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Contraception Versus Abortion
A Comparison and Some Implications
By Msgr. Vincent Foy, PhD.
The effects of Contraception
The primacy effect of contraception is the gross deformity of the marriage act- the act designed by God to people earth and Heaven. Contraception transforms the marriage act from an act of love into an act of hate, from self-giving to mutual abuse. Although some forms of contraception do not kill, they prevent life and so demonstrate a willingness to put self-gratification before life. Abortion is a single crime. Contraception is usually a habit which tends to harden the heart with the passage of time. Although the conscience may not suffer the trauma that normally accompanies abortion, contraceptive practice more likely sedates the conscience, with all the deadly consequences of the sinful state, including the loss of Faith. Contraception leaves all the great gaps listed under abortion, but multiplies them as the attack on life is multiplied.
The encyclical Humanae Vitae, under the heading of "Grave Consequences of Methods of Artificial Birth Control", lists the most notable effects of contraception: "the wide and easy road opened to conjugal infidelity and general lowering of morality"; the lowering of respect for the woman who becomes an" instrument of selfish enjoyment" and no longer a respected and beloved companion; the dangerous weapon placed in the hands of evil authorities (cf.n.17)
Following in the wake of contraceptive practice is the acceptance of that other sterile deformity of sex called homosexuality. Christians long recognized the relationship between the two. It is interesting to note that Martin Luther saw this in his condemnation of contraception. He said, "This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomistic sin" (Faith Facts, p.113). A contracepting society, with sex separated from love and life, leads to a society tolerant of homosexual conduct.
The Death Chain
Comparing contraception and abortion enables us to see that they are linked in a death chain. Contraception is at the top of the chain. Contraception gives birth to abortion deaths and to the acceptance of sterile sodomy. Abortion gives birth to euthanasia. All of these give birth to the acceptance of a pervasive pornography. When these are widespread we have the Culture of Death. This Culture of Death gives birth to the death of the family, to the death of society, to the death of the Church, and to the perpetual death of immortal souls.
Father John Hardon, S.J., a truly great theologian, summed up the effects of the contraceptive mentality: "It has been correctlysaid that Humane Vitae divides the Catholic Church into two periods of history. The Church will survive only among those who believe that contraception is deadly both to Christianity and the promise of a heavenly reward. Contraception is fatal to the true faith and to eternal life."
Recognition of the death chain leads to many implications. We consider two major ones.
Implications for the Pro-Life Movement
Considering the essential link between contraception and abortion it follows with inexorable logic that no pro-life group can truly be such if it does not repudiate contraception. Yet there are groups that propose "safe-sex" through condom use as the solution to abortion; other "pro-life" groups accept members who uphold contraception as an alternative to abortion.
Most pro-life associations recognize that they must combat the contraceptive mentality if they are to succeed. Among these are Human Life International founded by that great Apostle of Life, Fr. Paul Marx, OSB. Among these also are Priests for Life, now an international movement. A new group in Canada, which strikes at the heart of the problem, is "Catholics Against Contraception". We also are privileged to have in Canada, under the dedicated leadership of Sr. Lucille Durocher, the completely orthodox movement: "St. Joseph' s Workers for Life and Family." "Pharmacists for Life International" say in their advertising brochure: "Contraception is the Achilles Heel of the Pro-Life Movement. If we do not take clear steps against contraception, it will destroy the pro-life movement just as assuredly as it destroys the smallest life." The motto of Pharmacists for Life is "No exceptions, no compromises, no apologies."
Not to recognize the evil of contraception while fighting abortion is like working to kill the termites on the roof of a house, while the whole structure is being eaten away from within. It is like leaning over a deck to chip away at an iceberg, while the ship is being gutted beneath the waterline. It is not permissible to soft-pedal contraception in the interests of a so-called pro-life ecumenism. This is not a denominational issue, pertaining to Catholics alone. The prohibition of contraception is founded on divine natural law. Only groups which in their underlying philosophy are anti-contraception, anti-sterilization, and anti-abortion have the right to full endorsement.
Immense benefits flow when pro-life groups are in harmony with God's Truth. Here are a few:
(a) They have a right to unqualified support from all, including the Catholic hierarchy.
(b) They can readily network and support one another in organizing protests, demonstrations, conferences, letter-writing campaigns and other projects.
(c) Their unity in Truth will add immeasurably to their strength and appeals for prayers and financial help.
(d) Their unity of purpose will inspire the formulation of greater projects and methods to help restore the Culture of Life.
Implications for Teaching the Truth
A second implication from the consideration of the evils of contraception and abortion is the necessity of teaching the truth. Two many voices have been silent, too many voices have distorted the truth given to us by Christ through the Church. Responsibility for teaching the truth about human life rests primarily with our bishops (cf. c. 375, Code of Canon Law). To bishops, Pope Paul VI said in Humane Vitae: "Consider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time" (n. 30).
As we know, Catholic bishops, chiefly responsible for teaching Humanae Vitae, have been the primary factors in its rejection. Following dissenting theologians rather that Christ, about twelve national hierarchies so distorted the teaching of the encyclical as to virtually destroy it. Among the worst offenders were the Canadian bishops by their Winnipeg Statement of Sept 1968. As night follows the day, Canadian Catholics now live in the dark Culture of Death.
In Canada, as in many other places, we desperately need bishops who will go against those who have subjected the truth to a pseudo-collegiality of moral compromise. We need bishops who will not subordinate the truth to uniformity. We need bishops who speak and do not take refuge in silence on life issues. We need bishops who will sweep their dioceses clean of all errors against Life and Love. We need bishops not afraid to challenge those civil authorities who initiate legislation against the family. We need bishops who will insist that Catholic hospitals be in conformity with Catholic ethics. We need bishops who will remove from their schools the Fully Alive sex education course which initiates children in grade school into sexual perversion and teaches them the illicit means of contraception. We need bishops ready to suffer criticism and media-abuse and humiliation in defense of human life. We need bishops ready to die for Life. For such bishops we ought to pray. For all bishops we ought to pray and pray.
THE NINEVEH SOLUTION
The situation in many countries is desperate. Extrapolating from the statistics, the typical parish in Canada is dying. Its birth rate is suicidal. Most of the parents of childbearing age are either sterilized or contracepting. The majority of those contracepting who go to Mass receive Holy Communion, an objective sacrilege. The children going to a Catholic school are educated in contraception in grade eight. Few go to Sunday Mass. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are insufficient to sustain a flourishing, evangelizing Church. It is impossible for the Church to survive where Humanae Vitae is not taught and lived.
There is Hope
The situation looks hopeless. Humanly speaking, it is hopeless. Yet there is hope.
The book of Jonas gives us a clue. God through Jonas threatened to destroy Nineveh. "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me" (Jonas 1:2). Nineveh repented by prayer and penance and it was spared. A quite marvelous example of the power of prayer is given us in a book called The Shadow of His Wings, the true story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM (Ignatius Press). I suggest that every Catholic would benefit from reading this book. When Fr. Goldmann was a boy, he met a Franciscan missionary from Japan and yearned to go back to Japan with him. He was told that if he said one Hail Mary a day he would one day go as a missionary to Japan. He said that Hail Mary and how he got to Japan is a remarkable, even miraculous, series of events - through countless obstacles, including a sentence of death.
Prayer and penance would save the Church in Canada. That is the Nineveh solution. Every Canadian Catholic saying one Hail Mary a day for Life could do it. We are reminded of the words of Tertullian: "Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God."
Prayer for life can take many forms. Here are a few suggestions.
It would surely be a fruitful prayer if a pro-life oratio imperata (required oration) were added to the Mass, making every Mass a petition for life. We recall that an added oration for peace was ordered by many bishops during World War II. The Prayer of the Faithful at Mass could always include a petition for an end to abortion and contraception. Pro-life prayer cards could be more widely distributed, especially by pro-life groups. The prayer could include a petition for an end to contraception. The daily prayers in every school could include a pro-life petition. Especially pleasing to God would be the prayer of all contemplative religious on behalf of human life.
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration (P.E.A.) is spreading in Canada and in many other countries. This means having extended exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, either part-time, or for twenty- four hours a day. It is the intention of the Holy Father that this devotion "be established in all parishes and Christian communities" (International Eucharistic Congress, 1993). More and more pastors are introducing this transforming devotion. All engaged in Eucharistic Adoration could spend more time in remembering the cause of Life.
Every Catholic, in daily prayer, could ask for an end to contraception and abortion. In our prayers, we ought to pray that qualified pro-life leaders would seek election to government. We ought also to pray for the conversion of abortionists and all those associated with abortion clinics. To his or her prayers every Catholic could add some acts of self-denial and penance.
We live in a new Nineveh. We can choose Life or Death. Is there enough Faith left to choose Life?
|2001 Catholics Against Contraception|