All Contraception is Intrinsically Evil

Anthony Zimmerman
Catholic Teachings on Pro-Life Issues
Chapter One: Contraception
Reproduced with Permission

Veritatis Splendor Sweeps Away Pretenses for Dissent

Time Magazine's review of the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of the Truth), 6 August 1993, predicts that the sweeping nature of the Pope's condemnation of evils, including contraception, as well as his demand for obedience "are certain to send tremors through the ranks of the Church's liberal wing" (4 October 1993).

That is probably an understatement. The Encyclical implicitly challenges episcopal conferences to review past statements, some of which were erroneous. It may help pastors who have been observing a dazed silence on the pulpit and in the confessional come to a new decision. Pill users may wonder whether there isn't something better, more holy. And, what Time is apt to overlook: Amazing Grace may now launch a show of new and unexpected wonders in a world that doesn't expect such things to happen.

In the turbulent months following the promulgation of Humanae Vitae in July, 1968, some episcopal conferences overshot compassion with hastily contrived solutions. The Austrian Bishops once approved Holy Communion without Confession for some offenders (corrected in 1988). The bishops of another nation, in a convoluted sentence, suggested "licit" exceptions to HV's ban on contraception. The faithful of that nation, finding the holes punched into the HV dike by their bishops, washed away the entire dike! To a large extent HV has become a dead letter ever since among Catholics in that nation. The statement of that episcopal conference which subverted HV is reproduced here in part only because it has appeared, unfortunately with approval, in a morals text for seminarians used around the globe, especially in the Third World countries: If somebody, notwithstanding his good will to fulfill the directives of the encyclical [Humanae Vitae] is unable to observe it in some matters because of objective and necessary circumstances, he should never think himself separated from the love of God (1968 Statement of an episcopal conference, quoted by Fr. Karl Peschke, Christian Ethics, Vol. II, 6th printing 1990, p. 476).

But apparently, not even Father Peschke could bring himself to quote the rest of the sentence made by that conference of bishops in 1968. The rest of their sentence reads: "...Rather we advise them to deepen their trust in God, and to participate fervently in the works of the Church and to receive the sacraments." The words are open to a catastrophic interpretation of the worst kind. They could mean that those who think they must contracept are invited by the bishops to receive the Sacraments - Confession and Holy Communion - without making a firm purpose of amendment. Apparently that is exactly how many interpret the cryptic statement. Martin Luther once gave this blasphemous advice: "Pecca fortiter, et confide fortius" (Sin bravely and trust even more strongly). Catholic bishops may never give that kind of advice.

To encourage contraceptors to hold on to their faith is right, of course; and to urge them to participate in activities of the Church - Sunday Mass, works of charity, etc., that is also good advice. But to encourage contraceptors to receive Holy Communion without repenting, that is never right. It torpedoes Humanae Vitae, it seduces the faithful to sin.

That misleading statement implies that some people are unable to observe the law of God which is articulated in Humanae Vitae. But, as will be elaborated immediately, we know that no law of God is impossible for man to observe, and that God gives the grace to those who cooperate, to do what is not possible with mere human powers. Obviously all the bishops know that too, since this is fundamental to all moral theology. We can only surmise that the committee which drew up that notorious statement for the Bishops in 1968 did not believe that contraception was something intrinsically evil. The Encyclicals Veritatis Splendor and Evangelium Vitae can be used now to correct past confusion about Humanae Vitae. With them the bishops can resuscitate the truth about holiness in marriage, and make it scintillate in their nation with new splendor.

Surely many Catholics in that country are confused. For example, a survey made in 1988 among a number of Catholic doctors in that country indicated that a majority of those who responded to the questionnaire held to the false opinion that the Pill and condom could be permitted in some circumstances (see report in The Japan Missionary Bulletin, Winter 1988, p. 221). If some Catholic doctors hold this false opinion, surely some other members of the Catholic laity in that country do likewise.

Fr. Juan Masia, SJ who contributed to the confusion of Catholic doctors in this matter, is no longer teaching in Japan. He had quoted and defended an erroneous statement of that episcopal conference (see Report of the Fukuoka Branch of the Japan Catholic Doctors' Association, November 24-25 1990; also Katorikku Kobore Banashi, 1988, pp. 44-55). This made him a persona non grata by reason of which he returned to his home country.

Also, Father Peschke, who quoted a part of this statement of the conference of bishops in his book, no longer teaches at the Pontifical University Urbanianum in Rome. If the Vatican banned him from teaching there because of this false and mistaken opinion, surely Catholics in that country have the right to be protected from the false information which he repeats. Catholics in that country are entitled to be told what is in harmony with Catholic instructions in all parts of the world. They have a right to learn the true teaching of the Church from their bishops.

Fr. Peschke, in his 1990 edition, also cited the Austrian and other Episcopal Conference declarations which, in retrospect, are not tenable. Veritatis Splendor cuts through the altercations. Noble intentions cannot render good an act which is intrinsically evil: If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain "irremediably" evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person. "As for acts which are themselves sins (cum iam opera ipsa peccata sunt), Saint Augustine writes, "like theft, fornication, blasphemy, who would dare affirm that, by doing them for good motives (causis bonis) they would no longer be sins, or, what is even more absurd, that they would be sins which are justified?" (Veritatis Splendor No. 81)

Veritatis Splendor, which upholds the ban against contraception taught in Humanae Vitae, makes no room for the supposition in the 1968 declaration of that conference of bishops - and other struggling declarations of episcopal conferences - that some people are "unable" to keep God's law in this respect; that there are "objective and necessary circumstances" which excuse couples to contracept licitly. Christ has made possible what unredeemed man finds impossible. God's commands are never impossible; we can keep them with the help of the grace of Christ: Only in the mystery of Christ do we discover the "concrete" possibilities of man. "It would be a very serious error to conclude... that the Church's teaching is essentially only an 'ideal' which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a 'balancing of the goods in question'. But what are the 'concrete possibilities of man'? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ's redemption. Christ redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ's redemptive act, but to man's will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act" (No. 103, quoting address on responsible parenthood, 1 March 1984)

Then what about those "impossible" cases in which couples supposedly find it "necessary" to use contraception? Martyrs, responds the Encyclical, have demonstrated that no human value justifies the breaking of God's law. Never is it permitted to do what is "morally evil in itself" (Veritatis Splendor No. 92). These are words of "tough love." Mother Church, who has educated citizens for heaven during nineteen centuries, knows that she cannot change what is unchangeable.

But if Catholics in Japan have been assuming that using the condom is allowed, will they rise now and return home? And if Catholics in the USA have been receiving Holy Communion while on the Pill, will they find the spiritual energy to mend their ways? The encyclical brings multitudes into confrontation with the proverbial rock of scandal foretold by Christ: "He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed" (Mt 21:44).

Good Intentions Do Not Change the Evil of Contraception

Father Bernard Haering, CSSR. endeavors vainly to distinguish between "selfish" Onanism on the one hand, and on the other hand withdrawal before the climax of sexual intercourse, for supposedly "unselfish" reasons: "Only a couple who act out of egoism in refusing the service of life without any responsible motive can be compared with Onan whose sin God punished with death (Gen 38:9f). A great injustice would be done to married people who follow the fundamental principle of responsible parenthood with the greatest generosity, if in their case an interrupted intercourse were to be called 'onanism.'" Fr. Peschke also adopted this untenable position up to the 1990 edition (p. 473) but omits mentioning it in the 1993 revised edition.

Veritatis Splendor, however, which includes contraception among intrinsically evil acts, denominates all intrinsically evil acts as irremediable, pious intentions notwithstanding (cf. especially No. 47 and 80). It thus exposes Fr. Haering's "ipse dixit" theology as missing the main point. Unselfish intentions cannot make withdrawal good because the evil of the act itself is unchangeable, and cannot be extracted from the act by some good intention. Just as an apple remains being an apple even for those who want it to be an orange, so also onanism is an intrinsic evil even for couples to whom Fr. Haering would ascribe good intentions. The Bible does not ask whether Onan was selfish or generous; but it states the awful truth, which should teach us reality: God killed Onan because he withdrew at intercourse and spilled his seed on the ground. Evidently, contraception is abhorrent to the Creator.

The Ban on Contraception Holds Everywhere and Forever

By no means is Veritatis Splendor the first document proclaiming that contraception is always evil. Sixty six years ago Pope Pius XI said it very clearly. All the Popes since then have spoken likewise, or have implied as much. The following passages of papal documents are consistent throughout: Pope Pius XI: "Contraception is a Grave Sin." "Every attempt on the part of the married couple during the conjugal act or during the development of its natural consequences, to deprive it of its inherent power and to hinder the procreation of a new life is immoral. No 'indication' or need can change an action that is intrinsically immoral into an action that is moral and lawful...

Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, [cf. Anglicans, Lambeth Conference, 14 August 1930] the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of grave sin" (Pius XI, Casti Connubii No. 56, 31 December 1930). Pope Pius XII: "Contraception is Always Evil."

"This prescription (of Casti Connubii) holds good today just as much as it did yesterday. It will hold tomorrow and always, for it is not a mere precept of human right but the expression of a natural and Divine law" (Address to Midwives, No. 24, 29 October 1951). Pope John XXIII: "Everyone is Bound to These Laws."

"Because the life of man is passed on to other men deliberately and knowingly, it therefore follows that this should be done in accord with the most sacred, permanent, inviolable prescriptions of God. Everyone without exception is bound to recognize and observe these laws. Wherefore, in this matter, no one is permitted to use methods and procedures which may indeed be permissible to check the life of plants and animals" (Mater et Magistra No. 193, 15 May 1961). Pope Paul VI: "Rejects All Contraception."

"Similarly there must be a rejection of all acts that attempt to impede procreation, both those chosen as a means to an end and those chosen as ends. This includes acts that precede intercourse, acts that accompany intercourse, and acts that are directed to the natural consequences of intercourse" [see annotations] (Humanae Vitae No. 14). Pope John Paul I: "Teach the Full Teaching of the Church."

"Our special support goes to those who help couples preparing for Christian marriage by offering them the full teaching of the Church and by encouraging them in the highest ideals of the Christian family" ("The Christian Family," Address, 21 September 1978). Pope John Paul II: "Contraception is Always Gravely Illicit."

"Thus, in continuity with the living tradition of the ecclesiastical community throughout history, the recent Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of my predecessor Paul VI, expressed above all in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, have handed on to our times a truly prophetic proclamation, which reaffirms and reproposes with clarity the Church's teaching and norm, always old yet always new, regarding marriage and regarding the transmission of life.

"For this reason the Synod Fathers made the following declaration at their last assembly: "This Sacred Synod, gathered together with the Successor of Peter in the unity of faith, firmly holds what has been set forth in the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes 50) and afterwards in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, particularly that love between husband and wife must be fully human, exclusive and open to new life" (Humanae Vitae No. 11; cf. 9,12) (Familiaris Consortio No. 29, Feast of Christ the King 1981).

"When, therefore, through contraception, married couples remove from the exercise of their conjugal sexuality its potential procreative capacity, they claim a power which belongs solely to God: the power to decide in a final analysis the coming into existence of a human person. They assume the qualification not of being cooperators in God's creative power, but the ultimate depositories of the source of human life. In this perspective, contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God" (Address to Priests, 17 September 1983).

"As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae teaches: "every marital act must be open to the transmission of life" (n. 11). For this reason contraception and sterilization for contraceptive purposes are always gravely illicit" (Address to audience of a million faithful, Caracas, Venezuela, 27 January 1985).

"A grave responsibility derives from this: those who place themselves in open conflict with the law of God, authentically taught by the Church, guide spouses along a false path. The Church's teaching on contraception does not belong to the category of matter open to free discussion among theologians. Teaching the contrary amounts to leading the moral conscience of spouses into error" (Address to Natural Family Planning Conference, 5 June 1987).

"By describing the contraceptive act as intrinsically illicit, Paul VI meant to teach that the moral norm is such that it does not admit exceptions. No personal or social circumstances could ever, can now, or will ever, render such an act lawful in itself. The existence of particular norms regarding man's way of acting in the world, which are endowed with a binding force that excludes always and in whatever situation the possibility of exceptions, is a constant teaching of Tradition and of the Church's Magisterium, which cannot be called into question by the Catholic theologian" (Address to 400 Theologians, 12 November 1988).

As John Kippley notes (Sex and the Marriage Covenant, p. 131) Pope John Paul II, by the end of 1988, had explicitly reaffirmed the teaching of Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio at least 40 times. By so doing he fulfilled the "frequent repetition" requirement of Lumen Gentium 25 which obligates believers to accept a teaching.

May Contraceptors Receive Holy Communion?

Communion - literally "union-with" - signifies agreement, unity of mind. The basic reason why Protestants are not, in principle, admitted to Holy Communion with Catholics is that union of minds ought to precede the show of union expressed by this Sacrament. The Eucharist should not be used to paper over a still unbridged fissure in Church union. This is not a judgment on the subjective faith and good will of individual Protestants, nor is it a slanted hint that they may not be in the state of grace. The fact that the Church allows Holy Communion for individual Protestants under special circumstances tells us so.

The obstacle against Communion for contraceptors is different from that of Protestants. Contracepting Catholics do not adhere to an organized sect which has broken unity with the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Why, then, has the Pope called into question the propriety of Catholics receiving the Sacraments when they do not obey laws about sexual ethics? He said: It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church's clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church's moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere. I wish to encourage you in the love of Christ to address this situation courageously in your pastoral ministry, relying on the power of God's truth to attract assent and on the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is given both to those who proclaim the message and to those to whom it is addressed (Meeting with USA Bishops in Los Angeles, 16 September 1987; page 186 in John Paul II, Pastoral Visit to the United States, Ignatius Press, 1987).

Unholy contraception blocks out intended good effects of Holy Communion. The contraceptor, being committed to this evil practice, displeases and disturbs the Christ who is Subsistent Truth, Goodness and Holiness. Holy Communion signifies, and normally effectuates, union of the communicant with Christ; whereas the contraceptor turns a cold shoulder to Him. A guilty contraceptor who receives Holy Communion, performs a perfunctory handshake with Jesus, without making eye contact; he looks the other way while shaking hands; it may be a political action without personal commitment. He may be seeking public approval, rather than genuine friendship with Christ. He may pretend friendship while operating as a double agent. One who contracepts - who habitually lives in this intrinsically evil life-style - is not worthy to receive Holy Communion. St. Justin, Martyr (d. c. 165) states: We call this food the Eucharist, of which only he can partake who has acknowledged the truth of our teachings, who has been cleansed by baptism for the remission of his sins and for his regeneration, and who regulates his life upon the principles laid down by Christ (First Apology, 65).

Intimacy with God, which is Holy Communion, is exercised by walking and conversing with Him. Before Adam and Eve sinned, God was wont to walk with them to enjoy the evening breeze in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen 3:8). This familiar attitude changed dramatically because they sinned. When Adam and Eve, aware that they had eaten forbidden fruit, heard the Lord's steps approaching them in the garden, they fled from Him to hide among the trees. Only after they had confessed their sin did God treat them kindly again, by helping them into sturdy clothing (cf. Gen 3:21).

Habitual Contraceptors Should Continue to Live as Catholics

But contraceptors, including those who do not yet change their ways, should by no means leave the Church. The Church is their mother, and mothers love all their children, also those who cause them pain. A mother once is a mother forever. And even if some members of Mother Church should neglect love toward contraceptors, God will continue to yearn for their return and look for their company and presence. Mother Teresa is fond of quoting a passage from Isaiah which applies here: Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will not forget you. See, upon the palm of my hand I have written your name (Is 49:15-16).

Contraceptors should by all means continue to come to Mass and to pray, because God wants them to do this; but should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. The principles stated in Familiaris Consortio No. 84 concerning couples living in an irregular union, applies equally to couples who are presently committed to a habitual and planned contraceptive practice. We might paraphrase two paragraphs from that document to read as follows: However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried [read: contraceptors]. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage [read: about the intrinsic evil of contraception].

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage [read: to the intrinsic and grave evil of contraception].

Christ: Good Shepherd Also for Erring Sheep

The Church in which Christ offers Himself daily in sacrifice for sinners, knows that the Good Shepherd does not mind going out in search of lost sheep, and spending lots of time on the search. It was Christ who also told the parable of the doting father waiting for the return of the prodigal son who was going through a phase of youthful misadventures. The father welcomed the prodigal son heartily upon his return, although the ever-faithful son who had dutifully stayed at home grumbled about that.

Pastors remember Christ's words that the Father in heaven "causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Mt 5:45). These pastors are kind to the sinners who come to pray, but who refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Pastors remember that Christ advised workers in His Church to allow the weeds in the field to grow along with the wheat, lest pulling the weeds prematurely might uproot some of the wheat (Mt 13:24 ff.).

A good pastor has the heart of a Pope St. Callistus (d. 222), allegedly a former slave, who ruled that all sinners who do penance can be received back into the community of believers. The Encratites were championing the view that those who sinned after being baptized should be excluded from the community forever; others excluded three sins from forgiveness, idolatry, murder and fornication.

Pope Callistus ruled that those who had committed sexual sins would also be forgiven and re-admitted to the community after performing the prescribed penance. In this he was bitterly and maliciously opposed by Hippolytus and Tertullian. Callistus refused to bow to their wrath, learning and scorn.

For Hippolytus (d. 235) there is a happy ending. For a time he became an anti-pope opposing St. Callistus. He scorned sinners such as "women, reputed believers, who began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round so as to expel what was being conceived" (Philosophoumena 9:12). Hippolytus wanted a clean Church, not a mixed body of saints and sinners. But years later Emperor Maximus, persecuting Catholics, banned to the quarries of Sardinia Pope Pontian and Hippolytus as well. Pope Pontian had succeeded Popes St. Callistus and St. Urban. As anti-pope Hippolytus worked side by side with Pope Pontian in the quarries, he then asked and received reconciliation and forgiveness. Both died as martyrs from the sufferings which they endured, making a happy ending to the dramatic story (cf. Philip Hughes, A History of the Church, I, pp. 103-108). The Church has never forgotten that it was ex-slave Callistus, champion of repenting sinners, not the fire-eating purists Hippolytus and Tertullian, who won the contest about allowing repentant sinners to be part of the Church community.

Conversion often follows a long and circuitous route. For many it is the term arrived at eventually, and finally, after much travel. The entire Catholic community, by a brotherly and sisterly solidarity, charity, prayer and sacrifice, carries part of the burden of travellers who struggle along the way; of contraceptors who come to Mass, but abstain from Holy Communion. For all we know, these may be walking in the footsteps of Saint Augustine who once prayed: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." For I was afraid lest Thou shouldest hear me soon and soon deliver me from the disease of concupiscence, which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished (Confessions 8:7).

What Germain Grisez writes here about invalidly" remarried" couples we apply with equal pastoral charity to those who contracept and come to Mass but abstain from Holy Communion: Those who accept the truth of their situation and do their best to live a Christian life within its limits can continue to hope for salvation. Although they are unwilling now to repent and amend their lives, being honest with themselves enables them to remain aware of their guilt, and without their awareness they could not repent. Assuring such Catholics that God is ready to forgive them whenever they are ready to repent, the Church looks forward as a loving mother to their repentance rather than their obduracy until death (II, p. 737).

Pastoral Strategies

Various pastoral strategies to help contraceptors come to mind. One pastor will do it in the confessional, counting on the mighty power of Christ and His grace to make the confessor's advice take hold. If the penitent hesitates, the confessor may apply the directory of Familiaris Consortio No. 84: "If you don't change your way of life, you should not receive Holy Communion." The measure works in Poland, so I hear, especially when parents come to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that they can receive Holy Communion at a wedding or funeral, when all the relatives are expected to receive. The medicine is powerful. Some confessors in Poland use this situation to good advantage.

If even one outstanding parishioner abstains because the confessor said so, he or she gives witness to the intrinsic evil of contraception to self as well as to the community. If a dozen in the parish do so, the witness is strong. It may convert the parish as a whole to a better way of life, to a decision to keep this law of God.

Others will call in a special preacher, or team of preachers, to conduct a mission; the visitors can break the ice, and hear the confessions. The local pastor can thereafter follow through with the same message, from the pulpit, in the confessional, in the parlor. The bishop can be the first to crash through the hitherto established taboo of silence about contraception. To the bishops especially the words of Christ apply: "You are the salt of the earth" (Mt 5:13). He calls his priests for a strategy rally; he uses the words of the Pope in Encyclicals and pastoral addresses; he promotes the message in the diocesan paper, and during his parish visitations. Pastors can follow through more easily if the bishop breaks the taboo, if he pioneers a path through the matted wilderness.

The key toward gaining compliance to the ban on contraception has to be, I believe, abstinence from Holy Communion by those who insist on following contraception habitually. Actions speak louder than words.

A bit of thoughtfulness to insure privacy for recipients of Holy Communion may be in order here. We all heard the joke about the resourceful housekeeper who saw the long line of people waiting for confession when the time schedule for the priest to begin Mass approached. She announced that only those with mortal sins should confess before Mass, the rest should return to their pews. Of course, no one was brave enough to stay in line, and the priest could start Mass on schedule. Ushers in some parishes today do a bit of the same unhappy maneuvering as the above housekeeper, when they guide the traffic to flow smoothly for the reception of Holy Communion by emptying one bench after another. Abstainers suddenly are exposed and visible to all. Allowing the people to approach the holy table helter-skelter would better protect the privacy of those who do not wish to receive Holy Communion.

"Renewal" in the Battle against Contraception

Bishop Glennon P. Flavin of Lincoln, Nebraska, now deceased, blazed the trail for his pastors and people to break through the taboo against speaking about this subject. "The ban on contraception," he proclaimed fearlessly in The Southern Nebraska Register, 11 October 1991, " a divine law which the Church cannot change." He pointed to the eight Natural Family Planning Centers in his diocese, whose schedules and telephone numbers he listed.

How one pastor does it is reported in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review (July 1993, pp. 71-72). Father Vernon Schaefer's homily, writes Barbara A. MacKalski, MD: It was unforgettable for I learned why artificial contraception was wrong, and why I should not prescribe it. Never did a priest speak with greater conviction!... Father Schaefer's friendly parish (in Eyota, Minnesota) with its large families, well attended Masses, impeccably trained altar boys, thriving CCD program and enthusiastic choir speaks for itself. I recognize how fortunate I am to experience my faith so fully...

Father Matthew Habiger, OSB, who shares missions to parishes with his fellow Benedictine, Father Paul Marx, OSB, observes that "resistance to Humanae Vitae is massive and will require a miracle to remove." He continues: There is little sense in having a good priest come into a parish and give sermons on the Catholic sexual ethic if the local clergy are dissenters. The parish is then split right down the center... Either a parish accepts the Church's teachings on contraception, sterilization and abortion, or it enters into a pained silence on all of these matters. There is no real peace of mind and heart at such a parish.

On the other hand, if our moral guides and spiritual leaders are of one mind with Christ and His Church on presenting the entire moral truth, then there is real hope. Most people will follow a good priest, and most priests will follow a good bishop. There is no substitute for work at the pulpit, where the pastor clearly explains the teaching of the Church on contraception, sterilization and abortion. If the pastor will lead his people into life- giving pastures, the people will follow. If the Father of the parish encourages his people to draw upon the sacrament of Reconciliation, as he himself does, then they will respond. Priests can be helped to deal with these matters by materials of HLI, our organization called Humanae Vitae Priests, Religious and Laity International. In Japan, write to our representative, Fr. John A. Nariai, Humanae Vitae Research Institute, 26 Chuo-cho, Tarumizu-shi, Kagoshima-ken 891-21. He has already translated a lot of important pro-life materials of ours into Japanese. His telephone & fax number is (81) (0)994-32-0313.

We find that there are special parishes scattered throughout the USA which accept and advocate Humanae Vitae. Usually Catholics can find these parishes with a little effort. (In Japan, too, we have many such parishes, e.g. Chuchi, Aosa, Oso, Yahata and many others in Nagasaki Diocese. In Nagasaki, children grow up hearing their parents often say that children are a blessing. Now deceased Cardinal Satowaki is well known for having strongly encouraged large families in his active days, saying to the faithful: "Don't consider yourselves parents until you have at least 5 children." Many responded. - Editor).

When the Marriage Partner Does Not Cooperate

If it is the wife who uses a contraceptive, e.g. the Pill, and refuses to stop, the husband, acting now as the redeemed Adam, should refuse the marriage act if other persuasion fails. His initiation and positive performance of a pseudo-marital act would necessarily make him an immediate or even a formal cooperator in an immoral act. He is unable to perform the act licitly, if his wife is using a contraceptive.

If it is the husband who uses a contraceptive, e.g. the condom, the wife should remain passive during intercourse if she cannot well refuse it; the pretended marital act is without its central significance. Her passivity excludes her formal and material cooperation in the sinful act, and she does not sin if this is the best manner to handle the situation, lest her husband become violent, or leave her. She may prudently refuse to accompany him to Holy Communion to thus demonstrate her disagreement with his ideas about morality.

Better that both together decide to practice natural family planning; this is the road for many to conversion and to a renewal of meaningful reception of the sacraments.

If one of the partners, or both, have been sterilized for contraceptive purposes, conversion and contrition ought to be fortified and expressed by suitable works of penance. One very good form of penance is joint abstinence from marital intercourse during about ten days of each cycle, days which might be fertile if they had not been contraceptively sterilized. Even one year of such penance done together has enabled many couples to truly heal their marriage.

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