UDPATED Two stories intersect in Ch 8 of Amoris laetitia: An attack on Humanae vitae and a Cardinal speaks up

UPDATE 11 Jan:

Fathers and seminarians,

Be sure to read the response by a good theological to the bad theologian – the canary in the mine shaft – who at a Jesuit school launched an attack on the integrity of Humanae vitae.

Professor Josef Seifert, co-founder of the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has said the positions of Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, delivered on Dec. 14, 2017 during a public lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, contain “disastrous general philosophical errors that have been magisterially and forcefully rejected by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor.”


Prof. Seifert added that Chiodi’s theory, which draws on the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia to “place subjective responsibility over objective moral situations,” is “profoundly erroneous and totally destructive not only of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, but also of the essence of morality, and in fact, of any truth and any Church Teaching.”



The full statement is important for all priests and seminarians to read.

___ Originally Published on: Jan 9, 2018

Two points which are interrelated.  They intersect at Chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia.

First, at LifeSite there is a piece about a new priest member of the Pontifical Academy for Life who may be the canary in the mineshaft:

ROME, January 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Responsible parenthood can obligate a married couple to use artificial birth control, a recently appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life has argued, basing his theory on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia[Yes, you read that right.]

Italian moral [?] theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi said at a December 14 public lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome [Jesuits… again] that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.

Chapter 8 of the Pope’s 2016 document on the family has drawn controversy because of its differing interpretations on the issue of admitting some divorced and civilly “remarried” couples to Holy Communion.

When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, [“impossible or unfeasible”?!?] other forms of responsibility need to be found,” argued Fr. Chiodi in his lecture entitled: Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016). [Reading 2+2 can give you 5, also.]

In such circumstances, he said, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”  [What a heap of steaming dung.]


B as in B. S as in S.

However… you can see what’s going on.  The trajectory is becoming clearer.

This is an example of creeping incrementalism.

Libs don’t usually go straight at their goal in one move.  They use lots of small steps to get there.  The bump the needle in the direction they want it to point a degree at a time.  They turn up the temperature slowly in order to boil the frog.  They… you get the idea.

In another story at LifeSite, a Cardinal steps up.  NB: There is a VIDEO.  Some bits and pieces from the longish and packed piece:

January 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, Mexico, rejected the possibility of giving Holy Communion to people who commit the sins of homosexuality, contraception, and adultery, in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.

He also called homosexuality a “psychological illness” that leads to the self-destruction of its practitioners. He accused the elite financial class of the Anglo-Saxon countries of seeking to impose gender ideology on developing countries.

Asked about proposals to give practicing homosexuals Holy Communion if they are in “good conscience” about their behavior, Sandoval responded, “They can’t be in good conscience. Chastity is a universal precept. All of us must maintain chastity.”

The cardinal added that chastity is not something required exclusively of those who suffer from homosexual impulses, but of everyone according to his particular situation.

“So just as those who have normal tendencies, and aren’t married, have to abstain, so those who have abnormal tendencies must also abstain,” said Sandoval, adding, “Even more so, knowing that homosexuality is a psychological illness which can be cured. Let them seek a cure, because homosexuality is never permitted.” [Libs are sure to pounce in this and then ignore the rest about chastity.  Just watch.]

“That’s what Genesis is about. Gomorrah . . . what happened with Sodom and Gomorrah? What happened? They gave vent to their desires and were destroyed in that way,” said the Cardinal.

“There are many people who have the misfortune of being homosexual but who live chastely,” said Sandoval. “Those, yes, are going to enter into the kingdom of God. But those who practice it will not enter the kingdom of God. St. Paul says that. And homosexuality is condemned, totally condemned, in the Old Testament, in Genesis, and by St. Paul in the New Testament.”

Sandoval also rejected proposals to give Holy Communion to Catholics who use artificial birth control, noting that “contraception is decisively condemned, totally condemned, in Blessed Paul VI’s Humanae vitae. It’s totally condemned because it runs counter to human nature and against the plan of God. All forms of contraception.”

The Cardinal said that Pope Francis had been misunderstood regarding giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and remarried, and pointed to Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortiowhich gave “a series of very wise and very concrete conditions that were established by the Holy Father, John Paul II.”

“It’s necessary to return to them,” he said. “They give a response to the confusion over chapter eight of Amoris Laetitia.” He observed that Familiaris consortio requires that those who have divorced and invalidly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion unless they abstain from the sexual act.

Cardinal Sandoval told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that the progress of the culture of death in Mexico is continuing, despite a “great exorcism” that was performed on the country in 2015. He put part of the blame on bishops whom he said often don’t have the courage to speak the truth.

Asked LifeSiteNews: “In 2015 you did a rite of ‘great exorcism’ . . . for all of Mexico in response to attacks against the value of human life in the country. How has the situation changed in the country since then? Is it better, worse, or the same in your opinion?”


Be sure to read to the end of that piece.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Imrahil says:


    when you’re on the right site, you must be absolutely right. It may be not fair, but it is the case.

    I’m not so much referring to the statement about homosexuality being curable – the leftist, liberal, what’d you call them, reaction, is at least as much “that can’t exist because it mustn’t exist” as it is legitimate stating of the fact that not all things that pose as such cures are helpful even as such, and that even the helpful ones don’t help all willing people to the last man, or any of the unwilling people. Still, when not necessary, it was a mistake to speak about it.

    What I am referring to is the statement that because homosexuality really is wrong (and it is), those who practice it necessarily do so subjectively in bad conscience.

    I’ll just say that being a faithful Methodist, or a Jew (in the sense that excludes “Jewish Christian”) really is wrong as well.

    (He must excuse the Anglo-Saxons and Germans a bit. He is a Mexican; in Mexico, I am told, by and large still only manifest religious laziness, or perhaps in the one or the other case, criminal intents hinder people from being practicing Catholics. Not so in the Anglo-Saxon world or for that matter the German world with all their Protestants; hence we perhaps necessarily tend to ponder a bit more naturally on the fact that you can do something objectively really evil in a subjectively good conscience.)

  2. tamranthor says:

    It would appear that the Pontifical Academy for Life is now…. not for life.

    If you will excuse the language, I believe the correct response to this nonsense is, “Not only no, but hell no.”

    As an adoptive mother (the only option open to me), I take exception that the only responsible course is to thwart God’s plan. If you cannot support another child, but you cannot avoid producing one using legitimate means, then by ALL means, give that child to me, and I will raise him or her to become a child of God, for His glory.

    I am quite certain that I am not the only person who feels this way and is willing to do what is necessary, out of love.

  3. chantgirl says:

    Hmmm. Contraception a “requirement’? Is sex, then , also a “requirement”?

    Come to think of it, are there times when responsibility might require an abortion, or condom use between homosexuals (because sex is a “requirement”) , or euthanasia, or masturbation for pedophiles to stave off predation, or eugenics?

    Slippery words.

    Keep your slithery words off our sacrament.

  4. richiedel says:

    Because the responsibility to caring for kids with a second “spouse” is pretty much the same thing as the responsibility of not having kids with one’s original spouse, RIGHT???

  5. L. says:

    “Creeping incrementalism,” or “Incremental Creepism?”

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Priests manage to keep their jobs in the Pontifical Academy for Life despite openly stating that contraception may be morally obligatory for responsible Catholic couples.

    Burke, Mueller, those the 3 priests in the CDF who were “good priests” under Mueller lose their jobs without explanation. So, so sad.

    This is the Academy ostensibly “dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic.” The one “reorganized” by Pope Francis in 2016…a reorganization which involved getting rid of all the lifetime members appointed before Francis’s papacy began and filling the academy with non-Catholics and people who have argued for the licity of early abortion. And now we learn priests who are promoting contraception.

    Is anyone really surprised this is how things are going down?

  7. Pingback: New Academy for Life member uses Amoris to say some circumstances ‘require’ contraception |

  8. Pseudo D says:

    I sometimes avoid the term liberal and substitute progressivist or leftist, but the abbreviation
    “lib” is satisfying. Raymond Aron in Opium of the Intellectuals refers to “liberal in the American
    sense”, which corresponds to the French left. Liberalism can refer to modern democracy and
    constitutional government, and classical liberalism deals with free market economics, which
    in America is considered conservative.

  9. Joe in Canada says:

    The notion that sometimes it is impossible to do what God commands, and one can be objectively in a state of known mortal sin and still live a grace-filled life, is insidious.

  10. Imrahil says:

    It goes without saying that teaching that what is immoral is moral is off-bounds.

    As it does indeed, as the phrase goes, go without saying, I’m not in the habit of saying it; at least not in this com-box, where our reverend host and others have already, and rightly, said it.

    Let me concentrate on two other things:
    Responsible parenthood can obligate a married couple to use artificial birth control.

    Note that he does not say “we have hitherto said that a-b-c was certainly forbidden; we see now that was too hard; feel free to contracept if you like to”. That would be wrong; but it would, at least, be really liberal; and humanly understandable.

    But it is a general observation that those who profess what might be called “modern morality” generally aim to put the poor human soul out of her fetters of old morality merely by replacing them by other fetters – and not only were the old ones right and the new ones are wrong, but they are also a great deal more in number, harder to hold, and more depressing. The old Christian could say “I slept with my wife because we very much like doing so; now God has presented us with a child; let Him provide”. The new morality demands that people rack their brains first before they even think about conceiving one child.

    One second:

    Responsible parenthood can obligate a married couple to use artificial birth control.

    Again somewhat related: I understand (for my sins I guess), though I don’t condone (by rational decision at least) the sentiment: “Oh, who in all the world likes to be responsible? Let’s be irresponsible, it’s so much more the fun.” The old Christian morality was accused that it took the fun out of people’s lives. This was (perhaps with some exceptions – there is such a thing as forbidden, and rightly forbidden, pleasure) on the unjustified, but at least the opponents did really say it. Now they seem to have taken away the message that breaking the old morality is quite decent – on the one condition that it doesn’t make fun to do so.

    But then, Chesterton a century ago already composed the following poem:

    The Song of the Strange Ascetic

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have praised the purple vine,
    My slaves should dig the vineyards,
    And I would drink the wine.
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And his slaves grow lean and grey,
    That he may drink some tepid milk
    Exactly twice a day.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have crowned Neaera’s curls,
    And filled my life with love affairs,
    My house with dancing girls;
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And to lecture rooms is forced,
    Where his aunts, who are not married,
    Demand to be divorced.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have sent my armies forth,
    And dragged behind my chariots
    The Chieftains of the North.
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And he drives the dreary quill,
    To lend the poor that funny cash
    That makes them poorer still.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have piled my pyre on high,
    And in a great red whirlwind
    Gone roaring to the sky;
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And a richer man than I:
    And they put him in an oven,
    Just as if he were a pie.

    Now who that runs can read it,
    The riddle that I write,
    Of why this poor old sinner,
    Should sin without delight—
    But I, I cannot read it
    (Although I run and run),
    Of them that do not have the faith,
    And will not have the fun.

  11. LarryW2LJ says:

    And thus, was born the adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”

    This is why, clear, unambiguous, no-nonsense teaching is required, as you’ll always have barn house lawyers looking for loop holes.

  12. Christopher Meier says:

    An interesting thing happened at Mass this morning.

    (Quick background: this is not my home parish, but one near my workplace. I’m trying to increase my daily Mass attendance and this place offers two early morning Masses every day. Very nice.)

    Prior to the final blessing, Father made a brief statement. It was, paraphrased: Let’s give thanks for our Holy Father. It’s been, what, five years now. He is bringing something new to the Church. The Lord be with you (etc., etc.)

    He didn’t say what this “something new” was. I don’t know this priest, so I have no clue as to his inclinations or affiliations, other than during the invitation to prayer he said, “Pray, *sisters and brothers*, that my sacrifice and yours…” That may have been a tell.

    I’m going to interpret the statement as charitably as I can, and presume that due to the earliness of the hour Father let loose with a banal exhortation of filial duty to the Holy Father.

    But I doubt it.

  13. Dan says:

    Not only does the left use tiny steps to accomplish their agenda but they also use large issues to smoke screen their real attack. I don’t know that the devil cares much about what method of birth control people use or if gays can Marry, they are distractions or small tools in a much more deliberate attack on the family itself. The goal is to destroy the family. The real key here is the term “Responsible Parenthood” The priest says, there are instances where Responsible Parenthood can include artificial birth control.
    To many jump up and yell “NO! we can practice responsible parenthood using natural methods like NFP! This guys an idiot!” The issue is that in that statement, which I have heard uttered by many faithful priests in one form or another, the issuer has already conceded defeat. That responsible parenthood involves closing yourself off someway to the marital promise of being open to and accepting children from God. Add to that a Pope that condemns faithful Catholics for “breeding like rabbits” then releases an encyclical like “Laudato Si” and it is easy to be fooled into thinking that earth trumps humanity and the soul, so the only way to “responsibly parent” is to limit population. Although I would put a family of 12’s carbon footprint against 2 families of 3’s any day. Fewer kids is actually worse for the environment.
    We need to realize, this is an attack on family! not marriage, not contraceptive methods, not even abortion, those are all symptoms and fallout from the attack. CCC2214 says “Divine Fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood” if we deny the need for fatherhood, parenthood, we lose site of the need for God our Divine Father, we lose our sense of filial piety that is learned from both being subject to our parents and being parents ourselves. We learn that our will is more important than God’s will.
    To many people, priests included, fall into the “responsible parent” trap and it doesn’t need to include artificial birth control, advertising natural methods of birth control as a means to limit children and be a “responsible parent” is enough. By talking about NFP that way you have already agreed to the left’s (devil’s) premise that family needs to be limited.

  14. Joy65 says:

    “[What a heap of steaming dung.]”

    OK now that is just PERFECT reference for this post. WHY WHY WHY do SOME priests think they can say what they want and that it is ok with the Church? HELLO you want to spout that kind of stuff start your own church like many have.

    PRAYING for any who have these and any other FALSE kind of personal ideas that they try to pass off as the Church’s teaching. May God have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  15. Imrahil says:

    Dear Dan,

    the difference between NFP and artificial birth control is the same difference there between saying “what an astounding mess of crap, from beginning to end” on the one side and saying (pardon the quote) “God damn myself” on the other.

    And this difference is, both achieve the same effect, which is a legitimate and perhaps, according to the amount of self-restraint or resp. sacrifice a person or resp. a couple want to take, conditionally necessary one (let of steam in the first case, not having another child in the second case). But the first is perfectly moral and the second perfectly immoral. (If anything, the moral alternative works better than the immoral one – in both cases.)

    Nor is it illogical that this should be so. Setting the doing of good aside for a moment, the omitting of evil chiefly consists not in missing out, at least not ordinarily, but in holy terror of, well, committing evil – as offending to God, and bad in itself. When Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden, hunger is said to have been one part of the temptation; but as far as the hunger was concerned, there were plenty of perfectly legitimate fruits to still it.

    Likewise, limiting the number of children and still enjoying sex may not be the best thing in the world (as is feasting on a non-fasting normal weakday when you could also fast), but there at least is a point where it is legitimate (not obligatory), and with NFP there is a legitimate and, I am told, rather efficient way to achieve this end.

    As for conceding defeat, it may be just so short of miraculous, but NFP has never to my knowledge yet been used as a means to shame parents into having fewer children.

  16. Dan says:

    @Imrahil it was not my intention to bad mouth NFP or those who use it. It is a legitimate means of family planning and the catechism recognizes “…conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children” there is more to it than than only the act of procreation and the union of a husband and wife in that regard has merit even with nfp as a means of sharing between the two. Also NFP does allow for God to act and produces no physical barriers.
    I only suggest the reasoning behind using something matters, and if the statement is “you don’t have to use artificial birth control because NFP can block children just as well” then you are accepting the premise that children need to be blocked. If you argue that premise than be careful to state it in a correct way, because blocking children because we have had 3 in 4 years and my wife is emotionally and physically at her limits is a wonderful use of NFP, but blocking children because I can’t do without a new snowmobile and $7 starbucks every morning is a very different thing.

  17. jaykay says:

    Christopher Meier says: “He didn’t say what this “something new” was.”

    He probably wouldn’t, or couldn’t, perhaps because he’s so ill-informed that he couldn’t state it theologically but nevertheless feels the need to get on board with the zeitgeist and drop hints that he’s in with the cool kids.

    Well, perhaps not, and I certainly hope so. Because the only new thing in the Church, as we all know, is the old thing. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper. There is no new thing under the sun.

  18. Ben Kenobi says:

    Oh, how different my response would have been to this less than a month ago. We are at war, and the followers of Satan know their ways all too well. A generation that boasted their ‘progressivism’ in leaving the past behind continues to tear and rip at the fabric of society. Even those who have been spared the ravages of family turmoil remain fully committed to contraception – even to the point of destroying those who reject their ways.

    And those who have suffered those ravages… have been brutally hurt and damaged souls that we must pray for. That they might be comforted by God of their suffering, lest they pass on their fears and troubles to another generation.

    We are at war and the battle lines have been drawn up. How sad that those who cannot change the world through their thoughts do so through the least means they possess.

  19. catholicjen says:

    If there is an obligation to contracept, then there is an obligation to avoid pregnancy even while doing acts that are designed to achieve pregnancy. Which means that some pregnancies will occur anyway (and they do–just look at the data). So what happens to those kids? Are they an accident? What is Fr. Chiodi’s plan in those cases?

    I do wonder if many people believe that there is a right for pregnancy-free coitus. I’ve posed this question a number of times online to various pro-choice people, and the answer is always, “Yes.” Just blows my mind.

  20. catholicjen says:

    NFP doesn’t block the natural ends of an act of coitus. Contraception does.

  21. Sonshine135 says:

    The January 19, 2015 remarks by Pope Francis about “responsible families” and “breeding like rabbits” are all starting to fall into place now aren’t they? You may want to revisit this link if you don’t recall what I am speaking about.

  22. Pingback: THVRSDAY CATHOLICA EDITION – Big Pulpit

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear Dan,

    I appreciate your clarification.


    if the statement is “you don’t have to use artificial birth control because NFP can block children just as well” then you are accepting the premise that children need to be blocked.

    No. I have not, thereby, accepted the premise that children need to be blocked. I have accepted the premise that parents may want to block children; but not the quite different premise that they need to do so.

    I only suggest the reasoning behind using something matters. […] If you argue that premise than be careful to state it in a correct way, because blocking children because we have had 3 in 4 years and my wife is emotionally and physically at her limits is a wonderful use of NFP, but blocking children because I can’t do without a new snowmobile and $7 starbucks every morning is a very different thing.

    Now here’s you seem still to be implying a premise, and that premise is that NFP needs an extraordinary justification to be moral. Even in the case of the snowmobile and starbucks every morning (apart from the fact that to choose starbucks, rather than other, more cosy cafés, is clearly a sign of bad taste), what if the parents in question already have three children, or four, and think that “we’ve done our share, now let’s get some comfort where we can have it”?

    If it’s legitimate to cease sleeping with each other (and the Church never taught that it would be wrong not to sleep with one’s spouse if said spouse doesn’t insist – even for a moderate sort of material gain), then it’s also legitimate to use NFP.

  24. chantgirl says:

    This comment of Fr. Chiodi is just an aftershock of the scandalous commentary of Francis on contraception in relation to the zika virus. It still boggles my mind that we didn’t see more of a public pushback to these comments from our more conservative prelates. I expect to see more fireworks on this issue this year considering it is the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae.


    After watching this papacy for the last few years, Chiodi’s comments are likely a feature, not a bug.

  25. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    I think the canary is Humanae vitae, the lethal gas is creeping incremental situation ethics, and the endangered miners are the entire structure of morality.

  26. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’m at the point where everyday, when I see these new reports coming out – one priest saying “This is permitted or must be permitted” – another priest, or Bishop or Cardinal is saying “No, this can never be permitted” – and I’m wondering how can we NOT see a schism in our lifetime?

    On the Twitter feed today from The Remnant, they posted about a RUMOR (granted, just a rumor) that Pope Francis want all bishops, priests and deacons to profess an oath of fidelity to his magesterium. With things they way currently are – how can that NOT end badly?

  27. Dan says:

    Thank you for making my point. That the left uses smokescreen of contraception to mask their greater attack. My point was that this is an attack on the family unit itself. Contraception a lack of openness to children, divorce are all fallout from that attack.

    My statements were not about what the Church technically allow
    s or not in terms of contraception, NF. By getting lost in that we lost track of the point that the family needs to be repaired and attitudes changed before any of this will go away.

    Yes getting people to use NFP over artificial means is important, NFP is a useful tool, but if the attitude of why it is being used is no different than using any other form of contraception then people will always gravitate back toward the easier method, because it is already their accepted attitude that God wants them to have the easiest most leisurely life possible.

    Fix the family, fix the reasoning, bring the faith back into the home and people will use NFP in a responsible manor and artificial contraception use will diminish greatly.

    Getting people to use NFP over artificial means, getting people to respect life are all important, but you put out a fire by attacking it at the base. You build a building by laying a strong foundation. The concept of family is crumbling and bricks are falling all around us, we need to repair the foundation so the building can stand. It might take longer than just sticking bricks back in the holes, the studs and rafters might become completely exposed before we are done, BUT when the work is complete the building will be a fortress.

  28. Andrew says:

    There are circumstances that, for the sake of responsibility, require me to vomit.

    As Seneca mentions, some people “vomit so as to eat and they eat so as to vomit” (“vomunt ut edant, edunt ut vomant” – ad Helviam, 10).

  29. TonyO says:

    To many jump up and yell “NO! we can practice responsible parenthood using natural methods like NFP! This guys an idiot!” The issue is that in that statement, which I have heard uttered by many faithful priests in one form or another, the issuer has already conceded defeat. That responsible parenthood involves closing yourself off someway to the marital promise of being open to and accepting children from God.

    Not so, Dan.

    I wouldn’t use Imrahil’s specific wording, but some of his sentiment is mine. But succinctly:

    For a married couple, the only possible alternative to responsible parenthood is being IRresponsible. That can take one of three forms: irresponsibly not being loving toward God, your spouse, your family, and your society, by refusing to have sex (including not having sex and when God intends); or irresponsibly not being loving toward God, your spouse, your family, and your society by having conjugal sex when God does not intend; or by irresponsibly having sex that fails to be conjugal sex because it is blocked from the natural end of the act by any of several methods. These are irresponsible parenthood. These are the alternatives to responsible parenthood. All of them are sinful because they deny one’s responsibility to reflect God’s design for marriage and conjugal love.

    That NFP can be one method of attempting to irresponsibly have sex when God does not intend is is an irrelevancy for the discussion. NFP can also be used to try to achieve pregnancy when non-planned conjugal sex does not seem to be doing the job. NFP is a tool that is neither “morally good” as such nor “morally evil” as such, it is morally neutral and thus the morality of the acts of sex while using NFP also depend on the remote intentions and on the circumstances as well as the immediate object.

    I know people who could say “we can practice responsible parenthood using NFP” because they used NFP to achieve pregnancy at God’s will, and others who can say it because they delayed pregnancies during periods when they had grave need for such delays, for the good of the children. You are carrying into the comment a further – unstated but implicitly intended – motive “and THAT’s how we prevent ourselves from having kids, regardless of what God wants.” But there is no reason to intend that last phrase as being either the universal or even normal attitude of those who use NFP for postponing pregnancy. Sure, there can be some who are like that, but it is far from universal. I know people who have 10, 11, and even 14 kids who know NFP, and I think we can be pretty sure that even if they ever used it in their married lives, it was not from such a motive.

    The objective of the moral life is to be – through grace – in control of one’s choices and to intend what God intends. To be married and in control of one’s sexual life through choices made for God’s sake for the sake of a good family and a good social order just is “practicing natural methods” of following God’s plan. Even if that means, in some cases, never choosing to delay a pregnancy because never having a good reason to do so: if the entirety of choices made so was in consciously following God’s plan for you throughout, then that WAS practicing natural methods of child spacing. There is nothing unnatural about following God’s plan for your life by paying attention to the cues he gives you.

  30. JabbaPapa says:

    Responsible parenthood can obligate a married couple to use artificial birth control

    Crikey !!!

    Don’t want children ? Then don’t have sex …

    What is it with these people who seem to think that there’s some sort of “obligation” to engage in fornication ?

  31. Imrahil says:

    Dear Dan,

    I may give you a longer answer later. In the meantime in brief (well, sort of):

    You seem to be working on the assumption that if people do not do as you demand, the way to go is to demand more; people sin anyway, but by putting up the ideal higher, it may be, just may be, that those who jump for it jump an inch higher than before.

    Now apart from the fact that this is (not only because I admittedly formulated it in that way, too, but also in fact) the “ideal to be strived to realize” idea we see bringing forth so many bad fruits among modern moralists,

    apart from that I never (pardon my bluntness) have understood how this can possibly work. It is obvious to me that despair of fulfilling moral law is a hindrance, not an enticement, to try to do so.

    “With the Lord, there is forgiveness, so that in awe He be served”, says the Psalmist (or was it a Prophet?); “so that He be”, certainly not the (Pelagian-ish) “because He is”, but not either the “although He is so often not” we orthodox Christians might perhaps have expected. One of the purposes even of the forgiveness we receive in Baptism and Confession is that for future acts, the (nonsensical, but still) psychologically very persuasive excuse “I’ve sinned anyway, so what’s the matter now” falls away.

    Therefore, if people fall short of what we demand from them, the thing to do is not to demand more; the thing to do is, I shall not say demand less, but make a clear distinction between what is actually demanded and what is supererogatory. (This can perhaps even include looking closer on the details of the demand. The Ven. Pope Pius XII did this in the 1950s – the Bl. Pope Paul VI essentially followed the same line later – and found that while artificial birth control really is intrinsically evil, the previously-preached reluctance as regards NFP could be abandoned.)

    And then give them any support to do what is demanded.

    As for the supererogatory, many will quite freely do it themselves. In this case, I don’t think it will be so very few couples who have three children that will find out what a nice thing it would be to have a fourth one; but preachers preaching to them they have to try to get one are more likely to hinder that thought from coming to them than the contrary.

  32. Dan says:

    “The Ven. Pope Pius XII did this in the 1950s – the Bl. Pope Paul VI essentially followed the same line later – and found that while artificial birth control really is intrinsically evil, the previously-preached reluctance as regards NFP could be abandone”

    And how is that working out? as Matthew says ” You will know them by their fruits” since 1950 what fruit has that attitude produced?

    Now look to those parishes that have not taken hold of that idea, that do not consider marital vows to “accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church” as supererogatory. I am talking SSPX, FSSP and other traditional (read faithful) parishes and communities. There where they have not allowed their foundations to be eroded by modernist thinking that God has not granted us the grace to live up to what He has asked of us and his moral code is unattainable. There the marital vow is still considered an attainable and sacred convenant between the couple and God. There families flourish. In those places a family with 5, 8 12 kids is not the exception. Because it is easier for them? No, because it is asked of them.

    Any inspirational sports movie ever made will show the attitude that people cannot be called higher, that to ask more from someone is wrong because they will feel like a failure, is contrary to our human nature. I can imagine the halftime speech in scenario described in the comment above; ” Team we are down by three touch downs, the other team has dominated us through the whole game, but don’t worry, it is ok, you showed up to the locker room, you came to practice once a week. A touchdown from you here in the second half is beyond the call of duty!. Ribbons will be given out for half a$$ effort at the end of the game and counseling and free hugs will be offered on campus all week to help make you feel better and you will be excused from your finals as well while you deal with your bereavement. ” …. please, we are called to more than that. Don’t sell people short, people, human beings, children of God were made to and given every grace needed to rise to the challenge. Encounter people where they are, yes!, but don’t stay there with them, help them to their feet carry them if need be, bring them to the goal line.

  33. rhhenry says:

    My wife recently found a Facebook group dedicated to Catholics who use NFP. A recent discussion revolved around using NFP to space out children’s birthdays. Not space the births themselves, mind you, but *the birthdays themselves,* so that future birthday celebrations would be spaced evenly throughout the year. All the comments were positive. We were floored.

  34. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Dan,

    The idea that every act of intercourse must be open to life is correct, but being open to life is not the same thing as expecting every act to be possibly efficacious. In fact, there is a non-zero probability that a particular couple could just be having sex either at random or out-of-phase with the regulatory hormones so that each act of intercourse just happens to be non-fertile. That would be perfectly acceptable by any moral standard, if it were not deliberately known or willed, would it not? Well what happens if they stumble onto the knowledge that there is a pattern to their actions? Then, what? Are they required to change their sex lives so as to make every act of intercourse possibly efficacious? Of course, not.

    The understanding of human reproductive biology which we all take so much for granted is, actually, relatively recent. As far back as the encyclical, Arcanum, in 1880, microbiology was in its infancy, so anything about how sperm and egg worked had hardly been understood and for Casti Connubii in 1930, the sort of contraception being discussed was not hormonally-based because hormones were almost totally not understood, either. Thus, the idea of NLP could not have been covered by the Church in any way prior to the 1950’s and, then, only in the simplest form. Thus, in reality, the Church had never addressed the idea of utilizing natural hormonal patterns to promote or delay conception prior to this time. The idea that every act of intercourse held the possibility of conception if not physically prevented, which existed well into the twentieth-century, was refined by our better understanding of human reproduction. We now know that there is a phase relationship between conception and hormones.

    The situation is like a person who walks by the mall at 12:00 pm and always sees a food truck, but, one day, happens to walk by at 10:00 am and doesn’t see one. If, for valid medical reasons, they must not put on weight, are they required to keep walking by the mall at 12:00 pm, even though it will, likely, result in them buying lunch and gaining weight?

    Using NLP for regulating births for valid medical or financial reasons is analogous to the food truck scenario. NLP does not, in itself, change the nature of the sex act. God, after all, created those infertile periods as well as the fertile ones. if He intended every act of intercourse to be possibly efficacious, then there would be no infertile periods. In earlier days, the Church assumed that every act of intercourse could lead to conception and formulated its understanding, accordingly. Now, the nature of the act hasn’t changed, but our understanding is more in focus, so a more subtle moral distinction becomes possible and necessary. That was, in part, the reason that Humanae Vitae was written – had to be written – in the late 1960’s, when hormone-driven contraception became possible.

    What would you have the Church do? Ignore the fact that there are fertile and infertile periods, so that conception becomes, let me be clear, not a random act, as assumed in the past, but a pseudo-random act based on initial conditions, such that two couples having sex days apart on some sort of schedule result in one couple always getting pregnant and the other, never? This underlying dynamic has, in fact, been going on since the beginning of time, so that, in fact, conception has been, to a large extent a matter of ignorance and what looked like chance, but wasn’t. If, in the past, the Church thought there were a purely random possibility between having sex and having a baby, so as to leave everything up to God, now the Church knows that this is not the case. God, still, controls the ultimate consequences of the sex act, but man, now, has such knowledge that means that he must take some responsibility, as well.

    So, given that it is right to take walks that go in front of the mall, the choice of when to walk is not, it seems to me, dictated by solely God, but, also, by human prudential judgment. Now, one can be selfish and deliberately frustrate one’s need for food and only walk to the mall at 10:00 am. That would certainly be sinful, but if, for medical reasons one must avoid food, then one has a right to take the walk when the food truck is not there. What does it really mean to leave things up to God if you have the knowledge of when the food truck will be there? Would you just leave things up to God if you were standing at a bus stop? I mean, you could. There might be nothing sinful in that, certeris paribus, but, sometimes, if you have to be somewhere, you must resort to a bus schedule.

    So, I do not see where one violates the marriage sacrament by using NLP. The fact that things have gone horribly wrong since the late 1960’s (not the 1950’s, as you state – look at population statistics) has nothing to do with NLP, but, rather, with the widespread use of the Pill, which the Church has not sufficiently clamped down on.

    As for Amoris laetitia, I have been thinking very hard about chapter eight for a while and so-called, “general” moral rules and their exceptions. Since the concept of breaking general rules is foundational in the neural processing of humor and, since I happen to be an expert in the area, I think I have some important things to say on the subject, but I need to get it developed rigorously mathematically, so that there is no wiggle-room for the sorts of special pleading being made by some theologians. The whole darn thing comes down to one essential question: how can one determine whether or not a property is intrinsic or merely general, whether it is necessary or merely possible.

    Let me be clear about something, else. The current response in the Vatican to the large-scale divorce problem is a classic example of the Black Swan phenomenon. Because people in charge of dealing with the laity (i.e., bishops) did not act to quash no-fault divorce when it first happened in the early 1970’s, they were caught with their pants down when the unexpected consequences of people presenting themselves for Communion occurred in the early 2000’s. Rather than attempting to maintain the standard moral law, they are trying to rationalize ways to deal with the unforeseen consequences in illogical ways, like conceding exceptions for Communion on the hitherto unknown grounds of, “mercy.” None of this would have happened if the liberals hadn’t gotten hold of communicating the, “new morality,” to the laity back in the early 1970’s. What I’m saying is the Church did this to herself. Restoring moral order will take nothing short of a revolution.

    The Chicken

  35. Imrahil says:

    Dear Dan,

    the dear Masked Chicken expressed it well:

    The fact that things have gone horribly wrong since the late 1960’s (not the 1950’s, as you state – look at population statistics) has nothing to do with NLP, but, rather, with the widespread use of the Pill, which the Church has not sufficiently clamped down on.


    You say,

    And how is that working out? as Matthew says ” You will know them by their fruits” since 1950 what fruit has that attitude produced?

    A couple of comments.
    1. The verse “By their fruits ye shall know them” is, at least in Catholic discussions as far as I see, more often then not used when you could just as well look at the premises directly and judge them in the light of faith and reason, meaning you should first do that. The dear Masked Chicken has aptly laid down the case for NFP as far as argument goes; in addition, what Pius XII and Paul VI said has in this case clearly the force of Magisterium.

    2. To quote that analogy I don’t really like so much (for reasons I might explain elsewhen), it is a bit rich to say disparagingly about a soap producer, “by their fruits ye shall know them, and people are dirty” if the people have not actually used the soap.

    3. In so far as we do see any fruits of NFP actually (not general states of affairs after the stand on NFP was lessened), we see a lot of loving families with a not unsatisfactory number of children. That is what we actually see.

    Now look to those parishes that have not taken hold of that idea, that do not consider marital vows to “accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church” as supererogatory. I am talking SSPX, FSSP and other traditional (read faithful) parishes and communities.

    As before, please accept a couple of comments by the number.

    1. Please note that when I say “supererogatory”, I do not mean “superfluous” but what we call in German die Kür as opposed to the Pflicht (duty). Dictionary says that means “voluntary exercise”, but I don’t know if that catches the spirit. The difference is that it takes a huge lot of moral effort – which is often unsuccessful – to do one’s duty not only faithfully in a grumbling manner, but also joyfully; while it is almost the definition of Kür that it is done joyfully.

    2. Please note that, again, I never actually said that the marriage vow was supererogatory. It did imply that it does not actually include a promise to strive at an unlimited number of children – as far as the vow goes. It does include a) the vow to accept any child that happens to be conceived lovingly as from God and bring it up, etc (that part is not supererogatory) and b) not to contracept (it is arguable whether that is in the vow, but it certainly is demanded by morality anyway) and c) with high probability it also includes the vow not to use NFP in order to remain entirely childless.

    You will find it hard to prove that this vow actually says “nine children is not enough, unless you otherwise die from hunger or the mother is a virtual cripple”.

    I am talking SSPX, FSSP and other traditional (read faithful) parishes and communities.

    As far as I know, they, at least the former two, accept the teaching of Humanae vitae, including the “comfortable” part. (I am basing that, of course, on what the priests say in their sermons, or would say when asked. I am rather less basing it on what well-established female Mass attendants would say in the after-Mass chit-chat.)

    In those places a family with 5, 8, 12 kids is not the exception.

    Yes, it is. That’s just wrong what you say. It may be an exception heard of more often than in other places, but it very much is an exception. A family with 4, indeed, may be unexceptional in these places; but a family with 8 is exceptional.

    Because it is easier for them? No, because it is asked of them.

    Oh, is it that why they (the exceptions, which you don’t think exceptions) have so many children? Is it really that?

    You know, I’d have thought they do it because they love to have children. Not, of course, that it is always a joyride without any exception at all, but that they really do think it worth while. I’d also have thought that after having a couple of them, they have an instinctive idea how much a burden another one will be, and think “we can and are willing to shoulder that”. I’d also have thought that they maybe thought that, in spite of all their sins, they might speculate to get a little pat-on-the-back (called merit) by God for all the things they did for their children.

    I did not think they did it because they had to, absolutely speaking.

    If so and if the opinion that said so was wrong in the first place, then the fact that some managed to follow it is no reason it should be burdened on others.

    And, please,

    Any inspirational sports movie

    Please don’t get me going with American-style inspirational sports movies. (Cool Runnings excepted). At least judging by the few scenes, they simply aren’t inspirational. I just can see any inspirational value, even where sports is concerned, in either praising what isn’t praiseworthy (if you don’t want someone to feel made fun of, keep the “nice try” to yourself after the fifth attempt to score a basketball basket, even if it really was a nice try) nor in blaming what isn’t blameworthy nor in lying to the ones one is coaching (if you want people to march 20 kilometers, you don’t tell them you’re marching 10 and then just go on, and you don’t tell them they have done the half of it after 5). If you want to see an actually inspirational sports movie, try the final before-match and half-time speeches of Sepp Herberger as depicted in The Miracle of Bern. (The before-match speech actually deals with the issue of playing against an opponent much better than oneself.)

  36. Dan says:

    Wow chicken,
    That was a lot to digest and a lot of reading to realize you completely missed the poin, which is surprising because you seem to be an intelligent enough person that likes to read and research. I can’t compete with you on all of those statistics. Although i would suggest to you to read on Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Margaret Sanger all who’s ideas were on full bloom prior to 1960. Of course mathematically speaking it would make sense that the population drop would not occur immeadiatly upon the presentation of those ideas, but when the people who were raised in those years reached child bearing age in the mid ‘60’s. To say in the 50’s there was not already a strong push toward birth control, despite the fact that the pill was just entering field trials in 1956 in Puerto Rico after being developed and tested on prisoners at Auschwitz, is pure ignorance.

    Also my claim was never that every sexual act needs to produce life, only that it be open to it. Certainly a couple that for one reason or another cannot have children are not called to stop having sex. There is value in that intimacy beyond procreation.

    My point, and I have to stop getting sucked into it on this thread, is that this is a war on the family. Closing couples off to the openness to children. Simone de Beauvoir declared the war quite clearly on the 50’s (gasp there are no statistics yet) when she said “As long as the family and the myth of the family and the myth of maternity and the maternal instinct or not destroyed women will still be oppressed”
    That is what we are fighting against. A seed planted on the 40’s and 50’s that came to realization in the 60’s and we are fighting the fallout of today.

  37. Dan says:

    PS Chicken,
    I agreed wholeheartedly with you on your final point.

    “Restoring moral order will take nothing short of a revolution.”

  38. tskrobola says:

    As a practical matter, while I know some folks who have used NFP and who haven’t had children for over 10+ years, my experience and the available stats indicate that the vast majority of people who want to say “yes” to continuous sexual relations and a “no” to children will use artificial contraception; that would also suggest that NFP is a failure at converting people away from artificial contraception.

    NFP is valuable for folks with medical conditions that would make child bearing dangerous, but otherwise it has never really caught on in Catholic circles.

  39. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Chesterton once said something about the problem with the phrase “birth control” — it’s that those who use it don’t want “birth” and don’t want people to have self-“control”. The commenter’s point about the phrase “responsible parenthood” is similar — the people using it don’t want people to act “responsible” or to have true “parenthood.” A responsible human being doesn’t murder babies, much less a responsible parent.

    As for NFP, of course the Church has never taught that married people have to have sex. There’s nothing wrong with a Josephite marriage engaged upon by mutual consent; and there’s nothing wrong with husbands and wives not having sex for a while, especially for the purpose of prayer. (As St. Paul talked about, and as had long been a custom in Jewish marriages — in fact, it was the Law!)

    The bishops designating temporary “continence” as a form of fasting during all of Lent, Advent, Fridays and Saturdays, etc. was a universal discipline of Church life in the West until very recent times, and it still goes on in the Eastern churches. (And that’s yet another reason why you couldn’t get married in Lent or Advent, back in the day.)

    If all Catholic married couples were fasting from sex during the old designated days and nights, NFP would be a blip on the radar during a good chunk of the year. The fact that some people get fixated on NFP nookie and non-nookie that other people are having, is proof that this concept of fasting has been mostly forgotten. You tell me if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but don’t tell me it’s traditional! ;)

    That said, obviously it’s silly to approach NFP in a frivolous or worldly manner. But then, it’s silly to approach either sex or complete continence in a frivolous or worldly manner, and yet people do — or they at least joke about it so that one is not sure of people’s true attitudes. Shrug. That’s their right. If I’m their pastor or their parents or their friends, it’s my place to worry about it. If they’re just people on the Internet, I can always make a warning comment; but it’s silly for me to stew about how other grown adults spend their time.

  40. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Dan,

    I don’t think I misunderstood you. We may be talking past each other, however. I agree that every act of intercourse must be open to life, but, perhaps we are using the term, “open,” differently. For me, open means a willingness, borne of love of God and ones spouse, to accept any children that come from the act. Where, perhaps, we differ, is on how much secondary input the couple may have in choosing when to have sex. Being open, as I mean it, means that even if sex is had during supposedly infertile times, should conception occur, then one is open to it in exactly the same degree as if the conception had been more likely to occur. In other words, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”

    As for the push for contraception in the 1950’s, there were wayward Catholics like Margaret Sanger pushing for contraception (indeed, the inventor of the Pill was a Catholic, if memory serves), but in the, 1950’s, most Catholics were, still, having babies in large numbers. The push for contraception came, largely, from Protestants and fallen-away Catholics who saw marriage as a mere legality. Pew-sitting Catholics picked up the banner a little later, in the early 1970’s. It is true that there was a push among liberal Catholic theologians for contraception in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, but, then, again, they had Protestant sympathies going back from before the 1930’s, even. I agree that there was a subpopulation of Catholics who wanted contraception, but this liberal group only got a hold of the laity after Vatican II and introduced their mistaken notions as if they were fact.

    That subpopulation still survives in the liberal wreckage we see, today. Yes, liberal tendencies existed in the 1940’s and 1950’s. I know that, but the majority of the laity was still operating under Counter-Reformation theology until the mid-1960’s – about the time that Aquinas and manuals of moral theology got the boot.

    We are not far apart in our understandings. If I read more into your comments than I should have, I apologize.

    The Chicken

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