Saturday 12 April 2014

A follow Up to “Choose life: Life Issues & Holy Communion”

A polite email to my inbox asks the following question, which relates to my previous post about life issues: “Why can’t Catholics be less controlling of people’s lives? Why can’t you move with the times and accept homosexuals, contraception, divorced people and those who simply enjoy the pleasure of sex before they are married? These are personal life-style choices of good people; not wicked things done by wicked people”. It is worthwhile answering this question as a post, albeit briefly, and having discussed the issues with Fr Dickson. While intellectual arguments are enough to bring about supernatural Faith, by reason alone one can come to know that God exists (Vatican I) and to an appreciation of the Faith as consistent with reason. Grace alone can bring us to supernatural Faith.

M., I don’t understand your point about the Church controlling people’s lives; all she does is sets out laws for those who wish to join (or remain) in her. The State, on the other hand, does control; it demands we follow its laws and punishes us if we don’t. I’m not sure why you say Catholics should accept homosexuals, divorcees etc, because such people among our families and friends do these and we do accept, value and love them as people. But that doesn’t stop us telling them we can’t accept what they do and see it as seriously damaging their chances of salvation. Simply stated, Catholics are about valuing human life because we are made in God’s image. As such, all that has to do with human life is sacred; we must care for the poor, the marginalised and the sick, but we must also promote and protect the natural transmission of life from womb to tomb, which means there are acts of which we cannot approve. Some acts are nothing less than displacing God’s rule with self-rule.

Contraception can be rejected even on medical and social grounds. Medical grounds are that it does not prevent certain STi’s and long term use of chemical contraception can lead to fertility problems. Social grounds are that it facilitates promiscuity and faithlessness (with all the pain a broken relationship brings) by providing for sex in which one does not get ‘caught’ by pregnancy, which opens the door to adultery. Demographically, having contracepted and aborted so many young people out of existence we now have a society where a proportionately large number of elderly persons is being sustained by a small number of young persons paying the taxes and national insurance necessary for a just welfare system. Religious grounds are that contraception refuses to cooperate with God in the creation of new life, actively attacking its transmission.

Homosexual activity is, like contraception, an unnatural act: it cannot participate in the procreation of the species which is the goal to which intercourse in all living species is geared. With homosexual men an organ of excretion is used as an organ of sex, while among lesbians sexual activity can be no more than mutual masturbation which, in both sexes and even in heterosexual relationships, diminishes the acquisition of self-control and self-mastery of the passions.

Abortion can be rejected on social grounds since all the rights we have, be they to education, employment, a just wage, health care, freedom of speech etc., depend upon us being alive to access such rights. We cannot demand any right be enforced unless we protect the life to which those rights apply. Medically, there is evidence that abortion holds many risks, from perforation of the uterus and infection to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. From a religious standpoint, abortion is the wilful taking of human life, the embryo having human DNA from fertilisation. It may not be self-conscious life (which is how some might define personhood) but neither is the person who is in a coma or asleep, and it is not lawful to kill a sleeping person.

Euthanasia can be rejected on social grounds because it leaves us all open to the possibility of having our life terminated: hospitals seeking organs for donation may not work as hard to save us if human life is devalued in the mind, as it is via abortion and questionable ‘Care Pathways’ for the dying. It also exchanges care of the dying with killing of the dying, turning those trained to preserve, support and enhance life (doctors and nurses) into killers. The ‘logic’ of ending the suffering of the dying by killing the person means we can end the suffering of poverty by killing the poor. Even ‘voluntary euthanasia’ has problems: it can occur because people feel pressured not to be a burden.

IVF arises from the idea that everyone is entitled to a child, yet no one has a right to a child because we cannot have a right to a person. Further, the destruction of ten embryonic children to conceive/birth one is, along with selective reduction (abortion) a disregard for the value of every individual human life.

Divorce with subsequent relationships allows for the dissolution of families and produces a chaotic society wherein Mr Brown leaves Mrs Brown and the Brown children to live with Mrs Smith and the Smith (and Whitely) children, while Mr Smith moves in with Mrs Jones and the Jones (and Moore) children after Mr Jones has gone to live with Mr Gray. Meanwhile, the abandoned Mrs Brown is hoping for Mr X to come along. Not only are children deprived of their natural parent but no adult can enter a relationship feeling permanently valued and secure. Serial cohabitation has the same effects as serial marriage.

I’m guessing you won’t find my reasons acceptable, but they are consonant with reason and not ‘mindless religion’. I think our shepherds simply need to be more clear and consistent. After all, you wouldn’t want your physician to tell you smoking is harmful and you must stop, yet have a cigarette machine in his/her waiting room would you? Such a physician would be hypocritical and an occasion of harm to his/her patients. It is the same for our shepherds: our churches and schools cannot expound evil misuses of life-related acts and at the same time have leaflets in the Church or lessons in school which present them as a social good. That would make us –especially our shepherds- as hypocritical and harmful as the physician who tells patients not to smoke yet provides a cigarette machine in the waiting room.

I hope this helps M. I would ask you to think about the old adage that we are to love the sinner but hate the sin: we are to judge acts, not people, and must never support or promote anything which harms people -that would be the very opposite of loving them. 


  1. Very good post Andrew. Eminent answers to modern delusions about good and evil. I think at my age euthanasia is the next fear . . .what a world. It was not this bad when I was a boy. It seems that when the Church lowered its guard all these evils came flooding in.

    1. Thanks for the support brandsma.
      Yes, today's society has deluded itself and thinks it has progressed! It ran rampant precisely because the Church let her gaurd down, I think.
      God Bless.


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