A prickly moral question…

I’m a geek for what’s called ‘humanitarian logistics’. I get fascinated by how to get stuff from A to B in the most effective way in times of disaster and conflict in order to relieve suffering and save lives. I also thought at one point that it was one area of humanitarian work that would be less ethically challenging – more straight forward…”they are hungry, here is truck, let’s drive there, give them this food…yay…” (well, not that crude, but you can get the idea). However, I’m learning that it is in fact one of the most ethically challenging areas.

In anticipation of the possibility arising in the future, I’ve been asking myself how to tackle the moral quandries that would inevitably arise in that sort of work.

If logistics is the area that touches every other, then when you’re talking about project concerning reproductive health or HIV/AIDs prevention, the logisticien is automatically implicated in the moral question – even at a great distance. Furthermore, the power relations that can exist in logistics (“I have big sack of rice, you need big sack of rice, I want sexual satisfaction, you are a young women…” you get the idea) render it an ideal breeding ground for exploitation.

With that in mind, I emailed a great priest and friend of mine whose a bit of a moral theological whiz, to put it lightly. I thought that my questions and his answers would be a) interesting and informative and b) could spark further debate, questions and posing of other scenarios. (I will happily pass on questions from this forum to him to be answered…that gives me next week’s post already!)

So without further ado…my email…(unedited…)

If I was in an administrative role that covered all the health projects going on in a certain region, including one reproductive health initiative that involved the distribution of contraception…would it be contrary to my faith to continue to do the admin for it all? Or to even work for that organisation to begin with? (in a way similar to working for Amnesty with their explicit pro-abortion stance?). Would it be a case of having to explicitly opt out of any activity related to the implementation of reproductive health projects? What if the implementation is combined with that of other life-saving initiatives (e.g. processings shipments of emergency cholera vaccinations alongside condoms…)? Is it something that I need to be explicit about before entering into any role and make sure that my superior would accommodate my opting out of certain activities for the sake of conscience?

And his response…

You ask one of those very prickly moral questions but I will do my best to answer you as clearly and succinctly as possible.

First of all, every situation is slightly different so I can only give you only general principles.You have to apply them as best you can then be prepared to stick with your well considered and prayed through decision.

Your question brings into play 3 clear principles: cooperation, scandal and lesser evil.
When you are thinking about cooperating with an action that is morally evil there are two bases on which that can happen: type of cooperation and its proximity. re the first, the cooperation can be formal or material. With formal your participation is willing and necessary e.g Judas kissing Jesus to identify him to his enemies; he did not kill Jesus but because his help was essential to lead this enemies and he willed it that it is a case of formal cooperation – this is never morally licit. Another example would be supplying a gun so that a paid man can kill your competitor; you do not pull the trigger but you are guilty of formal cooperation.

Re proximity of cooperation this can range from proximate to remote. An example may help. Say you work in a hospital where abortions are performed. If you prep the woman for the operation though you are not actully involved in it that is proximate cooperation. You may be less proximately involved eg you service and maintain all the vacuum pumps used in the operations though you do not take part in any of them. That is intermediate cooperation; finally you may just be an administrator in the hospital doing clerical work helping the place to function and may have nothing to do with the medical side. That is remote cooperation. The general principle is that the more proximate you are to the evil action the greater the reason for participation must be; some moralists would say than in an evil act like abortion you can never cooperate in a proximate way, others for only the gravest of reasons e.g someone is dying.

The second area is scandal ie something you do leads others to either sin or accept an evil act as OK. Here there can be legitimate or phariseic scandal. The first is where say just working for an agency where you are closely involved in condom distribution you would lead others to think there is no problem with Catholic consent with this. To avoid this you may have to make your own position or beliefs clear or set up limits or areas where you are not prepared to work. You might possibly have to try to change the agency’s stance. However you can encounter phariseic scandal where others criticise you because of the mere fact of your working for a particular agency though you have set up the situation so you are not involved in actions you cannot morally accept.

Finally lesser evil. This is an important consideration but not easy to apply. It generally says that if you are involved in doing something with good and evil consequences you are entitled to go ahead if the good you do will outweigh the evil consequences. However the problem here is that it does not entitle you to do something intrinsically immoral eg support abortions and the other problem is that weighing of onsequences is an immensely difficult task. Nevertheless this principle can but useful if we find ourselves in a situation that is just impossible to avoid.

Righto folks…fire away…

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    Comments: 164

    1. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 8:08 am

      Firstly, “reproductive health” covers all manner of things, including good pre and ante natal care. You need to be more specific in what you actually mean.

      I think that distributing condoms to help reduce HIV transmissions is a morally good thing to do, and something actually required by the 5th commandment, in respect of saving lives, so I don’t have any moral problem whatsoever in the distribution of condoms to reduce HIV infections.

      http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=24947991-3048-741E-1288626171072423

      As for contraception in general, this is not something which is intrinsically evil and at times is even morally good and something the Church herself offers in Catholic hospitals (eg after rape).

      In the African context, The Vatican officially approved the use of contraceptives by nuns in the Congo who were exposed to the risk of rape.

      If you are going to exercise your conscience to prevent the distribution of such contraceptives then you’d better be prepared to justify your actions before your maker as your actions may very well result in pregnancies after rape and deaths by AIDS and actually be against what the Church explicitly allows and does.

      I think one needs to respect the conscience of others; Vatican II teaches this. If they choose to use contraception then we have to respect their choice and should not act to restrict their choice (as we once tried to do by making contraception illegal). This right of conscience applies to Catholics too, most of whom use contraception in marriage.

      You can’t claim a right to object in conscience and then turn around and deny others the right to exercise their moral conscience by using contraception.

      Conscience is a two edged sword !

      Abortion would be a different matter.

      I don’t see anything wrong in working for Amnesty International to free prisoners of conscience, despite their morally objectionable position on abortion. Even St Paul used the good offices of the oppressive Imperial state when about to be lynched, despite it being an idolatrous and exploitative institution with very many evil policies and positions.

      Focus on Jesus and on feeding the hungry, curing the sick, clothing the naked, housing the homeless and all the superfluous trash of Pharisaical moral scruples will gently wash away.

      God Bless

    2. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 8:25 am

      Perhaps today’s Gospel reading will help.

      Gospel: Mt 10:7–13
      Jesus said to his disciples, “Go and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift. Do not carry any gold, silver or copper in your purses. Do not carry a traveler’s bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or walking stick: workers deserve their living.

      In other words: get on with healing the sick and cast off the superfluous baggage which gets in the way of doing that.

      God Bless

    3. Scribe June 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

      Chris,

      The Church is doing more to heal the sick, including those suffering from HIV/Aids, than any other organisation in the world. Why do you like to try to bash the Church on this issue? It’s frankly quite disgraceful and dishonest.

      The Church is living today’s Gospel without any superfluous baggage getting in the way.

    4. muerk June 11, 2009 at 10:00 am

      Ahhh, the infamous Congo nuns. Which nuns? Allowed by whom? We don’t even know if this actually happened.

      http://americanpapist.com/2007/11/bioethics-essay-did-congo-nuns-receive.html

      As has been shown, there exists no readily-available documentation of the permission given by the Holy Office to the Congo nuns. Also, the Vatican has not referred back to it as a precedent when treating questions of a similar nature…

    5. Rosjier June 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

      “I think that distributing condoms to help reduce HIV transmissions is a morally good thing to do” Chris

      Are you crazy?

      “Distributing condoms” definitely comes under the “intrinsically immoral” category.
      It does not matter for what reason.
      Muerk says you can not use the ‘Congo Nuns’ to set a precedent.
      Which is what your whole argument was based around.

      In the case of the nuns the choice was between two intrinsically immoral situations.
      Even the pope said that it will not help reduce HIV and will in fact make it worse.

      If you look at the statistics of countries that promote condoms compared to the ones that promote only Chastity and faithfulness they are astounding.

      What could it possibly do after rape a part from end/prevent a human life?

      Giving out condoms on the basis of your uninformed conscience is equivalent to a homosexual feeling that his conscience is telling to have sex with his male partner.

      I would rather die than have contraceptive sex with my wife, I am that certain that it is intrinsically evil.

    6. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 10:27 am

      Muerk,

      The Vatican was somewhat reluctant to shout the Congo approval from the rooftops but the evidence is quite clear that it was officially approved :-

      the Holy Office, under Cardinal Ottaviani in the time of Pope Pius XII, get it so wrong when he confirmed that it was ethical for nuns living in fear of being raped (in the Congo) to take contraceptive measures.

      http://www.pndiocese.org.nz/dox/Bishops/More%20Catholic%20than%20the%20Pope%20-%20Comment%20on%20Card%20Martinis%20comments.pdf

      See some of the comments in your American Papist link for further evidence.

      The theology here is quite clear – rape is not unitive so contracepting rape does not violate Catholic teaching – See William May’s comment quoted on the Am Papist thread.

      God Bless

    7. Rosjier June 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

      I do not believe when contraception is given out to prevent HIV it is intended by the giver or the recipient to be used only in cases of rape.

    8. Dr Chris Pemberton June 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

      Chris Sullivan

      We have been here before, so the same refutation stands.

      The “Congo approval” is a dubious one. At that time, certain things were tolerated. Bishop Cullinane’s comments on an obscure and unclear “approval”, without evidence, do not help.

      Contraception is intrinsically evil: full stop.
      So is murder: full stop.

      However, killing someone is not always murder. Context applies, hence self-defence. The same with said “approval” (if it truly existed); the intent is important, and would only apply to THAT situation, not wholesale.

      Rosjier is right: loopholes are being exploited to justify sin.

    9. Dei Verbum June 11, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      Christopher;
      the exception (if it is in fact valid) doesn’t prove the rule.
      You cant cooperate in a sin in the belief that there may be a good in it?

      Jesus said ‘heal the sick’ not encourage them to be sicker? Can you give 1 example where Jesus said; “your sins are forgiven go and sin some more”

    10. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm

      Dr Chris,

      The Catholic Church does not teach that contraception is intrinsically evil.

      She teaches that it is evil in marriage when done intending to prevent conception (and not in other uses eg for period control or to prevent infection).

      Bishop Cullinane has very ably explained what the Catholic Church teaches in his guest editorial in the NZ Catholic newspaper which is available at

      http://www.pndiocese.org.nz/dox/Bishops/More%20Catholic%20than%20the%20Pope%20-%20Comment%20on%20Card%20Martinis%20comments.pdf

      Tuppence and others here need to get onboard with what the Catholic Church actually teaches on contraception.

      The priest who answered her query gave a huge hint in that nowhere in his response did he intimate that contraception was intrinsically evil.

      God Bless

    11. Rosjier June 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      It is intrinsically evil.
      To use contraception is to want to unnaturally separate sex from procreation.
      That is wrong.

      A condom isn’t intrinsically evil,
      but to use it for its intended purpose is an intrinsically evil act.

      Sure if a non-catholic is going to commit rape they may as well use contraceptives.
      If they are going to commit one mortal sin against natural law they may as well commit two.

      But that is completely different to a Catholic promoting promiscuity by handing out condoms in a population suffering from AIDS.

      I have cancelled my regular donations to a particular charitable organisation because it supported “distributing condoms to help reduce HIV transmissions”

      God Bless

    12. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      Rosjier,

      You are welcome to your own private opinion that contraception is intrinsically evil (which is defined in Catholic theology as always and everywhere evil regardless of intent or circumstances).

      But nowhere has any Pope ever taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. If you don’t believe me just try and find any papal statement that contraception is intrinsically evil.

      Catholic Hospitals, with full approval from the bishops (including the most conservative bishops like Cdl Pell and ABp Fisher in Australia), regularly offer non-abortifacient contraception to rape victims.

      This is what the Church teaches and this is how the Church acts.

      I recommend that you carefully study Bp Cullinanes excellent guest editorial on the teaching. Familiarise yourself with it and conform yourself to it because it is what the Catholic Church teaches.

      If Tuppences overly scrupulous conscience was going to refuse to ship the kind of contraceptives used in Catholic hospitals to treat rape victims, then she’d find herself sabotaging the treatment of rape victims which has been explicitly mandated by the Catholic Bishops.

      That’s how ridiculous such moral scrupulosity about refusing to have any part of the distribution of any contraceptive actually is.

      It winds up sabotaging the Church’s own work to treat the sick.

      God Bless

    13. Rosjier June 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

      So where do you draw the line?

      When is it ok to contracept?

    14. The Prophet June 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

      Chris are you kidding me????

      Haven’t we been through all this before? Please just stop

    15. Dr Chris Pemberton June 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

      Chris Sullivan, stop lying about Church teaching on this matter, Yes, you are lying.

      The RCC does teach it is evil in the catechism, para. 2370: Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

      No if’s, no but’s: sexual intercourse that contracept’s is intrinsically evil.
      One might not agree with it, but it is what the RCC holds to be true.

      Readers might like to ask themselves, why would the world get so angry with the Catholic church about contraception when it apparently doesn’t say its evil? Get real.

      Bishop Cullinane gave no proof in his statements about the Congo “approval”. Evidence is required, and it has all the appearances of a red herring.

      Tuppence (and others) are quite on board thank you. It is you who are overboard. Get back in the boat.

    16. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm

      Rosjier,

      The Church draws the line in marriage where the intent is to prevent conception by doing something to artificially modify the act of love making.

      IOW, we’re for the best sex possible which is in marriage between a man and a women who love each other and are committed to each other for life, and where the sex is not degraded by chemical poisons or the frustrations of latex barriers.

      The Church teaches that it’s wrong in marriage to contracept the conjugal act.

      The Church does not teach that it’s wrong in marriage to use a contraceptive with a non-contraceptive intent (eg to prevent disease, to control period irregularities, a condom with a hole to collect a semen sample etc).

      The Church does not teach that it is wrong to use contraception outside marriage (sex outside marriage is morally wrong regardless of whether or not it is contracepted). An example would be the Church’s approval for the Congo nuns to take the pill.

      As you can see, there are many situations where using a contraceptive would not be against what the Church teaches.

      So Tuppence would need to educate herself in what the Church actually teaches and make sure that she’s not preventing others from doing things which are not against Catholic teaching.

      The advice the priest gave her about degrees of cooperation in evil is very good. Because we live in a world full of sin we will inevitably have to deal with how to act morally in situations stained by the sin of others. I think this Catholic moral teaching is very helpful.

      God Bless

    17. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm

      Dr Chris,

      Your quote refers to the conjugal act which means an act in marriage.

      You need to read what Bp Cullinane authoritatively taught and conform yourself to it.

      The good bishop is exactly on the money here.

      God Bless

    18. kiwiatheist June 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm

      Ah ha, evidence is required when it suits eh? Why can’t you just accept it on faith? ;-)

      KA

    19. Scribe June 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm

      So Tuppence would need to educate herself in what the Church actually teaches and make sure that she’s not preventing others from doing things which are not against Catholic teaching.

      Chris, if I wanted someone to explain the Church’s teaching on contraception, I’d pick Tuppence over you every day of the week and twice on Thursdays. As far as I’m concerned, Tuppence’s comments are spot on.

    20. Chris Sullivan June 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm

      Scribe,

      Last time I checked, the authentic interpreters and teachers of Catholic doctrine are still the Catholic bishops.

      And Bishop Cullinane has very ably expounded what the Church actually teaches on condoms and contraception in the pages of that cracking good read, the NZ Catholic newspaper.

      Beats me why anyone would want to put more credence in the opinion of some anonymous posters on the internet than on the local Catholic bishop, whose teachings are backed up by the NZ Catholic Bishops who stated in a recent pastoral letter that the Church’s teaching on contraception does not extend outside marriage or to disease prevention (even in marriage).

      God Bless

    21. Dr Chris Pemberton June 11, 2009 at 3:46 pm

      Chris Sullivan

      One is required to conform to the truth, once made clear.
      One is not required to conform to ill educated opinions or acolytes of said opinions.

      I suggest you take your own advice. :D

    22. Dr Chris Pemberton June 11, 2009 at 3:48 pm

      So Chris Sullivan, if Bishops are in such a position, why don’t you conform your opinion to that of the Bishop of Rome?

    23. Scribe June 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      Chris,

      What did the Pope say about condoms when he was in Africa?

      [The defence rests]

    24. Rosjier June 11, 2009 at 4:38 pm

      “The Church draws the line in marriage where the intent is to prevent conception by doing something to artificially modify the act of love making.”

      That is a terrible and grave mistake. (Of Chris’ not of the Church)

      If two people are living together and love each other and are having sex and are not married
      It is a mortal sin for them to use contraceptives.
      As soon as one of them uses contraceptives, they are using the other as a means for their own sexual gratification, and demeaning them as a person. The church would definitely agree with me here.

      “The Church teaches that it’s wrong in marriage to contracept the conjugal act.”

      Yes and sex is conjugal love.
      There is a connection between the two persons physically, psychologically and spiritually whether consent is given on both sides or not.

      If rape was not a spiritual intercourse, if it was not a conjugal act, conception could not take place.

      Do what Dr. Chris and Scribe say:
      Conform your opinion to what the Pope said about condoms in Africa

    25. muerk June 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm

      When Chris started talking about contraceptives outside of marriage I went and looked at the documents. The Church regards contracepting in the conjugal act to be intrinsically evil. It’s also very clear that this isn’t a euphemism for “sex”, but the full theological meaning of “conjugal”.

      In fact the Church makes no claims on immoral sexual relations. It speaks only in positive terms about licit sexual activity when it speaks of evils against it, ie. contraception, adultery. The Church gives no advice on how to sin.

      There are some Bishop’s Conferences who agree for the use of contraceptives (drugs that delay ovulation) after a rape. And there is no moral issue about using contraceptive drugs for medical purposes, eg. women using it to lighten heavy, painful menstuation.

    26. muerk June 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm

      Yes and sex is conjugal love.

      No. I don’t think so. In the book by John Paul II, “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body”, Pauline Books and Media, Boston, 2006, p. 687, there is a specific statement that “conjugal act” is not a “euphemism or antiquated expression for “sex”, but sex in its full moral nature and goodness as a personal act in the determinate circumstances of conjugal life.”

    27. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm

      Lets get some perspective Here.
      Many millions of married Catholic couples use contraception.
      In America it is estimated 90% of Catholics use contraception.
      I daresay that figure would also apply to NZ.
      So it figures according to the above “saved bloggers”that the majority of the worlds Catholic population are bound for HELL?

    28. Scribe June 11, 2009 at 5:36 pm

      Helens Bay,

      We have no idea who’s going to hell and who isn’t. But some people would rather not change the rules just because some people are unwilling — maybe too selfish — to play by them.

      Do you think the Church should change its teaching on contraception, HB? If so, why?

    29. LT June 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm

      Scribe – interested. Why would the church change its teachings on anything ? I’m assuming you think they shouldn’t, but the inference is that changing teaching is possible, or am I mis-reading ?

      Rather naively, I’m of the opinion that the ‘ruleset’ is only a ruleset, so long as no-one mucks about with it.

      Much as it grieves me, I do have some truc with the athiests when they can point out frequently, and with glee, that the church does seem to sway with popular opinion to curry favour. That Pope fella (no disrespect intended) does appear to have a massive machine around him denying ANY connection, whatsoever, to the Hitler Youth. Either very bad PR or a story that should come out and be exposed as the juvenile mistake it perhaps was.

      I’ve never really understood why there are priests in the army etc when the words ‘Thou shalt not kill’ seem fairly clear.

    30. muerk June 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

      Helens Bay:

      Why do you read or participate here when you don’t like the people that post here? I might often disagree with Chris, but he writes civily and reasonably and engages in debate in a worthwhile manner. You however, make snippy comments and don’t often contribute anything more than your obvious disapproval for the attitudes you find here.

      This of course is your right, but it doesn’t move anything forward and I do wonder why you bother.

      Rather than just making snide pointless comments, why don’t you engage in civil debate? It might be more interesting.

    31. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 7:06 pm

      Scribe
      Surely if contraception is “intrinsically evil” and they do not repent then they are in a state of mortal sin and will as I was taught at school “GO TO HELL” or did I not hear right?
      I believe the Church should revisit the contraception issue as the majority of the Church want including numerous Bishops and Cardinals

    32. muerk June 11, 2009 at 7:08 pm

      That Pope fella (no disrespect intended) does appear to have a massive machine around him denying ANY connection, whatsoever, to the Hitler Youth. Either very bad PR or a story that should come out and be exposed as the juvenile mistake it perhaps was.

      All German boys were enrolled in the Hitler Youth, it was compulsory.

      http://bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/cjrelations/topics/new_pope_defied_nazis.htm

    33. muerk June 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      Surely if contraception is “intrinsically evil” and they do not repent then they are in a state of mortal sin and will as I was taught at school “GO TO HELL” or did I not hear right?

      The act is a sin, but how do you judge culpability?

      From the Catechism:

      1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

    34. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      Muerk
      I make no mmore “snippy comments” than the majority of contributors and in reference to Chris Sullivan I believe there are more “snippy comments” made against him than all writers put together!Would you not agree?
      I asked a civil question to which you did not respond only make a snippy comment!

    35. muerk June 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      Yes, but the other people don’t merely make snippy comments. I’m not against snippy comments per se, I’d just like to see more meat in your arguments. Very often your posts are quite short, basically asking a question (rather than telling us what you actually think about the matter and why) and then telling us how priggish the people are who write here.

      I just wonder why you bother. Why not really engage in debate?

    36. LT June 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      #32 Muerk,

      I heard a story, a few stories, handed down through the ages about people rebelling against various ‘compulsory’ statutes. Wasn’t Jesus something of a rebel ? Didn’t appear to stop him from (ever) not following the ‘compulsory’ line.

    37. muerk June 11, 2009 at 7:36 pm

      LT: Jesus Christ was the Son of God, Joseph Ratzinger was a teenage country boy whose father was a local policeman. To be fair, Ratzinger avoided meetings of the Hitler Youth thanks to a kind maths teacher. Had he actively refused to allow himself to be signed up he would have been sent to a camp, and I doubt it would have gone well with his family.

      It’s important to note that Ratzinger’s cousin, a teenage boy with Down’s was murdered by the Nazi’s. So his family too, felt the effect of Nazi eugenics.

      Would any of us have acted differently in Ratzinger’s situation as a 14 year old boy? I don’t know if I would have. Especially since we are judging with full knowledge of where those trains went to. Did he even know about the Holocaust at the time?

    38. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 7:55 pm

      Muerk
      “You`d like to see more meat in thre debate.?”
      I posted some information in #27 and as yet you have not responded.
      Why do the majority of worldwide Catholics practice contraception and why will the politicians in the Vatican not debate the issue.

    39. muerk June 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm

      No, see Helen’s Bay that’s not the way the internet (or even further back bulletin boards) work.

      If you want people to engage in debate with you then you have to do more than fire questions and snipe at people, you have to play the game too.

      Why should I or anyone of us spend time crafting a serious reply to you? So you can shrug your shoulders and then fire another question? Why bother? There’s an etiquette to these types of things and you aren’t participating fully.

      If you want us to respond to you, then you have to do a bit of actual work before we jump through hoops to answer your questions. Rather than us trying to answer you, how about you tell us why the actions of the majority should effect the truths of sin and the intrinisic evil of contraception within marriage.

    40. Dei Verbum June 11, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      HB #27

      “Many millions of married Catholic couples use contraception.
      In America it is estimated 90% of Catholics use contraception.
      I daresay that figure would also apply to NZ.
      So it figures according to the above “saved bloggers”that the majority of the worlds Catholic population are bound for HELL?”

      the maths is crap
      for a start only 33% practice
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2004-11-07-church-main_x.htm

      27% of those are under 18 and shouldnt be using contraception and 12.8% are over 65 and dont need it.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States#Age_structure

      so you do the maths? I make it there are only around 15-20% of ‘Catholics’ in sexually active group or should be

      If you accept that your figures are skewed as your opinions are then the 10- 20% of Catholics that aren’t using contraception is about right.

      Unless you can refine the figures and I am sure you can but otherwise you slander the many faithful catholic couples who live the Church’s teachings

      At least those faithful are going to confession.If the others aren’t attending Mass then they are in Mortal Sin and yes they are heading to hell anyway(with the atheists), shouldn’t someone say something?

      but even if my maths is wrong Jesus didn’t say; ‘go and sin like the majority’ he said ‘go and sin no more’!

    41. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      DV
      According to your link there are 65 million Catholics in the US of which 33% are practising (2005)which is approx 211/2 million.The figures I have state that approx 90% of the Catholic Pop. which is 19 million practice contraception.The stats only prove that contraception is an issue and should be debated by the whole Church as it was in 1966 and by a Papal Commission.
      The report recommended change in Church teaching on the subject and concluded by saying that the Catholic position on artifical contraception “could not be sustained by reasoned argument”
      The commision was made up of lay people,theologians,Cardinals and Bishops and after long debate that was their argument.
      Scripture has nothing specfic to say on contraception,and tradition has different mainstream opinions on the subject.
      As a matter of fact one of the great saints of the Church, Alphonsous Liguori wrote in the 18 th century,that as an expression of the marriage covenant,intercourse between spouses is good and legitmate in itself,without any actual intention to transmit life being necessary!
      Pope Paul Vi was very receptive to the recommendations but pressure from the Right after 2 yrs of pondering made him change his mind.What would be the result today if they had the courage to instigate anothe Commision

    42. Dei Verbum June 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

      fess up with the report (or shut up)you are being selective me thinks!

    43. muerk June 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

      I think Humanae Vitae was prophetic, in the sense that we can see how the issue of conjugal acts has affected the Anglican Communion where contraception was allowable. Divorce, priests and a bishop in homosexual relationships, abortion, – these things have arisen out of an unhealthy view of sexuality in Anglican theology, where our procreative abilities have been removed from our sexual expression. Now their Communion is splitting apart over this.

      I think that had Pope Paul VI agreed with the commision we would be facing the same terrible problems that the Anglicans are.

    44. muerk June 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm
    45. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm

      Dv
      Do your own research, the report is fact.Like all fundementalists you are afraid of the Truth.
      Muerk
      “these things have arisen out of an unhealthy view of sexuality in Anglican theology’ unlike the Catholic view of sexuality ,Peadophillia ,Child abuse,illigetimate children of numerous priests and Bishops yea very healthy.
      Take your head out of the sand and live in the real world of Catholic issues

    46. Helens Bay June 11, 2009 at 10:54 pm

      Muerk.Re #33
      “the act is sin but how do you judge culpability”?
      you may well be too young, but that was preached incessantly in the 50`s and 60`s with the proviso you would go to hell.
      It was also taught while I was at school in the good old days that if you ate meat on a Friday you had also commited a mortal sin and would go to HELL!

    47. muerk June 11, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      Helens Bay:

      As a woman in my thirties the issues I see in Catholicism in relation to sexuality are more to do with civil divorce, sex before marriage, pornography and abortion. Given the number of my friends who were sexually abused by family members I’m unsurprised by any sexual abuse, whether by a priest, father, school teacher or friend of the family. Priests are no special category when it comes to sexual predators.

      It’s all very well for baby boomers to want sexual freedom and licence, but it’s my generation that has paid for it, and it’s even worse for the generations after. What it’s led to is massive pornography use by teens, I’ve been in changing rooms at the pool and watched teenage girls take naked photos of themselves for their boyfriends. I’ve had several friends have their private sex videos become public property after a relationship has ended. I’ve had many male friends become addicted to internet porn, and not the nice legal stuff you get at the adult video store either.

      So when I hear the “contraception! it’s Safe Sex man!” I roll my eyes, because we’re waaaay past Mrs and Mrs Nice slipping on a rubber when they enjoy their conjugal acts.

      Girls these days dress as prostitutes and then the kids get drunk on cheap liquor, meet people they met over the net or via cell phones and then they have multiple sex partners whilst drunk. I was doing this back in the 90′s though it was bulletin board systems at university parties. Only back then broadcasting your sex tape was harder.

      Oral sex has become the “kiss”, you know… the ‘will he kiss me at the end of the night’ has now morphed. _Every_ single girl I knew well back at uni had been date raped or coerced into sex, why? Because it was totally expected that you would put out and no one wanted to be seen to be frigid. Girls would make out with each other in front of the guys because it was “sexy” and “taunted” them. Group sex isn’t unusual.

      Of course all this led to abortions, STIs, the pain of breakups and infidelity, and depression. But hey! We were liberated! Whooo.

      Contraception leads to the experiences I have had, why? Because it removes a integral part of the sexual act – the possibility of conceiving new life though an act of love. It makes people’s bodies lie about what sex really is. It turns sex into a cheap recreational activity, well cheaper than going to the movies anyways. It helps turn people into users, players.

      Contraception is destructive, dangerous and sinful. It allows people to become objects and it allows us to objectify others.

    48. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 7:19 am

      Helen is right.

      It was once widely taught by priests and nuns that those using contraception were in mortal sin and would go to hell if unrepented. Ditto for eating meat on Friday.

      That was nonsense and was never what the Church herself actually taught.

      Ditto limbo (which was also widely taught by priests and nuns despite it never being a defined Catholic dogma).

      We see the same problem today on contraception where many Catholics innocently believe ridiculous things they have been taught by some priest or nun or read somewhere on the internet or mistakenly interpreted from the Catechism or some Papal document that were never actually taught by the Church.

      The idea that contraception is intrinsically evil is one such mistaken idea, once widely taught by mistaken priests and nuns but never actually defined by any Pope ever.

      Helen is also right on the numbers of married Catholics using contraception. The figures I’ve seen are even higher than the 90% Helen quoted and I expect they are rising with the economic crisis and the economic pressures on families.

      It is worth reflecting on the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is contraception mentioned or condemned. This is despite the fact that contraception was well known and practised in 1st Century Israel and various methods of contraception and when it would be permissible to use them were discussed by the Jewish Rabbis in the Talmud.

      Despite all that the sacred New Testament writers didn’t think that contraception was a serious enough sin to even mention.

      The teaching against contraception isn’t in the deposit of faith or in apostolic tradition. There is no record whatsoever of it ever being taught by Jesus or the Apostles. It was a later theological development.

      This is a huge hint as to how important the issue of contraception actually is relative to the many other sins mentioned in the New Testament.

      Contraception practiced by those who believe it to be morally correct cannot be a mortal sin because, as Muerk points out, the Church teaches that mortal sin requires that one know for certain that what one does is morally wrong. Few Catholics today agree with the Church that contraception is morally wrong.

      This is where the role of conscience comes in and we are obliged as Catholics to respect the consciences of others, as taught by Vatican II.

      Which itself is an excellent reason to steer well clear of Tuppence’s temptation to refuse to ship contraceptives.

      God Bless

    49. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 7:35 am

      HB;

      Do your own research, the report is fact.Like all fundementalists you are afraid of the Truth.
      Muerk
      “these things have arisen out of an unhealthy view of sexuality in Anglican theology’ unlike the Catholic view of sexuality ,Peadophillia ,Child abuse,illigetimate children of numerous priests and Bishops yea very healthy.
      Take your head out of the sand and live in the real world of Catholic issues

      HB#45;
      every time I think you cant go further with your astounding powers of persuasive discussion you surprise me, do you know no bounds?

      The rules of debate (and common courtesy) require that you provide the references for your proofs. At least provide the titles so they can be validated.

      A ‘fundamentalist’ cannot be afraid of the Truth because in fact that is what they stand for. If you think to insult me with this term you don’t, I consider it a compliment. You on the other hand stand like tall grass that bends any way that the populist wind blows. Do you believe in anything?

      The commission that you rely on and its flawed conclusions only shows the weakness in laity led self serving committees that dont have sufficient depth of understanding. (I never thought I would say it but thank God for theologians!).It showed the Holy Spirit was in charge! Thank God!

      Your harping on about abuses in Church is better directed to those who don’t follow the Church’s teaching; as they are examples of what happens when you drift from Her wisdom.

      As Muerk has said the Church’s stance on contraception was prophetic. Your support for it says more about your formation or the lack of it and the time warp you are still living in. Have you read ‘theology of the body’ you know JPII? (he came after Paul vi and another one) and another guy Ben XVI (‘on Christian love’. Gosh hasn’t time flown since 1966!

      Pray for the Church!

    50. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 7:45 am

      Muerk,

      I’d be careful of falling into the trap of viewing human sexuality thru the lens of one’s own past sexual mistakes. That seems to be quite common amongst Catholics vociferously opposed to contraception; and very notably in the case of St Augustine. For example, of the 3 Catholic teachers against contraception I’ve heard in the flesh, two were infertile and the third had a sexual past.

      Some of us seem to be reacting, not to the dangers of contraception, but to our revulsion at our own sexual history, or our sadness at infertility.

      I think a better argument is from the feminist perspective, focusing on the dangers of flooding the body with chemicals (one of which is reduced libido) or the degradation to sexual intimacy caused by barrier methods.

      A limited degree of periodic abstinence is spiritually and sexually beneficial. The Jewish experience with the Niddah laws (which require periodic abstinence) is that they lead to better sex when the couple come together again.

      I think the best argument against contraception is that marital intimacy is better without it and that sex is better without it.

      God Bless

    51. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 8:25 am

      Christopher 48
      slipping into old habits again some of your stuff has been quite good of late are you back with CIT again perhaps?
      You are simply wrong on many counts but this absurd issue of conscience being able to be what you want needs afddressing the most
      Your conscience should be formed to a good catholic one

      CCC 1792;

      Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel,bad example given by others,enslavement to ones passions,assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching,lack of conversion and of charity these can be the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct”

      and 1793

      “If on the contrary the ignorance is invincible. or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.”

      I would add this scripture;
      Matthew 18 6

      “But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.Alas for the world that there should be such causes of falling! Causes of falling indeed there must be, but alas for anyone who provides for them!”

      The ‘primacy of conscience’, is CCC 1782 (if there is such a thing) it is upheld in Declaration on Religous Freedom -Digniatatis Humanae

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

      (note this is not a declaration on sexual freedom or freedom of conscience!)
      it is a declaration that a catholic conscience has primacy!

      DH 3……On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind.(3) The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury therefore is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society, provided just public order is observed.

      but CCC 1792 and 1793 apply and are consistent with this, as does Mathew 18;6 if you are a teacher or pastor (or blogger)!(what is your neck size again? :))

      Pray for understanding!

    52. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 8:35 am

      This is where the role of conscience comes in and we are obliged as Catholics to respect the consciences of others, as taught by Vatican II.

      I think you mean this was taught by the “Spirit of Vatican II”, that nonsensical invention of people who want to turn their back on the Church but don’t have the honesty to do it formally and leave. I don’t have to respect the conscience of other people if their conscience is poorly formed, often intentionally in order to claim “I’m just following my conscience”.

      My conscience tells me that bestiality, driving a gas-guzzling SUV and abortion is OK, Chris. And you have to respect that.

      Which itself is an excellent reason to steer well clear of Tuppence’s temptation to refuse to ship contraceptives.

      And here you are completely disrespecting Tuppence’s conscience. Do you see the hypocrisy you’ve just displayed, or are you blind to it?

    53. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 9:20 am

      Scribe,

      Conscience does not give Tuppence the right to prevent others following their own well informed consciences and using contraception by, for example, refusing to ship contraceptives which would prevent others using contraception.

      The Church once tried to do this by promoting laws which made contraception illegal (Ireland is a classic example of that mistaken policy).

      That was wrong and against the right of conscience.

      There are many very well informed Catholics who have seriously studied the issues involved (eg the members of the Popes commission on contraception who overwhelmingly voted in favour of changing the teaching in favour of contraception) and prayed and agonised over them and have genuinely and honestly come to the conclusion that conception is the right thing to do. Most priests are of the same view.

      That conclusion is very much in the tradition, as the Talmud well illustrates.

      We need to respect their honest decision and not smear them all as just wanting easy ways out.

      Dei quoted the relevant teaching from the 2nd Vatican Council

      It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience.

      Refusing to ship contraceptives would be forcing someone to act contrary to his conscience if his conscience believed that using contraceptives was moral.

      And, in fact, many uses of contraceptives are not against Catholic teaching.

      So, on two grounds :

      1. Respect for the conscience of others whose conscience genuinely informs them that contraceptives are right and proper.

      2. That the Church does not oppose the use of contraceptives in certain cases.

      Tuppence does not have much of leg to stand on in refusing to ship contraceptives.

      In fact, given AIDS and condoms, she’s probably guilty of violating the 5th commandment and putting the lives of others at serious risk.

      God Bless

    54. Dr Chris Pemberton June 12, 2009 at 9:40 am

      Chris Sullivan, you are starting to sound totalitarian. Who are YOU to judge Tuppence about the Decalogue? Practice what you preach man! :D

      As for your comments about contraception “never being in the deposit of faith”, its so wrong its laughable. The OT, the NT, the Didache, the early comments of Clement, Pliny the younger and many other Roman commentators of the time all point to the fact the Christians, right from the start, refused to engage in acts of “sorcery, magic and the like” which included making remedies for abortion, contraception and miscarriage. They also did not “stifle their children” which means they had many which was proving a demographic problem for Rome.

      Helens Bay: the answer to your question is YES. If Catholics practice contraception or abortion, knowing freely that it is intrinsically evil, and they do it freely of their own choice, then they do put their salvation at risk. THAT is how seriously God takes it, and the Church must remain true to what it has been told to proclaim. Does that mean the Church wishes for those people to go to hell? No, of course not, she wishes for conversion and repentance, but it won’t change a teaching just because its too hard for some people to hear. A doctor will not change a diagnosis of cancer just because the patient won’t like it; to do so would be immoral, as without the diagnosis, the patient can’t be cured.

      And the disease needing curing through repentance and conversion in our society is denial of sin and refusal to endure suffering of any sort.

    55. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 9:41 am

      I don’t even know why we bother…. :(

      Chris, your treatment of Tuppence is a disgrace.

    56. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 9:46 am

      and how do you reconcile this erroneous view with;

      CCC2370
      Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:158

      CCC 1792;
      Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel,bad example given by others,enslavement to ones passions,assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching,lack of conversion and of charity these can be the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct”

    57. BTM June 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

      “Conscience does not give Tuppence the right to prevent others following their own well informed consciences and using contraception by, for example, refusing to ship contraceptives which would prevent others using contraception.”

      I’m sorry, but this is totally and utterly incorrect.

      What you are proposing here Chris is that a person must help in making an evil act available even if they are opposed to participating in that evil act.

      To use the completely different example of war, this would mean that a solider who opposed the unjust invasion of another country would still be forced to participate in that evil act by helping to ship cluster bombs and nuclear weapons into that war zone even if his conscience told him that a)the invasion was unjust and gravely immoral; and b)cluster bombs and nuclear weapons were gravely immoral.

      I’m not sure where you got this completely false idea from, but it isn’t Catholic.

      The Catholic Church allows for free and total legitimate conscientious objection (as long as this is done ethically and morally) because anything less would be a violation of the primacy of conscience.

    58. BTM June 12, 2009 at 10:11 am

      “There are many very well informed Catholics who have seriously studied the issues involved (eg the members of the Popes commission on contraception who overwhelmingly voted in favour of changing the teaching in favour of contraception) and prayed and agonised over them and have genuinely and honestly come to the conclusion that conception is the right thing to do. Most priests are of the same view.”

      With all due respect Chris, these people may well be very sincere in their mistake beliefs, but they are still wrong.

      It is not “smearing” them in anyway, and it is not an easy way out to state that their beliefs on this matter are quite wrong – just like it is not smearing people who support the use of nuclear weapons to state that their ideas on that issue are wrong.

      And as far as it being an “easy way out”; I don’t think so!

      In a sex saturated culture where contraception is vigorously promoted, the easy way out is to actually give into that culture by embracing the lie that contraception is perfectly acceptable.

    59. muerk June 12, 2009 at 10:11 am

      I’d be careful of falling into the trap of viewing human sexuality thru the lens of one’s own past sexual mistakes.

      At the time I didn’t see it as a mistake. I was young and I had bought into the prevailing values of contraception. Whilst I had my moments, my behavior was fairly tame compared to others.

      I’m always amazed at the naivety of some people. Google “sexting” to see what teens are getting up to now. Basically they are making child pornography (of themselves) and sending it to their friends.

      Conscience does not give Tuppence the right to prevent others following their own well informed consciences and using contraception by, for example, refusing to ship contraceptives which would prevent others using contraception.

      Actually that’s exactly what conscience does – it gives Tuppence the right not to participate in something that Tuppence disagrees with.

      Would we agree with a seller of guns selling to known gang members, because conscience does not give the gun seller the right to prevent others following their own well informed consciences?

    60. BTM June 12, 2009 at 10:14 am

      “In fact, given AIDS and condoms, she’s probably guilty of violating the 5th commandment and putting the lives of others at serious risk.”

      This is probably one of the most disgraceful comments you’ve made on this blog Chris.

      In the very same post that you talk about not smearing people, and respecting conscience, you then turn around and suggest that Tuppence is guilty of murder because she is following her conscience and is refusing to participate in the facilitation of an evil act.

      This one statement alone reveals a lot about the very confused, and very scary ideas that you hold on this issue.

    61. muerk June 12, 2009 at 10:18 am

      In a sex saturated culture where contraception is vigorously promoted, the easy way out is to actually give into that culture by embracing the lie that contraception is perfectly acceptable.

      Amen!

      The Church needs to have a healthy, joyful, loving message about how precious our sexuality is. About the gift of ourselves to the one person joined to us for life. Contraception isn’t loving, and the mentality that it creates is soul destroying – as anyone can see with modern sexually active young people, the high number of abortions, STIs and mental illness.

      The report writers were wrong, Humane Vitae was absolutely on the money. It foresaw what was going to come and it had the remedy to help us.

    62. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 10:39 am

      BTM,

      Using a condom to reduce the risk of HIV infection is not an evil act.

      It’s a good act.

      And preventing people obtaining condoms certainly increases the risk that they will engage in unprotected sex, which could very well result in death.

      It’s a fact that the Church recognises the right of people in conscience to use contraception. Many bishops conferences have released statements officially and explicitly teaching that (eg the US and the Canadian Catholic bishops).

      And it’s a fact that Church no longer campaigns to make contraception illegal.

      Because we recognise the right in conscience to contracept.

      One needs to distinguish between those matters essential to the common good (such as killing) in which there is not a right of conscience to do, and those matters (such as contraception) which are not essential to the common good.

      Contraception is not even remotely near the moral seriousness of abortion, or of the sins mentioned in the Gospels (its not even mentioned in the New Testament which indicates how very minor a sin the sacred writers thought it to be). It’s a very personal area where there is considerable dispute by many good Catholics in good faith (although I agree with BTM that their conclusions are incorrect).

      Given that fact that contraception simply isn’t serious sin, and isn’t a serious threat to human persons or to the common good, and given the very widespread support for contraception amongst Catholics (over 90% of married Catholic who themselves contracept), I don’t think we have a leg to stand on in trying to prevent others obtaining contraception.

      And I think that celibate single Catholics need to be very wary of what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing : tying up heavy burdens and laying them on others without lifting a finger to help them.

      God Bless

    63. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 10:43 am

      Dr Chris,

      If one thinks that contraception is an act of sorcery and magic then ones view is demonstrably at odds with the scientific facts.

      Much of the ancient condemnation of contraception was very much colored by the mistaken notion that it was using sorcery and magic.

      And also by the lack of any clear distinction in the medical knowledge of the time between potions which prevented conception and potions which effected abortion.

      God Bless

    64. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 10:49 am

      Chris,

      Are you going to apologise to Tuppence? Just curious.

      It’s a fact that the Church recognises the right of people in conscience to use contraception. Many bishops conferences have released statements officially and explicitly teaching that (eg the US and the Canadian Catholic bishops).

      Links please.

      I’ll ask again a question that you ignored above (because the answer would immediately debunk your theories): What has the Pope said on this matter?

    65. BTM June 12, 2009 at 11:02 am

      “And I think that celibate single Catholics need to be very wary of what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing : tying up heavy burdens and laying them on others without lifting a finger to help them.”

      Oh please, not that silly old chestnut.

      This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the Catholic priesthood, and it’s very disappointing to see it being promoted by someone who is a Catholic.

      By the way – I am not a single celibate, I am a sexually active married man who has just had twins, so I am at the coalface of this important teaching and I can tell you for a fact that while it requires some sacrifice, it is a really important teaching.

      I feel great sorrow for those people who haven’t discovered the awesome beauty and truth of Catholic sexual teaching, and I really pity them for having to put up with second-rate, and risky contraceptive sex.

    66. muerk June 12, 2009 at 11:04 am

      I agree with BTM and I’m a married woman with children, so hardly a celibate single.

    67. BTM June 12, 2009 at 11:06 am

      “If one thinks that contraception is an act of sorcery and magic then ones view is demonstrably at odds with the scientific facts.

      Much of the ancient condemnation of contraception was very much colored by the mistaken notion that it was using sorcery and magic.

      And also by the lack of any clear distinction in the medical knowledge of the time between potions which prevented conception and potions which effected abortion.”

      Chris,

      You’ve missed the point of what Dr. Pemberton was trying to explain to you.

      He was trying to explain to you that the early Christian Church universally condemned contraception, and that contraceptive potions, powders and cures were part of domain of sorcery in the ancient world.

    68. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 11:08 am
    69. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 11:16 am

      BTM,

      If it is really true that the early Christian Church universally condemned contraception, then why is there not a word about that universal condemnation anywhere in the whole New Testament ?

      Especially given that many different forms of contraception were practiced in Israel and in the pagan world at the time.

      All the evidence is that the teaching on contraception was not taught by Jesus or the apostles, but was a later theological development.

      That doesn’t determine the rightness or wrongness of contraception, because doctrine develops.

      But it does indicate that contraception was not much of a concern to the early Church at the time the New Testament was being written.

      And it does indicate how minor a sin it actually is, certainly when compared to the risk of death by AIDS.

      I expect that much of the later opposition to contraception was not to contraception per se but to the recourse to magic and sorcery associated with it.

      God Bless

    70. Don the Kiwi June 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

      So Chris, you quote a 1968 letter from the dissenting bishops of Canada.

      Do you know of the shabby state of the Church in Canada, mainly because of this attitude by Canadian Bishops? (Not all of them, I might add)

      And so the risk of death by AIDS is a sin ????

      Having AIDS is generally caused by sin, but having AIDS is not.

    71. muerk June 12, 2009 at 11:28 am

      Here’s some early Church Fathers on contraception, sterilization and abortion:

      http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/FKBCONTR.HTM

    72. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 11:38 am

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnipeg_Statement

      The Winnipeg Statement is the Canadian Bishops’ Statement on the Encyclical Humanae Vitae from a Plenary Assembly held at Saint Boniface in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Published on September 27, 1968, it is the Canadian Bishop’s controversial document about Pope Paul VI’s July 1968 encyclical on human life and the regulation of birth.[1]

      1968!!!! what an inspiring time in the Church and Canad in such good shape now!

      the millstones are on back order!

    73. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 11:40 am

      Chris,

      So that’s a 41-year-old statement from the Canadian bishops that the current bishops don’t seem to support, according to your Bible — wikipedia.

      Anything from the last 40 years? Anything from the US bishops, as claimed above?

    74. Rosjier June 12, 2009 at 11:55 am

      I recant

      that “conjugal act” is not a “euphemism or antiquated expression for “sex”, but sex in its full moral nature and goodness as a personal act in the determinate circumstances of conjugal life.”

      I’ll go with that, sorry Muerk.

      However to say that contraception is fine for people outside of marriage is ludicrous.

    75. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 11:56 am

      Muerk,

      Thanks for the article.

      Caesarius illustrates aptly how confused the ancients sometimes were on the distinction between contraceptives and abortifacients.

      “Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion [an oral contraceptive or an abortifacient] so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund?

      Ditto Hippolytus.

      In many cases contraception was opposed out of concern it would kill the unborn baby.

      Looking thru the other condemnations, I’m struck by how many are in the context of the condemnation of Manichees (St Augustine was himself once a Manichee) who opposed marriage and childbirth as evil and even resorted to bizzare sexual rituals.

      Clement of Alexandria’s view that “To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature” illustrates well how many of these views (St Augustine expressed similar ideas) are simply at odds with what the Church teaches eg about the licitness of marriage of the sterile or martial relations after menopause or during the infertile period (the very basis of NFP).

      For example, Lactantius is completely wrong on the ends of marriage and what teh Church currently teaches on the unitive ends of maritial intercourse :

      “God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring” (ibid. 6:23:18).

      Many of the ancient fathers on contraception are not very convincing because the reasons they advance and the things they teach are at odds with what the Church teaches.

      I think there is a good case against contraception in marriage but the mainly celibate Church Fathers were largely unable to expound it.

      God Bless

    76. Rosjier June 12, 2009 at 11:58 am

      I’m fine with people going to hell in the sixties for committing the mortal sin of not doing penance on a Friday. Back then it meant eating meat, now it can be any penance. Personally I do not drink alcohol on Fridays. If I said to myself nah screw it I don’t care what the church says I am going to drink alcohol. Then that would be a mortal sin. Being convicted of this the next day I would make sure I go to confession before communion. The Church did not change their teaching on Fridays penance or mortal sin, only loosened what constituted as penance.

    77. BTM June 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm

      It’s a fact that the Church recognises the right of people in conscience to use contraception.

      Actually, what the Church recognises is the right act freely according to one’s conscience – but this right must never be separated from the obligation to form one’s conscience in the truth and then act accordingly.

      But the Church does not recognise any right to contracept – such a “right” does not exist in Catholic teaching at all, as such a right would be a right to commit evil.

      And it’s a fact that Church no longer campaigns to make contraception illegal.

      Because we recognise the right in conscience to contracept.

      I’m sorry, but this is a totally incorrect oversimplification of this issue.

      The fact that the Church does not actively campaign to make contraception illegal is related to a whole of factors and it has nothing to do with the imaginary right to contracpet that you’re proposing here.

      Instead it’s more about the weighing of various goods and then pursing a course of action according to this examination of the issue.

      One needs to distinguish between those matters essential to the common good (such as killing) in which there is not a right of conscience to do, and those matters (such as contraception) which are not essential to the common good.

      Now this is a big mistake, and it reveals that you don’t really have the mind of the Church on what the common good actually means.

      You see, according to the very clear definitions of the common good laid down in the Catechism, the promotion and use of contraception actually harms the common good in some very major ways.

      Just one little example of this would the fact that the decrease in population in some parts of the wold that has been caused by the contraceptive mentality (a direct result of contraception) is so serious that some economies are now on the verge of collapse (Japan is just one example of this) due to the fact that they will have a non-working (thus; dependent) population that is greater than their working (thus; tax paying) population.

      Another example of harm to the common good caused by the contraceptive mentality is abortion – which is fueled by the contraceptive mentality that envelops a culture that has widespread acceptance of contraception.

      I could go on and on about this, but I think you get the point.

      Contraception is not even remotely near the moral seriousness of abortion, or of the sins mentioned in the Gospels (its not even mentioned in the New Testament which indicates how very minor a sin the sacred writers thought it to be).

      This is another seriously misguided error.

      Firstly, we are Catholics, so we recognise that Christ built his Church on Scripture and Tradition, so one must never forsake Tradition (which consistently and universally condemns contraception as gravely immoral), like you have done here, when evaluating moral issues.

      Secondly, this is a bit of a straw man argument because the New Testament condemns sorcery in several places – and as we have already discussed here, this included the practice of contraceptive potions, etc.

      Also, the Old Testament clearly warns against contraception with the story of Onan, who is killed by God after spilling his seed during sexual intercourse (a contraceptive act).

      Leaving aside the issue of whether or not you dispute the fact that God killed Onan, the point is that the writer intended us to see just how serious Onan’s sin was, and that’s why he tells us that God invoked the most serious penalty in the Old Testament – physical death.

      Secondly, the Psalmist writes about children being an inheritance of the righteous, and like a “quiver full of arrows” (a good thing to have), unlike barrenness, which is considered a grave curse in the Old Testament.

      Finally, there are actually things that are quite clearly immoral, even though they have never been condemned in the New Testament – like the use of nuclear weapons, or bondage and discipline

      It’s a very personal area where there is considerable dispute by many good Catholics in good faith (although I agree with BTM that their conclusions are incorrect).

      This is another straw man argument.

      Yes, there is disagreement amongst Catholics, but the Magisterium of the Church is very clear on this matter, and it has condemned deliberately contraceptive acts.

      Whether individual Catholics reject this or not is actually quite irrelevant, because the fact is that this matter has been definitively spoken on by the highest teaching authority on matters of faith and morals.

      Secondly, more and more I am starting to question whether or not those Catholics who dissent on this teaching are actually in the ascendancy anymore – especially when one considers that this area of dissent is predominantly a Western problem, and the Church in the West is in decline when compared to the Church in Asia and Africa, which tend to hold more faithfully to this teaching.

      Given that fact that contraception simply isn’t serious sin, and isn’t a serious threat to human persons or to the common good, and given the very widespread support for contraception amongst Catholics (over 90% of married Catholic who themselves contracept), I don’t think we have a leg to stand on in trying to prevent others obtaining contraception.

      And on this point you are quite clearly wrong.

      Firstly, contraception is actually a serious sin.

      Who says so?

      The Catholic Church does!

      You are also trying to engage in moral decision making by democratic vote – where you are allowing popular opinion, rather than objective truths given by the Holy Spirit to guide your moral decision making processes.

      I don’t know of you’re aware of this or not, but even JFK, who was a very liberal Catholic, and someone who was very committed to social justice causes, was actually strongly opposed to public money being used on contraceptive programs and services.

    78. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm

      Scribe,

      Have you read Cdl Ratzingers statement on the importance of following one’s own conscience even if it means opposing the Pope ? It’s been quoted several times on this blog.

      Respecting the right of the conscience of others has a very solid scriptural basis, being explicitly taught in the Pauline letters and following directly from the command to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”.

      That’s very explicit in Torah and Gospel.

      If Tuppences scrupulous conscience is opposed to shipping contraceptives then let her find some other coworker to do it for her or look to take a different job. It would be wrong not to ship as that is infringing on the consciences of others.

      Or, let her take on board what the good priest advised her about remote cooperation in evil.

      God Bless

    79. BTM June 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      Chris,

      I have already replied to your misunderstandings of Church history, authority and structure in regards to your questions in post #69, so I won’t re-explain your errors in that regard, but I will comment on this statement:

      And it does indicate how minor a sin it actually is, certainly when compared to the risk of death by AIDS.

      Death by AIDS, or risk of death by AIDS is not actually a sin.

      On the other hand, exposing someone to a death from AIDS by having condom sex with them would actually be a gravely immoral act, as you would be deliberately risking that person’s life for sexual intercourse.

    80. Dr Chris Pemberton June 12, 2009 at 12:10 pm

      Scribe, we need a suitably placed POPPYCOCK about now…. :D

    81. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm

      I’m fine with people going to hell in the sixties for committing the mortal sin of not doing penance on a Friday.

      Good grief !

      God Bless

    82. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

      But the Church does not recognise any right to contracept – such a “right” does not exist in Catholic teaching at all

      Sure she does.

      Catholic hospitals themselves offer contraception after rape.

      That’s a right to contracept and we do it ourselves with official mandate of the Bishops.

      God Bless

    83. BTM June 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

      If Tuppences scrupulous conscience is opposed to shipping contraceptives then let her find some other coworker to do it for her or look to take a different job. It would be wrong not to ship as that is infringing on the consciences of others.

      Chris,

      This is a serious error, and it is an uncharitable attack on a fellow Catholic who is trying to exercise her right to freedom of conscience.

      Like I said earlier, if we follow your seriously deluded thinking on this matter then person who chooses not to support or participate in an evil act is actually doing something gravely immoral.

      This means that the solider who refuses to go to Iraq based on conscientious objection is doing something gravely immoral according to you.

    84. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm

      BTM,

      Using condoms to limit HIV is not an evil act.

      It’s a good act.

      You need to study Bp Cullinane’s excellent teaching on that and conform yourself to it.

      That’s why a conscience opposed to shipping condoms is a scrupulous conscience.

      Because its outside what the Church teaches.

      God Bless

    85. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm

      Chris,

      Using condoms to fight HIV is idiocy.

      You need to study the Holy Father’s excellent teaching on that and conform yourself to it.

    86. BTM June 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Using condoms to limit HIV is not an evil act.

      It’s a good act.

      Try telling that to the people dying of AIDS because they were mislead into believing that condoms provide foolproof protection against HIV.

      You need to study Bp Cullinane’s excellent teaching on that and conform yourself to it.

      At least your honest enough to refer to it as “Bishop Cullinane’s teaching”.

      That’s why a conscience opposed to shipping condoms is a scrupulous conscience.

      Not it’s not – it’s a healthy conscience that is guided by the light of moral truth, Catholic teaching and the Holy Spirit.

      And it is a conscience that will spare others (and their culture) from the harm caused by the contraceptive imperialism of the West.

      Because its outside what the Church teaches.

      Now you’re just being silly.

      If you really believe this to be true then I challenge you to produce a Catholic teaching document which supports this claim.

    87. BTM June 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm

      Using condoms to fight HIV is idiocy.

      And that succinct comment sums it up really.

      Using condoms to fight HIV is like using petrol to fight fire.

    88. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

      Christopher #84
      The Bishops of Canada and our own misguiding B Cullinane are the reasons that we have and need a magisterium. Thank God for the Church!

      This warped rationale you use is the same argument that says I must be tolerate of intolerance.(or is it intolerant of tolerance)

      Tuppence must exercise her Catholic Conscience (and be able to), it is appalling and unacceptable for you to say;

      “If Tuppences scrupulous conscience is opposed to shipping contraceptives then let her find some other coworker to do it for her or look to take a different job. It would be wrong not to ship as that is infringing on the consciences of others”.

      this means she would be cooperating in sin.

      God save us from Sullivanism

    89. Rosjier June 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm

      “Sure she does.
      Catholic hospitals themselves offer contraception after rape.
      That’s a right to contracept”

      I think you have confused ‘right’ with ‘an ability to do something’

    90. muerk June 12, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      However to say that contraception is fine for people outside of marriage is ludicrous.

      Yup. Completely agree.

    91. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      On Onan

      Judah got a wife named Tamar for his first-born, Er.

      But Er, Judah’s first-born, greatly offended the LORD; so the LORD took his life.

      Then Judah said to Onan, “Unite with your brother’s widow, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.”

      Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother.

      What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.

      Genesis 38:6-10

      We cannot take this literally as God does not kill anyone. That’s a Herbaism that means someone died of natural causes which were attributed to God.

      The passage does not say WHY God was supposed to have killed Onan. Or why he was supposed to have killed his brother Er. To attribute it to coitus interruptus is speculation.

      Other reasons would be violating his fathers command to have relations with his sister in law (violating one’s fathers command was a serious offense in a patriarchal society), or violating the law of Levirite marriage (which obliged brothers to marry wives of their deceased brother if he died childless.)

      It is worth pointing out that today we would not accept Levirite marriage or the right of fathers to command their sons to enter into Levirite marriage.

      This passage is not a proof-text against coitus interruptus. It’s really setting a context for how unjustly Tamar was treated and why she had no children – leading on to her later act of prostitution with Judah.

      The Jewish people of Jesus’ time would be well aware from this passage of the contraceptive possibilities of coitus interruptus. But no condemnation of it found it’s way into the New Testament. Which speaks volumes for how serious a sin the writers of sacred scripture actually considered it to be.

      God Bless

    92. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm

      BTM,

      Bp Cullinane’s position was backed up in a recent pastoral letter by the NZ Catholic Bishops on marriage where they pointed out that Catholic teaching against contraception does not apply to disease prevention or to sex outside marriage.

      I would have thought that Catholics trying to decide what action in good conscience they ought to take on the matters Tuppence raises would first refer to what their own Catholic Bishops teach on this very matter.

      Isn’t that an essential part of how a good Catholic is supposed to go about informing their conscience ?

      God Bless

    93. Dei Verbum June 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

      Christopher;
      #91;

      What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.

      Genesis 38:6-10

      We cannot take this literally as God does not kill anyone. That’s a Herbaism that means someone died of natural causes which were attributed to God.

      yes God is love and ever merciful but be is also is also all powerful and able to judge us and as in this case he does!

      #92
      Bishop C probably wrote this too! isnt this the tail wagging the dog.

      Millstones………………where is Rome when you need her?

    94. BTM June 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm

      Chris,

      Yes, it is essential to inform one’s conscience with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and Sacred Scripture.

      And yes, a bishop would obviously be somewhere that a person could go to ask questions about Catholic teachings on these matters, but it is important to remember that one must distinguish between a bishop who is presenting Catholic teaching, and a a bishop who is merely presenting his own personal opinion on a Catholic teaching.

      They are not the same thing, and not everything extolled by an individual bishop, or a national conference of bishops, will be established Catholic teaching that the faithful are required to obey or accept without question.

      The mere fact that Bishop Cullinane expressed his views in a newspaper opinion column should alert you to the fact that he is expressing a personal opinion on the Catholic teaching regarding contraception.

      Remember, as you stated earlier, Catholics can even disobey the Pope if what he is proposing is not binding, or is contrary to Catholic Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

    95. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      I would have thought that Catholics trying to decide what action in good conscience they ought to take on the matters Tuppence raises would first refer to what their own Catholic Bishops teach on this very matter.

      Or just read what the Pope says on it, especially the part about condoms and “disease prevention”. We all know what the Pope said, but Chris refuses to accept it.

      Bishop Cullinane is a good man, but I will take my cue from the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ.

    96. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

      Scribe,

      The Holy Father said

      that Aids “is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5923927.ece

      That’s true but it doesn’t say anything about how condoms reduce HIV infection, or the morality of that usage.

      All he said was that a distribution of condoms alone cannot completely overcome AIDS, which, of course, is true.

      No Pope has ever said that condoms ought not be used to reduce HIV infections.

      God Bless

    97. jjen009 June 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm

      But the Church does not recognise any right to contracept – such a “right” does not exist in Catholic teaching at all

      Sure she does.

      Catholic hospitals themselves offer contraception after rape.

      That’s a right to contracept and we do it ourselves with official mandate of the Bishops.

      Hey, cool logic! “Catholic hospitals do X so X is Church teaching. Some bishops have opined that X may be ok so X is mandated by the Bishops.”

      Love it

    98. BTM June 12, 2009 at 2:25 pm

      We cannot take this literally as God does not kill anyone. That’s a Herbaism that means someone died of natural causes which were attributed to God.

      Like I said in my earlier post Chris, this is actually a red herring – the fact is that the writer intended to teach us that Onan’s sin was so serious that the most serious Old Testament punishment (death) had to be applied to him.

      The passage does not say WHY God was supposed to have killed Onan. Or why he was supposed to have killed his brother Er. To attribute it to coitus interruptus is speculation.

      Excuse me?!

      It’s more than mere speculation – it is exactly what the previous verse states!

      Let me quote it again:

      “Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother.

      What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.”

      It is abundantly clear form that passage that the act that offended the Lord so much was Onan’s contraceptive act of spilling his seed on the ground.

      Only someone clutching st straws would try and claim otherwise.

      Other reasons would be violating his fathers command to have relations with his sister in law (violating one’s fathers command was a serious offense in a patriarchal society)

      Yes, but the verse clearly states that Onan did have sexual relations with her!

      or violating the law of Levirite marriage (which obliged brothers to marry wives of their deceased brother if he died childless.)

      The problem with this very modern hypothesis is that the Early Church Fathers knew of the Leverite marriage law, yet they teach that Onan’s sin was his contraceptive act, not anything related to marriage.

      The Jewish people of Jesus’ time would be well aware from this passage of the contraceptive possibilities of coitus interruptus. But no condemnation of it found it’s way into the New Testament. Which speaks volumes for how serious a sin the writers of sacred scripture actually considered it to be.

      I’m sorry, but the Church Fathers (men handpicked and trained by Christ’s first Disciples) did actually teach that Onan’s sin was his contraceptive act.

      Secondly, as a little sidebar: Matthew considered Tamar worthy enough to include in his list of Christ’s ancestors – which perhaps indicates that he saw the suffering of barrenness that was forced on her by the acts of others as something worthy of drawing attention to.

    99. South Sider June 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

      There are extrinsic problems to do with use of contraception outside marriage, as opposed to those to do with its essential moral character

      http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=179

      And University of Virginia academic W.Bradford Wilcox shows how

      “the research of Nobel-prize-winning economist George Akerlof suggests that the tragic outworkings of the contraceptive revolution were sexual license, family dissolution, crime and poisoned relationships between the sexes – AND THAT THE POOR HAVE PAID THE HEAVIEST PRICE FOR THIS REVOLUTION”

      http://www.noroomforcontraception.com/Articles/Contraception-Marriage-001.htm

      It’s as if the acceptance of contraception leads to sex outside marriage which then demands contraception – a fiendish conceit.

    100. muerk June 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm

      There are extrinsic problems to do with use of contraception outside marriage, as opposed to those to do with its essential moral character

      Indeed. The contraceptive experiment has clearly failed. To continue advocating contraception in the face of overwhelming evidence of how it affects society is madness.

    101. BTM June 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      All he said was that a distribution of condoms alone cannot completely overcome AIDS, which, of course, is true.

      You have got to be joking!

      Here is just one little bit of what the Pope said…

      “[AIDS] cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms”

      The Pope clearly states that condoms are not the answer to HIV, and for anyone who missed what he is very clearly saying, he then goes on to reinforce the point by stating…

      “[condom distribution] even aggravates the problems [of HIV]”

      No Pope has ever said that condoms ought not be used to reduce HIV infections.

      That’s EXACTLY what Pope Benedict is saying in that statement from him that you have posted here!

      Not only that, but he then goes on to state that they make the situation worse!

      Chris, are you seriously trying to get us to believe that if someone told you:

      “extremely harsh prison sentences don’t fix the problem of criminal offending, they only make the problem worse”

      You would then deduce from such a statement that this person was NOT stating that harsh prison sentences shouldn’t be used in the fight against crime?!!!!

    102. jjen009 June 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm

      You need to study Bp Cullinane’s excellent teaching on that and conform yourself to it.

      Cool! Vatican I settled the infallibility of the Pope; Vatican III will settle the infallibility of the bishop of Palmerston North; Vatican IV will decide which of the two infallibilities wins.

    103. Scribe June 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm

      No Pope has ever said that condoms ought not be used to reduce HIV infections.

      Curse the Internet, Chris. A simple Google search yields this (emphasis mine):

      ROME, Jan. 22 — After several days of unusual public debate among senior figures in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II on Saturday reaffirmed church teaching that urges abstinence and marital fidelity to stop the spread of AIDS and forbids condoms.

      Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29404-2005Jan22.html

      Not to mention the fact Pope Benedict said condoms ought not be used. How could he possibly argue they make the problem worse and you not read that as him saying that they ought not be used?

    104. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      BTM,

      There is nothing particularly modern in seeing Onan as a violation of the laws of Levirite marriage.

      That was the traditional Jewish exegesis of this passage.

      And nowhere in the passage does it give an explicit reason why God was supposed to have killed Onan.

      There are certainly good reasons to oppose contraception in marriage. But Onan is not one of them.

      God Bless

    105. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 4:37 pm

      Scribe,

      Re: 103

      Show us what the Pope really said, not some reporter’s summary of what they thought the Pope meant by what he said.

      Your article is interesting for the many statements by bishops and top moral theologians clearly teaching that there is a role for condoms, a teaching which JPII never contradicted.

      B16 didn’t say condoms ought not be used. He said something rather different.

      I think you are reading into the Papal statements things that are not actually in them.

      God Bless

    106. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm

      BTM,

      The phrase “to overcome” means to totally eradicate.

      No one is arguing that condoms could ever totally eradicate condoms or that they will completely overcome the problem. They cannot.

      That’s why I’m perfectly happy with the Pope’s reported comments.

      B16 does not say that it is wrong to use condoms to reduce HIV transmission.

      He simply says that condoms will not totally eradicate AIDS.

      The whole hooha over the Pope’s reported comments is a misunderstanding of what he said and what he meant.

      And, lets be honest, some statements by the Pope to reporters do not amount to a formal teaching or to a doctrinal definition.

      The formal teaching remains Humanae Vitae and Cast Connubi.

      God Bless

    107. muerk June 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      I think you should read this Chris:

      FAMILY VALUES VERSUS SAFE SEX

      A Reflection by His Eminence,

      ALFONSO CARDINAL LÓPEZ TRUJILLO
      President, Pontifical Council for the Family
      December 1, 2003

      The use of condoms goes against human dignity.

      Apart from the possibility of condoms being faulty or wrongly used they contribute to the breaking down of self-control and mutual respect

      …abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage as well as the avoidance of intravenous drug abuse are the only morally correct and medically sure ways to prevent the spread of AIDS.

      …it is totally unacceptable for the State to organize and promote “safe sex” campaign, because of the lack of efficiency of condoms as a “barrier” against infection, and especially because of the danger of an irresponsible use of sexuality.

    108. Chris Sullivan June 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm

      Muerk,

      I’m in agreement with the bits you quoted from Cdl Trujillo.

      God Bless

    109. BTM June 12, 2009 at 5:58 pm

      I’m sorry Chris, but on the matter of Onan you are wrong.

      If you read Deuteronomy 25, which is the passage which prescribes the Levirate marriage law, the penalty for a man who breaks this law is not death, instead the penalty is this:

      “…his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.”

      So quite clearly Onan’s sin had to something far more than a failure to marry his brother’s widow, otherwise the worst penalty that would have been imposed upon him would have been the loss of a sandal, being spat on and then having his family line renamed.

      But Onan was subjected to the worst Old Testament penalty possible – death, and according to the writer, it was God who passed judgment on Onan.

      So here we have the highest authority in the Old Testament (God), administering the gravest penalty in the Old Testament (Death).

      This is completely contrary to the prescribed process (the widow and the elders pass judgment) and penalty (one sandal off, spit in the face and renaming) that the Torah instructs is to be handed out to someone who breaks the Levirate marriage law.

    110. BTM June 12, 2009 at 6:12 pm

      The whole hooha over the Pope’s reported comments is a misunderstanding of what he said and what he meant.

      Yes, it does seem that you have completely misunderstood what the Pope said when he stated that condom promotion is not acceptable.

      The phrase “to overcome” means to totally eradicate.

      No one is arguing that condoms could ever totally eradicate condoms or that they will completely overcome the problem. They cannot.

      B16 does not say that it is wrong to use condoms to reduce HIV transmission.

      He simply says that condoms will not totally eradicate AIDS

      Chris,

      You still seem to have completely misread what the Pope actually said.

      He didn’t just say:

      “[AIDS] cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms”

      He then went on to seal the deal, and further clarify the Church’s opposition to condom promotion by then stating:

      “[condom distribution] aggravates the problems [of HIV]”

      So it’s quite clear to any honest person that the Pope is expressing a total opposition to condom based approaches to HIV because condom promotion doesn’t work, and it actually makes the situation worse.

      And according to the very best research he is dead right on both counts – and let’s not forget that the Pope’s comments were fully endorsed by Dr. Edward C. Green, a self-professed agnostic who happens to be one of the world’s most experienced HIV experts.

    111. poorclear June 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm

      Helen’s Bay: Do your own research. Read Theology of the Body – and read it humbly.

    112. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

      BTM,

      Onan lived long before Moses and long before the Deuteronomic law was composed. Therefore one can’t take a later Deuteronomic penalty and apply it to Onan who was long dead when Deuteronomy was written.

      The Levirite connection is very explicit in the text itelf, the Hebrew for Onan taking Tamar to wife is literally “to levirite Tamar”. The Levirite connection is as old as the text itself, and by no means a modern construction. See the Anchor Bible commentary on Genesis.

      Good Catholic exegesis of Onan sees the fault predominately in terms of the violation of Levirite marriage (see, for example, Fr John McKenzie’s excellent 1965 Dictionary of the Bible).

      Its also very clear from the text that the text itself does NOT say exactly why God was supposed to have killed Onan. Any supposition of God’s reason would have to be an interpretation of the text rather than a reading of what the text actually says.

      And, lets be honest, the notion that God would actually kill anyone in this way is completely at odds with Catholic teaching and with the pro-life ethos.

      From a Jewish perspective, the main sin in Onan depositing his seed on the ground is not the evil of contraception but the wasting of seed (a precious commodity in an subsistence peasant society). This view of the male seed is very explicit in the Talmud.

      Until the 1800′s, when ovum was discovered and science revealed the equal female role in reproduction, it was believed that the semen was literally a seed which grew after planting in the womb.

      Hence the use of the biblical term seed for semen and the respect accorded to semen as seed.

      One can see how the ancients viewed semen as almost a human person in potential (just as we view the fertilised ovum as a human person in potential).

      Scientific knowledge has rendered that view obsolete.

      I do wish with you wouldn’t harp on about God killing Er and Onan. How pro-life is that ? We’re supposed to be proclaiming that all life is sacred and that God is a God of love who respects human life.

      If we applied a literal reading of Genesis 38, we’d be into killing bad husbands, forcing sons to marry the wives of their dead brothers, polygamy (reqd if the remaining brother happened to be already married), and Tamar’s prostitution as a moral good !

      And we’d be worshiping a “god” of death who capriciously kills people without giving any clear reasons why.

      The fact that you seem unable to bring yourself to clearly reject the very wrong and dangerous notion the God killed Er or Onan does not present a very consistent or attractive Catholic pro-life witness.

      God Bless

    113. BTM June 13, 2009 at 9:23 am

      Good Catholic exegesis of Onan sees the fault predominately in terms of the violation of Levirite marriage

      I’m sorry Chris, but this is not correct at all.

      One of the basic rules of exegesis is to go back to the earliest non-Scriptural authorities in the Christian Church and see exactly what they taught about any particular passage, because that will tell you how the very first Christians, and often the Jews, interpreted different passages of Scripture.

      In the case of Onan, the early Church sources teach that the sin of Onan was his contraceptive act.

      This is the most obvious meaning from the passage itself, which clearly names the act of Onan spilling his seed as the reason God took his life.

      Onan lived long before Moses and long before the Deuteronomic law was composed. Therefore one can’t take a later Deuteronomic penalty and apply it to Onan who was long dead when Deuteronomy was written

      I’m sorry Chris, but you have got this wrong, and you can’t have it both ways.

      If Levirite marriage law existed when Onan was alive, then so did the penalty for violating that law – Deuteronomy doesn’t invent that new penalty, it simply codifies the penalty for violating the Levirite marriage law that was ALREADY in existence.

      And there is no way that an act which carried the death penalty would suddenly be reduced to a much lesser penalty at a later time – the Jewish law is very consistent about these things because it is strongly principal based law.

      From a Jewish perspective, the main sin in Onan depositing his seed on the ground is not the evil of contraception but the wasting of seed (a precious commodity in an subsistence peasant society).

      This is just wishful thinking of the most extreme kind.

      Jewish farmers weren’t killed if they dropped seed on the ground.

      However, Jews were very strong on the issues surrounding bodily fluids, and Jews understood that Onan’s sin was failing to complete the sexual act and pass on his seminal fluid, which was considered part of his life force, to Tamar.

      This act stopped God from blessing Onan with children, and for the Jews barrenness was a very serious curse, and self induced barrenness would have been an absolute anathema.

      I do wish with you wouldn’t harp on about God killing Er and Onan

      Like I said Chris, I am not going to talk about that issue with you because it is actually a red herring in this discussion.

      I know that you don’t quite understand how death and God’s judgment in the Old Testament works (based on what you have expounded in previous posts), and since it is not relevant to this discussion I won’t be wasting valuable space going over that issue – maybe another time.

      However, no matter what you believe about whether God actually took Onan’s life or not, the fact is that the writer intended to teach us that Onan’s act was one of the most serious violations of God’s law (which is why he states that God was the one who imposed the most serious Old Testament penalty – death – on Onan).

    114. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm

      BTM,

      While patristic exegesis has its merits, it’s not a basic rule on how to interpret the text. If we used that rule of thumb we’d still be insisting with Aquinas that women are inferior to men and with Augustine that the marital act is illicit when conception is impossible and that Mary was not conceived immaculately and with Chrysostom in his anti-semitic interpretations.

      In the case of Onan, the early Church sources teach that the sin of Onan was his contraceptive act.

      I’ve just read Nonnan’s excellent book on the canonical history of contraception and he goes into that in some detail, discounting the idea that sych a view was given other than ocassionally by the early fathers. Noonan’s view is that the widespread use of this interpretation of Onan to justify the teaching was a much later development in the Church.

      As for early Jewish views, the Talmud (redacted AD200-500) clearly lists various methods of contraception and states when the rabbis thought they were morally acceptable (eg when there risk to the life of mother). No hint there of any death penalty. That’s very clear Jewish evidence as to how this scripture was interpreted.

      The idea that there was an ancient Hebrew concept that contraception deserved death is certainly novel but there is no basis for it in scripture or any other ancient Jewish writing I am aware of.

      If the ancient Hebrews actually thought that contraception deserved death, if they actually thought contraception a serious sin, then you have an awful lot of explaining to do as to why such a sin isn’t even listed in scripture anywhere from Torah thru to Revelation in the lists of sins or the lists of penalties for sins.

      That’s because the tradition has always considered contraception as a relatively minor sin, and certainly not one deserving the death penalty.

      I actually find it rather bizarre that a member of the pro-life movement would even think of suggesting that contraception (or any other crime) ever deserved the death penalty. Such an idea is completely contrary to the pro-life ethos.

      I agree that you are on to something with the idea that the male seed was considered part of his life force and as something scared. Similar ideas apply to menstruation. Both emission required ritual cleansing.

      Genesis 38 is an ancient “family history” story that can’t have been written down any earlier than 500 years after Onan (assuming Moses wrote it). Like all ancient family stories it needs to be read as a story and not as a historical account, because it was never intended as a historical account.

      God Bless

    115. muerk June 13, 2009 at 12:37 pm

      Good Catholic exegesis of Onan sees the fault predominately in terms of the violation of Levirite marriage

      I have The New Jerome Biblical Commentary and it too talks about Onan’s offense: “he selfishly refuses the responsibility of fulfilling his duty to his brother, as the law provided”. p. 38, #62

      The early Church Fathers saw the passage as about the purpose of sexual intercourse as a whole, rather than just a specific duty to one’s brother to provide him with legal heirs.

      Jerome: But I wonder why he the heretic Jovinianus set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? – Jerome, Against Jovinian 1:19

      Why can’t both interpretations be right?

      Onan should have given his brother legal heirs, that was the law and his duty to his brother. Rather than outrightly refusing, he selfishly had sexual intercourse with Tamar, but used contraception (withdrawing). He split the purpose of the sexual act apart, taking the pleasure, but without the reproductive possibility.

    116. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

      Muerk,

      Be careful of that Jerome quote.

      If he’s right then he’s just blown away the rational for NFP because his text explicitly rejects “any sex except for the procreation of children” ie rejects use of interfile periods.

      Let’s not go there.

      Jerome is simply wrong on this and against what the Church clearly teaches.

      Many of the (almost all celibate) fathers deviated from authentic Catholic sexual teaching. Many expressed very screwed up ideas.

      That’s why JPII developed the Theology of the Body. Because the traditional explanations based on erroneous views of the fathers had screwed up so badly that they failed to convince anyone anymore.

      Incidentally, and as you mention “taking the pleasure”, JPII advanced another reason why coitus interruptus might be morally wrong: that of its detirmental effects on the female orgasm. While JPII’s view doesn’t seem to accord with martial experience (always a problem when the celibates write on marriage), it’s an interesting and very feminist take on the bad practice of Onan.

      The reader on Gen38 is really left to fill in his/her own interpretation as to why God supposedly killed Onan (and Er) because, contary to BTM, the text does not say exactly what his sin was.

      God Bless

    117. muerk June 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      I accept that Jerome may not have approved of NFP but I don’t think that means we can’t use his interpretation of Onan’s act to make our understanding of the text fuller. We see the Old Testament through a Christian lens, we aren’t bound to interpret Onan’s act in a Jewish way.

    118. BTM June 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm

      If he’s right then he’s just blown away the rational for NFP because his text explicitly rejects “any sex except for the procreation of children” ie rejects use of interfile periods.

      No it doesn’t Chris, you are completely misunderstanding Jerome here.

      Jerome is talking about the evil of sexual intercourse that is deliberately separated from the possibility of procreation – and NFP never does this. Even when a couple have recourse to infertile periods, they do so with an openness to life – which is what Jerome is talking about.

      I’m sorry Chris, the interpretation of Onan’s sin was held by the early Church, and also by the first Protestant Reformers, to be the sin of contraceptive sex.

      By spilling his seed Onan was failing to adhere to Levirite marriage obligation, and he was doing it in the worst way possible by trying to have his cake and eat it too.

      All one needs to do is read the Scripture and it becomes very clear that Onan’s primary sin was his failure to complete the sexual act, let me quote it here again…

      Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother.

      What he did greatly offended the LORD
      , and the LORD took his life too.

    119. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      We see the Old Testament through a Christian lens, we aren’t bound to interpret Onan’s act in a Jewish way.

      OK.

      So what does the New Testament say about contraception ?

      If its such a serious sin as BTM seems to think then we’d find clear New Testament references, huh ?

      God Bless

    120. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      BTM,

      Just because there is a list of things Onan did and the last one is followed by God supposedly killing him does NOT mean that God killed him for the last thing listed.

      You are reading into the text something that actually isn’t there.

      Jerome’s mistaken idea that sex was illicit unless done to conceive children was shared by a number of the early fathers (eg Augutine). It seems to be mixed up with their mistaken rejection of sexual pleasure as a good of marriage and possibly the idea of orginal sin transmitted by the marriage act.

      Perhaps that’s understandable in a era when Love wasn’t really considered as an end of marriage as most people married in arranged marriages, not for love of their spouse.

      Thank God we’ve moved on from that sad era and the Church has finally come to accept mutual love as one of the ends of marriage – speaks volumes about our once very confused ideas about marital sexuality that it took us 1900 years to get that far.

      God Bless

    121. BTM June 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm

      So what does the New Testament say about contraception ?

      If its such a serious sin as BTM seems to think then we’d find clear New Testament references, huh ?

      This is very slippery reasoning, but in the end it is a total straw man.

      Firstly, it is not I who says that contraception is a gravely immoral act, instead it is the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

      It really doesn’t bother me if you don’t like the teachings that the Catholic Church proclaims on this matter, it’s actually quite irrelevant whether some layman in NZ likes or dislikes the truths proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

      In the end all that matters is that this is a matter of great importance that the Catholic Church has ruled on, and quite clearly, at the highest levels.

      So if you don’t like the teaching of the Church on contraception then perhaps you’d be better off explaining to the Magisterium or the Holy Spirit why you disagree with the teachings they proclaim – rather than spending copious amounts of verbage on a mere mortal like myself.

      Secondly, the New Testament is not an exhaustive list of Catholic moral teaching, and any Catholic who has been catechized at a basic level knows that Christ built His Church on Scripture and Tradition, and that He gave the Church the authority to rule definitively on matters of faith and morals that went well beyond the basics found in the New Testament.

      Like I said before, acts of Bondage and Discipline and the use of nuclear weapons are not mentioned in the New Testament either, but only someone unschooled in Catholic catechesis would suggest that this means that God doesn’t really take the use of nuclear weapons, or sadistic sexual practices that seriously either.

      Besides, as the New Testament itself tells us, the NT only contains a small fraction of what was taught by Jesus, and it states that many more volumes could have been filled with all the other things he taught about – so don’t assume that because some of Christ’s teachings never got recorded in writing they aren’t that important.

    122. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

      Muerk,

      I think the New Jerome Commentary makes a good point that “he selfishly refuses the responsibility of fulfilling his duty to his brother, as the law provided”

      Onan could have done this in a variety of ways eg

      1. Refusing his father Judah’s order to marry Tamar.

      2. Declining to have relations with Tamar.

      3. Sending her back to her father’s house (as Judah later did as he didn’t want his son Sela to meet the same fate as Er and Onan).

      4. Divorce Tamar.

      All of these would have resulted in fewer offspring to maintain the family/tribe – an important consideration in those days as it was a matter of family/tribal survival in a hostile environment.

      Contraception was merely the sinful means to the greater sin against social survival and patriarchal property inheritance (the reason for Levirite marriage was to produce a son to inherit the dead husbands property which did not pass to his wife as it does in our society as women were not considered equals – hence one can imagine the very precarious of widows in such a society).

      This view does seem to fit into the wider context of this section of Genesis which is all about family origins and the building up of the tribe. Any threat to that was considered something very serious.

      God Bless

    123. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      BTM,

      Bondage and discipline doesn’t rate all that high on the scale of possible sins. From what I can tell the Church has never condemned it between consenting spouses.

      As for nuclear weapons, Jesus dealt with that very clearly when he repeated the Torah injunction not to kill, as the very FIRST commandment to the rich young man.

      As you know, I accept the Catholic teaching against contracepting the marital act.

      But you’ve got an awful lot of explaining to do to say that this is a sin anywhere near as serious as killing people when the entire New Testament is silent on the matter and neither did contraception make it into the very extensive list of sins in Torah Law (all 614 of them – not one of which mentions contraception).

      It just makes logical sense that if the sacred writers of scripture actually thought that contraception was a very serious sin then they would have MENTIONED that in their writings.

      It’s not as if they didn’t know about contraception (they had read Onan) and the Talmud records that they knew other methods also. And people at the time were using contraception.

      The silence of sacred scripture on contraception given that context does tell us something about how important the writers actually thought the sin of contraception really was.

      I appreciate that expounding the Catholic position on contraception is part of your job description, and I salute you for doing that, at some personal cost, but, like many people working at the coalface on a particular issue, you seem to have difficulty according contraception in its proper place in the scheme of sins.

      God Bless

    124. Dr Chris Pemberton June 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

      Everyone else is wrong eh?
      Pearls before swine I guess.

      You know, the internet is nowhere near as effective as the confessional
      for working out personal guilt, Chris Sullivan

    125. muerk June 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm

      Chris: I think all sins are important because all sin separates us from God. I don’t think it’s always about saying that x sin is worse than y sin. What we need to look at is how our relationships suffer because of sin overall. Our relationships with each other and our relationship with God are all about love and self giving. Sin destroys that.

      I think the reason we need to talk about sexual sin is because our society is in better agreement with the Church about other sins. Sins to do with the sexual act, such as abortion, divorce, pornography, contraception, homosexual sex and sex before marriage are not even regarded as sinful by today’s Western society. Indeed they are often regarded as a positive thing. So here is where we need to do our work, calling people to a better relationship with God.

    126. BTM June 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

      Onan could have done this in a variety of ways eg

      1. Refusing his father Judah’s order to marry Tamar.

      2. Declining to have relations with Tamar.

      3. Sending her back to her father’s house (as Judah later did as he didn’t want his son Sela to meet the same fate as Er and Onan).

      4. Divorce Tamar.

      All of these would have resulted in fewer offspring to maintain the family/tribe – an important consideration in those days as it was a matter of family/tribal survival in a hostile environment.

      Okay, let’s look at the list you have proposed here and see if that’s what happened according to the book of Genesis…

      1. Refusing his father Judah’s order to marry Tamar.

      That doesn’t appear to be the case here, in fact the point that he had had sexual relations with her on more than one occasion gives a hint that they were in a marital relationship

      2. Declining to have relations with Tamar.

      We can rule this one out because Scripture tells us that Onan actually had sexual relations with Tamar, and on more than one occasion.

      3. Sending her back to her father’s house.

      According to Scripture this never happened, so it can almost certainly be ruled out as well.

      4. Divorce Tamar.

      He certainly never did this, Scripture makes no mention of any divorce at all, so we can also pretty safely rule this one out as well.

      Contraception was merely the sinful means to the greater sin against social survival and patriarchal property inheritance.

      No it wasn’t Chris, what is happening in this Scripture is completely different than just Onan’s rejection of the Levirite marriage law, because we already know that the penalty for rejecting the Levirite law was NOT death, instead it was a spit in the face, a removal of a sandal and a renaming of your family line.

      And the ruling against someone who broke the Levirite marriage law was carried out by the elders, at the request of the jilted widow, not God Himself.

      The very fact that the writer tells us that God is the one who passes the judgment on Onan, and that he administers the most extreme sentence possible shows us that this wasn’t merely a case of someone failing to honor the Levirite marriage law.

    127. BTM June 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      The silence of sacred scripture on contraception given that context does tell us something about how important the writers actually thought the sin of contraception really was.

      No it doesn’t at all Chris – this is a classic mistake that is most often made by people who are faithful devotees to Luther’s doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

      This error is actually quite irrational and it creates a theology built on silence rather than positive pronouncements about actual moral principals.

      Jesus said nothing about drunk driving, insider trading, trading in Internet porn or using nuclear weapons to defend yourself against a violent invading army – but only someone who doesn’t understand Scripture or ecclesiology would claim that the silence from Christ on these issues means that he didn’t think they were immoral or that important.

      Only someone who doesn’t actually understand the true evil of contraception, or the true harm that it causes would propose the idea that contraception is not really that important.

      And only someone who doesn’t understand Scripture and ecclesiology properly would try and use what is NOT contained within Sacred Scripture to try and justify such an erroneous idea.

    128. BTM June 13, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      Bondage and discipline doesn’t rate all that high on the scale of possible sins.

      This is a classic example of what I was talking about above.

      Firstly – who says that it doesn’t rate that highly, and on what justification do you make such a claim?

      I find it rather strange that a Catholic who claims to understand the faith would think that the practice of gaining sexual gratification either by inflicting pain on another person, or by having another person inflict pain upon them, would be a practice that is compatible with the total and self-giving love that all married couples are called to by Christ.

      What’s happened here is that you have failed to apply any sort of sound moral principals to your decision making process, instead you are once again using mere silence to construct a moral position on an issue.

    129. Dei Verbum June 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      Christopher;

      Christopher;
      Jesus said he had not come to change 1 iota of the law but to fulfill it

      He gave the Church the authority to teach and this includes applying jesus’ teaching to areas of faith and morals.

      Some issues may not have been discussed by Jesus but only because the issues werent in contention. He certainly reinforced the marriage bonds and I doubt he intended that the sexual act should be liberalized as you seem to imply(or he would have made this clear!)

      Your problem seems to stem from your perception of God as a purely loving God, which he is but he also is all powerful and will judge us for our actions. This was the lesson of Onan. He could have earned Gods wrath by many other ways (refusing sexual relations refusing marriage or public denial) but he chose to frustrate God by contracepting. Gods judgement was clear.

      You preoccupation with ‘God is Love’ therefore God cant take a life is untenable and leading you into error. It seems to be at the root of ‘sullivaism’.

    130. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm

      Jesus said nothing about drunk driving, insider trading, trading in Internet porn or using nuclear weapons

      I would have thought that any Christian with a half decent knowledge of the gospel could find Jesus teaching on all those pretty quickly in the gospel texts.

      B&D includes a range of activities not all of which are sadistic or inflict pain.

      Dei,

      Your idea that a God of Love could violate Love, and the 5th commandment, and the gospel, by killing people is simply preposterous.

      God Bless

    131. Chris Sullivan June 13, 2009 at 6:18 pm

      In his allocutions later published as the Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II said that scripture does not formally or literally contain the teaching against contraception (section 115 given on July 18, 1984).

      I think we can safely assume that John Paul II was familiar with Onan.

      As he was also the man behind Humanae Vitae, which also does not mention Onan, I think we can reasonably conclude that John Paul II did not think Onan was a proof text against contracepton.

      God Bless

    132. muerk June 13, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      I’ve read the section in JPII’s Theology of the Body, and also the Christopher West commentary on it, that you refer to Chris.

      I think we agree that Onan’s sexual intercourse was a specific sin involving his refusal to give Tamar children that were to be his brother’s heirs and not his own. I think it’s also a comment that men shouldn’t force their wives to be barren, that sexual intercourse’s essential biological function is reproductive.

      John Paul II says that the “moral norm”* of Humanae Vitae isn’t literally expressed in Scripture, but is shown in the natural law which “corresponds to revealed teaching as a whole as contained in the biblical sources.”

      John Paul II is saying specifically that it does not lessen the teaching of the moral norm of Humanae Vitae because it isn’t literally found in Scripture. In fact he says “the norm of Humanae Vitae concerns all men and women inasmuch as it is a norm of the natural law and based on conformity with human reason”.

      * The moral norm being that “each and every marriage act must remain through itself open to the transmission of life”.

    133. muerk June 13, 2009 at 8:06 pm

      Having read further John Paul II specifically cites Gen 38:10 in regards to Onan and his behavior and the “opposition to sexual deviations” in the Old Testament. John Paul II says “Taken in its entirety, the marriage law of the Old Testament places the procreative end of marriage in the foreground.”

      You can read this in section 36, August 20, 1980.

    134. BTM June 13, 2009 at 8:42 pm

      I would have thought that any Christian with a half decent knowledge of the gospel could find Jesus teaching on all those pretty quickly in the gospel texts.

      What Bible are you reading?

      Mine contains absolutely no reference to the terms: “nuclear weapons”, “Internet pornography”, “insider trading” or “drink-driving”.

      Heck I even double checked my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to be certain, and yep, it’s true, the Bible makes no reference to any of those things.

      B&D includes a range of activities not all of which are sadistic or inflict pain.

      All I can do is shake my head in disbelief and say “oh dear”

      B&D is a failure to respect the great dignity of the human person because it reduces the other to an object used as a means to gratification.

      It is also a serious distortion of true human sexuality because it takes pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain from another

      The focus of B&D is not the other, but the transmission or receiving of pain, so it is an act turned in on itself, much like masturbation is.

      The mere fact that it is an act that requires the physical binding of another, or the deliberate inflicting of suffering upon them should tell you straight away that this is a dysfunctional act that is not compatible with authentic love.

      I wold also suggest that someone who claims to need to dominate another, or be dominated by them, in order to facilitate or complete the sexual act is someone is carrying some serious emotional wounding which requires appropriate counseling and Sacramental and prayer ministry.

    135. BTM June 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

      Chris, there are a couple of other problems with your interpretation of the Onan account.

      Firstly, in chapter 38 of Genesis, there are actually 3 different people who violate the Levirite marriage law.

      Judah (Onan’s father) violated it, Shelah (Onan’s brother) violated it and Onan violated it, but only Onan is killed, which clearly indicates that his sin was more than just the violation of the Levirite marriage law, otherwise all three men would have been killed, not just Onan.

      Secondly, I encourage you to read the following passage from a Hebrew scholar as found in John Kippley’s Sex and the Marriage Covenant…

      “Biblical schoar Manuel Miguens has pointed out that a close examination of the text shows that God condemned Onan for the specific action he performed, not for his anti-Levirate intentions.

      He notes that the translation ‘he spilled his seed on the ground’ fails to do full justice to the Hebrew expression. The Hebrew verb shichet never means to spill or waste. Rather, it means to act perversely.

      The text also makes it clear that his perverse action was related towards the ground, not against his brother.

      “His perversion or corruption consists in his action itself, not precisely in the result and goal of his act…In a strict interpretation the text says that what was evil in the sight of the Lord was what Onan actually did (asher asah); the emphasis in this sentence of verse 10 does not fall on what he intended to achieve, but on what he did.

      - Manuel Miguens, “Biblical Thoughts on Human Sexuality,”

    136. Chris Sullivan June 14, 2009 at 5:30 am

      Muerk,

      Thanks for the reference to JPII. I finally managed to find my download of the full version (was going of my printed summary book).

      It’s interesting that JPII only mentions Onan this once in passing and doesn’t go very far with it to develop it or use it as any sort of firm basis on which to build a theology against contraception.

      All the says is

      Onanism had already been condemned in the tradition of the patriarchs (cf. Gn 38:8-10). The behavior of Onan, son of Judah (from where we have the origin of the word “onanism”) “…was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also” (Gn 38:10).

      http://www.ewtn.com

      And that’s all he has to say on Onan in his whole series of Theology of the Body talks.

      I think JPII is right. There is no solid scriptural teaching against contraception. There is a solid scriptural teaching in favour of fruitfulness in marriage. I think JPII is right that the illictness of contraception in marriage flows from he natural law – I still think the best arguments against are the feminist ones which I think fits the pro-life feminism of the Tamar story.

      God Bless

    137. Chris Sullivan June 14, 2009 at 5:35 am

      Mine contains absolutely no reference to the terms: “nuclear weapons”, “Internet pornography”, “insider trading” or “drink-driving”.

      Oh, come on, have you not heard of thou shalt not kill, looking at a women in lust, do unto others and thou shalt not steal, and the Pauline letters on drunkeness ?

      God Bless

    138. Chris Sullivan June 14, 2009 at 5:36 am

      Genesis 38 is the story of how the tribe of Judah descended thru the rebellion and actions of Tamar, who subverted the patriarchal institutions which opressed her. This is a timeless story with a message for patriarchal systems which told all the power in male hands.

      In the Hebrew scriptures the name of a person tells us something of the personality, character and role of the person. Hence the name Jesus means Saviour because he is our saviour.

      The name Tamar means “date palm” (probably an allusion to her beauty and fruitfullness).

      The name Onan means “power”, “wealth” because his maini role in the text was acquiring and maintaining his power at wealth at the expense of others in the family. See Harper Collins Bible dictionary.

      The way Levirite marriage worked was that the wife did NOT inherit the property of her deceased husband; the sons did. That was the way patriarchy worked (thank God we are now somewhat past that). It also explains the very precarious social position of widows in the biblical era.

      If there were no sons, the social expectation was that the wife marry one of her husbands brothers. Hence Tamar was expected to marry Onan after Er was suposedly killed by God.

      Until Tamar had sons and until they grew to age, Onan retained the wealth of Er’s property as it’s administrator.

      Hence, Onan sought to maintain his own wealth and power by not having any children by Tamar.

      This was his sin, that of greed and selfishness, amassing his own wealth at the expense of the wider family. See Navarre commentary to Gen 38.

      Onan could have acheived this by other means eg by abstaining from marital relations with Tamar, by sending her away, or by divorcing her and this would have been seen as just as against the social norms of the times. And would have been just as effective in preventing Tamar having children.

      His recourse to the sin of coitus interruptus was only the sinful means by which he furthured his sinful goal of maintaining his wealth and power.

      Judah then enters the pitcure, denying Tamar the marriage to his remaining son Shelah out of fear that he too might die by her.

      Tamar managed to subvert that by sleeping with Judah and her actions were traditionally seen as positive because she acheived what was seen as a socially good end of obtaining sons to inherit from Judah and further the tribe of Judah. Even the Church Fathers saw Tamars actions as positive, despite their abhorence at her prostituion (see Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures).

      There’s also an interesting play on killing. God supposedly kills Er and Onan and Judah tries to kill Tamar but is prevented from so doing by her wise actions with the evidence of his paternity of her sons.

      Its Tamar who comes off as the pro-life hero of the story. She defeats death and killing, brings new life into the world and ensures the survival of the clan of Judah.

      God Bless

    139. muerk June 14, 2009 at 8:09 am

      I think JPII is right. There is no solid scriptural teaching against contraception.

      Not quite… There is no literal statement saying that all sexual acts must be open to life, but there is solid scriptural teaching about this if you look at biblical teaching as a whole and see it as part of the natural law which it teaches. That’s a bit different to saying there is no “solid” scriptural teaching.

    140. Dei Verbum June 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

      BTM

      can we narrow the argument that seems confused by Christopher’s semantics

      Is it acceptable for a catholic married couple where one partner may have HIV (perhaps from medical misadventure etc) to use condom to protect the other partner in conjunction with NFP so as to ensure there is no contraceptive function?

    141. BTM June 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

      This was his sin, that of greed and selfishness, amassing his own wealth at the expense of the wider family.

      Yes, but as I stated above, the penalty for breaking the Leririte marriage law was NOT death, it was public humiliation meted out by the elders, not by God, like it is in this instance.

      Also, both Judah and Shelah also violated the Levirite marriage law (in that same chapter), and neither of them was killed for doing so.

      So quite obviously Onan did something more than violate the Levirite marriage law.

      Ironically, all the rest of what you have written in comment number: 138 actually goes to show just how serious a violation of the order of things contraception really is, as it stifles the will of God in bringing new souls into existence as well as allowing men to dominate women and act for their own self interest.

      None of what you have stated refutes the fact that Onan was killed precisely because of the manner in which he acted (he contracepted and excluded God from the sexual act for his own selfish ends), in fact it just goes to show how wrong you were in your earlier claims that contraception isn’t that serious.

    142. BTM June 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      Is it acceptable for a catholic married couple where one partner may have HIV (perhaps from medical misadventure etc) to use condom to protect the other partner in conjunction with NFP so as to ensure there is no contraceptive function?

      No.

      Firstly, condoms would have to be used during every sexual act, thus making NFP impossible and completely moot.

      Secondly, condoms cannot provide anything more than a reduced risk, so there is no guarantee of protection at all.

      Third, there is absolutely no emotional, social, health or moral requirement for a couple to continue having sexual relations.

      Fourth, a condom breakage could lead to transmission of the virus to the uninfected spouse, as well as the conception of a child who could well end up contracting the virus as well – this fact alone means that every sexual act would become a deadly lottery which could result in the sexual act becoming an act of death, rather than life and love.

      Finally, there is an alternative way forward that offers a total guarantee of protection, and that is abstaining from sexual relations.

    143. BTM June 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      “Biblical schoar Manuel Miguens has pointed out that a close examination of the text shows that God condemned Onan for the specific action he performed, not for his anti-Levirate intentions.

      He notes that the translation ‘he spilled his seed on the ground’ fails to do full justice to the Hebrew expression. The Hebrew verb shichet never means to spill or waste. Rather, it means to act perversely.

      The text also makes it clear that his perverse action was related towards the ground, not against his brother.

      His perversion or corruption consists in his action itself, not precisely in the result and goal of his act…In a strict interpretation the text says that what was evil in the sight of the Lord was what Onan actually did (asher asah); the emphasis in this sentence of verse 10 does not fall on what he intended to achieve, but on what he did.


      - Manuel Miguens, “Biblical Thoughts on Human Sexuality,”

    144. muerk June 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm

      I think another thing is that there is no way that scripture regards contraception as a good. No where is contraception spoken of positively and marriage is always about having children, that children are a blessing and that being barren is a dreadful thing.

    145. Dei Verbum June 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm

      BTM
      I could argue the 1st but the last 4 are complelling

      Christopher
      Is condoms therefore not akin to dispensing a medicine with unreasonable side effects?

    146. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 7:14 am

      I have read of cases where one spouse has AIDS and the other has desired to maintain sexual relations using condoms and found this strengthened their marriage.

      Traditional Jewish theology explicitly approves contraception in cases of risk to human life (Talmud) and Catholic theology has long recognised the importance of marital sexual relations eg St Paul on the good of the spouses coming together again after abstinence, and of marriage for those who would otherwise “burn”; the traditional view of marriage as a remedy for concupiscence and of paying the “marital debt”; St Augustine and St Aquinas on the desirability of brothels lest society be consumed by lust.

      In Africa, one of the prime risk factors for getting AIDS is getting married, due to the rather high risk your spouse will infect you.

      While I agree that abstinence in this situation is a worthy goal for the very self controlled, I don’t think it is realistic to expect that most spouses will abstain and I think condoms are a necessary part of reducing infection in that context.

      Let’s be honest here – if Tuppence stops condom shipments in Africa, people will very likely die in consequence.

      God Bless

    147. Dei Verbum June 15, 2009 at 7:25 am

      Christopher;

      Let’s be honest here – if Tuppence stops condom shipments in Africa, people will very likely die in consequence

      but lets be really honest; if condoms are shipped more people will die as a result of the inevitable failure of a ‘safe sex’ message and the rise in Aids cases that follows.

      Isn’t it in fact dishonest to consider condoms the answer at all in the light of Pope BXVI clear message, catholic teaching and the chastity and abstinence message experience in other countries?

      Pray for wisdom

    148. jjen009 June 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

      #146 – Let’s be honest here – if Tuppence stops condom shipments in Africa, people will very likely die in consequence.

      There is some confusion here. Not doing something is not the same as preventing it. Not sending condoms to Africa is not preventing their shipment; it is just not aiding it.

      This is why NFP is not the same as contraception. Not engaging in sexual intercourse, even for the purpose of not conceiving, is not the same as engaging in sexual intercourse but taking an action to prevent conception. Dieting is not the same as eating, then inducing vomiting to prevent weight gain.

      Stipulating for argument’s sake that sending condoms to Africa would prevent some deaths in Africa – I do not think it so, but stipulate it – if Tuppence is obliged to send condoms to Africa on pain of a sin of omission, then each and every one of us is so obliged. If we are not each obliged, then our obligation is a prudential matter.

    149. Dei Verbum June 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Christopher;

      In Africa, one of the prime risk factors for getting AIDS is getting married, due to the rather high risk your spouse will infect you.

      so marriage is now a risk?

      I thought the primary factors were infidelity and fornication before marriage?
      How do you get HIV again? contact with marriage certificates? :)

    150. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 10:02 am

      This is the reality: a married woman living in Southern Africa is at
      higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than an unmarried woman.
      Extolling abstinence and fidelity, as the Catholic Church does, will
      not protect her; in all likelihood she is already monogamous. It is her
      husband who is likely to have HIV. Yet refusing a husband’s sexual
      overtures risks ostracism, violence, and destitution for herself and
      her children. Given these realities, isn’t opposing the use of condoms
      tantamount to condemning countless women to death? In the midst of the
      AIDS epidemic, which has already killed tens of millions and preys
      disproportionately on the poor, the condom acts as a contra mortem and
      its use is justified by the Catholic consistent ethic of life.

      http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=181

      God Bless

    151. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 10:07 am

      Here’s ABC’s interview with Opus Dei priest Martin Rhonheimer, who is Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Opus Dei university in Rome. Fr Martin very ably outlines Catholic teaching on the matter.

      Well here’s a slightly different conservative view. Martin Rhonheimer is an Opus Dei priest and the very distinguished Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Opus Dei university in Rome.

      In 2004 he wrote an important article in The Tablet in which he pointed out that it is not the church’s position that people having sex outside marriage should not use condoms.

      He spoke to me from home in Switzerland.

      Martin Rhonheimer: What I said in my article is that the church teaches that promiscuous people, be they infected or not, should not be promiscuous. Well I also wrote additionally, and that’s perhaps the point you are alluding to, that the church does not teach that such persons should not use condoms. The church does not teach how to render intrinsically immoral behaviour less immoral. At the same time I affirmed in my article that those who in such cases do use condoms in order to prevent infection at least show some sort of responsibility.

      Stephen Crittenden: In other words, if you’re a gay person having sex, or you’re a prostitute having sex, or you’re anyone having sex outside of marriage in a way that the church doesn’t approve of, the church is still saying you should be responsible.

      Martin Rhonheimer: Well you should always be responsible. I think the church has not pronounced herself in any way on this issue. It simply says to these people they should change their behaviour. The church does not teach moral norms for immoral behaviour. But I think, personally, that somebody who is not ready to change behaviour, he at least shows a kind of responsibility if he tries to prevent infection, I think that’s commonsense.

      Stephen Crittenden: Why do you think that an increasing number of bishops and cardinals around the world, including Cardinal Danneels, and Cardinal Murphy O’Connor in Westminster, and now Cardinal Martini, are coming out saying that the church’s position particularly in relation to HIV and condoms, needs to change?

      Martin Rhonheimer: Well even though the Magisterium has never pronounced explicitly on this issue, there exists a certain tradition in moral theology and also in canon law, which seems to rule out solutions like the one considered by the mentioned bishops and cardinals. They themselves do not speak about the church’s position having to change. I think this is rather what perhaps the media makes of it, but that the position of the church has to be clarified in these issues, and that in consequence, certain theological approaches to it should be modified. I insist, it is a question which has not been settled so far by the Magisterium, and this is being widely discussed by moral theologians. Many theologians believe that the norm of contraception told by the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Paul VI, has already settled the question, but I think this is not true. Humanae Vitae specifically tackled the problem of responsible parenthood and contraception, that is, the question of intentionally separating one’s sexual behaviour from its meaning of serving the transmission of life. From the moral point of view, using a condom to prevent infection simply has nothing to do with contraception, it’s another question, it does not correspond to what Humanae Vitae explicitly teaches to be morally illicit. Morally speaking it is not the contraceptive act. Of course there is this very special case of spouses, you know, one of whom is infected. So while the good and normal way of preventing infection is to abstain from the act which might transmit the disease, of course, that’s abstinence. This perhaps is not always possible. While this is my personal view, I do not want now to pre-empt the outcome of these studies, and I would also resubmit to the judgment of the church, but it’s clear that a married man, for example, who is infected and uses a condom to protect his wife from infection, is not actually to render procreation impossible, so he’s not doing a contraceptive act.

      http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl?http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories/s1629283.htm

      The entire article is well worth reading, including the views of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Bishop Kevin Dowling and Sr Tarcisia Hunhoff.

      The irony is that preventing condom shipments would be to sabotage the work the Church is doing in places like Papua New Guinea, with a very high rate of AIDS, where the church herself is supplying condoms.

      God Bless

    152. BTM June 15, 2009 at 10:51 am

      n Africa, one of the prime risk factors for getting AIDS is getting married, due to the rather high risk your spouse will infect you.

      This is an absurd statement.

      Marriage does not transmit AIDS – sexual intercourse transmits AIDS.

      In actual fact, if you enter a monogamous marriage without AIDS, then remain faithful, you will never contract the virus sexually.

      While I agree that abstinence in this situation is a worthy goal for the very self controlled, I don’t think it is realistic to expect that most spouses will abstain.

      Why?

      Is it because they’re Africans, and you think that Africans are can’t control themselves?

      Or is it because you think that all married couples are addicted to sex and couldn’t place the well being of their spouse above sexual pleasure?

      Let’s be honest here – if Tuppence stops condom shipments in Africa, people will very likely die in consequence.

      I don’t think so.

      Billions of condoms have been shipped into Africa since the early nineties, and not have the HIV deaths not decreased, they have actually got far worse.

    153. BTM June 15, 2009 at 11:15 am

      Chris,

      Did you even read that article you posted here in comment number: 151?

      Let me quote:

      “The church does not teach moral norms for immoral behaviour.”

      “But I think, personally,”

      (i.e. this is not Catholic teaching at all, instead it is his own personal opinion)

      “there exists a certain tradition in moral theology and also in canon law, which seems to rule out solutions [condoms for AIDS] like the one considered by the mentioned bishops and cardinals.”

      “but I think this is not true.”

      – yet more personal opinion that is not taught by the Catholic Church

      “…this is my personal view, I do not want now to pre-empt the outcome of these studies, and I would also resubmit to the judgment of the church”

      – the most clear statement that what he is proclaiming here is his personal opinion on the matter, and NOT Catholic teaching (as you wrongly suggested).

    154. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 11:27 am

      Here’s Opus Dei priest Martin Rhonheimer, who is Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Opus Dei university in Rome, in his Tablet article on the Catholic morality of using condoms. His essay is an excellent and very orthodox presentation of Catholic teaching.

      http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/2284

      Fr Rhonheimer is not the only Opus Dei priest with this view :-

      Msgr. Angel Rodriguez Luño, an Opus Dei priest, a professor at Santa Croce University in Rome, and a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said there’s actually not much debate over the theology; most moralists, he said, believe the argument for condoms as a lesser evil is fairly clear. The question is how to explain that conclusion in a way that doesn’t seem to offer a free pass for irresponsible sexual behavior.”

      “The problem is, anytime we try to give a nuanced response, we see headlines that say, ‘Vatican approves condoms,’ Rodriguez Luño told The Washington Post Jan. 23, 2005.

      “The issue is more complicated than that. From a moral point of view, we cannot condone contraception. We cannot tell a classroom of 16-year-olds they should use condoms. But if we are dealing with someone or a situation in which persons are clearly going to act in harmful ways, a prostitute who is going to continue her activities, then one might say, ‘Stop. But if you are not going to, at least do this.’”

      - John Allen, “Word From Rome”, April 2006
      http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word042106.htm#eight

      God Bless

    155. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 11:31 am

      John Allen gives more detail on the theology

      http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word042806.htm

      God Bless

    156. BTM June 15, 2009 at 11:37 am

      His essay is an excellent and very orthodox presentation of Catholic teaching.

      Chris,

      I’ll say it again, because you don’t actually seem to be reading the very articles that you are misrepresenting here, and then telling everyone else to read.

      As Father Martin Rhonheimer HIMSELF states on this matter…

      “…this is my personal view, I do not want now to pre-empt the outcome of these studies, and I would also resubmit to the judgment of the church”

      As Father Rhonheimer says: this is NOT orthodox Catholic teaching, it is merely a personal opinion he holds on the matter.

    157. Chris Sullivan June 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

      BTM,

      The Magisterium has issued no judgement that the use of condoms to limit HIV is illicit.

      There simply is no Catholic teaching against condoms to limit disease.

      Advocating the use of condoms to limit HIV is entirely within orthodox Catholic teaching.

      And Fr Rhonheimer’s opinion is not merely a personally held judgement but one held by many cardinals, bishops and orthodox theologians.

      It’s also the judgement of our own Catholic Bishops Conference who explicitly teach in their 2008 pastoral letter on marriage that the teaching against contraception does not extend to the unmarried or to disease prevention.

      It is a different matter when it is intercourse between people who do not owe each other the complete gift of themselves because they are not married. It is also a different matter when the purpose of using a protective device is to prevent the transmission of disease, not to prevent conception, which is then a side-effect.

      http://www.catholic.org.nz/statements/0802marriage.php

      God Bless

    158. BTM June 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      Chris,

      You really do need to do some more research on this issue.

      That article from John Allen that you encouraged everyone to read is now 3 years old, and the suggestions he made in it about a new Vatican document were completely over hyped – and then they were refuted about a month after it was written…

      May 5, 2006…

      “In an interview with Columbia’s Radio Cadena Nacional, Cardinal Trujillo said the Vatican “maintains unmodified the teaching on condoms” and said Pope Benedict XVI has not called for any studies on altering the prohibition against condom use.

      “As a dicastery we do not have any instruction or any indication to the contrary, to carry out a study about something new with regards to condoms,” he said.

      Retired Italian Cardinal Maria Martini, known for his liberal opinions on social issues, commented last month that condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS was “the lesser evil.”

      Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, created further confusion by announcing the Pope had commissioned a study on the issue, saying, “My council is studying this attentively with scientists and theologians expressly charged with preparing a document on the subject, which will be made public soon.”

      “It was Pope Benedict who asked us to make a study on this particular aspect of the use of condoms by those with AIDS and other infectious diseases.”

      The comments stirred an enthusiastic media response, with international headlines proclaiming the Vatican was considering lifting the condom ban.

      Cardinal Barragán responded quickly by stating that he was only producing an internal study for Vatican authorities and had no authority to produce an official pronouncement on the issue.

      http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/may/06050502.html

    159. BTM June 15, 2009 at 12:24 pm

      And here’s what Pope Benedict has to say on the matter…

      “…this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem.

      The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness – even through personal sacrifice – to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.”

      - March 2009

    160. muerk June 15, 2009 at 2:24 pm

      The irony is that if everyone followed the Church’s teaching on sexuality HIV would be mostly wiped out. Likewise IV drug use, which the Church disagrees with.

      HIV is a disease spread by behavior, with some exceptions eg medical misadventure. Sex before marriage, infidelity, prostitution, anal sex and needle sharing is what transmits HIV. Sterile needles and condoms are bandaids on the deeper problems.

      If one looks at HIV rates in Muslim countries in Africa, they are vastly lower than surrounding non-Muslim states. Are Muslim countries awash with condoms? No. They have a different set of sexual behaviors as a norm. The condom experiment has clearly failed at reducing HIV except in very specific cases, eg. requiring all prostitutes to use a condom.

      I do however think that if one spouse in a married couple has HIV it is prudential for them to use condoms if they choose to have sex. Perhaps this isn’t Catholic teaching, although our own Bishops have made the statement:

      It is also a different matter when the purpose of using a protective device is to prevent the transmission of disease, not to prevent conception, which is then a side-effect.

    161. BTM June 15, 2009 at 4:33 pm

      I do however think that if one spouse in a married couple has HIV it is prudential for them to use condoms if they choose to have sex.

      The problem is that having sexual relations with someone who is infected with HIV is always a totally imprudent thing to do – and using a condom doesn’t actually make having sexual relations with an HIV infected person a prudent thing.

      It’s kind of like suggesting that if someone is going to put a fork into a live electrical socket it would be prudential for them to wear rubber soled shoes.

    162. muerk June 15, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      It’s kind of like suggesting that if someone is going to put a fork into a live electrical socket it would be prudential for them to wear rubber soled shoes.

      I agree, it is. But better rubber soled shoes than standing in a bucket of water.

    163. Dean June 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm

      Re: comment 138 and the Onan incident, Chris cited the Navarre commentary and ably summarised its description of the sin and its context. After describing this context, here’s what the commentary goes on to say (pg 186 of Navarre commentary on the Pentateuch):

      ===================
      Onan’s sin (from which comes the word “onanism”) consists in interrupting sexual intercourse to prevent procreation. In the actual case of Onan, we can see how selfish he was: by marrying his sister-in-law he gets control over his dead brother’s property — control which he can retain because he avoids having children by the woman. The gravity of Onan’s sin is that it distorts the meaning of marriage and married love; hence his punishment. The Church has seen this passage of the Bible as establishing that such an act is gravely sinful and is opposed to natural law and to the will of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, repeating what the Church has previously had to say, teaches that “‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, oor inits accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ (Humanae vitae, 14) is intrinsically evil” (no. 2370).
      ===================

      The underlining is mine. I think this tends to support BTM’s take on the passage.

    164. BTM June 16, 2009 at 9:56 am

      Thanks for that clarification Dean.