Friday, July 25, 2008


A Reuters story describes the paid half-page advertising in Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper, "saying the Church's ban on contraception has been 'catastrophic' and urging him [the pope] to lift it. "The Vatican said it would likely issue a statement on the letter later on Friday."

Meanwhile, Cardinal James Francis Stafford recounts the events surrounding the approval of HV and his own refusal to sign on approval of the document.

In the early days of AOL with cheap public access to the web, I looked at the arguments being presented against HV and soon realized that this was the foundation of present day divisions. It is possible that this one document helped to foment the sexual abuse scandal. It has been the elephant in the livingroom that no one who called himself a faithful Catholic dared to discuss. Yet Catholic couples across the board dissented from HV by their actions.

From my own perspective in looking at this document from the viewpoint of a married woman of child-bearing years who is being treated for cancer, I believe the document forces her into sin at the very moment when her life is threatened and she most needs God.

I believe sex belongs only within the context of marriage of one man and one woman. I believe it is a bond that cements a marriage for the purpose of raising children, and that using this bond outside of marriage weakens it. I believe that family is the purpose of the sacrament of marriage, and that refusing to have children defeats its meaning. I believe children are the best gift God gives, and that closing a marriage off to the possibility of having children is a major step in the direction of divorce.

Yet I also believe there are legitimate times when conceiving a child is detrimental to the marriage, as in the case of a woman being treated for cancer. I believe our Church also recognizes there are legitimate reasons to avoid conception, and that is the reason NFP is promoted. I believe NFP is a method of birth control. Yet we often hear it said that we call a couple practicing NFP "parents." I believe that only barrier methods of contraception could ever be approved because once a child is conceived it is murder to stop the child's development.

Abstinence during a woman's fertile times is a reasonable requirement to be made of marriage when conception is problematic. What I don't believe is that NFP is capable of assuring when those infertile times exist. And now I have a grandchild to prove it. That grandchild is healthy and the light of his parent's life. That would not be the case if his mother had been undergoing treatment for cancer and the child were seriously deformed.

There are many drugs that harm children. Some carry a potentially greater risk than others; thalidomide is a good example. Cancer drugs, by their very nature, damage the unborn. They are formulated to inhibit cell growth and do not target only cancerous cells. Cell growth is the life force of the unborn baby.

I believe that the gift of celibacy is not given to a married couple. Husbands and wives are intended to engage in the sexual act, and that act is a strong bond that keeps marriages together through difficult times. To impose long-term or even permanent celibacy on a married couple, as would be necessary in cancer treatment, is to be culpable in the potential destruction of the marriage. This is not what our Church wants to be, surely.

If I were the pope, I would enlist a team of research scientists to come up with a better method of determining the infertile days, one that is much more reliable than the present NFP, and until such a method is readily available, I would permit a dispensation, given to the married couple by a priest, to practice barrier methods of birth control during periods of crisis.

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