I imagine His Excellency Most Reverend Robert Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph (MO), has a very full schedule, and therefore doesn’t have time to read each issue of the ultra-leftist National Catholic Reporter (published nearly in His Excellency’s own backyard).
Just in case Bishop Finn doesn’t read it regularly… and I imagine not many people do… he ought to pay attention to this recent NCRep editorial about Humanae vitae.
Let’s read this with my emphases and comments.
By NCR Staff
July 25, 2008
As we roll through 2008, the press is filled with 40-year anniversary stories. 1968 was a tumultuous year; some say it was a year that helped define America for years to come. [It still divides much of Catholic America, for sure.]
The baby boomers recall vividly the Vietnam War Tet offensive in January; the April assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; the Paris Peace talks and riots in May; the June assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy; and the August protest riots in Chicago at the Democratic convention among nation-shaping events that year.
Catholics might recall another 1968 defining moment, the July 29 encyclical called Humanae Vitae, literally “Of Human Life.” The encyclical was a sensitively written expression about the sanctity of marital love and the need to nurture life in marriage. But whatever else it stated, it has been remembered for only one thing: the upholding of the Catholic church’s ban on birth control.
The encyclical upheld Pope Pius XII’s support of the rhythm method (now called natural family planning) [I think there are significant differences between the old "rhythm method" and modern NFP. However, I think this was put in for a reason. The "rhythm method" was widely derided. So, I am guessing that the intention is to paint NFP with the same brush, so to discredit it. This helps to set up the point down the line.] and in doing so, revealed its particular understanding of natural law. [Did the "rhythm method" have a "particular understanding of natural law"?] Its reasoning, theologians say, rested on the physiological structure of the act of intercourse while largely discounting the larger context of human love and family life.
Less than a decade after the encyclical’s promulgation, polls showed it was overwhelmingly rejected by Catholics. Eight out of 10 adult U.S. Catholics simply disregarded it. While bishops were largely upholding the document, many priests in pastoral settings, including confessionals, were saying it was a matter for individual conscience.
By any measure, a gulf between official church teachings and Catholic practice [Again, watch the word choice. I think "official" is code for "something we don't really have to pay attention to" because, after all, people who are moved by "the spirit/Spirit" are above that sort of backward view of the Church. All those rules stiffle real Church.] had begun to grow and was to continue to grow and to permeate a host of other Catholic teachings on sexuality and morality from homosexuality to the use of condoms in the fight against the HIV virus. The right of women to have special say in reproduction, then an almost exclusively male terrain, was soon added to the list. [Note the shift to a feminist perspective that pits women again men.]
In the four decades since the encyclical was promulgated, the church hierarchy, fully recognizing Catholic lay resistance to the strongly stated ban on the use of birth control, dug in. Pope John Paul II affirmed Humanae Vitae as a pillar of Catholic morality — as well as a pillar of papal authority. [the NCR just made this into a power issue.]
Meanwhile, Catholic lay confidence in the institution was eroding by the year. [What "institution", the Church? That is the "institutional" dimension of the Church? Otherwise, perhaps the "institution" they are talking about is "papal authority"? The antecedent isn't entirely clear. However, the intent is clear. NCR is pitting an "official" or "institution" or "rule-bound" hierarchical Church against the lay people who are making up their own minds about things and the priests who advise them.]
Torn between following the advice of a partially lay pontifical commission, created to assess the birth control issue, a commission that eventually supported changes in church teaching, and his desire to remain consistent with earlier papal declarations, Pope Paul VI chose the later course. [Hang on. What about Paul VI's desire to do the right thing? It wasn't a simple choice between the past and the future. It was about the truth.] The need to assert church authority persuaded him. [Again, the NCR makes this into a power issue. The purpose is to help the reader over to the position that because the decision had such a (low) motivation, those who are enlivened the "the spirit/Spirit" can discount the teaching of Humanae vitae and other rule-bound official Church teachings about morals because they are, after all, only rooted in the desire to maintain power.]
After all, he reasoned, how could the Holy Spirit have allowed the church to be wrong for so many years on an issue of such importance? [THAT is how they describe Paul VI's reasoning? How stupid do they think we are?] His decision, in the end, was more indicative of church hierarchical dysfunction — the institution’s inability to look at matters, particularly sexuality, in light of new understandings and insights — than it was seemingly of any movement of the Holy Spirit. [And there it is folks! The "spirit/Spirit" is guiding the enlightened!]
Research conducted by sociologist Fr. Andrew M. Greeley found that the encyclical so shook Catholics that by itself, it would have reduced religious practice by almost one-half. That decline never fully occurred, and the reason it did not, Greeley found, was the favorable impact the Second Vatican Council was having on the lives of most Catholics. [Right. But we are not talking about the actual documents of the Council, but rather the "spirit", again, but this time the "spirit of Vatican II", the breaking of "institutions", the deconstruction of whatever was rule-bound or official.]
Repeated U.S. surveys find that Catholics regard church teachings on sexual morality increasingly out of sync with their lived experience and their understanding of love and intimacy. [You are to conclude from this that whatever conflicts with the majority opinion (the rule-bound institutional Church still trying to keep its grip on power by controling how people have sex) is therefore against love and intimacy.] They knew and still know [Notice the authority they give to this "knowledge". It supercedes "official" Church teaching and any insight or motivation the "hierarchy" might have.] that sex between husband and wife is capable of creating far more than new humans. [Dog bites man.] They also know their gay sons and daughters are not disordered. [Another shot at the Church's "official teaching" about the nature of homosexual orientation.] The surveys have confirmed Rome’s worst fears, [Remember, for the NCR the " Rome" (a bad thing) is only about men struggling to maintain power.] causing at times even more thunderous condemnations [HUH?] that have failed to win many converts. So the cycle of dysfunction and disbelief continues.
National Catholic Reporter July 25, 2008
Clearly, the Diocese of Kansas City doesn’t have much to do with publishing the NCRep anymore, but it seems to me that this editorial would be reason enough for the Bishop of Kansas City to weigh carefully the reasons why the NCRep, still has the name "Catholic" in its title.