Against the Pending Approval of Condoms - Part I
The Traditional Catholic Doctrine on the Topic
Kathleen Willett Redle
There has been a good deal of talk recently in the media and on Internet blogs about a papal commission to study the supposed licitness of the use of condoms to stop the AIDS pandemic (1).
The condom question turns up once again like a bad penny. It just won’t go away and many think it’s a cheap fix. Progressivist Catholics believe they can just “follow their conscience” and use various forms of birth control devices to avoid the responsibility of parenthood and the transmission of sexual diseases (usually transmitted because of sex outside of the bonds of Holy Matrimony). Pagan modern society begs the perennial question: why can’t the Catholic Church get with the program and come to terms with “modern technology and progress” on such issues as condoms and AIDS?
The answers to these questions are really very simple:
In February 2005, Card. Cottier approved the use of condoms
Firstly, scientific progress and technology are neutral knowledge depending on how they are employed, and the Catholic Church must condemn any usage of such that is not for the “common good,” namely the sanctification of the souls of her members.
Secondly, to reverse Church teaching on contraception making so-called exceptions would be to change the constant and ordinary infallible Church teaching on the prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception, a thing which has never been done in the History of the Church. Christ commands that only those who have pure hearts like little children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and that those who lust after another person commit the sin of adultery in their hearts. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my Commandments!” You can’t throw the Sixth Commandment Thou shall not commit adultery out the window and not have repercussions from God.
Besides these reasons from Holy Scripture for the prohibition of condom use under any circumstance and sex outside of marriage, there is Sacred Tradition as handed down through the teaching office of the Church.
Council Vatican I stated: “If anyone shall assert it to be possible that sometimes, according to the progress of knowledge, a sense is to be given to doctrines propounded by the Church different from that which the Church has understood and understands; let him be anathema." (Ses. 3, chap. 4:14).
And also stated: “The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter’s successors to make known new doctrines, but to infallibly safeguard what has been divinely revealed by God to the Apostles in the Deposit of Faith.”
This includes the Church’s ordinary infallibility on moral teachings as well, which has always prohibited all forms of artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion. This is why the Church can not change her morals to suit modern sensibilities. To do this would be tantamount to turning its back on what St. Vincent of Lerins termed the sensus fidelium, or what has always been believed, semper et ubique et ab omnibus, always, everywhere, and by everyone who is a true Catholic.
Vatican Card. Lozano Barragan released a study on the use of condoms in November 2005
Against the use of artificial contraception, Pius XI in his Casti Connubii of December 31, 1930 stated an unequivocal no to any form of artificial contraception for any reason, including the life of the mother. He even said that natural methods of abstinence in marriage could only be employed for the gravest of reasons, i.e., life of the mother. Pius XI reiterated the natural law principle and scriptural reasons against artificial contraception:
“But no 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 (n. 54).
“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. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it’” (n. 55).
Further on this document Pius XI also condemned abortion and sterilization.
These principles against contraception based in Scripture and Tradition were demonstrated very clearly by the early Church Fathers who condemned it and St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles:
Marriage - a Sacrament ordained by God for the procreation of offspring and for their education
“Now though the semen is superfluous for the preservation of the individual, yet it is necessary to him for the propagation of the species .... The object in the emission of the semen, is .... the profit of generation, to which the union of the sexes is directed ..... The emission of the semen then ought to be so directed as that both the proper generation may ensue and the education of the offspring be secured.
“Hence it is clear that every emission of the semen which takes place in a way whereby generation is impossible is contrary to the good of man; and if this is done on purpose, it must be a sin. I mean a way in which generation is impossible in itself as is the case in every emission of the semen without the natural union of male and female: wherefore such sins are called ‘sins against nature.’ But if it is by accident that generation cannot follow from the emission of the semen, the act is not against nature on that account, nor is it sinful; the case of the woman being barren would be a case in point” (Book 3: Part II, 143).
Aquinas not only condemned the sin of Onanism in marriage between a man and a woman, but also he defines homosexual sexual intercourse as acts that are “contrary to nature” (Contra Gentiles, 3, 122, 5; Summa Theologica, I II, Q. 94, a. 3, reply 2).
So the guiding principle is that each and every act of sexual intercourse should only be within marriage and that marriage is a Sacrament ordained by God for the procreation of offspring and for their education. Procreation then is the primary reason for the marital act.
Such is the clear doctrine of the Church.
1. After decades of opposition, Vatican view on condoms begins to shift
To be continued
Posted January 9, 2007
You may contact the author at the e-mail address
Related Topics of Interest
Against the Pending Approval of Condoms - Part II
Against the Pending Approval of Condoms - Part III
Card. Cottier Approves the Use of Condoms
Free Distribution of Condoms at the WYD
Card. Wojtyla Preaches Nudism
Sex Week at Yale
Benedict's Fans Tattoo their Lower Backs
Vatican II Inverted the Ends of Marriage
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