The following comes from a February 20 Catholic World Report article by Janet E. Smith:
It confuses many that the officials of the Church many decades ago permitted nuns in the Congo who were in danger of being raped to take hormones that prevent ovulation (which is what the “pill” does). In this case the hormones would be taken with the intent of avoiding a pregnancy, but not a pregnancy that would be the result of a spousal act of sexual intercourse. They would not be altering the purpose of a spousal act of sexual intercourse.
Rather, they would be defending themselves against the possible consequences of an act of rape. Keep in mind that it is justifiable for a woman to inflict great physical harm, even death, on a man threatening rape. Her act of killing the rapist is not justified as a “lesser evil” because killing is not a lesser evil than enduring rape. Rather, her act is an act of just and moral self-defense.
Thus, for a woman to do something to prevent a rapist’s sperm from uniting with her ovum is a part of justifiable self-defense. Her act has nothing to do with violating God’s plan for sexuality. She is not choosing to use contraception to prevent a spousal act of sexual intercourse from achieving its natural end. She is not refusing to make a complete gift of herself to her spouse. She is fending off a rapist and all his physicality. Clearly, her use of ovulation-suppressing hormones is not an act of contraception. (A good source for information about the history/reasoning concerning the nuns in the Congo is Fr. Edward Bayer’s Rape Within Marriage (1985), pp. 82-3)
The principle of choosing the lesser evil does not justify a woman using contraception to prevent a pregnancy because she fears the child may suffer some harm during the pregnancy. Here a woman is choosing to do something immoral to prevent harm. This choice violates the fundamental principle that we must never do moral evil to achieve good. She would be intending to thwart the purpose and meaning of the sexual act in order to protect any child conceived from harm, but she is doing harm—to the marital act and her marital relationship—by using contraception to prevent a pregnancy.
There are all sorts of “harm” that spouses may wish to attempt to avoid by using contraception. In fact, one suspects that there is always some harm spouses are trying to avoid by using contraception—harms such as financial stress, inconvenience, threats to the mother’s health, sexual frustration, etc. The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception, for that would be choosing to do moral evil to avoid harm.
To suggest that some “emergency” or “special situation” would permit a person in conscience to use contraception does not align with Catholic moral theology. For spouses to use contraception is always wrong. How can any emergency or special situation justify what is always wrong? It is an improper use of conscience to use it to discern that it is moral to do what is intrinsically wrong in special situations. One job of the conscience is precisely to enable a person to honor moral norms in special situations. In emergencies or special situations we are not permitted, for instance, directly to kill innocent human beings even if great good could come from that death. Martyrdom is precisely a result of the refusal to do something that is morally wrong in an “emergency” or “special situation.”
If killing a person is a justifiable act of self defense against a potential/future rapist, then birth control is a justifiable act of self defense against a mosquito. QED.
There you go again: being logical.
Magnificent piece of sophistry. Got to say the liberals can’t be beaten at that. And I’ll bet that your use of “birth control” rather than “contraception” is calculated to confuse the reader further, since some “birth control” is approved by the Church, while contraception is not! Only problem is that contraception is never allowed as a a solution for any VOLUNTARY act of intercourse. How can you defend yourself against your own voluntary actions? That principle is made very clear in Humanae Vitae. Contraception would prevent babies from being conceived with all sorts of problems, caused by mosquitoes or radiation, or you name it. But the Church does not allow us to do it that way.
“YFC”, your snarky comment fails to recognize that contraception kills not the mosquito but the child in the womb. Shame on you for yet another glib remark.
This makes no sense! There are many Catholic women in dangerous situations of violence and rape, worldwide! What would one of our Popes say to them? And I think Bl. Mother Teresa’s nuns would give such a Pope a big HORSE LAUGH!! Better for the Pope to immediately order the religious order in great danger, to permanently leave the Belgian Congo,, and go to a much safer place!
And, since no women knows if she might be raped, she can take artificial birth control as a precaution.
Once exceptions are made, even the bedrock teachings can be made ambiguous.
I can see how this concept can create a lot of confusion in everybody’s mind. One is self defense, the other, about the mosquito is that special situation where contraception doesn’t align with moral catholic teaching. It is not easy to understand the difference and now everybody will use the excuse of lesser evil as justification.
The story about the Congo nuns is fiction. It never happened. What did occur was a conversation which asked the question, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN? COULD BIRTH CONTROL BE USED ? The rest is not true. It is a fairy tale. This story belongs in THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Ave Maria Purrissima !
At “The American Catholic”, Don McClarey effectively relates the complete debunking of the “Belgian Congo Nuns” narrative—a fabulous bit of “mistory” (mistaken history) that has enthralled the Bob Ones and the Pope Francis’s of the Church:
How this phony narrative has survived is a testimony to the will-to-believe-nonsense: And that is has taken in P. Francis—well, that gives you an idea of how critical his intellectual approach to matters. Amazing.
“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful.”
“This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony)…” (Vademecum for Confessors, Pont. Council for the Family, no. 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997).
Of course, that was a different pope. Now Simon Peter is Simon Says.
Well, a Pontifical Council cannot define doctrine that is to be held definitively, and doctrines that do not enjoy the Sense of the Faithful cannot be held definitively, so…you’ve got some problems. Logic cannot be opposed to faith, so it cannot be said that contraception is always and everywhere contrary to the good of the transmission of life if not using contraception causes death (as happens in some circumstances). The teachings on contraception are a modern invention, not part of Tradition as is claimed (“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception”), and have been wholly rejected by the People of God, many of its priests, and probably many of its Bishops. There cannot be an required adherence to a new…
Hmm. A Pontifical Council is not valid. Yet the Catechism/Catholic Church states specifically regarding contraception (CCC 2370),
“In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil…”
Is that substantive enough? Logical enough? Still too much of a “modern invention” (you mean, like the Novus Ordo Mass, fabricated in 1969? Or: “All religions go to heaven,” as in Nostra Aetate (1965)? Those are good “modern inventions”, though?).
Of course, besides Humanae Vitae and its clear condemnation of contraception, there is the encyclical Casti Connubi (1930, Pius XI): Marriage is indissoluble (31,32); one of the 3 particular goods of marriage is children (11-18); and (are you listening, Our Fellow Catholics), contraception is absolutely prohibited (53-57)?:
“..[N]o reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.” (CC,…
Still, “a modern invention”? Well, CC also cites St Augustine’s absolute prohibition on the matter (n. 55):
“Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented.”
Yes, this contraception is “a modern invention.” Of the devil.
The Congo Nuns Contraception story is fiction. Nonetheless, our good Pope seems to have embraced the use of contraception somewhere, in some circumstances, etc. If this is accurate, Francis is wrong. Of course, in this view, the Pope “speaks” as only a man, with no magisterial effect (just like laying on the charm with an Italian abortionist does not mean that the role of abortionist is now a noble professional calling). The Church has not, and can not, change its views on the use of contraception, even though a fallen-world would like it to be so.
Another excellent detailed debunking of this whole story: “Junk History and Jesuit Myths” 2/22/2016, The American Catholic:
The whole story is a fraud, but one with an intended purpose: upending actual Church doctrine. What the Catholic progressive would be well-advised to avoid is this: how closely it parallels the overturning of the Traditional Latin Mass by the Consilium, with an entirely false narrative of “a pure, primitive liturgy” based on “archaeological and ancient evidence”, one supposedly much morelike that of Our Lord’s.
Beware if the light goes on for people.