Comment: If 98% of Catholics ignore this issue-how is it a matter of Religious Freedom? I say it is an exercise of hierarchical clericalism......Clerics need to understand they are being ignored.....or better yet-excommunicated by proclaiming this issue.....Yes, I do believe laity maintain their Catholic Faith and Traditions, and excommunicate certain clerics...this is one example of many.
A reformatted by John Chuchman, and excerpted version of Gary Wills article in New York Review of Books
Pass it on!
The Phony Religious Freedom Argument
The bishops’ opposition to contraception
is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.”
It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics.
This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.
Contraception is not even a religious matter.
Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden.
Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,”
over which natural reason is the arbiter
and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea
that contraception is evil.
Contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics.
To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not
is bad enough.
To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church”
if he does not accept it is much, much worse.
To disagree with Catholic bishops is called “disrespectful,”
an offense against religious freedom.
The Phony Contraception Argument
The opposition to contraception has no scriptural basis.
The Bishops maintain that the natural purpose of sex is procreation,
and any use of it for other purposes is “unnatural.”
But a primary natural purpose
does not of necessity exclude ancillary advantages.
The purpose of eating is to sustain life,
but that does not make all eating that is not necessary to subsistence “unnatural.”
One can eat, beyond the bare minimum to exist,
to express fellowship, as one can have sex,
beyond the begetting of a child with each act,
to express love.
The Roman authorities would not have fallen for such a silly argument
but for a deep historical disrelish for sex itself.
Early Fathers and medieval theologians considered sex unworthy
when not actually sinful.
That is why virgin saints and celibate priests were prized above married couples.
Thomas Aquinas said that priests must not be married,
since “those in holy orders handle the sacred vessels and the sacrament itself, and therefore it is proper that they preserve, by abstinences,
a body undefiled.
Marriage, you see, makes for defilement.
The ban on contraception is a hangover
from the period when the body itself was considered unclean.
The Phony “Church Teaches” Argument
Catholics who do not accept the phony argument over contraception
are said to be “going against the teachings of their church.”
That is nonsense.
They are their church.
The Second Vatican Council defines the church as “the people of God.”
Thinking that the pope is the church
is a relic of the days when a monarch was said to be his realm.
Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things,
especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy.
This is particularly true where celibacy is concerned.
There was broad disagreement with Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical on the matter. Pope Paul VI set up a study group of loyal and devout Catholics,
lay and clerical, to make recommendations.
The group overwhelmingly voted to change the teaching of Pius XI.
But cardinals in the Roman Curia convinced Paul
that any change would suggest that the church’s teachings are not eternal .
When Paul reaffirmed the ban on birth control in Humanae Vitae (1968)
there was massive rejection of it.
Some left the church.
Some just ignored it.
Paradoxically, the document formed to convey the idea
that papal teaching is inerrant just convinced most people
that it can be loony.
The Phony “Undying Principle” Argument
Rick Santorum is a nice smiley fanatic.
He does not believe in evolution or global warming or women in the workplace.
He equates gay sex with bestiality.
He equates contraception with the guillotine.
Only a brain-dead party could think him a worthy presidential candidate.
Yet he is praised by television pundits, night and day, for being “sincere”
and “standing by what he believes.”
He is the principled alternative to the evil Moderation of Mitt Romney
and the evil Evil of Newt Gingrich.
He is presented as a model Catholic.
A young priest I saw on television, modeling himself on his hero Santorum, said,
“I would rather die than give up my church’s principles.”
What we are seeing is not a defense of undying principle
but a stampede toward a temporarily exploitable lunacy.