U.S. Bishops Statements Send Mixed Message on Contraception

The Catholic Bishops Meeting in Baltimore this week addressed the issue of artificial birth control. In a document entitled “Married Love and the Gift of Life” [PDF], they reiterated the two-thousand year old teaching of the Catholic Church that the use of artificial birth control is , in their words , “objectively immoral.”

Bishops Statement on Contraception Not Strong Enough

The measure passed by a vote of 220 to 11. Even though they didn’t use the words , “mortal sin,” it is clear that they are talking about is grave sin that cuts one off from sanctifying grace. But in another document, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper” [PDF], which lists those serious sins that cause one to be denied reception of Holy Communion, two out of three Bishops—174 to 75— could not bring themselves to include contraception in this category.

Even though an Associated Press release by Rachel Zoll in Wednesday’s papers quoting another document, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination,” says that “anyone who persists in sinful behavior such as gay sex or using artificial birth control, should refrain from Communion,” in the Holy Communion document contraception is not included in the list, as a careful study of the twenty-four page document confirms.

“Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper,” in giving criteria for deciding whether a Catholic is worthy to receive communion or not, says that a Catholic conscious of being in the state of mortal sin may not go to communion until he has been to confession, and lists ten categories of sins the commission of which would prohibit him from receiving communion. These include idolatry, false oaths, missing Mass on Sunday, dishonoring one’s parents, murder, abortion, hatred, causing physical harm, sex outside of marriage, stealing, slander, being involved in pornography, and envy.

It would have been simple to add “use of artificial birth control,” but it is missing: voted down 174 to 75, two to one. This omission is glaring, to say the least. Is use of contraception gravely wrong, or not? Aren’t adults supposed to know the teachings of the Church in important matters? Even if there is a persistent error regarding the seriousness of artificial birth control, isn’t the law a teacher, and wouldn’t the inclusion of contraception in a list of serious matters help teach this truth?

We would like to praise the Bishops for addressing the issue of contraception, finally, but their teaching is weak when they leave the faithful wandering in confusion. The oversight was not missed by some of the Bishops. While Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ said contraception was omitted because this difficult pastoral problem would distract from everything else in the document, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Diego said that not mentioning it draws even more attention to it: “If we are silent on this issue, perhaps people won’t go so far as to say we are winking at it, but at least we would easily create the misperception that this is not an issue involving grave matter.”

Also distressing is the decision by the Bishops not to single out pro-abortion politicians among those who should refrain from receiving Holy Communion so long as they persist in supporting and promoting abortion. Efforts to include them also failed.

Democrats Set To Target CPCs

Chris Slattery of New York, who runs 15 Crisis pregnancy Centers says to watch for Democrats to launch an all-out effort to shut down such pregnancy help centers by claiming they are deceptive and that they harass women seeking abortions. The pro-abortion Democrats are already running TV hit ads condemning and maligning these crisis pregnancy centers. Democrat committees, Slattery says, will try to relocate CPC’s away from abortion mills, since they are in competition with them.

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