Catholics and Contraception: Connect the Dots

98 Percent Of Catholic Women Use Birth Control

(Reuters) – Some 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, research published on Wednesday showed.

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.

The latest data shows practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.

“In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible,” said the report’s lead author Rachel Jones.

Reuters

How does this square with “Catholic teaching”? It’s not what you’d think. Most reports have focused on how contraceptive use is in obvious conflict with Catholic belief, but (as with the teaching on homoerotic relationships), there is more to Catholic teaching than just the money quotes in the Catechism. I offer for your consideration, some other important and relevant extracts from Vatican documents, and then some observations on putting them together by the noted lay and married Catholic theologians, Todd Salzmann & Michael Lawler. 

The Church Values Social Statistics – Pope John Paul II

Evangelical Discernment

….This discernment is accomplished through the sense of faith,(10) which is a gift that the Spirit gives to all the faithful, (11) and is therefore the work of the whole Church according to the diversity of the various gifts and charisms that, together with and according to the responsibility proper to each one, work together for a more profound understanding and activation of the word of God. The Church, therefore, does not accomplish this discernment only through the Pastors, who teach in the name and with the power of Christ but also through the laity: Christ “made them His witnesses and gave them understanding of the faith and the grace of speech (cf. Acts 2:17-18; Rv. 19:10), so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life.”(12)

…….. The Church values sociological and statistical research, when it proves helpful in understanding the historical context in which pastoral action has to be developed and when it leads to a better understanding of the truth. Such research alone, however, is not to be considered in itself an expression of the sense of faith.

……..  Christian spouses and parents can and should offer their unique and irreplaceable contribution to the elaboration of an authentic evangelical discernment in the various situations and cultures in which men and women live their marriage and their family life. They are qualified for this role by their charism or specific gift, the gift of the sacrament of matrimony.(15)-

-Pope John Paul II, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO, 5

 

Sensus Fidelii: The Importance of the Whole Church

The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.

-Lumen Gentium, 12


Our Obligation to the Pastors of the Church

“In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.

-Catechism, 907


The simple fact that 89% of Catholics in the communion-Church believe that they can practice methods of contraception and still be good Catholics proves nothing theologically. It does however raise questions that theologians cannot ignore without fulfilling contemporary prophesies that theologians and their theologies have nothing to do with the real questions of the real world in which men and women live…

Salzmann & Lawler, The Sexual Person, Epilogue, p 263

Empirical research neither expresses nor creates the faith of the Church, but it does manifest what Catholics actually believe and do not believe, and that experiential reality is a basis for critical reflection for any claim about what “the Church believes”.

Salzmann & Lawler, The Sexual Person, Epilogue, p 263

 

Books

Salzmann & Lawler: The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology (Moral Traditions)

 

Related Posts at QTC

Sexual Ethics, Social Statistics, and the Sensus Fideii

The Ex-Catholic Phenomenon

The Catholic Laity/Bishops Disconnect on Sexuality, Homosexuality

Thoughts on Popular Revolutions: in Egypt, in South Africa – in the Church

Pray, Don’t Pay, Disobey: The Catholic Revolution Has Begun.

Authentic Catholicism

ABC – WaPo Poll Confirms, Yet Again: Catholics (Increasingly) Support Gay Marriage

 

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