Sunday 29 July 2012

Same Sex Marriage is an Impossibility

I am disturbed by the push for gay marriage, even though there is within my family, as in Fr Dickson’s family, a person who experiences same-sex attraction. We ensure this person is made to feel valuable and loved, and while we make it clear that we don’t approve of the lifestyle, we do let it be known that we are always there to support in every other aspect of life. But same sex marriage is an impossibility because there is no way that two women or two men can have intercourse in order to consummate their relationship. This means their relationship can never be a marriage and so should not be called marriage, for marriage is not and never has been a simply legal term which we can redefine at will; it is a term that was borrowed by the State from the Judeo-Christian Faith; adopted for recognition of the union of a man and a woman in a life-giving relationship. I understand that the State now thinks it is possible to remove the need for consummation from the definition of marriage in order to allow for same-sex ‘marriage’? This only goes to show how a government –any government of any place or time–  acts as though it were God; how it becomes, in fact, its own god by redefining religious terms to suit its own purpose.

So why are governments seeking to allow same sex ‘marriage’? Let us not kid ourselves that this is altruism; about giving equality to gay people, for civil unions give same sex couples rights of inheritance etc. Rather, it seems to be much more about playing for votes in order to hold on to power. For any government to distort religious definitions and use persons’ disordered attractions as fodder for votes, is perhaps bordering on the down-right wicked.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Part 2 of 'What does the SSPX want? What do Liberals want? What do we want?'

Longer than I expected, this post continues our brief reflections on Vatican II. While the SSPX will not accept that Council as a point of authentic pastoral governance, Liberals seem to see it in very Protestant terms, for while Protestants say “Scripture alone” Liberals tend to see Vatican II as “The Council alone”, failing to harmonise it’s teaching with that of Trent and Vatican I. For liberals Vatican II is seen as bringing new teaching as well as new disciplines. This is clearly erroneous in that we can neither add to nor subtract from the Deposit of Faith, nor can we contradict Traditional Doctrine since it forms, along with Scripture, “one sacred Deposit of the Word of God” (Dei Verbum 10). In what follows, bold italics highlight Council fundamentals; my simple thoughts, which take the Council at face value, follow in red. It goes without saying that I stand to be corrected by Rome if I err in these reflections.

·         On the Supreme Authority of the Pope and limit of collegiality:

But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The Pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For Our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock.
This collegial union is apparent also in the mutual relations of the individual bishops with particular churches and with the universal Church. The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.
The individual bishops, however, are the visible principle and foundation of unity in their particular churches, fashioned after the model of the universal Church, in and from which churches comes into being the one and only Catholic Church. For this reason the individual bishops represent each his own church, but all of them together and with the Pope represent the entire Church in the bond of peace, love and unity.  (Lumen Gentium 22,23)
[Bishops are still to be obedient to the Pope; while they are associated with him in pastoral concern for the whole Church and teach the whole Church in union with him, yet they govern their Diocese by his gift. Even the episcopate as a whole body is, in that it is a body without a head, impotent without him.]
An episcopal conference is, as it were, a council in which the bishops of a given nation or territory jointly exercise their pastoral office to promote the greater good which the Church offers mankind, especially through the forms and methods of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the age. (Christus Dominus 38)
[Bishops Conferences have sometimes acted as though they are a governing body. This stifles the individual Bishop within his own territory, yet Bishops are not governed by the Episcopal conference, and are not to allow themselves to be governed by it, which would amount to a dereliction of duty to form his own flock. ‘Presenting a united front’ will be no defence before God for a Bishop who fails to govern his flock by his own hand. Note Apostolos suos (P.1998, Pope John-Paul II): “Bishops, whether individually or united in Conference, cannot autonomously limit their own sacred power in favour of the Episcopal Conference, and even less can they do so in favour of one of its parts, whether the permanent council or a commission or the president. This logic is quite explicit in the canonical norm concerning the exercise of the legislative power of the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference: ‘The Conference of Bishops can issue general decrees only in those cases in which the common law prescribes it, or a special mandate of the Apostolic See, given either motu proprio or at the request of the Conference, determines it’. In other cases ‘the competence of individual diocesan Bishops remains intact; and neither the Conference nor its president may act in the name of all the Bishops unless each and every Bishop has given his consent’”.]

·         On salvation outside the Catholic Church:

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.
It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church. (Unitatis redintegratio 3)
[Whatever efficacy other communities have for giving access to salvation (and that efficacy is not denied) yet that efficacy derives from the Catholic Church, so it is the Catholic Church which remains the one Ark of Salvation: Protestants are not saved by Protestant communities or non-Christians saved by non-Christians religions; they are saved because, by their search for truth (which is Christ Himself. Jn.14:6), they are in an imperfect union with the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. While we acknowledge that in their general teaching (teaching that is not ex cathedra) popes can err, interesting texts from the past might be helpful for those who would limit the saving action of grace to the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church:
Pope Gregory VII to the Muslim King Azir, 1070: “We believe and profess one God, though in different ways, and praise and worship Him daily as the Creator of ages and ruler of this world”
Pope Pius IX, 1885:That there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church must be held as a matter of faith…on the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are ignorant [unacquainted] of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God, and who can presume to set limits to such ignorance?”
1950–Decree of the Plenary Council of India, confirmed by Pope Pius XII in 1951: “We acknowledge that there is truth and goodness outside the Christian religion, for God has not left the nations without a witness to Himself”.]
We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.
(Unitatis redintegratio 3)
[Christ established one Church under Peter, and all should be fully incorporated into this Church (united with this Church). Clearly then, union with Rome under Peter and his successors remains the goal of ecumenism.
Mystici Corporis (1943) 41,102,103, 1943, Pope Pius XII: They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.
Let us then re-echo that divine prayer of our Savoir to the heavenly Father: "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of Christ" and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their father's home.”
A note here on the word ‘subsists’: this has been explained by Rome in terms compatible with previous Catholic teaching, that is, “ . . . the Council chose the word subsistit precisely in order to make it clear that there exists a single 'subsistence' of the true Church, while outside her visible structure only elementa ecclesiae exist, which — as elements of the Church — tend and lead toward the Catholic Church" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification on the book "Church: Charism and Power" by Fr. Leonardo Boff, AAS 77 (1985), 758-759.). Elements outside the Catholic Church lead to the Catholic Church as the one Church of Christ. Further, "The interpretation of those who would derive from the formula subsistit in the thesis that the one Church of Christ could subsist also in non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities is therefore contrary to the authentic meaning of Lumen Gentium” (Dominus Jesus, n. 6, August 2000, footnote 56.) We can also usefully note that when we say something ‘is’, it can cease to be, but susbistit includes ‘perpetuity’; a permanence of being. This is surely a fitting thing to say about the Catholic Church which will endure forever.]

·         On Religious Liberty:

On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.
[Men are still bound by conscience to seek out the Truth and the Catholic Church.]
Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfil their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society.
[It is not the Church which is to concede religious liberty, but the State.]
Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.
(Dignitatis Humanae 1)
[Since the Church in Council declares it is the State which must grant religious liberty, she leaves her previous teaching untouched -and we may still desire a Catholic State even if it is no longer necessary.]

Concluding Remarks:

Whatever else is said concerning the developing of Doctrine, we cannot contradict the above statements of Vatican II nor the Infallible statements of Trent, otherwise what is newly said is a distortion of Doctrine, not a development of Doctrine. Personally, I’m not sure how many Catholics I know today who would accept all that Trent and Vatican II teach (Liberals want to exchange Trent for what they perceive as arising from the so-called ‘spirit’ of Vatican II; extreme Traditionalists do not see that there is authentic continuity with the past in Vatican II). It seems that extreme Traditionalists (which, for me, does not include the SSPX as exemplified in Bishop Fellay) are in danger of painting themselves into a corner by equating the abuses of the Liberals and the weaknesses of some in the post-Conciliar Hierarchy with the Council itself. Liberals on the other hand, are painting themselves into a corner in which there is no authentic Faith, only subjective interpretations of the Church’s Scripture and Tradition, and Canon Law all-but ditched. That is why I support Bishop Schneider’s idea of a new Syllabus of Errors, and why I think we need Popes and Bishops to fight for the Faith against the political correctness of the times; Popes and Bishops willing to discipline those who do not promote Vatican II in continuity with Tradition; those who take liberties with liturgy, distort Doctrine, ignore Canon Law, and those who consistently and wilfully desert their priestly obligations. Pope John XXIII might have thought what was needed was exhortation rather than correction (mercy not severity), but who responds to exhortations if there is no penalty for failing to respond? Do criminals cease in their criminality simply because a judge has exhorted them to this before sending them home? Distortions of Doctrine, liturgical liberties and the contorting of Canon Law must come to an end. For this we need Bishops who truly hold to the Deposit of Faith and who have the eternal good of souls before their eyes and in their hearts. Many- if not all- have the latter; but not all it seems, have the former. How could they? After all, most of them and their theological advisors were formed or at least re-moulded in the heady days following Vatican II, when its so-called ‘spirit’ led the way.

Monday 23 July 2012

What does the SSPX want? What do Liberals want? What do we want? Part 1 of 2

What are the SSPX and many other ‘Traditionalists’ looking for? It seems that they are rightly looking for an adherence to the Faith of All Times in the documents of Vatican II and in the life of the Church of today, for though many folk profess loyalty to Vatican II there remain instances of questionable teaching and disordered practice. Fundamentally, the SSPX seem to seek for:
·         a clear belief in the Sacrifice of the Mass;
·         maintenance of the Church’s Latin liturgical tradition;
·         the Monarchical Church with the Pope at its Head on earth;
·         clarity on the fact that all salvation comes from through the Catholic Church alone;
·         clarification that religious liberty is a pastoral practice not consistent with Traditional Catholic Doctrine and therefore not an infallible dogma.

Liberals, meanwhile, are all-but promoting the opposites to the above, saying that:

·         the Mass is primarily a fraternal banquet
·         Latin in public worship is to be dropped
·         the Pope must act collegially, with the Bishops
·         salvation is not limited in means to the Catholic Church
·         religious liberty is doctrinal teaching and means that one does not need to seek out the Catholic Church for salvation.

For the SSPX there is a danger of falling into Apostasy or formal schism by failing to grow with the Church, as did the ‘Old Catholics’ following Vatican I, while for liberals there is at least a bordering on heresy by their distorting of, rather than a developing of, the Faith. Others, who sincerely remain faithful to Tradition, to Vatican II, and to required disciplines of the Church, often labour under isolation and suspicion. Both the SSPX and the Liberals would be helped by the Church at large reading Vatican II as it must be read: in continuity with Tradition. After all, we can no more abandon Tradition than we can abandon the Scriptures, for both are the word of God. In what follows, which is necessarily cursory due to limits of space, though still too long for a single blog post, bold italics highlight Council fundamentals; my simple thoughts, which take the Council at face value, follow in red.

“...the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defence of the faith handed on once and for all (Jude 1:3). Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.
[Tradition is to be found in Church teaching and in liturgy, so deviations in either from what has gone before are not of God –thus the 1970 Missal must hold the same theology as that of 1962.]
Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.
Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church.
(Dei Verbum 8,9,10)
[Scripture and Tradition together are the word of God, so we cannot ditch Traditional teaching; new formulations must be consistent with Tradition which, being the eternal word of God, cannot change; only its pastoral application may differ.]

Vatican II, properly read, should be able to satisfy the faithful Traditionalist and correct the Liberal if the Council is (and no one has denied this to my knowledge) of God. Reading the Council in a hermeneutic of continuity with Tradition, it is possible to say...

·         On the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until He should come again and so entrust to His beloved spouse the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace and a pledge of glory is given to us”. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 47)
[The Mass is, as it was for St Paul (1 Cor.11:26) essentially about perpetuating the Sacrifice of the Cross, not the Last Supper. Sadly, it is always the Last Supper our children are taught to focus upon in today’s text books, and what our RCIA catechumens probably get too in places where priests have been formed to think of Supper first, rather than Sacrifice first].

·         On the use of the vernacular in liturgy:

In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and "the common prayer," but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 54)
[The use of the vernacular is envisaged for the readings and the General Intercessions, or ‘Bidding Prayers’; its use for the other parts spoken by the people, is moderated. Even when the vernacular is allowed, the people should be able to say or sing their parts (Et cum spiritu tuo; the Confiteor, Gloria, Credo, Suscipiat, Prefatio Dialogus, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei) in Latin. How many have we, faithful to the Council, taught to do this? Have we not wrongly allowed or even encouraged them to think Vatican II abandoned Latin and did not ask this form of participation of them..?]

Is this the liturgy we find in most places today? I think not. There is not only a dislike for Latin (and for facing the Lord in celebrating the Eucharist which has always been part of the rubrics and General Instruction) but a hostility towards them: the language must be vernacular so we can understand it (we aren’t capable of singing ‘Viva Espana’ and ‘Frere Jacques’ with any understanding you see), and we should be able to see the priest as he performs for us. Bishops and those in authority or in positions of influence are at least allowing if not encouraging people to feel a hatred for their own past.

To be continued... (The Pope and Collegiality; Salvation outside the Catholic Church and Religious Liberty).

Saturday 21 July 2012

Seven Helpful Hints for Readers

1.  Project your voice
-microphones supplement volume, they are not meant to replace it. Speak as though you are trying to be heard by those in back pews.

2.  Look slightly above the heads of the congregation
-it has the effect of making each person feel you have eye contact with them.

3.  Deliberately speak at a slow speed
-readings are a proclamation not a conversation, and not every listener has the text in front of them. (Missallette leaflets are discouraged by the Bishops and rightly so, because after they have been used they are discarded, and the inspired Word of the Lord is trampled underfoot. This is unfitting treatment for the word of God contained in Sacred Scripture.

4.  Prepare the reading at home and again in Church
-at home, look for the theme of the reading so that you know what you are trying to communicate. However, avoid ‘Jackanory’ type performances –not all congregants are at the mental age of six...
When you get to Church look it over in the lectionary before Mass, since the layout will be different from that in your People's Missal.

5.  Be attentive to diction
-endings of words are very important. It is interesting how often “The word of the Lord” is indistinguishable from “The word of the law”. Slow speed helps you to achieve good word endings, but only as good support for clear enunciation of final consonants.

6.  Remember that the words “This is” are no longer accorded to the readings. Simply say “The Word of the Lord”

7.  Don’t be afraid to move the microphone
to where it catches your voice.

The congregation are more supportive than you think -they are happy to have someone else do the work much of the time, so enjoy your reading!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Pastoral Implementation of Vatican II, Yeah or Nay?

Mundabor has hit a nail on the head in a recent post:

“liberal [clerics] do not want to get that the V II “experiment” has been an utter catastrophe, because they do not want to admit their entire lives has been a contribution to this catastrophe.” read the whole article here.

Very few prelates, in or out of Rome, are going to find it easy to admit that Vatican II has been followed by damage to the Church, be that damage a result of that Council’s texts themselves or their implementation (I cannot say which). Two points spring to mind.

First, the Council can –and must- be read in harmony with Tradition. We are bound to this, because even if the Council were but a bend in the road, that bend cannot lead to any contradiction with the Church’s 2000 years of teaching.  Today’s Pope and bishops do not constitute the magisterium; they, together with the Popes and Bishops all the way back to the beginning, constitute the Magisterium. The sensus fidelium does not mean the prevailing opinion of the Church at a certain point in the time-line, but the opinions of all the Popes and Bishops from day one.

Second, we have to remember that we cannot be truly pastoral in the care of souls unless we are faithful to the Scriptures and 2000 years of magisterial teaching: dogma is the prescription; pastoral care is the administration of the prescription.  After all, the Gospels are surely ‘pastoral’, yet Our Lord was not afraid to say, “if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; better to lose one part of you than have your while body thrown into Hell” (Matt.5:30)  “Go, and sin no more” (Jn.8:11). For today’s Church it seems that  ‘pastoral’ means ‘saying nothing that upsets people’; nothing that makes them feel a healthy guilt for their infidelities to God (which we all need to feel, in that we are all sinners).

I was recently challenged by a senior cleric to inform my catechists that saying “To come to Mass is to meet Christ and come to heaven; not to come to Mass is to avoid meeting Christ and not come to heaven".  I was told by the same cleric to avoid speaking to my parish school about their decision to have their new library opened by the children’s character 'Winnie the Witch", which I felt presented the occult and evil in a benign way. If I was wrong about these two points, which is always possible, I think they are minor errors. By comparison, we have today, if I read a post on Catholic Church Conservation correctly, a Cardinal telling us that homosexual relationships might be consistent with the natural law:

ZEIT: From the Catholic Congress a statement is quoted that has given you a lot of trouble. You said about homosexual relationships: "I think it is conceivable that, where people take responsibility for each other, where they live in a stable homosexual relationship, that is to be regarded in a similar manner to heterosexual relationships," Do you stand by this?

[Cardinal] Woelki: "You must be careful not to mark down someone in an unfair way (literal translation of German- official English translation Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided) says the Catechism about people who have homosexual tendencies. If I take that seriously, I do not view in homosexual relationships "a violation of natural law" view, as expressed in the Catechism. I try to also perceive that as people they always assume responsibility for one another, loyalty to each other and have promised to provide, even though I cannot share such a life plan. The life plan for which we stand as the Catholic Church is a sacramental marriage between a man and a woman who is open to the transmission of life. This is what I said at the Catholic Congress in Mannheim immediately before the statement you quoted.

Is His Eminence suggesting Holy Mother Church was wrong for the last 2000 years? And if She was, how can we ever trust her? If the Cardinal is indeed making that suggestion then honestly, what chance have I or any of us for getting homosexual persons to live celibate lives? The problem is compounded when there are special Masses for such folk; Masses wherein they celebrate their diversity and pray for the Church’s acceptance of their irregular lives:

We can love and support such folk; we can welcome and value them without supporting or condoning spiritually harmful activities. Indeed we must welcome and value them. But ambiguous staments are very dispiriting, and diversity Masses pastorally confusing. I do wish Our Holy Father would take up Bishop Schneider’s suggestion of a new Syllabus of Errors -if we are to remain true to Tradition, how badly we need it.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Contraception and the War on Women -Updated

We now have Mrs Melinda Gates declaring that contraception is a good thing, promoting it with her considerable financial clout. I cannot understanding why, when contraception has been shown in research to have negative health impacts, that she wants to promote it for women in Africa and Asia; the poorer countries. Only if I wanted to keep wealth with the rich, and the poorer people low in numbers, could I join her in such a stand. Truly, what is needed is not her millions poured into contraception, but her millions poured into the building of an infrastructure in poor countries; an infrastructure that will allow those nations to advance within their own cultural understanding of the value of human life. It seems to me that contraception does not liberate women but oppresses them by making them more available to men; that it does not provide for health, since it brings health risks with it; that it does not create a sense of sexual responsibility but  provides for sex without love and responsibility. In cultures where men are presumed to have a right to sex with women, I see contraception as a product that will not enhance the lives of women but which will make it easier for men to have their way and move on; a product that will enable men to 'love them and leave them' -or rather, to 'lust them and leave them'; a product that brings women down to the level of the irresponsible male rather than raise that male to the woman’s level of integrity.  Contraception, in my opinion, oppresses women, it does not liberate them. Nor does it teach men to respect the bodies of women –or their own.-Fr Dickson

Although it is claimed that the Church is embarked upon a war against women by its stand against the HHS Mandate in the USA, the reality is that it is the contraceptive mentality that wages war on women. Over the years our RCIA has had some interesting discussions on contraception, led by Father Dickson. What follows is a reflection of the content of these discussions.

While it is true that prior to the 1960’s women were unjustly disadvantaged in the workplace when promotion was refused on the grounds that they might get pregnant (this injustice needed correcting, and contraception did appear to do so), the reality is that contraception chipped away at women’s dignity from day one, and this is lamentable. It has insidiously damaged women in many ways:

1.  Both forms of contraception, hormonal and mechanical, encouraged women to view their fertility as a liability; to see children as social oppressors, and to view the unborn child almost as a tumour requiring excision.

2.  The marketing of hormonal contraception as a ‘preventative health service’ is a misnomer perpetrated against women since fertility and pregnancy are states of health, therefore the only thing such contraception prevents is women’s health.

3.  The long-term effects of hormonal contraception go beyond the immediate production of infertility to life-threatening states of ill-health: Stroke, Pulmonary Embolism, Breast and Cervical Cancer are all reported to be associated with contraception:

4.   Hormonal contraception does nothing to prevent women contracting STI’s, which have increased in incidence over the years. It thus exposes women to ill-health. Condoms are said to provide the best protection against STI’s but do not eliminate the risk.

5.  The chemical action of hormonal contraception disorders a woman’s healthy biology to make it unhealthy (infertile), and as such all-but a form of chemical warfare perpetrated against her body, and the only drugs prescribed with the specific intention of disrupting her health. Even chemotherapy is not prescribed for such a reason, its negative effects being tolerated only for the greater good of saving a life. Contraception disorders a woman’s body so as to preclude life.

6.   Both forms of contraception encourage women to fall to the level of the promiscuous, irresponsible man. As one lady who was in her teens in the 1970’s put it, “Contraception didn’t give us equality; it just made us more available. It made it harder to say ‘no’ and blame our non-cooperation on old-fashioned parents”.

7.   Both forms of contraception have facilitated a decreased awareness in women of their unique dignity as mothers; a loss which has all but reduced them to industrial production units by the selling of their eggs and the hiring out of their womb in surrogacy.

8.   Both forms of contraception have facilitated the immoral man remaining at a very low level of self-control in the sexual appetites, with women as the object of these appetites.

The Catholic Church, while promoting as primary the unique genius of women (their nurturing and inter-relational gifts, without which the world grows emotionally cold and people uncooperative) authentically promotes the equality of women by requiring an end to all injustice against them in education, employment, political life etc. Indeed, the Church recognises that by teaching and modelling their unique gifts to their children, it is women who provide the building block for world peace. Should not authentic feminism laud the unique feminine genius as complimentary to men’s gifts of logic and grit if it seeks to raise the dignity and valuing of women as women, rather than promote women as pseudo men? What was needed in the 1960’s was fairness in education and employment; a fairness which allowed women to follow their career without having to retreat from the home and did not require them to attack their own body. Contraception may have seemed to bring women social equality, but I suggest there is good reason for saying that it only sabotaged women, and provided for the whole of society –men and women- to sink to the lowest common sexual denominator.

For the single woman, contraception can eradicate a proof of love, while abstinence is a sound way of ensuring the man in her life can demonstrate he truly loves and values her: if he is willing to wait, he is willing to make other sacrifices for her too. In marriage, sexual relations without contraception is to authentically make love; it is a complete trusting and giving of oneself to the other; a physical act of love which has a physical outpouring: a child; the beautiful embodiment of the love between husband and wife.

Monday 2 July 2012

A Homosexual Pastoral Problem


I recently had a devout Catholic parent ask me to speak to her teenage son. He is about to leave school and has told his mother that he is gay; that this is one of the reasons he has not attended Mass over the last year.  His mother has spoken to him about the Church’s position but he blocks her arguments with, “It’s legal now, and everyone has the right to fall in love. Anyway, they have a special Mass for gays in Westminster and Jesus said not to judge”. In desperation she asked him to meet with me. Surprisingly he agreed.  I began by asking him to tell me his story, then asked why he thought it was OK to live a homosexual lifestyle. He told me his (Catholic) High School studies had presented him with several moral questions: abortion, divorce, homosexuality etc., where they were asked to share their own opinions.  Given that the formation of youth these days is predominantly via the media, it was not surprising that the youngsters followed the reasoning of the world.

Thus began a discussion of the meaning of authentic sex as opposed to sexual acts; on Truth and subjective ‘truth’, and on what Jesus really meant when He said ‘Do not judge’. In my most mild tone of voice I explained that the person is not judged, but the act must be -and for the sake of the person’s union with God.  He then asked, “So if the Church says only the act is wrong, does that mean I can have a relationship as long as I don’t have sex?” Strictly speaking the answer is yes, which I gave. But his next question was more difficult: “So can we share a home if we don’t have sex?” This answer is, as I explained, a qualified yes since it puts one in a situation where sin is all but facilitated, could cause scandal, and would require heroic virtue. “Yes, but it’s possible isn’t it? And I could still go to Communion.” I had to answer, “With the grace of God, yes it’s possible, but not ideal: it’s like putting a kleptomaniac in a shop all alone –can you tell me nothing is going to happen? I have to remind you it takes heroic virtue, and while you might think you can do it sitting here, the reality of it might be very hard”. Sadly I believe he left holding onto, “I can have a relationship and even share a life with someone as long as there is no sex”, not with an understanding of homosexuality as a disorder of sexuality, nor the difficulty of his house-sharing goal.  While I had spoken the truth, all I could do was leave it with him, but I shall pray for him and for his family, and for all in their situation.  What a sad state of play that we have created a generation who equate good and evil with what is legal and illegal, and not with the Gospel.