The Catholic Church’s attitude toward sex and family planning is built around her answers to questions such as: What is marriage? What is sex? What is the human body? What is love?" Artificial contraception distorts the meaning of all these things in her eyes and presents the body and its sexual faculties as something to be "used", without acknowledging God's place in love and marriage.
I do not doubt that many Catholic faithful believe their religion’s teaching concerning artificial contraception is a true reflection of God's will for man, but good intentions do not always equate to accurate teaching. Please consider these things:
John Paul II was an old man who, we shall assume for the purpose of this post, lived in accordance with the promise of celibacy he made long years ago. Though he may have counseled ten thousand times ten thousand men and women on their responsibilities to one another in marriage, when it comes to the difficulties married couples are called to deal with and issues involving sex and raising children, he had no first hand experience to fall back on. He was like a short-legged, 400-pound 80-year-old man with congenital heart failure and a degree in physical education who had been teaching pole-vaulting since he was 12 years old. He knows the history, the science and mechanics of pole vaulting, but had never jumped over anything higher than a matchstick. He knows what to do, but has no practical experience.
As I imagine most married folks likely know, there are times in one's married life when "the urge" hits at inconvenient times and dragging out the ole thermometer and the temperature charts doesn't get a very high priority. As has so frequently been shown to be true of late, a significant number of Catholic priests (as well as ministers of other faiths) seem to find that keeping promises of celibacy is for them an impossible demand. If many Catholic priests and religious women find they cannot control or sublimate their sexual urges as they swore or promised to their bishops and to God they would do, how much more difficult for a married couple, especially a recently married couple, to deny themselves the God-given pleasures of marital relations? Do you honestly believe a pope can relate meaningfully to this?
Do you believe a Pope, or any priest for that matter, can understand the anguish of parents who dearly love their children and are forced to watch them slowly starve to death because they lack the means to feed them? Has a pope had to save his pennies, collect old soft drink and beer bottles in order to get enough change to go to the Goodwill or Salvation Army store to buy school clothes for his kids? As Bennie XVI sits down at his table and waits for one of his domestic staff to begin serving his meal, I wonder if he ever gives a thought to the families that are waiting to get into the projects or a Section 8 home and are living in a colonia or some derelict building because they can't afford better?
I shall never forget how I felt in 1966, when I returned from my first vacation in Viet Nam. My family was waiting for me in the 1/2 Quonset hut in the projects that was our California home. I had been in the Service for more than 11 years, had made my promotions on track, and could not afford better on what the Government paid me. I could not work a part-time job because my work schedule was erratic. My wife could not work outside the home because she had five little guys to care for and was pregnant with our sixth child. When she told me that the migrant fruit pickers who lived in the projects during the harvest season had brought her food from the fields they were working in, it almost broke my heart. But popes and priests appear not to think of these things when they tell families they must rely on Natural Family Planning (NFP) to control family size. I settled on a vasectomy a few years later, when my Catholic wife started talking about wanting more kids.
Have you ever wondered why the great majority of other warm-blooded creatures only have an active interest in copulating during limited periods of the year -- when the female is in estrus? According to God's design, dogs, cats, elephants, whales, etc., only come together when the female is ovulating; which fact virtually assures propagation of the species. The rest of the time, the female is about as interested in sex as she is in having a car door slammed on her nose. THIS is natural family planning, according to God's design. And this is a good thing, lest the earth be overrun with creatures. As it is, it seems stray dogs and cats produce far too many offspring under the present conditions. Think what it would be like if females of all species were always "in heat." The human species is not limited by having to wait for estrus; often, the human female is a willing partner for the always-ready human male. Does this imply that God wants a woman to bear a child every year of her life (allowing for the recovery period following childbirth)? Or does it mean that He intended marital relations to be an expression of mutual love and pleasurable for both parties?
If marital relations were always to "be open to child-bearing," as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, then one would expect to find some clear teaching to that effect in the Scriptures. It appears, however, that this teaching draws from Magisterial sources, for only such are referenced in the appropriate paragraphs of the CCC:
I would submit that, in my admittedly not impartial opinion, paragraphs such as 2370 in the CCC appear to have been created by men who are accustomed to sexual self-denial, misogynistic and who have completely sublimated their natural urges or who have found some alternative means of sexual expression or fulfillment.
I agree with paragraph 2373 of the CCC, though I believe it fails to take into account the possibility of intense emotional distress and suffering when the blessing of the large family comes face-to-face with the impossibility of meeting the survival and physical needs of that family.
For those who would like to read for themselves, as I did, the Magisterial documents cited in the above excerpts from the CCC, they are: Familiaris consortio, Apostolic Exhortation by John Paul II, November 22, 1981. Humanae vitae, Encyclical by Paul VI, July 25, 1968. an encyclical by Pius XI, December 31, 1930. Gaudium et spes, Pastoral Constitution by Paul VI, December 7, 1965
I can find no fault with people who choose to follow the RCC’s guidance on family building; nor can I find fault with those who would limit family size, so long as their choice for so doing does not involve the death of a human being – unborn or undelivered. I do, however, find fault with the old men of the Curia for placing burdens on the backs of others that they do not bear themselves; burdens such as intermittent celibacy (I realize that not all priests and religious violate their vows) and the burden of supporting large families that can result from inability or unwillingness to be intermittently celibate.
Jesus Christ addressed this type of hypocrisy in these words:
Jesus, of course, was talking to and about the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees of His time, but with just a few adjustments, His words appear to apply equally well to the priests and religious of today’s Catholic Church:
Surely, the Catholic Church is the mother of heresies.
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