Against the Pending Approval of Condoms - Part II
The Hole in the Dike of Morality
Kathleen Willett Redle
The first hole in the Church’s dike against contraception came in Gaudium et spes (December 7, 1965), a document very much pro- “modern progress,” “scientific advances” and an “international order,” meaning supporting the United Nations, mentioned in a footnote. Moreover its drafters emphasized that “in certain parts of the world problems resulting from population growth are generating concern” (n. 47).
Super-population and birth control
A look at the body of Gaudium et Spes (GS) reveals a problematic statement which sounds at first like a conserving force statement. Indeed, it affirms that,
“Sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law” (n. 51).
But then the progressivist force statement comes as a hole in the dike. I refer to this assertion:
“More careful investigation have been handed over, at the command of the Supreme Pontiff, to a commission for the study of population, family, and births, in order that, after it fulfills its function, the Supreme Pontiff may pass judgment. With the doctrine of the magisterium in this state, this holy synod does not intend to propose immediately concrete solutions” (note 14).
Paul VI: First signs of a change
Actually Paul VI opened up a commission to discuss the birth control pill, a new method of contraception. But to study the pill was to deal with the possibility of rendering the sexual act sterile either between spouses or promiscuously among single people. This is essentially what the use of condoms does. So, discussing the pill was tantamount to discussing condoms. The same principles valid for one should apply to the other.
I understand that the Holy See must discuss how to updates these Catholic principles of her moral doctrine in order to bring more enforcement to the teaching of the Church. This was not, however, the emphasis given to the commission. The insinuation was that to resolve the “problem of population growth” a new solution would be found according to modern “scientific advances.”
Let me say in passing that it is quite curious that Gaudium et Spes, so concerned about the growth of population in Third World countries, ignored a major problem in First World countries, which was and is the decrease of the population. Europe is dying off due to “regulating children” out of existence. A fair-minded orientation from the Vatican should encourage these culturally developed countries to maintain their identities by having large families. Western population, already devastated by birth control and abortion, now has the problem of AIDS and condoms. Do you see the connection between the birth control mentality which, in fact, has contributed to “the culture of death,” and the anti-life, anti-child mentality? Why didn’t and doesn’t the Vatican encourage large families in developed countries?
Card. Suenens voted to change Church teaching on birth control
So, at the behest of Cardinal Leo Josef Suenens, Pope Paul VI established a 68-member-commission to study the artificial birth control issue. In 1964, he created the Papal Commission on Population, the Family and Natality, informally known as the Birth Control Commission. In 1966 the commission recommended the Church change its teaching on artificial methods of birth control.
Actually, in June of 1966, the Birth Control Commission voted in favor of changing the Church's teaching on birth control, and the final report leaked out in a text titled “Draft of the Document Concerning Responsible Parenthood,” known also as the “Majority Report.” The reported vote was this:
This was a first consequence of the hole opened by Gaudium et Spes in the previous moral teaching of the Church.
- Pro-contraception: Cardinals Doepfner, Suenens, Archbishops Dearden, Dupuy, Mendez, Rueuss and Zoa;
- Against it: Cardinal Ottaviani, Archbishop Morris and Bishop Colombo;
- Abstentions: Cardinals Heenan and Gracias, and Archbishop Pinz.
Inversion in the ends of the marriage
Another GS time bomb that detonated later was putting the procreative aspect on the same level as love and mutual support between spouses, also called “other purposes of matrimony,” or the “unity” of the marriage.
On this inversion of goals established in GS, Protestant observer at Vatican II Dr. Robert McAfee Brown said this:
Protestant McAfee Brown praised the inversion of goals in marriage
"It goes beyond the traditional teaching that the procreation and education of children are the primary ends of marriage. Thanks to the intervention of such men as Cardinal's Leger and Suenens, the document stresses the importance of conjugal love."
These progressivist statements placed in GS as well all the news and talk that circulated while the commission was meeting allowed liberal Cardinals, Bishops and priests to give people the false notion that the Church might change her morals.
The results of Humanae vitae
Under great pressure Pope Paul VI rejected the conclusions of the commission and published Humanae vitae on July 25, 1968.
The teaching against contraception that Paul VI reiterated was largely ignored by the vast majority of Catholics and was called into question by various Bishops Conferences. For example, two months after Humanae vitae was published, the Canadian Bishops issued its “Winnepeg Statement” to address widespread concerns about the prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception. In it, the Bishops issued this norm that became famous:
"Whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience" (See document here).
Steve Jalsevac, director of Life Site News, noted that Msgr.Vincent Foy, a Catholic theologian, predicted in 1968 that the permissive attitude of the Canadian hierarchy towards Catholic sexual teachings would undermine the very idea of morality in sexual matters among Catholics.
In an October 2003 article in Catholic Insight magazine, Msgr. Vincent Foy confirms that this is what in fact happened:
“Largely as a result of the Winnipeg permissiveness, Canadian theologians and others have felt free to dissent from the Church’s teaching not only on contraception but on a wide spectrum of magisterial teachings, such as homosexuality, ordination of women, fundamental option even on abortion” (See document here).
That Canadian document was just a sample of what happened all around the Catholic world. From them on, following the example of the Bishops, many priests, religious and lay Catholics spread the word that the Church had in fact changed its position on contraception and that documents like Humanae vitae leave it up to each one’s conscience.
In the aftermath of Humanae vitae, absolute principles of morals seemed to go out the window. In the last ten years of his pontificate, Paul VI did not address or put a stop to this general insubordination of Bishops and theologians. In fact, he did not say much regarding contraception after 1968. Therefore, the dam had broke and the practice of using contraceptives was adopted by many Catholic couples who wanted to have sex primarily for pleasure, and choose to have a few or no children,
This is how the dam broke regarding the uniform moral teaching of the Church on contraceptives and permissiveness was installed among countless Catholics.
Posted January 19, 2007
You may contact the author at the e-mail address
Related Topics of Interest
Against the Pending Approval of Condoms - Part I
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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