulate myself. I 100% agree with you and also struggle to see how NFP is any different from artificial birth control. Both are hoping to prevent pregnancy, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. Both are not 100% effective. And just because a married Catholic woman uses artificial birth control, doesn’t make her a bad person. And most women would certainly not even contemplate an abortion if unplanned conception occurred. If a baby is conceived while practising NFP, that, in my mind, is also an unplanned conception as the whole intent was to avoid pregnancy in the first place.

August 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm
(10) Scott P. Richert says:

Karyn, you write, “Perhaps not all priests really believe that birth control is a sin.” That’s certainly true, but in the case of a priest, there’s no excuse for not knowing and understanding the Church’s teaching. Because of inadequate catechesis, laymen might not understand it through no fault (or at least very little fault) of their own. But any priest who does not uphold Church teaching on this matter isn’t simply in error; he is a dissenter, because it is his duty to know and to promulgate Church teaching.

Sadly, I think your experience with your RCIA leader is all too common. Too often parish priests place the responsibility for RCIA in the hands of laymen who are not properly trained and do not understand the fullness of the Church’s teaching—or sometimes, as seems to be the case with your RCIA leader, simply dissent from Church teaching or substitute personal opinion for settled doctrine.

I once knew an RCIA leader, herself a fairly recent convert, who told potential converts that the Church abandoned Purgatory and Marian devotion with Vatican II. She didn’t believe in either as a Protestant, and so she simply projected her lifelong beliefs on the Catholic Church when she joined.

August 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm
(11) Scott P. Richert says:

Sara, no need to apologize—this post wasn’t meant to explain the distinction between NFP and other forms of birth control. However, if you look at the links in the post, you will find such explanations.

Neither argument that you’ve heard is what the Church teaches. Argument #1 is simply wrong: Even if an NFP technique could be developed that was 100 percent effective, it would still be licit, while artificial birth control is not.

Argument #2 is not central to the Church’s teaching, though it does address secondary problems with certain forms of birth control—in other words, ways in which abortifacient forms of birth control can compound the sin with another evil.

The heart of the Church’s teaching on the distinction between NFP and artificial birth control can be found in Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae (1968), especially #16 (titled “Recourse to Infertile Periods”). I would recommend starting with my summary of Humanae vitae (listed in the links above), and then reading the entire encyclical (you can find a link to the text at the end of my summary).

It is also useful, I think, to read Pope Pius XI’s Casti connubii (1930), from which I quoted and to which I linked in the body of the post. But start with Humanae vitae first.

And if, after reading those documents, you have any further questions, check out my pages on NFP and NFP methods (listed in the links at the end of the post), and feel free to ask me about anything that still seems unclear.

August 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm
(12) Scott P. Richert says:

Will, you write: “If you know that you are committing objective mortal sin, then no amount of rationalization will remove your guilt.”

Of course, but I’m not quite sure why you’re presenting that as a criticism of what I wrote. I’ve never suggested that guilt can be removed by “rationalization.” Sin is an objective reality, and the guilt of it can only be removed by repentance and confession.

That said, I think that you, like Bill, are not fully understanding the role that “sufficient reflection” and “full consent of the will” play in making something a mortal sin.

Writing “This is false” does not make it so. On February 12, 1997, the Pontifical Council for the Family released a “Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life.”

The Vademecum lays out three conditions under which “co-operation in the sin of a spouse who voluntarily renders the unitive act infecund” can be licit, and specifically distinguishes this licit co-operation from the example you gave, of (in the words of the Vademecum) “violence or unjust imposition on the part of one of the spouses, which the other spouse in fact cannot resist.”

The examples I gave are simply concrete examples of the principles listed in Paragraph 13 of the Vademecum.

Moreover, the Vademecum relies, in Paragraph 13, on the words of Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii:

“Holy Church knows full well that not infrequently, one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin.”

That last bit (starting with “provided that”) is important. If one spouse insists upon the use of artificial birth control and the other spouse objects, the other spouse can licitly demand or fulfill the marriage debt, provided that he or she is also (in the words of Paragraph 13 of the Vademecum) “seeking to help the other spouse to desist from such conduct (patiently, with prayer, charity and dialogue; although not necessarily in that moment, nor on every single occasion).”

Pius XI goes into greater detail in Casti connubii about the reasons why this is licit. I won’t repeat his argument here (read Casti connubii instead), but the short form is that co-operation with the other spouse’s sin can avoid other grave sins, such as infidelity.

August 16, 2010 at 9:07 am
(13) Steve Cantu says:

Thank you Scott for all of your responses, could you please answer Victor’s? I am curious on your response to this situation ( tubes tied ect.). Also what if a women has a condition that causes her great discomfort but is not fatal but could be resolved by a medical procedure causing sterilization. Should she suffer with the discomfort or would the church permit her to become sterile even though her life is not at risk?

August 16, 2010 at 10:22 am
(14) Scott P. Richert says:

Steve, Victor didn’t seem to have a question. His comment suggests that he fully understands that the Catholic Church regards voluntary sterilization, engaged in with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will, as a mortal sin. Voluntary cooperation in that mortal sin (again, given sufficient reflection and full consent) is a mortal sin as well.

As for your question, I’m afraid it is a bit too hypothetical to provide a satisfactory answer. Generally speaking, the principle of double effect might apply, as long as the intent of the medical procedure is to relieve pain and restore the woman to health rather than to cause sterilization.

To take a somewhat analogous situation that is more concrete, women who suffer from endometriosis are often treated through the use of the Pill, and the principle of double effect does apply here, as long as the woman’s intention is simply to treat her condition. The Church recognizes such treatment as licit, and husband and wife can engage in sexual intercourse with no stain of sin.

(As a sidenote, many Catholic women who adhere to the Church’s teaching and are treated for endometriosis using the Pill also practice NFP. Since one way in which the Pill works is by preventing implantation if fertilization occurs, they voluntarily avoid sexual relations around the time of ovulation, just as other practitioners of NFP do.)

August 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm
(15) Steve Cantu says:

When Victor used the term “I guess” it would seem he does not fully understands what the Catholic Church regards as voluntary sterilization, engaged in with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will, as a mortal sin. Even though there was not a “?”. But I should have just asked the question and not referred to Victors statement. Thanks for your response to my question.

August 17, 2010 at 9:39 am
(16) Steve Cantu says:

Scott, would you mind asking your parish priest this question; Why Don’t Priests Preach About Birth Control (including the forum)? I would be interested in his response. Thanks again for your time in answering the questions.

August 17, 2010 at 9:57 am
(17) Scott P. Richert says:

Steve, when you write, “including the forum,” what exactly are you referring to?

By the way, my priest doesn’t shy away from discussing the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. He doesn’t preach about it often, but then he doesn’t have to—at our Latin Mass parish, NFP is simply a way of life.

October 19, 2010 at 12:26 am
(18) fred says:

it is impossible to give a simple answer…ok, but not impossible to give an answer…a clear and robust answer…
perhaps we just don’t want to hear it.


October 22, 2010 at 8:59 am
(19) Scott P. Richert says:

Fred, I’m not sure what you’re suggesting. In this piece and elsewhere on this site (not to mention anywhere I’ve been published on the topic) I have always upheld the Church’s teaching on birth control.

My remark that it’s “impossible to give a simple answer” referred specifically to the series of questions that Steve asked.

July 29, 2011 at 10:26 am
(20) diane bialecki says:

This is all so distressful to me as a practicing catholic I try not to dwell on the fact that some priests refrain from teaching the churches mandates on birth control and abortion because they are concerned about how much money they get in the collection basket as well as some priests think BC is not a sin-no wonder the catholic church has lsot so many members and the faithful loose their faith when thye see this hypocrisy that exist in the failure of the clergy to do the right thing morally Its as if the priests are operating as politicians. They too then will have to answer for their failure to teach on these moral issues. it is sometimes what is not doen thesin of omission that is just as grievious as committing an immoral act.

July 29, 2011 at 11:43 am
(21) john says:

I’m stuck in a situation where my Catholic wife has refused to continue using NFP after our 2nd child, and says she won’t have sex unless I use a condom, which I won’t do because I know that it would be a grave sin to do so – we have gone 3 1/2 years and have had sex only one time, and she regretted this one time because she thought she was going to get pregnant, even though it was right before her period and she was well past ovulation – this was about 2 years ago.

This is torture on a husband, who is sex starved and married and trying to live a righteous life.

I discussed with a couple priests and the conclusion was that until (or unless) she relents, I am to live a celebate life, and maybe we should even sleep separately to avoid the near occasion to sin.

Strange, but I am not sorely tempted to use a condom with my wife, but I am sorely tempted at times with internet porn and find myself noticing other attractive female when I am out and about – God’s grace has gotten me through so far, but I hate that I am entering mid-life with such a hunger for sexual intimacy.

I have read of “heroic virtue”, and this feels akin to it – perhaps the greatest act of virtue I will accomplish in my life is to remain faithful to my wife and to the Church’s teaching, and not fall into sexual sin on either side (using contraception or fornication/lust).

July 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm
(22) eskor says:

john, hang in there. The grace and love of God will see you through the tough times. Keep praying for your wife. Ask Mother Mary to intercede for her. And trust God to work things out for you. God bless.

May 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm
(23) John G. Parisi says:

Turn back the clock to the 1930′s. Priest did preach the evils of birth control. Daniel A. Lord S.J. wrote pamphlets and preached on the evils of birth control. The answer was self–control. The best control in limiting births is to use self control. Then when a man and wife give themselves to each other it is following what God says in the book of Gensis, “increase and multiply.”

Now back to 2012 over fifty years after Vatican II. The priest does not preach on birth control, nor abortion because the priest preaches the homily on the readings for that day. If the readings calls for a comment on birth control he will quote it. Problem is when Father talks on a difficult issue some people in the pew walk out and that is wrong, it is not showing respect to Father.

May 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm
(24) john g. says:

answer to 21 John says: John I went through the same thing. That is when I call on the crucified Jesus, help. I say Jesus you suffered in agony, let me offer up what I now am going through. It helps every time. A good prayer, all for the honor and glory to God and for the suffering souls in purgatory.

Life is no easy road, especially when you try to live up to the teachings of the Catholic Church. However, when you do follow the teachings of Holy Mother the Church it has its rewards.

For instance using a condom is like taking a bath with your soxs on.

July 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm
(25) Tom O'Reilly says:

The short answer to the question is given by Matt 15:14 when Jesus said: if blind guides lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. Then again at Matt 7:16 Jesus warned that you will know a tree by the fruit that it bears; a bad tree bears bad fruit and a good tree bears bad fruit. Vatican II produced virtually all the rotten fruit we see today. To many, it is obvious that the tree has been poisoned with the heresy of modernism. The fault lies now at the feet of those modernist Bishops who have been so training the young priests that they now preach or imply to the faithful that there is no hell and there is no such thing as mortal sin. The only clear error a Catholic can commit is to challenge illegal immigration policies or question the efforts of the Bishops to turn the Church of Jesus Christ from the purpose of saving souls; to the Church of Humanitarianism. The goal of the Bishops following vatican II is, without doubt, to protestanize the Church with its false ecumenism and set up a Socialistic system that competes with the Federal Government in its efforts to redistribute wealth. But as for all, God will one day demand an accounting.

July 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm
(26) Sharisa says:

Sara and Shannon,

The short answer to your question about the difference between NFP and BC is that NFP works WITH God’s design of our bodies, while BC works AGAINST God’s design. Humanae Vitae and other encyclicals can be difficult to read, especially if you’re not used to reading this kind of literature, but the answers you’re looking for are out there if you do your research and your heart is open to hearing God’s word. You might visit the Couple to Couple League’s website, http://www.ccli.org, to learn more.

Another thing to consider about the difference between NFP and BC is that couples who practice NFP are often open to having more children because they have a very positive view of children and families and they put their trust in God’s wisdom when it comes to family planning. NFP is not just about limiting pregnancies, it’s about a very beautiful, fulfilling vision of marriage as God intended for us.

My husband and I have practiced NFP for eight years. We have three children. NFP has been a blessing to our marriage.

Best wishes!

July 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(27) Mgw says:

So, if you do not give issues such as this, which lets say MOST Catholics who receive Holy Communion, at least know is a sin, sufficient thought, then they are off the hook? What about ignorance? is it ok to be ignorant? Years ago, As a Catholic, I knew using artificial bc was a sin, i didnt meditate on it, or ask God if he would cut me a break, I just took the prescription and “cashed in”, hoping that God would understand my situation. (ha! Imagine the arrogance and foolishness of that!). Later on, when My conscience bothered me enough, I lookd it up, to convince my heart that indeed this is a sin and I should not be receiving Holy Comunion…even though deep down I knew it all along…in my mind, maybe not my heart, but definitely in my mind, as I am quite cerain most Catholics who take bc pills or other methods, know it too. In my mind I was in a state of mortal sin. MEhen I confessed and converted, I felt as though I had come back to life in Christ. My question is what exactly is ” “sufficiant knowledge” in the case of artificial contraception? Really!

July 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm
(28) Mgw says:

And as far as full consent….why do we expect Catholics to be so wimpy? if a Catholic husband or wife insists on bc and the other Catholic spouse give in to “keep the peace”…..what peace is there in that? Certainly not God’s peace and is there no concern for the spouses soul? do you just give in to sin because you are afraid the spouse is going to be sad? Angry? Have a tantrum? Who do we love above all things? Where your treasure is there in lies your heart! I always thought that if you KNOW it is ansin and you do it anyway, that is not only sufficiant knowledge, but also full consent.

Just sayin….

July 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm
(29) Mgw says:

…then, when I stopped using bcp, my husband became enraged, and had a tantrum that lasted almost three years, there was NO peace anywhere except in my heart, annd I wasnt going to let go of my life with Christ in order to appease my husband’s desire. Do you think that Was immoral of me? Damned if you do, damned if you dont? But now, due to faith and trust in Jesus and a lot of prayer, my husband accepts my decision and we are on the mend. So being fearful of the spouses reaction is placing human love over real charity, in my opinion, anyway.

July 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm
(30) Marilyn says:

When it comes to contraception – why doesn’t the Church adopt a more if you can afford one or more children then then by all means have them. Otherwise practice BC however you choose.
I am recently returning to the Church after never really being a practicing Catholic. Whenever in the past when asked I would reply I am Catholic – many others would also reply the were that they decided to practice other denominations because they simply could not follow the teachings. Why doesn’t the Church allow Preist to marry? Asking my Preist for marital advice is somewhat moronic

July 28, 2012 at 10:16 am
(31) To marilyn says:

Marilyn, you ask the priest for SPIRITUAL advise regarding the marriage. He can guide you on the spiritual side of the issues. he is a spiritual expert so to speak. if you need advise on other issues, you go to a marriage counselor, not a priest. But the teaching of the Church on these issues have to do with the spiritual realm, not earthly worldly reasoning. Why practice your beleif in God if you do not want to learn His ways? Why be Catholic if you think the teachings and traditions are moronic? Priests are holy men who should beand most are focused wholly on God and are excellent guides to increasing your relationship with God.


July 29, 2012 at 10:31 am
(32) Joanne S. says:

Why don’t the bishops mandate that NFP classes be required of all engaged couples as part of their marriage preparation? Why don’t they require pastors to take classes themselves so they can preach on the topic with enthusiam as to its efficacy and safety? Why aren’t pastors encouraged to preach on this at least once a year, not as a “you are going to hell if you use artificial bc,” but as an educational intro to couples unaware of the benefits of NFP. (99% effective, almost non-existent divorce rates, etc.)

Catholic couples could be turned around if there was a campaign to address the issue like any other “public relations” problem.
Get couples who use NFP to give a testimony during Respect Life month in October. And if the priest is viewed as not credible enough because he is celibate, get a married deacon on top of the subject to preach on it. Avoiding the issue is not the way to correct false information or change attitudes.

July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am
(33) MGw says:

Joanne S. Two thumbs up! Great ideas! Send that to your bishop!

November 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm
(34) Tom O'Reilly says:

The better question would have been: why do not the bishops instruct or advise the parish priests to teach the faithful as to the sinfulness of artificial birth control. But of course if one is wondering why the bishops have failed in that regard, you might as well ask why they have not instructed or advised the parish priests to teach the faithful that homosexuality is sinful; that couples living together as man and wife without the benefit of marriage is sinful; that viewing pornographic material is sinful; that masturbation is sinful…and the list could go on and on as to what the priests do not preach any longer. In fact, if you think about it, the only thing that the priest really preaches is the importance of contributing to the second collection so the church can further assist the government in the re-ditribution of wealth. This won’t have a good ending.

July 26, 2013 at 10:42 am
(35) Donal Mahoney says:

Scott, I have never before found one of your answers to be “iffy” or diluted but your response in this instance is very poor. Going through it graph by graph and taking it apart would not be difficult for anyone who attended a Jesuit university prior to Vatican II when Thomas Aquinas was taught and respected.

July 26, 2013 at 11:19 am
(36) St Donatus says:

I understand that this is a difficult issue. I know lovely Catholics with kind hearts that disagree with the Catholic Church when it comes to birth control. That is how they put it, the disagree with God mouthpiece. There was another lovely woman known for her kindness and closeness to God. She decided that she disagreed with God on just one rule that he had, her name was Eve and now we are all paying for it.

When it comes to Church teaching, we don’t have the right to ‘have your eyes opened, so that you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3:4) It goes on to tell us that ‘the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.’

When it comes to a man doing it for his wife or a wife doing it because or her husband, we can go on in the story ‘She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.’ God did not give them a break because one wanted to make the other happy.

Are we doing this when we ‘disagree’ with the Church. God takes this very seriously. I don’t know many Catholics who are ignorant of the Churches teaching on birth control. But just as we are influenced by our friends and neighbors, priests could go a long way toward changing the minds of these Catholics.

Sadly, many if not most of the Catholics who use birth control meet all three criteria for a mortal sin. I know from experience. We humans are very prone to changing our beliefs to meet our desires. That is part of the reason the Church is bleeding members every year. We are too influenced by the culture.

July 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm
(37) Maribel says:

What I haven’t seen addressed here is the following:
I used NFP to ensure I got pregnant. Since I was in my early 30′s and had some health issues I think it’s the only reason I was successful.

Also, while it is lamentable that more priests do not preach the wrongness of BC, we ourselves must be responsible fir our own faith. We shouldn’t sit in the pews like lemmings and let our faith life happen around us. We need to be responsible for knowing and doing the right thing.

I participated as an adult member with Life Teen and this sparked a hunger in me to know and follow Christ more everyday.

I am by no means perfect but I can attest to knowing when I need to avoid occasions of sin. And knowing when I’ve failed. Ignorance is not a defense.

July 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm
(38) Marilyn Warren says:

I have ta.
I was surprised. About 80 percent admitted to taking the pill now, or at one time having taken it. Another surprise. I suppose it should not have surprised me, since the latest percentage of women who used birth control was virtually the same for Catholics as for non-Catholics. Only 2 would give me an answer as to how they reconciled their decision, considering the teaching of the church. Both told me the same thing – they shopped around for a priest who said it was okay. They would not say who they were, but did say there were a few. The two were from different parishes, with diocisen and order priests.
I remember a woman from Bolivia being interviewed on her home life. She had born 8 children, none of which were alive. Two had died from malnutrition because she could no make milk to feed them an there was not enough money to feed either her or her babies. The other 6 had died of disease in their infancy. She had to stop several times because she broke down in tears. Seems she was again pregnant and was weeping for the child who she considered already dead.
She wished she had never become pregnant. She told her husband she could not go through another baby dying, but she could not deny him. It would be a sin, so she said.
It is very easy for us to cast aspersions at and judgement at others. While we are telling others their faults, are we not passing judgement on others? Is that not also a sin? Who are we to say what God will or will not do, in His infinite mercy?

July 27, 2013 at 10:37 am
(39) Martin Hennessy-Smith says:

Part 1
There are some elements, I believe, missing from this duscussion. Vatican II, in line with Catholic tradition, taught that there are a hierarchy of truths regarding the faith moving from those elements that have been constantly, certainly held such as the dogma of the incarnation to teachings that have arisen out of the development of the deposit of faith that have not been held constantly and do not have the same certainty. An example of the former is abortion where an example of the latter is birth control. As a result, while being loyal to the magisterium there can be legitimate debate and study regarding the latter.

For example, it is quite legitimate to have differing views regarding the status of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. Some fellow Dominicans hold it to be an infallible statement and hence irreformable. While other Dominicans argue that it is an exercise of ordinary papal magisterium and capable of being changed / reformed due to development of understanding of the teaching.

July 27, 2013 at 10:39 am
(40) Martin Hennessy-Smith says:

Part 2
As well as the conditions required for mortal sin. There is also the long tradition of distinguishing between the objective and the subjective aspects of talking about sin. In the simplest terms “objective” refers to the formal moral theology discussion. I.e it is always unlawful / sinful to procure an abortion. Whereas, “subjective” refers to the “confessional” pastoral theological aspects of the sin.i.e taking all the factors into account of our flawed humanity. In this particular case, from a subjective perspective the individual has not committed a mortal sin or their culpability has been severly diminished. As for example, a woman in a abusive situation is forced by her husband to have an abortion.

Lastly, there is Aquinas’s teaching on “Prudence”. A wholistic teaching concerning making the human judgement of the right thing to, at the right time and place. Following Aristotle, Aqinas teaches that this is a virtue / habit that we constantly train / learn over a lifetime involving the whole human person.

July 31, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(41) Monica says:

Woe to those who criticise our holy priests and invite other to do so, which may ,very well, be far more damning than rejecting the Will of God.
Again, I invite you to seek out the Litany of Humility.

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