.. cal states that artificial contraception is contradictory to this language. Pope John Paul II, in detail, says in his document about the difference between artificial contraception and Natural Family Planning, “It is a difference which is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person. which means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity.” (Pope John Paul II #32).
Most recently, Veritatis Splendor written by Pope John Paul II spoke about the existence of moral absolutes and reaffirmed the teaching of artificial contraception being intrinsically evil. As previously mentioned, natural law plays a significant role in forming the opinions of the church. Natural law is defined as what human reason can determine about human nature and its moral duties that are separate from divine revelation. Natural law originates in human reason, ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, secular sciences, and common sense. The Dictionary of Theology explains it rather well in saying “The sum of the rights and duties which of themselves follow directly from the nature of man, as a being endowed with reason and free will, is…
called natural law in Catholic ethics; the mutability or immutability of the law and the possibility of knowing it are important themes in Greek and Christian philosophy.” (Rahner 329). The Magisterium claims the power to interpret natural law and incorporate its interpretation into Church teachings. The faithful observance of these teachings of Gods will are taught to be necessary for salvation and entrance into Heaven. The natural law, with respect to sexuality, teaches that sexual intercourse must be both unitive and procreative and must contain both aspects. However, many argue that Natural Family Planning does not prove to be both unitive and procreative, and this has led to great dispute within the Church. Although the Magisterium upholds all these beliefs, the gravity of artificial contraception as a sin must be a decision made from ones conscience and may only be judged by God. Artificial contraception and Natural Family Planning are both forms of contraception, and even though the Church considers one acceptable and the other as extreme as a mortal sin, they share many similarities in essence.
Despite the differences in processes, neither method supports the procreative side of sexual intercourse. Artificial contraception is doing something to prevent pregnancy, while Natural Family Planning is NOT doing something to prevent pregnancy. The only argument the Church gives for the difference is that NFP makes use of nature instead of artificial means in order to control a situation. They argue that artificial contraception hinders a natural process that is meant to happen. In America magazine, a speaker from the Humanae Vitae Conference in Omaha, Nebraska was quoted as saying “Whether Norplant or the pill, contraception communicates a certain disdain for ones natural fertility.
(America 37). This says a lot for how insignificant many people feel is the difference between NFP and artificial contraception. After all this information about the background of contraception and the controversial stance of the Church, the reader may be wondering what will happen in the future. There has been great opposition to the current adamant position the Church holds about the serious sinfulness of artificial contraception. Father Philip Sumner sums up how many Catholic families feel by saying, “The Church can make statements about contraception, but nobody cares about it.
Many people have given up looking to the Church in terms of contraception.” (Ward T002). Many people see hope in reform in the near future despite the insistence by the Church that these decisions are final. One nun has even made headlines by resigning her sisterhood and devotion to God because of her disagreement with the way Church has dealt with these issues. Sr. Lavinia Byrne explains her position by stating “I am resigning because of the pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith..
the burden has become intolerable. They are using techniques that seem to belong to mother age and are behaving like the Inquisition. I feel bullied. (Malcolm 8). There are several reasons why the present teaching can be changed however.
Firstly, the teaching of Humanae Vitae is not infallible, but is only a part of Catholic tradition. Natural law determines a large portion of teachings throughout time and as the way society works changes, the teachings of the Church move with it. There is no “pure nature” and there is always room for change and this could lead to a change of teaching. Also, the Church, in the past, followed many practices that seem ridiculous today such as slavery, indulgences, and persecution of women. The culture that these practices were in changed, and thus, so did the stance of the Church.
This has set a precedent that is expected to be followed. Contraception has been termed a mortal sin, but this would require a grave matter, full knowledge of seriousness of what you are doing, and sound consent of mind and will. The questionable aspect is the gravity of the sin. The faithful members of the Church community have, for the most part, rejected the current teaching. Even those Catholics who are extremely religious use contraceptives, and usually for very good reason.
An alarmingly high percentage of Catholics use artificial birth control, and very few agree with the Church on the evil involved with contraception. Natural Law was named as one of the factors involved in the temporary status of the current teaching. There are many differences in how sexuality is incorporated into our society today, compared to the time period when this teaching was created. Rahner, as well, states that “The Church is making authentic pronouncements which are promulgated by the Magisterium, which are, for their arguments, dependent on justifications and proofs taken from the secular sciences and universal human reason.” (Rahner 33). The differences today that could influence some kind of change include several important aspects of society. First, females are becoming much more independent and appreciated in these days.
A womans experiences of wifehood, motherhood, and sex are taken into account and not looked down upon. Probably the most important change is continuing education. Marriages are delayed until mid-twenties and early thirties on average because of peoples desire to go to college and graduate schools. This leads to longer (and probably more) relationships and a different maturity about sex. Artificial contraception is more strongly needed in cases such as these.
Other people these days are just not opting to marry or are homosexual. Procreation is not in anyway a focus anymore, but is more of an unwanted incident that is possible. Contraception, whether artificial or natural, is obviously not favored by the Church, but the latter is allowed as a compromise it sometimes seems. The teachings and advisements are rather blatant, but it has been shown that couples are still turning away from the Church on this matter. Many religious teachers, because of the strong opposition both within and outside the Church, instruct their followers to go with what their conscience feels is right and to use the Churchs teaching as an advisement.
To this day though, if one was to strictly follow the teachings of the Magisterium, artificial contraception would be out of the question and to regulate pregnancy, Natural Family Planning would be the right choice. Bibliography Cahill, Lisa Sowle. “Can We Get Real About Sex?” Commonweal 14 Sept. 1990: 497-503. Catholic Church: Pope John Paul II.
Familiaris Consortio. Boston: Daughters of St. Paul; 1981. Catholic Church: Pope Paul VI. Humanae Vitae. Catholic Mind.
Sept. 1968: 54-55. Harris, Peter. On Human Life: An Examination of Humanae Vitae. London: Burns & Oates; 1968. “International Humanae Vitae Conference.” America 25 Sept. 1993.
Kaufman, Philip, ODB. Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic. New York: Crossroads Publ.; 1988. Malcolm, Teresa. “Bullied By Vatican, Nun to Leave Order” National Catholic Reporter 21 Jan.
2000: 8-9. Rahner, Karl and Herbert Vorgrimler. Dictionary of Theology. New York; Crossroads Publ,; 1981. Ribadeneira, Diego. “Vatican Sets the Record Straight: Its Views on Sex Are Unchanged.” Boston Globe 2 Oct.
1999: B2. Ward, Stephen. “Society: Birth Control: Baby Faith Good Catholics Could Not Use Contraception, Said the Priests. But Now It May Be a Matter for Individual Conscience.” The Guardian 29 Apr. 1998: T002. Winikoff, Beverly and Suzanne Wymelenberg. The Whole Truth About Contraception: A Guide to Safe and Effective Choices.
Washington D.C.: Joseph Henry Press; 1997.