As Catholics, my wife and I have chosen to follow Church teachings regarding the openness to life and prohibition against the use of artificial contraception and therefore we have nine beautiful children. Fortunately we have not had grave reason to avoid being open to new life and I can truly say that our lives have been abundantly blessed by this decision.
In my forty two years of life on this earth, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have heard a homily (or even a prayer intention) against contraception or sterilization during a Sunday mass. Currently statistics show no difference in contraceptive use amongst Catholics and the general population. I guess you could say, out of sight, out of mind. If the faithful are not reminded of the beauty of God’s plan for marriage and being open to children, then they will follow the culture’s lead.
Now the President of the United States has passed a law that will force the Catholic Church and its organizations to officially violate its moral teachings and pay for sterilizations, contraception including those that may cause an abortion. The Catholic Church has consistently taught against intentional sterilization, abortion, and the use of artificial contraception and Pope Paul VI recently re-affirmed the Church’s position in his encyclical Humanae Vitae.
The fact that most Catholics do not adhere to this teaching should not enter into the discussion, but I think it will over the coming months. Understandably, the Church’s teaching on these topics makes many uncomfortable, many leaders within the Church do not like discussing it in private conversations, much less in a public forum.
So in a sense, the Obama administration’s action may be a good thing for the Catholic Church. For so many years the Church in the United States has been able to largely ignore this topic, but now she is being forced to defend an attack of one of her moral teachings. My fear is that the Catholic laity may be so ignorant of the beauty of this teaching and so steeped in a contraceptive lifestyle, that we may be fighting against ourselves in this battle. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who is charged with implementing the new Health care legislation, is a Catholic. The USCCB is going to have an uphill fight, but with prayer and sacrifice and God on our side, the war will surely be won, but the battles will be difficult and will have many casualties.
Bravo to the Bishop of Austin, Joe Vasquez, for taking such a strong stand against this law. Please pray for him and for our Diocese.
- Diocese of Austin letter on HHS Ruling
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Christopher West explains the Church’s teaching against Contraception
- Catholic Answers explains the Church’s teaching against Contraception
- Humanae Vitae – Encyclical of Pope Paul VI
- Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2366-2379