Does the RH law force Catholics to use contraceptives?

Atty. Jemy Gatdula wrote in his blog that the religious freedom argument would not work because religious freedom works via exemption:

Religious freedom arguments are by nature working on the idea of exemption. Take for example the Flag salute case of Ebranilag or the live-in arrangement in Estrada, what is sought is not to render the laws subject of those cases unconstitutional but to ask that an exemption from its application be made with regard to those religions adversely affected by it.

Hence, what a petitioner in a religious freedom argument is saying is not that the law is unjust but only in that the law is unjust insofar as it hinders in the free exercise of their religion.
Furthermore, it also leads to other, even more complicated, questions. Because, if for example an exemption is indeed granted, how then would such exemption be applied? In the Ebranilag and Estrada cases, detailed conditions were laid out by the Supreme Court that must be complied with. However, in the case of the RH Law, how can such exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives. And this within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives. If the religious freedom argument were used only in relation to government health workers, then the same could easily be cured by the use of the separability clause.
Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

Response:

I am not a lawyer, so I have no expertise regarding the constitution and its interpretation.  Atty. Gatdula may have a point here regarding the constitutional weakness of the religious freedom argument.  But I shall only comment on two of his statements from a religious point of view:
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?
2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.
I shall discuss these issues individually.
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?

An object, such as a rock, may be pushed in two ways.  One way is to push it with your bare hands.  The other way is to use a lever such as a stick.  Both have the same results: the rock is moved.

The RH law does not indeed force Catholics to use contraceptives.  But since the RH law uses the taxation power of the State to fund the law, and taxes are paid by Catholics who constitute more than 80 percent of the population, then Catholics effectively pay for the use of contraceptives by other people, even if these would be freely given by the State.

Now, the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is sinful.  This is an unchanging teaching of the Church.  Pope Paul VI wrote:

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. (Humanae Vitae)

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI

And before this, Pope Pius XI wrote:

56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: “They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.[46] (Casti Connubii)

Thus, if the State, through the RH Law, taxes Catholics to pay for purchase of contraceptives whose use is a grave sin, then the State forces Catholics to sin by being accomplice to sin.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines four ways in which a person becomes an accomplice to sin:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

Participating directly in the procurement of contraceptives by paying taxes that will fund the RH law is to be an accomplice to sin.  This is the first way, though our sin may be lessened or we may be dispensed from this if we are unwilling accomplices, because amortal sin requires three things: grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent.

The third way is also relevant: if we Catholics do not disclose or hinder the passage of the RH Law when we have the obligation to do so, then we are guilty of being accomplices to the RH Law, and by doing so we sin.  This is the sin of omission.  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (attributed to Edmund Burke).  But if we lose the fight and the RH Law gets passed, then our conscience is clear even if we pay our taxes to the State who shall fund the RH Law: because we tried with all our might to hinder its passage, but was defeated.  As stated in the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.

Individual Catholics do not define Church doctrine: it is the hierarchical Church who does so headed by the Pope.  Even if majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives, this does not change the fact that the use of contraceptives is a grave sin.  Thus, it is the duty of the Bishops of the Philippines to make sure that the RH Law would not be passed, in order to spare ordinary Catholics from sinning by being accomplices to sin.

Thus, it is impossible for the State to exempt Catholics from using contraceptives yet at the same time force Catholics to pay taxes that would be used to purchase contraceptives.  The better option is not to ratify the RH Law and make the State buy contraceptives in behalf of the people; rather, the State should only at most make the contraceptives available in the market as what we have now, and let individuals who need them buy them as their consciences allow.

UPDATE 7/21/2013

From Atty Jemy Gatdula:

hi dr. sugon. just to let you know i agree with both your points. the article was just to let law students, laymen see the difficulties in translating such points into a cohesive argument for the court. and, by the way, i belong to the only group of petitioners that actually used the tax argument and addressed all (hopefully) the concerns regarding such argument.

Response:

Hi Jemy,

Thanks for the clarification. It is only now that I read your group’s petition to the Supreme Court regarding the RH Law. In this petition, your group have shown that contraception is against Natural Law and that Natural Law is not just a Christian idea but dates back to the Ancient Greeks and which form the basis of modern jurisprudence. In the second part starting at article 120, you discussed how the government’s promotion of contraceptives is against religious freedom, because contraception is not just a discipline such as fasting, but a grave sin. And you used much more exhaustive references than I have shown in my blog post. You also showed that the implementation of the RH Law makes Catholics accomplices to sin through the payment of taxes. The third part starting at article 200 is more on how the RH Law is against the pro-family character of the Philippine constitution. I shall promote your petition in my blog and FB pages. Thank you very much.

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Ateneo, La Salle, and RH Bill: Should Catholic teaching have primacy in Catholic Universities?

From RH Bill and the Catholic University:

OBJECTION 1: Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities

Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities. Therefore, Catholic doctrine taught in theology is just one of the many scientific opinions, so that in the case of the RH Bill, for example, if there is conflict between the conclusions of economics and theology regarding the use of contraceptives, a professor in a Catholic university can equally choose to side with the economic argument or with the theological argument, because one argument is equally as good as the other as they are both products of human reason. This means that even if the Church hierarchy (the CBCP) or the Pope declares that contraception is intrinsically wrong and should be condemned, a Catholic professor can dismiss these teachings if he finds what for him are weightier justification for the use and promotion of contraceptives, such as population explosion, too many children to feed, or women’s right over their bodies, etc.

RESPONSE:

Catholic Theology is indeed a science.  In Science, truth may either be what is known to be true (postulates or axioms or laws) or whatever is deduced from these (theorems). For example, in Physics Kepler’s law that describes the elliptical orbit of the planets around the sun may be thought of as a theorem of a more fundamental law: Newton’s Law of Gravitation. Similarly, in Catholic Theology, doctrines are deduced from two sets of axioms: Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.  The summary of Catholic doctrines is published in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

But the axioms in philosophical sciences–which we have to accept by faith until proven wrong–are not certain.  For example, remove the parallel postulate in Euclidean geometry and you arrive at intersecting parallel lines in spherical or projective geometry.  Also, though Newton’s Law of Gravitation can predict many things, Einstein’s General Relativity can predict more things, such as the precession of Mercury’s perihelion and gravitational lensing.  Scientists are continuously revising theories as they search for the the ultimate Theory of Everything (TOE), the one equation that shall rule them all: the structure of the universe, its beginning, and its end.

Unlike the axioms in philosophical science, the axioms of Catholic Theology are certain, because God has revealed them Who can neither deceive nor intend to deceive.  In this sense, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.  Aquinas has more to say on the nobility of Catholic Theology (Sacred Sciences) in his Summa Theologiae:

“Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others speculative and practical. Now one speculative science is said to be nobler than another, either by reason of its greater certitude, or by reason of the higher worth of its subject-matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of the higher worth of its subject-matter because this science treats chiefly of those things which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences consider only those things which are within reason’s grasp. Of the practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as to an ultimate end the purposes of every practical science are directed. Hence it is clear that from every standpoint, it is nobler than other sciences.”  (Part 1, Question 1, Article 5)

Unless we can prove that Aquinas made a mistake in his argument, then we have to agree to his conclusion:

From every standpoint, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.

If this statement is true, then we arrive at the following statement:

A Catholic University must uphold the primacy of Catholic Theology among all sciences.

Hence, a Catholic University must be institutionally faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  This is explained in detail in Ex Corde Ecclesiae of John Paul II:

27. …. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of andadherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the university community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this implies. Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the University, while the University in turn respects their religious liberty(26).

28. Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to civil authorities. This will be achieved more effectively if close personal and pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities, characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and continuing dialogue. Even when they do not enter directly into the internal governance of the University, Bishops “should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University”(27).

Thus, for example, if a Biologist will say that man has many ape-like ancestors and that there could be many Adams and Eves, putting the whole plan of salvation and the Sacrifice of Christ to naught, then it is the duty of Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on our first parents as expressed in Humani Generis of Pius XII:

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

Similarly, if Economists propose the promotion of contraception through the RH Bill as a vehicle for economic prosperity, then it is the duty of the Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on contraception as expressed in Humanae Vitae of Paul VI:

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberatelycontraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

RH Bill and the Catholic University

The Varsitarian editorial, RH Bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of Lemons and Cowards, has been criticized because there is no byline. But editorials have no bylines. Check out Inquirer and Philippine Star. This is not an act of cowardice but a journalistic tradition, because editorials are “newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers.” The editorial was also criticized because of some grammatical lapses or its arrogance. But we may be missing out on the true issue here, in the same way as we focus on Sen. Sotto’s plagiarism rather than on his allegations that international pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood are funding the RH Bill lobby. The real issue is this:

WHAT IS A CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY?

There is something universal about a university.  Universitas is a Latin word which may refer to the “whole, total; the universe, the world.”  Originally, universitas refers to the community of scholars and teachers (Universitas magistrorum et scholarium) housed under one roof, so to speak.  And these scholars and teachers study everything there is to know about man and the universe–physical, spiritual, social, political, etc.–all spheres of human existence.

There is also something universal about the word “Catholic.”  The word kataholos in the time of Ignatius of Antioch was already used to distinguish Christians “who believed and practiced according to what body of Christians as a whole did, in contrast to what some particular group thought or did.”  Notice the word whole which is synonymous to all.  This definition reminds us of the Commissioning of the Apostles by Christ just before His Ascension:

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Mt 28:18-20)

All power, all nations, all commandments, always.  Such is the universality of the Catholic Church’s mission.

Now we have two institutions, each claiming a sense of universality: the University and the Catholic Church.  If the two institutions are in harmony, the phrase “Catholic University” stands.  But if the they are in conflict, then the lesser must be absorbed by the greater.  So I propose the following definition:

A Catholic University is a university that puts primacy on Catholic Theology among all fields of knowledge.

Against this statement, the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill enumerate at least four objections:

  1. Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities
  2. The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom
  3. The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience
  4. The key principles of the RH Bill are compatible with Catholic Theology

I shall respond to each of these objections individually.  For the first objection, I shall discuss St. Aquinas’s argument on the nobility of Catholic Theology among all sciences.  For the second objection, I shall discuss Chesterton’s map of the maze of human knowledge and errors.  For the third objection, I shall quote other lines from the Catechism regarding conscience and how it may err in its judgment.  For the fourth objection, I shall discuss Chesterton’s image of the creed as a key.  I shall end the paper with a postcript on obedience to bishops as a test of Catholic orthodoxy by quoting St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Along the way, I shall quote several encyclicals: Humani Generis, Humanae Vitae, and Ex Corde Ecclesiae.  I hope this paper will encourage others to engage in philosophical and theological dialogue regarding the RH Bill and the nature of the Catholic university in a more calm and sober manner with mutual respect.

OBJECTION 1: Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities

Catholic theology is just one of the many sciences taught in Catholic universities. Therefore, Catholic doctrine taught in theology is just one of the many scientific opinions, so that in the case of the RH Bill, for example, if there is conflict between the conclusions of economics and theology regarding the use of contraceptives, a professor in a Catholic university can equally choose to side with the economic argument or with the theological argument, because one argument is equally as good as the other as they are both products of human reason. This means that even if the Church hierarchy (the CBCP) or the Pope declares that contraception is intrinsically wrong and should be condemned, a Catholic professor can dismiss these teachings if he finds what for him are weightier justification for the use and promotion of contraceptives, such as population explosion, too many children to feed, or women’s right over their bodies, etc.

RESPONSE:

Catholic Theology is indeed a science.  In Science, truth may either be what is known to be true (postulates or axioms or laws) or whatever is deduced from these (theorems). For example, in Physics Kepler’s law that describes the elliptical orbit of the planets around the sun may be thought of as a theorem of a more fundamental law: Newton’s Law of Gravitation. Similarly, in Catholic Theology, doctrines are deduced from two sets of axioms: Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.  The summary of Catholic doctrines is published in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

But the axioms in philosophical sciences–which we have to accept by faith until proven wrong–are not certain.  For example, remove the parallel postulate in Euclidean geometry and you arrive at intersecting parallel lines in spherical or projective geometry.  Also, though Newton’s Law of Gravitation can predict many things, Einstein’s General Relativity can predict more things, such as the precession of Mercury’s perihelion and gravitational lensing.  Scientists are continuously revising theories as they search for the the ultimate Theory of Everything (TOE), the one equation that shall rule them all: the structure of the universe, its beginning, and its end.

Unlike the axioms in philosophical science, the axioms of Catholic Theology are certain, because God has revealed them Who can neither deceive nor intend to deceive.  In this sense, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.  Aquinas has more to say on the nobility of Catholic Theology (Sacred Sciences) in his Summa Theologiae:

“Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others speculative and practical. Now one speculative science is said to be nobler than another, either by reason of its greater certitude, or by reason of the higher worth of its subject-matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of the higher worth of its subject-matter because this science treats chiefly of those things which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences consider only those things which are within reason’s grasp. Of the practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as to an ultimate end the purposes of every practical science are directed. Hence it is clear that from every standpoint, it is nobler than other sciences.”  (Part 1, Question 1, Article 5)

Unless we can prove that Aquinas made a mistake in his argument, then we have to agree to his conclusion:

From every standpoint, Catholic Theology is nobler than other sciences.

If this statement is true, then we arrive at the following statement:

A Catholic University must uphold the primacy of Catholic Theology among all sciences.

Hence, a Catholic University must be institutionally faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  This is explained in detail in Ex Corde Ecclesiae of John Paul II:

27. …. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the university community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this implies. Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the University, while the University in turn respects their religious liberty(26).

28. Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to civil authorities. This will be achieved more effectively if close personal and pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities, characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and continuing dialogue. Even when they do not enter directly into the internal governance of the University, Bishops “should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University”(27).

Thus, for example, if a Biologist will say that man has many ape-like ancestors and that there could be many Adams and Eves, putting the whole plan of salvation and the Sacrifice of Christ to naught, then it is the duty of Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on our first parents as expressed in Humani Generis of Pius XII:

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

Similarly, if Economists propose the promotion of contraception through the RH Bill as a vehicle for economic prosperity, then it is the duty of the Catholic University to uphold the Catholic teaching on contraception as expressed in Humanae Vitae of Paul VI:

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

OBJECTION 2: The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom

The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with academic freedom.  Professors should be free to teach whatever truths they have obtained through years of scholarly research.  What does the study of galaxies and viruses have to do with Catholic theology?

RESPONSE:

Professors in Catholic Universities are free to pursue any field of knowledge in so far as they do not trespass on Catholic doctrine in the same way as school children are free to roam around the school as long as they respect the proper boundaries: they cannot disturb other classes; they must be in their classroms during class hours; they cannot enter faculty rooms without permission; they must be silent at the library or in the chapel; and they must not jump over the fence during school hours.  That is why a school map is useful, because it defines the boundaries of the school and the freedoms associated with each school area.  In a similar way, the Catholic Church also has an amazing map of human knowledge that “looks like a maze but is in fact a guide to the maze”–locating where men are free to engage in idle speculation and where discussion is off-limits.  Chesterton says it best in his essay, Why I am Catholic (1926):

The truth about the Catholic attitude towards heresy, or as some would say, towards liberty, can best be expressed perhaps by the metaphor of a map. The Catholic Church carries a sort of map of the mind which looks like the map of a maze, but which is in fact a guide to the maze. It has been compiled from knowledge which, even considered as human knowledge, is quite without any human parallel.

There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them.

On this map of the mind the errors are marked as exceptions. The greater part of it consists of playgrounds and happy hunting-fields, where the mind may have as much liberty as it likes; not to mention any number of intellectual battle-fields in which the battle is indefinitely open and undecided. But it does definitely take the responsibility of marking certain roads as leading nowhere or leading to destruction, to a blank wall, or a sheer precipice. By this means, it does prevent men from wasting their time or losing their lives upon paths that have been found futile or disastrous again and again in the past, but which might otherwise entrap travelers again and again in the future. The Church does make herself responsible for warning her people against these; and upon these the real issue of the case depends. She does dogmatically defend humanity from its worst foes, those hoary and horrible and devouring monsters of the old mistakes.

In the case of the RH Bill and contraception, the Catholic Church has already mapped out the roads and the cliff awaiting us if such a bill is going to push through: loss of respect for the woman, destruction of the family, and government’s interference in married life.  All these are described in Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae:

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Humanae Vitae saw with clarity in 1968 the grave consequences of adoption of contraception, especially its elevation by the government into a national policy.  Let us take two countries, for example, USA and Singapore:

  • In the USA, the Birth Control Movement started with  Margaret Sangers in 1914.  The 7th Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion approved birth control in 1930.  Griswold of Planned Parenthood challenged the anti-contraception law of Connecticut which led to US Supreme Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality of the Connecticut law in 1965, citing the right to privacy of couples.  The Griswold v. Connecticut ruling was only for legality of the use of contraceptives by married couples.  In 1972, this ruling was extended in Einstadt v. Baird to unmarried couples as well.  (Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.)  In 2003, the ruling was again extended in Lawrence v. Texas to homosexual unions, thereby repealing the anti-Sodomy law in Texas as unconstitutional. Last Aug 1, 2012, Obamacare mandated inclusion of contraceptives in insurance takes effect.  This contraceptive mandate exempts Churches and Houses of Worship, but not Christian charities, Christian hospitals, and Catholic Universities.
  • In Singapore, family planning was introduced by volunteers in 1949.   In 1966, the Parliament established the National Family Programme which provides clinical services and family planning education.  In 1970 Lee Kuan Yew started the Stop at Two campaign with the legalization of sterilization and abortion.  Parents who did not abide by the two-child limit were penalized with taxes, higher hospital costs, and less opportunities in housing and education.  In 1975, the fertility rate dropped below the replacement rate.  In 1983, Lee noted the seriousness of the problem that women with educational degrees do not become mothers.  In 1984, the government established the Social Development Unit (nicknamed “Fat, Desperate, and Ugly”) that promoted dating among men and women with university degrees. In 1986, the government abolished the Stop at Two program and promoted Three or More (If You Can Afford It). Last Aug 11, 2012 Lee changed his decades-long policy and advocated marriage and more babies for Singaporeans. He said: “Do we want to replace ourselves or do we want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and work permit holders? That’s the simple question.”

And now the Philippines wishes to take the same path as US and Singapore by trying to make the Reproductive Health Bill into a law.  The Catholic Church has seen the road that this bill will lead to as guided by her Teaching Authority and the evidence of others who went down on this path, such as USA, Singapore, and many other countries.  And this is why the Catholic Church is against the RH Bill.

Man is like sheep: his vision is limited only to what is immediately in front of him.  Man lives only for a few decades and his experiences does not span all human experiences across all places and times.  So his judgment is limited, even if he were a genius like Einstein.  Like a sheep who cannot see farther ahead–a pool of water, a green pasture, a cliff, or a wolf –man needs a shepherd.  He needs God as his shepherd, because God knows everything and He created the world and man himself.  Only God knows what is good for man.  As David would sing in one of his Psalms:

The LORD is my shepherd;*there is nothing I lack. a2 In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me;3b he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths* for the sake of his name.4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,c I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. (Ps 23:1-4)

But Christ is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  Christ built His Church on Peter (Rock) with the gift of special revelation from the Father, with indestructibility, and with the power of binding and loosing:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt 16:17-19)

Thus, if the Catholic Church declares contraception as intrinsically wrong, a teaching binding on all the Catholic faithful, then we can bet with our life that the Church does speak the truth and that this teaching is ratified in heaven.

Christ is the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-6).  And Christ shared his ministry to Peter: feed His lambs, tend His sheep, and feed His sheep as a sign of his total love for Christ (c.f. Jn 21:15-17).  Christ appointed the apostles  to act as Judges of the Church: “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).  He also appointed 72 disciples as his ambassadors: “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Lk 10:16).  Such apostolic ministry is continued to this day by the Pope and the bishops and priests united with him.

OBJECTION 3.  The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience

The primacy of Catholic Theology in Catholic Universities is incompatible with the primacy of conscience. As the Catechism says:

1776 “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

Thus, if a Catholic professor claims that he is only following his conscience in supporting the RH Bill, then the Catholic Church cannot judge him that he is wrong, since conscience is the voice of God Himself.

RESPONSE:

Because the objection quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we must also turn to the same Catechism for our response.  Articles 1776 and 1782 constitute only half of the picture.  The other half are as follows:

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.”59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Thus, the Catechism says that conscience can err.  An Aztec emperor offering human sacrifice to the gods to bring rain to the parched fields is obeying his conscience.  A Nazi officer obeying the commands of Hitler to exterminate all Jews is obeying his conscience.  A woman who aborts her baby because she is still young and cannot afford to raise the child is obeying her conscience.  And the couple who uses condoms and pills because having children are burdensome are obeying their conscience.  If one elevates the voice of what people believe to be their conscience as the standard for truth, then truth becomes relative depending who says so, because  each one defines for himself what is good and what is evil.  Isn’t this what Satan, in the form of a serpent, told Eve in the Garden of Eden?

You certainly will not die!5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil. (Gen 3:4-5)

If men were left alone to their own consciences, the world will never know what is truly good and truly evil.  Let us take the Library as an analogy.  If the librarian does nothing and students get to decide for themselves where the best place for each book should be–on the floor, on the table, or on the shelf–then the library would be in chaos.  The state of disorder of the library can never decrease, and can actually increase, as the Law of Entropy states.  That is why a librarian is needed to put order in the books and impose rules: keep quiet when you are in the library and don’t return the books to the shelf but leave them on your desks.  Only the librarian has the shelving authority to put the books back in their proper places.

In a similar way, the morals of men will become highly disordered if men were left to themselves.  That is why God intervened in history and made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).  He chose the people of Israel to be His own and gave them the Ten Commandments.  He also established the Levitical priesthood to offer sacrifices in atonement for sin.  God appointed judges to interpret his laws; no one is allowed to hop from one judge to another in search for a favorable ruling.  But Israel rejected God by asking for a King like other nations.  God gave them Saul, but Saul was disobedient.  So God made David a King and promised him an everlasting Kingdom.  But the kings after David worshiped heathen idols, so God sent prophets to remind them of His covenant with  Israel at Sinai: He is their God and they are His people.  But Israel must obey God’s voice.  Yet Israel killed many of the prophets.  So in the fullness of time, God sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  And God Himself became the teacher of Israel.  He healed their infirmities, fed them in the wilderness, and established His Church as the New People of God, opening the doors of the Church not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.  He gave His Church the Sacraments to sanctify nations and the Teaching Authority to teach in His Name.  And for nearly 2,000 years the Catholic Church that Christ founded continued to exist throughout history, a witness to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the conversion of the barbarian nations of Europe, the conquest of Islam, the Age of Discovery, the formation of modern republics, the rise of Communism, the two World Wars, and the present age.   Christ fulfilled His promise that He will always be with His Church and His Church will never fall into error.  And the Church through the Ages has never failed to teach what is truly good and what is truly evil, even if the world does not wish to hear Her message, even as the world does not anymore see Her relevance, as what we have now today.

OBJECTION 4.  The key principles of the RH Bill are compatible with Catholic Theology

“As faculty of a Catholic university, we believe that the key principles of the RH Bill—promotion of reproductive health, subsidizing the health needs of the marginalized and vulnerable, guarantee of the right to information and education of adults and young people alike,respect for the freedom of choice of individuals and couples in planning their families—are compatible with core principles of Catholic social teaching, such as the sanctity of human life,the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor, integral human development, human rights, and the primacy of conscience. Responding to the reproductive health needs of the poor, especially of the women among them, is also in keeping with the Second Vatican Council’s thrust of being a church in solidarity with the “joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men [and women] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted” (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 1). It is likewise consistent with the commitment of the Philippine Church to be a “Church of the Poor,” described by the 1991 Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) as “one where the entire community of disciples… will have such a love of preference for the poor as to orient and tilt the center of gravity of the entire community in favor of the needy” (PCP II, no. 134)

Declaration of Support for the House Bill 4244 signed by 192 Faculty members of Ateneo de Manila University last 18 August 2012

RESPONSE:

A Catholic must accept  all official Catholic teachings or he ceases to be Catholic.  It is all or nothing.  In the olden days, people who accept some but not all Catholic teachings are called heretics.  That is why we have the Arian heresy which accepts the humanity of Christ but not his divinity as equal in majesty to the Father.  Or the Manichaean heresy which accepts the goodness of the spirit but not of matter.  Or the Donatist heresy which accepts the Sacrament of Baptism but requires the rebaptism of apostates.  Or the Protestant heresy  which accepts Heaven and Hell but denies Purgatory.  Or the Modernist heresy, which accepts the power of reason but placed it in the level of religion itself.  Today, nobody talks about heresies anymore and the warnings of excommunication have lost their ancient terror to the soul.  Today, we simply call Catholics who accept some but not all Catholic teachings as Cafeteria Catholics or Liberal Catholics, with the latter as the more politically correct term.

The image of a key is important.  If you have two keys that look similar in their jaggedness, except that one has a more pointed protrusion here and a deeper dent there, only one of them can open the door.  Similarly, if you have an idea that is compatible to some Catholic teachings, but not to others, then such an idea is not compatible to Catholic teaching.  As Chesterton in Everlasting Man wrote:

The creed was like a key in three respects; which can be most conveniently summed up under this symbol. First, a key is above all things a thing with a shape. It is a thing that depends entirely upon keeping its shape. The Christian creed is above all things the philosophy of shapes and the enemy of shapelessness. That is where it differs from all that formless infinity, Manichean or Buddhist, which makes a sort of pool of night in the dark heart of Asia; the ideal of uncreating all the creatures. That is where it differs also from the analogous vagueness of mere evolutionism; the idea of creatures constantly losing their shape. A man told that his solitary latchkey had been melted down with a million others into a Buddhistic unity would be annoyed. But a man told that his key was gradually growing and sprouting in his pocket, and branching into new wards or complications, would not be more gratified.

Second, the shape of a key is in itself a rather fantastic shape. A savage who did not know it was a key would have the greatest difficulty in guessing what it could possibly be. And it is fantastic because it is in a sense arbitrary. A key is not a matter of abstractions; in that sense a key is not a matter of argument. It either fits the lock or it does not. It is useless for men to stand disputing over it, considered by itself; or reconstructing it on pure principles of geometry or decorative art. It is senseless for a man to say he would like a simpler key; it would be far more sensible to do his best with a crowbar. And thirdly, as the key is necessarily a thing with a pattern, so this was one having in some ways a rather elaborate pattern. When people complain of the religion being so early complicated with theology and things of the kind, they forget that the world had not only got into a hole, but had got into a whole maze of holes and comers. The problem itself was a complicated problem; it did not in the ordinary sense merely involve anything so simple as sin. It was also full of secrets, of unexplored and unfathomable fallacies, of unconscious mental diseases, of dangers in all directions. If the faith had faced the world only with the platitudes about peace and simplicity some moralists would confine it to, it would not have had the faintest effect on that luxurious and labyrinthine lunatic asylum. What it I did do we must now roughly describe; it is enough to say here that there was undoubtedly much about the key that seemed complex; indeed there was only one thing about it that was simple. It opened the door.

Thus, if the RH Bill is compatible to some principles of Catholic Social Teaching but is incompatible with Catholic Teaching on Contraception as taught by Humanae Vitae, then the RH Bill is incompatible with Catholic Teaching.  Because a Catholic embraces all official teachings of the Catholic Church, then to embrace the RH Bill is to cease to be Catholic.

POSTCRIPT: Test of Catholic Orthodoxy according to St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Ignatius of Loyola

The first time the phrase “the Catholic Church” appeared in print is in the Letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch to Smyrneans:

8 Flee from schism as the source of mischief. You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God’s law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop’s approval. You should regard that Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop or by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop’s supervision, no baptisms or love feasts are permitted. On the other hand, whatever he approves pleases God as well. In that way everything you do will be on the safe side and valid.

Flee from schisms.  Obey the bishop.  This is the test of Catholic orthodoxy.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, at the last part of his Spiritual Exercises, wrote something similar in his Rules for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Church:

The First Rule. With all judgment of our own put aside, we ought to keep our minds disposed and ready to be obedient in everything to the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.

The Ninth Rule. Lastly, we should praise all the precepts of the Church, while keeping our mind ready to look for reasons for defending them and not for attacking them in any way.

The Thirteenth Rule. To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What I see as white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord of ours who gave the ten commandments that our holy Mother Church is guided and governed.

Concerning the institutional fidelity of Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae has laid out general norms for the university community:

Article 4. The University Community

§ 1. The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the University rests primarily with the University itself. While this responsibility is entrusted principally to university authorities (including, when the positions exist, the Chancellor and/or a Board of Trustees or equivalent body), it is shared in varying degrees by all members of the university community, and therefore calls for the recruitment of adequate university personnel, especially teachers and administrators, who are both willing and able to promote that identity. The identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine. It is the responsibility of the competent Authority to watch over these two fundamental needs in accordance with what is indicated in Canon Law(49).

§ 2. All teachers and all administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the Institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity.

§ 3. In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition(50).

§ 4. Those university teachers and administrators who belong to other Churches, ecclesial communities, or religions, as well as those who profess no religious belief, and also all students, are to recognize and respect the distinctive Catholic identity of the University. In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.

§ 5. The education of students is to combine academic and professional development with formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church; the programme of studies for each of the various professions is to include an appropriate ethical formation in that profession. Courses in Catholic doctrine are to be made available to all students(51).

The Church hierarchy is composed of the Pope, the Bishops, and Priests.  If there is doubt on the teaching of a priest, we can appeal to his bishop.  If there  is doubt on the teaching of a bishop, we can appeal to the Pope and the buck stops here.  If we disagree with Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding contraception or if we disagree with Pope John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae regarding fidelity or respect to the university’s Catholic identity, there is no more higher authority that we can appeal to.   The most distinguished theologian, no matter how brilliant, must still submit to the authority of the Catholic Church.  The most gifted visionary, no matter how holy, must still submit to the authority of the Catholic Church.  And so, too, must University Professors: they must also submit to the authority of the Catholic Church by renouncing the RH Bill, for example.  We are either inside the sheepfold or out of it.  We are either with the vine or we wither as a branch. The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.  Outside the Church there is no salvation.  Outside the Church there is only wailing and gnashing of teeth.

by:

Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr., the Monk’s Hobbit
Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary
11 October 2012

Reproductive Health Bill: How to treat humans like dogs by spaying and neutering them

I.  Spaying and Neutering

I was reading about spaying and neutering of dogs and other animals in Wikipedia.  For females, the ovaries and/or uterus are removed.  This is called spaying.  For males, the standard neutering method is castration: the penis is cut off.  Other methods of neutering are via contraceptives:

  • Male dogs – Neutersol (Zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine). Cytotoxic; produces infertility by chemical disruption of the testicle. It is now produced as Esterilsol in Mexico.[42]
  • Male rats – Adjudin (analogue of indazole-carboxylic acid), induces reversible germ cell loss from the seminiferous epithelium by disrupting cell adhesion function between nurse cells and immature sperm cells, preventing maturation.
  • Male sheep and pigs – Wireless Microvalve.[43] Using a piezoelectric polymer that will deform when exposed to a specific electric field broadcast from a key fob (like a car alarm) the valve will open or close, preventing the passage of sperm, but not seminal fluid. Located in a section of the vas deferens that occurs just after the epididymis, the implantation can be carried out by use of a hypodermic needle.
  • Female mammals – Vaccine of antigens (derived from purified Porcine zona pellucida) encapsulated in liposomes (cholesterol and lecithin) with an adjuvant, latest US patent RE37,224 (as of 2006-06-06), CA patent 2137263 (issued 1999-06-15). Product commercially known as SpayVac,[44] a single injection causes a treated female mammal to produce antibodies that bind to ZP3 on the surface of her ovum, blocking sperm from fertilizing it for periods from 22 months up to 7 years (depending on the animal[45][46]). This will not prevent the animal from going into heat (ovulating) and other than birth control, none of the above mentioned advantages or disadvantages apply.

The reason why human owners spay and neuter their dogs is because of the inconvenience of having a dog litter–the danger of overpopulation in so little house space.  The owners don’t also like that their dogs behave like dogs in mating season: urinate, mount, and copulate.

I wonder if human owners ever asked their dogs whether they like to be spayed and neutered in the first place.  This goes against the very nature of dogs.  This is very inhumane and uncanine.  Animal rights activists should protest against spaying and neutering of dogs.

Now, the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill are similar to dog owners in that they cannot afford to have another dog or human in the house.  By raising the spectre of overpopulation, the proponents of the RH Bill wants to limit the number of children to two.  To achieve this, they have to neuter many Filipinos, especially the poor, by promoting the use of condoms and contraceptive pills through sex education starting at the Grade 5 level, giving them free contraceptives at government’s expense, and subsidizing their sterilization surgical procedures.  The message to the poor is clear: “Stop littering the streets with your hungry children.  We don’t want you in the Philippines.”

II. How to treat humans as humans

I was watching the Dog Whisperer in National Geographic.  Caesar Millan, the man who knows more about dog psychology than anybody else in boob tube (now flat screen), tells us one fundamental principle: “Do not treat your dogs as human beings.  Treat dogs as dogs.  It is the humans who must lead dogs and not vice-versa.”

In case of the Reproductive Health Bill, I say this: Do not treat humans as dogs.  Treat humans as humans.  Humans need to be led to what is right and wrong.  Who shall tell the human what is right and wrong?  The congressmen and senators who think they are more intelligent than a poor boy from the province?  Dogs must be led by a higher intelligence (man), and humans must also be led by a higher intelligence (God).

God is not a theoretical concept, but a being who intervened in human history, who promulgated his laws in the Ten Commandments.  And when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son born of a woman, in order to become a role model for all of us.  Christ is the way that we must follow, the truth that we must believe, the life that we must live.  When Christ departed from this world, He did not leave us orphans but sent the Holy Spirit to guide his Church–the Pope, bishops, priests, and laity–into all truth.  In matters of Faith and Morals, the Catholic Church could not err, because God Himself, Christ, promised to Peter and his apostles: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt 16:19)” No other human institution has this divine seal.

Let us pray the Cong. Lagman, Cong. Hontiveros Baraquel, and Sen. Santiago would listen to the voice of the Catholic Church.

Infallibility and Contraception: a Reply to Fr. Genilo, S.J., Fr. Tanseco, S.J., and Bishop Bacani by Paul Gerard Horrigan, Ph.D.

Source:  Splendor of the Church

In an email to Federico Pascual Jr.’s column “Postscript,” printed in the December 23, 2008 edition of the newspaper Philippine Star, Fr. Eric M. O. Genilo, S.J. Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University wrote: “The word ‘infallibility’ has been often abused by both lay people and some clerics to bolster their moral arguments, as most recently seen in the debates on the Reproductive Health Bill. Your presentation is correct in saying that infallibility is only asserted by the Pope ex cathedra and is rarely used.

“Generally, a papal document has to state explicitly that the pope declares the teaching infallible. Thus Humanae Vitae is not an infallible document – it is still authoritative at the highest level but is open to improvement.

“…There is in the Vatican II documents another way of asserting infallibility, not by ex cathedra statement, but by the ordinary teaching authority of the Church which has a number of conditions that require practically universal agreement on a matter of faith or morals.

“So far no teaching has been universally accepted and formally recognized as infallible using this alternative method. Not even Humanae Vitae…” [1]

Contrary to the above assertions, I maintain that Fr. Genilo, S.J.’s understanding of papal infallibility is seriously wrong: it restricts papal infallibility to solemn ex cathedra definitions (he writes: “infallibility is only asserted by the Pope ex cathedra and is rarely used”), not taking into account that Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of contraception in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae is, in fact, an infallible exercise of the ordinary papal magisterium.

Aside from contraception, the Church’s condemnations of the intrinsic evils, for example, of direct abortion, homosexual acts, adultery, fornication, masturbation, and euthanasia, have also been taught infallibly [2] by the universal ordinary magisterium. The core of Catholic moral teaching as summarized in the Ten Commandments, precisely as these precepts have been traditionally understood by the Church (e.g., the Roman Catechism), has, in fact, been taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium. Yet Fr. Genilo, S.J., following fellow dissenter Francis Sullivan, S.J., asserts that no specific moral norms have been proposed infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium. The reason for this assertion is because, according to Sullivan and many other proportionalists, the Church simply cannot teach infallibly by its ordinary magisterium any specific moral norm, an erroneous claim made based on 1. the misunderstanding of Canon 749, paragraph 3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Canon 1312, paragraph 3 of the 1917 Code) which would limit infallibility to solemn ex cathedra definitions ; 2. the denial of moral absolutes in the area of specific moral norms because of their assertion that no object chosen can be intrinsically evil in view of their notion of an act as a “whole” or “totality,” where an object freely chosen such as contraception, for example, traditionally condemned as intrinsically evil, becomes for them a mere physical, ontic or premoral, and not moral, evil, and justified when done by couples for proportionate reasons [3] ; 3. the denial of moral absolutes because of the ongoing and open-ended character of human experience [4]; and 4. because of the adoption of Rahner’s dualistic transcendental anthropology which holds that “concrete” human nature, different from “transcendental” human nature, is subject to radical change. [5]

Fr. Genilo, S.J. asserts in his writings and Ateneo handouts that the Church’s doctrine on contraception is not infallible, and therefore, one can responsibly dissent from it. He maintains that the Church’s teaching on contraception is wrong and that married couples can practice contraception for proportionate reasons. In his Ateneo course handout notes to his students, Fr. Genilo, S.J. counsels married couples to use non abortive contraceptives. [6]

Another Ateneo Jesuit, Fr. Ruben Tanseco, who has openly defied many infallibly taught Church teachings for decades, likewise denies that the universal ordinary magisterium has taught the doctrine on contraception infallibly, and forcefully advocates and counsels the use not only of condoms but even oral contraceptives for married couples [7] . Oral contraceptives have been scientifically shown to have an abortifacient mechanism [8] ; nevertheless, Fr. Tanseco, S.J. erroneously denies that birth control pills cause early abortions.

In his 1992 book The Church and Birth Control, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila (later bishop of Novaliches) Teodoro C. Bacani, commenting on Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae, writes: “Now you ask: is the teaching of the pope against contraception an infallible statement? And the answer is: it is not! In other words, is there a possibility that the pope can be mistaken? The honest answer is, ‘Yes, there is a possibility that the pope is mistaken.” [9] 16 years later, in his book, Catholics and HB 5043 (Reproductive Health Bill, 2008), Bishop Emeritus of Novaliches Bacani still maintains his dissent on the question of contraception, writing: “We accept the Church’s teaching against direct contraception and direct sterilization, as official Catholic teaching, or authoritative teaching without claiming that it is infallible and irreversible.” [10]

Against Fr. Genilo, S.J., Fr. Tanseco, S.J. and Bishop Bacani, I hold that the specific norm condemning contraception as taught by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae is infallible by the ordinary papal magisterium, and that this doctrine has been taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium, meeting the conditions of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, no. 25 for its infallible exercise.

Fr. Genilo, S.J., Fr. Tanseco, S.J. and Bishop Bacani are not alone in their dissent from Church teaching on contraception. Dissenters who deny that the Church’s doctrine on contraception has been taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium are legion. These dissenters include Charles E. Curran, Louis Janssens, Karl Rahner, S.J. Bernard Häring, Franz Böckle, Franz Scholz, Bruno Schüller, Timothy E. O’Connell, Daniel Maguire, Peter Chirico, Richard Gula, Richard McCormick, S.J., Francis Sullivan, S.J., Garth Hallett, S.J. and Vincent Genovesi, S.J. These dissenters maintain that the Magisterium’s teaching on contraception is not infallible, is wrong, and must be reversed. Dissenting ex-priest Gregory Baum writes that not only is the teaching of the Church on contraception not infallible but that the Church is incapable of teaching infallibly the natural moral law. [11] Not only did the influential Jesuit Karl Rahner dissent from Humanae Vitae, but his Kantian-Heideggerian inspired immanentist transcendental theology holds that the possible range of infallible moral teaching extends to “hardly any particular or individual norms of Christian morality,” [12] such as is, for example, the norm on contraception. This is where he stands, for he, like the misanthropic Heraclitus of old, advocates a human nature in radical flux, in constant evolution, the enduring universal nature of man yielding little in the way of moral maxims. [13] Sulpician proportionalist Peter Chirico rejects infallibility for all the Church’s specific moral teaching. [14] In his book Birth Control and Natural Law, Canon Drinkwater denies that the Catholic doctrine on contraception has been taught infallibly by the universal and ordinary magisterium, maintaining the reformability of the teaching. [15] In his widely read book Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church, Jesuit Francis Sullivan maintains that the Church cannot teach infallibly on the specific norms of the natural moral law. [16] Another Jesuit, Garth Hallett, denies that infallibility extends to prescriptive moral teachings (those that attempt to command or forbid behaviour). [17] For Richard McCormick, S.J., the Catholic Church has never taught infallibly in the area of concrete moral norms in the exercise of its ordinary universal magisterium. [18] For Daniel Maguire [19], Richard Gula [20], Peter Chirico [21], and Charles E. Curran [22], no specific moral norms taught by the magisterium (norms forbidding the intentional killing of innocent human life [as in direct abortion], adultery, fornication, contraception, direct sterilization, etc.) have been infallibly proposed. In his book Contemporary Problems in Moral Theology, Curran states: “There has never been an infallible pronouncement or teaching on a specific moral matter; the very nature of specific moral actions makes it impossible, in my judgment, to have any infallible pronouncements in this area.” [23]
On the other hand, able defenders of the magisterium [24] have not been lacking. Eminent Catholic theologians have written books or articles maintaining that the Catholic Church’s doctrine on contraception has been taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium. These theologians include John C. Ford, S.J. [25], Germain Grisez [26], Cardinal Luigi Ciappi, O.P. [27], former Papal Theologian of the Pontifical Household, John Finnis [28], Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. [29], Marcelino Zalba, S.J. [30], current Vicar General of Opus Dei Msgr. Fernando Ocariz [31], Catholic University of America moral theologian William E. May [32], and Karol Woytyla (later Pope John Paul II), who writes in his commentary on Humanae Vitae published a year after the Encyclical: “The teaching of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae regarding the essential principles of an ethical regulation of births is marked by all the characteristics of the infallible ordinary teaching of the Church. This means that one is dealing with a teaching based upon the authority of God and imparted in His name.” [33]

In Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, no. 25, we find four conditions for the infallible exercise of the universal ordinary magisterium, namely:
1. That the bishops be in communion with one another and with the Pope;
2. That they teach authoritatively on a matter of faith and morals;
3. That they agree in one judgment; and
4. That they propose this as something to be held definitively.

The first condition, that the bishops be in communion with one another and with the Pope, does not mean that they must formally act as a body in a strictly collegial manner. Rather, it is necessary and sufficient that these bishops remain bishops within the Catholic Church.

The second condition, that the bishops teach authoritatively on a matter of faith and morals, requires that the bishops be acting in their official capacity as teachers, and not merely expressing their opinion as private individuals or as theologians. As regards the subject matter of their teaching – faith or morals – we say that “morals” here, in the sense intended by Vatican II, is not limited in such a way as to exclude specific moral norms, such as the norm condemning contraception.

The third condition, that the bishops agree in one judgment, “identifies universality,” writes Grisez, “as a requirement for an infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium. What is necessary, however, is the moral unity of the body of bishops in union with the Pope, not an absolute mathematical unanimity such as would be destroyed by even one dissenting voice.

“Furthermore, if this condition has been met in the past, it would not be nullified by a future lack of consensus among bishops. The consensus of future bishops is not necessary for the ordinary magisterium to have taught something infallibly or to do so now. Otherwise, one would be in the absurd position of saying that it is impossible for there to be an infallible exercise of the magisterium until literally the end of time; since at any given moment, one cannot tell what some bishops in the future might say.” [34]

The fourth condition, that the bishops propose a judgment to be held definitively “means at least this,” explains Grisez: “That the teaching is not proposed as something optional, for either the bishops or the faithful, but as something which the bishops have an obligation to hand on and which Catholics have an obligation to accept.” [35]

Does the Catholic Church’s doctrine on contraception meet the conditions identified by Vatican II for an infallible exercise of the universal and ordinary magisterium? Yes, it does. In his 1965 historical study, Contraception, John T. Noonan, then a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, summed up the nearly two thousand year teaching of the Church on the immorality of contraception: “The propositions constituting a condemnation of contraception are, it will be seen, recurrent. Since the first clear mention of contraception by a Christian theologian, when a harsh third century moralist accused a pope of encouraging it, the articulated argument has been the same. In the world of the late Empire known to St. Jerome and St. Augustine, in the Ostrogothic Arles of Bishop Caesarius and the Suevian Braga of Bishop Martin, in the Paris of Albert and St. Thomas, in the Renaissance Rome of Sixtus V and the Renaissance Milan of St. Charles Borromeo, in the Naples of St. Alphonsus Liguori and the Liège of Charles Billuart, in the Philadelphia of Bishop Kenrick, and in the Bombay of Cardinal Gracias, the teachers of the Church have taught without hesitation or variation that certain acts preventing procreation are gravely sinful. No Catholic theologian has ever taught, ‘Contraception is a good act.’ The teaching on contraception is clear and apparently fixed forever.” [36]

In their essay, Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, John C. Ford, S.J. and Germain Grisez came to the conclusion that the Church’s constant condemnation of contraception throughout her history merits the status of infallibility: “At least until 1962, Catholic bishops in communion with one another and with the Pope agreed in and authoritatively proposed one judgment to be held definitively on the morality of contraception: Acts of this kind, are objectively, intrinsically, and gravely evil. Since this teaching has been proposed infallibly, the controversy since 1963 takes nothing away from its objectively certain truth. It is not the received Catholic teaching on contraception which needs to be rethought. It is the assumption that this teaching could be abandoned as false which needs to be rethought.” [37]

Russell Shaw, former Secretary for Public Affairs for the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains that the Church’s teaching on contraception was not just universally taught by the magisterium, but also proposed to Catholics as something to be held definitively. He gives a number of considerations in support of this position, as well as incorporating statements on contraception by Popes Pius XI, Pius XII, and Paul VI:

“The first consideration is a negative one. No evidence has come to light that anyone proposed this teaching as a private opinion, a probable judgment, or a lofty ideal which there was no blame in failing to achieve. It was proposed instead as an obligatory moral teaching.

“Second, the teaching is that contraceptive acts are the matter of mortal sin. Third, when in modern times the teaching was challenged from outside the Church, it was repeated with insistence and emphasis. Fourth, the teaching was often proposed as a divinely revealed moral norm…The point is significant for the light it sheds on the intention of those proposing the teaching. If, in doing so, they contended that the teaching was divinely revealed, this can only mean that they proposed it as something to be held definitively; they would hardly have done the contrary – i.e., at the same time maintained that the teaching was divinely revealed yet proposed it as something which need not be held definitively.

“Having reached this point, it is useful briefly to examine the major statements on contraception by Pius XI, Pius XII, and Paul VI and to do so in light of what has been said up to now.

“In condemning contraception as a sin against nature, Pius XI appeals to Scripture, to Augustine’s exegesis of Genesis 38:9-10, and to the constancy of the Church’s tradition. He declares himself to be restating, on behalf of the Catholic Church, something willed by God and pertaining to salvation. [38] Pius XII, officially summarizing the teaching of his predecessor, says he solemnly proclaimed anew the fundamental law concerning the procreative act. He states the matter emphatically: ‘This teaching is as valid today as it was yesterday; and it will be the same tomorrow and always.’ [39] Paul VI is less emphatic but no less clear. He says among other things that it would be impossible to accept some conclusions of his Commission for the Study of Problems of Population, Family, and Birthrate because they are not compatible with ‘the moral doctrine on matrimony, proposed by the magisterium of the Church with constant firmness’ (Humanae Vitae, 6). He speaks of ‘the constant teaching of the Church’ (ibid, 10 and 11), says the Church by its teaching on contraception ‘promulgates the divine law’ (ibid, 20), and declares the teaching on contraception to be part of the ‘saving teaching of Christ’ (ibid, 29).” [40]

Shaw concludes, stating:

“…Thus, a review of the data establishes that the teaching on contraception has been proposed in a manner which meets Vatican II’s criteria for an infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium.” [41]

One main reason dissenters use to justify their negation of the infallibility of specific moral norms is the claim that they have never been manifestly demonstrated to be infallibly defined, and utilize canon 749, par. 3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law to justify their claim. Canon 749, paragraph 3 reads: “No doctrine is to be understood as infallibly defined unless this is manifestly demonstrated.” Dissenters Charles E. Curran [42] and Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. [43] appeal to this paragraph, asserting that it is not manifestly demonstrated that any specific moral norms have ever been infallibly defined. But following Germain Grisez [44], Canon 749, paragraph 3 in fact refers to infallible definitions of the solemn extraordinary magisterium, not to teachings infallibly proposed by the universal ordinary magisterium. Curran and Sullivan conveniently overlook the preceding paragraph of Canon 749, which states: “The College of Bishops also possess infallibility in its teaching when…the bishops, dispersed throughout the world but maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, together with the same Roman Pontiff authoritatively teach matters of faith or morals, and are agreed that a particular teaching is definitively to be held.” [45] Dissenters like Curran and Sullivan simply fail to consider whether any specific moral norms have been infallibly proposed by the ordinary day-to-day exercise of the magisterium, according to the criteria articulated in Lumen Gentium, no. 25. In their equating infallibly proposed teachings with teachings that are solemnly defined they do not take into account the possibility that certain specific moral norms have been proposed infallibly by the exercise of the universal ordinary magisterium.

The ordinary Papal Magisterium can teach, and has taught, specific moral norms infallibly. For example, the Church’s doctrine on the intrinsic evil of contraception, reaffirmed by Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii [46] and by Paul VI in Humanae Vitae [47], as well as the confirmations of the condemnations of the intrinsic evils of murder (the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being) [48], direct abortion [49], and euthanasia [50] by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, are all infallible pronouncements of the ordinary Papal Magisterium. Though they are not solemn ex cathedra definitions, nevertheless, these definitive papal pronouncements on specific moral norms also enjoy the gift of infallibility.

As Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., then Secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now Cardinal Secretary of State of the Vatican), explains in his article which appeared in L’Osservatore Romano on December 20, 1996 (the English translation appearing in the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano on January 29, 1997): “The ordinary papal Magisterium can teach a doctrine as definitive because it has been constantly maintained and held by Tradition and transmitted by the ordinary universal Magisterium. This latter exercise of the charism of infallibility does not take the form of a papal definition, but pertains to the ordinary, universal Magisterium which the Pope again sets forth with his formal pronouncement of confirmation and reaffirmation (generally in an encyclical or apostolic letter). If we were to hold that the Pope must necessarily make an ex cathedra definition whenever he intends to declare a doctrine as definitive because it belongs to the deposit of faith, it would imply an underestimation of the ordinary, universal Magisterium, and infallibility would be limited to the solemn definitions of the Pope or a Council, in a way that differs from the teaching of Vatican I and Vatican II, which attribute an infallible character to the teachings of the ordinary, universal Magisterium. …Although it is not per se a dogmatic definition (like the Trinitarian dogma of Nicea, the Christological dogma of Chalcedon or the Marian dogmas), a papal pronouncement of confirmation enjoys the same infallibility as the teaching of the ordinary, universal Magisterium, which includes the Pope not as a mere Bishop but as the Head of the Episcopal College.” [51]

In conclusion, let me quote from the Pontifical Council of the Family’s Vademecum for Confessors, issued in 1997, which affirms that the Church’s constant doctrine on the intrinsic evil of contraception is definitive and irreformable: “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.” [52]
_____________________

NOTES:

[1] E. GENILO, email to Federico Pascual’s column “Postscript,” in the Philippine Star, December 23, 2008, paragraphs 2-5.

[2] “We define infallibility,” writes Fr. James T. O’Connor following Gasser and Vatican I, “as that special gift of God which enables the Catholic Church to hold and propose without error those truths which God intends to be known and held for the sake of our salvation”(J. T. O’CONNOR, The Gift of Infallibility, St. Paul’s, Boston, 1986, pp. 98-99).

[3] For a critique of this proportionalism, see: W. E. MAY, An Introduction to Moral Theology, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN, 2003, pp. 156-157.

[4] For a critique of this position, see: W. E. MAY, op. cit., pp. 157-158.

[5] For a critique, see: W. E. MAY, op. cit., p. 158. For a thorough and convincing critique of Karl Rahner’s dualistic anthropology underlying his dissent on contraception and other moral norms, see Cornelio Fabro’s La svolta antropologica di Karl Rahner, published by Rusconi, Milan in 1974, especially pages 87-121.

[6] E. GENILO, THEO 262A Sexual Ethics and Bioethics course handout notes to Ateneo students, 2006, Bioethics Session 13 (Special Interventions to Impede the Transmission of Life), last paragraph.

[7] Cf. R. TANSECO, God’s Word Today colum

n, Philippine Star, August 8, 2004.

[8] John Wilks, M.P.S. writes concerning the abortificient mechanism of oral contraceptives: “Both the progesterone-only and the estrogen-progesterone formulations act to cause alterations in the lining of the womb, converting the proliferative nature of the endometrium, which is naturally designed to accept and sustain a fertilised ovum, to a secretory endometrium, which is a thin, devasculating lining, physiologically unreceptive to receiving and sustaining a zygote”(J. WILKS, A Consumer’s Guide to the Pill and Other Drugs, 3rd Ed., National Book Store, Mandaluyong City, 2000, p. 4).

[9] T. C. BACANI, The Church and Birth Control, Manila, 1992, p. 29.

[10] T. C. BACANI, Catholics and HB 5043, Gift of God Publications, Manila, 2008, p. 40.

[11] G. BAUM, The Christian Adventure – Risk and Renewal, “Critic,” 23 (1965), pp. 41-53.

[12] K. RAHNER, Theological Investigations, vol. 14: Ecclesiology: Questions in the Church, The Church in the World, Seabury Press, New York, 1976, p. 14.

[13] Cf. K. RAHNER, op. cit., pp. 14-15.

Cf. P. CHIRICO, Infallibility: Crossroads of Doctrine, Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City, MO, 1977.

[14] F. H. DRINKWATER, Birth Control and Natural Law, Helicon, Baltimore, 1965, pp. 39-66.

[15] F. SULLIVAN, Magisterium: Teac

hing Authority in the Catholic Church, Paulist Press, New York, 1983, p. 152. Grisez refutes Sullivan’s position in G. GRISEZ, Infallibility and Specific Moral Norms: A Review Discussion, “The Thomist,” 49 (1985), pp. 248-287. Sullivan responds to Grisez in: F. SULLIVAN, The Secondary Object of Infallibility, “Theological Studies,” 54 (1993), pp. 536-550. Grisez and Sullivan go another round in The Ordinary Magisterium’s Infallibility: A Reply to Some New Arguments, “Theological Studies,” 55 (1994), pp. 720-738. Sullivan dissents again on the infallibility of the universal ordinary magisterium in: F. SULLIVAN, Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium, Paulist Press, New York, 1996.

[16] G. HALLETT, Contraception and Prescriptive Infallibility, “Theological Studies,” 43 (1982), pp. 629-650. Grisez answers the arguments of Hallett in: G. GRISEZ, Infallibility and Contraception: A Reply to Garth Hallet, “Theological Studies,” 47 (1986), pp. 134-145. In pages 911-912 of his work, Christian Moral Principles, the first volume of his moral theology series The Way of the Lord Jesus (published by Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1983), Grisez gives a summary response to Hallett’s 1982 article.

[18] R. A. McCORMICK, Authority and Morality, “America,” 142 (1980), p. 169.

[19] D. MAGUIRE, Morality and the Magisterium, “Cross Currents,” 18 (Winter, 1968), pp. 41-65.

[20] R. GULA, Reason Informed by Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality, Paulist Press, New York, 1989, pp. 209-210.

[21] P. CHIRICO, Infallibility: Crossroads of Doctrine, Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City, MO, 1977, pp. 68-83, 185.

[22] C. E. CURRAN, Humanae Vitae: Ten Years Later, “Commonweal,” 105 (July 7, 1978), p. 429.

[23] C. E. CURRAN, Contemporary Problems in Moral Theology, Fides, Notre Dame, 1970, p. 257.

[24] “Magisterium” is the teaching authority of the college of bishops under the headship of the Pope. Grisez defines Magisterium as “the authority and role of the Pope and other bishops, as successors of the apostles, to distinguish what belongs to revelation from what does not, and to guide the receiving, guarding, and explaining of revealed truth. The exercises of this responsibility are divided into extraordinary and ordinary. The extraordinary magisterium embraces all acts of solemnly defining truths of faith and morals, and all teaching of ecumenical councils. The ordinary magisterium is the role as day-to-day teachers of the Pope and other bishops. Under certain conditions the exercise of the ordinary magisterium is infallible”(G. GRISEZ, The Way of the Lord Jesus, vol. 1: Christian Moral Principles, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1983, p. 922).

[25] J. C. FORD and G. GRISEZ, Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, “Theological Studies,” 39 (1978), pp. 258-312. Reprinted in The Teaching of ‘Humanae Vitae’: A Defense, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988, pp. 117-219.

[26] Ibid.

[27] L. CIAPPI, L’enciclica ‘Humanae vitae’: valutazione teologica, “Lateranum,” 54 (1978), pp. 105-124.

[28] J. FINNIS, Conscience, Infallibility and Contraception, “The Month,” 11 (1978), pp. 410-421.

[29] J. A. HARDON, Contraception: Fatal to the Faith, catholicculture.org, November, 1998.

[30] M. ZALBA, Infallibilità del magistero ordinario universale e contraccezione, “Renovatio,” 4 (1979), pp. 79-90.

[31] F. OCARIZ, La nota teologica dell’insegnamento dell’“Humanae vitae” sulla contraccezione, “Anthropotes,” 1 (1988), pp. 25-43. In this article, Msgr. Ocariz affirms that the doctrine on contraception has been taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium and that one is dealing with a doctrine de fide divina et catholica (of divine and catholic faith).

The Church’s doctrine on contraception is revealed (implicitly) and therefore one is dealing with a doctrine de fide divina et catholica (of divine and catholic faith). Although it is of divine and catholic faith, nevertheless, it is not solemnly defined ex cathedra by the extraordinary magisterium. But the doctrine is infallible, nevertheless.

The Church’s doctrine on contraception pertains to the moral order revealed by God. Pope John Paul II writes that “we are not dealing with a doctrine invented by man: it has been inscribed by the creative hand of God into the very nature of the human person and has been confirmed by Him in Revelation. To question it therefore, is equivalent to denying to God Himself the obedience of our intelligence. It is equivalent to preferring the light of our own reason to that of God’s Wisdom, thereby falling into the obscurity of error and ending up by damaging other fundamental principles of Christian doctrine”(JOHN PAUL II, Address to Participants of the Second International Congress of Moral Theology, November 12, 1988, no. 3).

The doctrine on contraception belongs to the primary object of infallibility (it is a truth which belongs directly to the faith, that is, it belongs to the deposit of faith, though not explicitly, but implicitly) and, not, as is sometimes maintained, to the secondary object of infallibility (as a truth belonging indirectly to the faith, a truth, although not revealed in se, is nevertheless required in order to guard fully, explain properly and define efficaciously the very deposit of faith). In his book, The Gift of Infallibility, James T. O’Connor, explains that “some matters which, at first glance, do not appear to be a part of the deposit of faith directly may, in fact, be so, and thereby pertain to the primary or direct object of infallibility. We may cite as an example the moral norm which declares that ‘every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible (Encyclical Humanae Vitae, no. 14). This is the way Pope Paul VI phrased the Church’s constant teaching on artificial contraception. It would seem, viewed superficially, that this teaching would pertain to those things which belong to the secondary object of infallibility; it would seem, that is, that such a teaching is not directly revealed, thus not forming part of the deposit of faith. Closer study indicates, however, that such is not the case”(J. T. O’CONNOR, op. cit., pp. 119-120).

Fr. O’Connor then quotes from Pope John Paul II, where the Holy Father writes in 1984 the following concerning the moral norm on contraception contained in Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae: “The author of the encyclical stresses that this norm belongs to the ‘natural law,’ that is to say, it is in accordance with reason as such. The Church teaches this norm, although is it is not formally (that is, literally) expressed in Sacred Scripture, and it does this in the conviction that the interpretation of the precepts of natural law belongs to the competence of the Magisterium.

“However, we can say more. Even if the moral law, formulated in this way in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, is not found literally in Sacred Scripture, nonetheless, from the fact that it is contained in Tradition and – as Pope Paul VI writes – has been ‘very often expounded by the Magisterium’(HV, n. 12) to the faithful, it follows that this norm is in accordance with the sum total of revealed doctrine contained in biblical sources (cf. HV, n. 4).

“4. It is a question here not only of the sum total of the moral doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture, of its essential premises and general character of its content, but of that fuller context to which we have previously dedicated numerous analyses when speaking about the ‘theology of the body.’

“Precisely against the background of this full context it becomes evident that the above-mentioned moral norm belongs not only to the natural moral law, but also to the moral order revealed by God”(JOHN PAUL II, General Audience of 18 July 1984, nos. 3, 4).

Commenting on this passage by the Pope, O’Connor writes: “What the Holy Father is saying is that this moral norm, although not found explicitly or ‘literally’ in Sacred Scripture, forms, nonetheless, part of the revealed moral order and is found implicitly in the sources of Revelation, Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Therefore it belongs to the deposit of faith as well as to the natural moral law, and so is included among the truths which fall under the primary object of infallibility”(J. T. O’CONNOR, op. cit., p. 121).

Revealed (implicitly), and though not solemnly defined ex cathedra, nevertheless, the Church’s doctrine on contraception, taught infallibly by the universal ordinary magisterium, is of divine and catholic faith (de fide divina et catholica).

Quoting from Vatican I’s Dei Filius, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 750 states: “Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal magisterium, which is manifested by the common adherance of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred magisterium. All are therefore bound to shun any contrary doctrines.”

Canon 751 states: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith.”

[32] W. E. MAY, An Introduction to Moral Theology, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN, 2003.

[33] K. WOYTYLA, Introduzione alla Humanae Vitae, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, Vatican City, 1969, p. 35.

[34] G. GRISEZ, op. cit., p. 843.

[35] Ibid.

[36] J. T. NOONAN, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1965, p. 6. Incredibly, after marshalling hundreds of pages of texts in support of the Church’s constant teaching on the immorality of contraception, Noonan quite illogically dissented from the Church on this issue. He became one of the main players in the dissenting Majority Report of the Commission for the Study of Problems of Population, Family and Birthrate that approved of contraception in certain cases, utilizing the soon to be widespread revisionist method of proportionalism. Though he fought abortion in the 1970s Noonan stubbornly refused to retract his dissent on contraception.

[37] J. T. FORD and G. GRISEZ, Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium, in The Teaching of Humanae Vitae: A Defense, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988, p. 171.

[38] PIUS XI, Casti Connubii, AAS, 22 (1930), pp. 559-560.

[39] PIUS XII, Address to Midwives, AAS, 43 (1951), p. 843.

[40] R. SHAW, Contraception, Infallibility and the Ordinary Magisterium, in Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader, edited by J. E. Smith, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1994, pp. 354-355.

[41] R. SHAW, op. cit., p. 355.

[42] C. E. CURRAN et al., Dissent In and For the Church: Theologians and ‘Humanae Vitae,’ Sheed and Ward, New York, 1969, p. 63.

[43] F. A. SULLIVAN, op. cit., pp. 150, 227, n. 44

[44] G. GRISEZ, Infallibility and Specific Moral Norms: A Review Discussion, “The Thomist,” 49 (1985), p. 273.

[45] CODE OF CANON LAW, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, Vatican City, 1983, Canon 749, par. 2 (emphasis mine).

[46] Moral theologian Ramon Garcia de Haro quotes Pius XI: “Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals…in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of marriage exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately deprived of its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”(no. 57). Garcia De Haro then states: “The terms used leave no doubt: we are dealing here with a definitive teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium and, therefore, one that is infallible”(R. GARCIA DE HARO, Marriage and the Family in the Documents of the Magisterium, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1993, p. 132).

[47] PAUL VI, Humanae Vitae, no. 14: “Therefore we base our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when we are obliged once more to declare…excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.” Cf. R. GARCIA DE HARO, op. cit., p. 307.

[48] JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 57: “By the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” Cf. W. E. MAY, op. cit., p. 249.

[49] JOHN PAUL II, op. cit., no. 62: “By the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops – who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine – I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”

“No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”

[50] JOHN PAUL II, op. cit., no. 65: “In harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”

[51] T. BERTONE, Theological Observations, “L’Osservatore Romano,” English Edition, Jan 29, 1997, p. 6, col. 3.

[52] PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY, Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life, 1997, 2, no. 4.