Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reponse to NCR article of 2 May 2012 on the abuse of authority by the Vatican and the bishops

All good plans begin with fantasy about what if...? So, here goes! What if the North American, Northern European, Southeast Asian, Australian and New Zealand Roman Catholic Churches together with other Roman Catholic Churches simply told the Vatican that from now on they would decide their own issues locally through elected bishops, priests and laypeople; and that they would begin by lifting the rule of clerical celibacy; they would ordain women; they would admit divorced and remarried people to Communion; they would use liturgies approved by local commissions; they would approve the use of contraceptives; all this for starters; and they would keep the Vatican apprised of their decisions without granting Rome a veto? That would return the church to something like what it was for the first thousand years of its existence and allow continuous reform as needed. Far out? Indeed--like the Second Vatican Council! Still binding as promulgated by the then reigning pontiff, Paul VI. By the way, how come the Vatican is silent about those who dissent from and work against the official teaching of the church as contained in the Council's pronouncements. Cafeteria catholicism on the part of the Vatican? Listen to the overwhelming voices of the catholic faithful throughout the world--the sensus fidelium.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Contraception and the Roman Catholic Church

18 Feb 2012

Response to an NCR article on the discussion of ‘freedom of religion’ and ‘government mandated access to birth control’

What a sorry state Catholic moral theology has come to. The idea that the moment of conception brings into being an individual human being is not found in the works of even the most conservative moral theologians. The fertilized ovum develops into a pre-embryonic blastocyte that cannot be confused with being an individual human being because it is still capable of becoming more than one such being. According to the official teaching of the RC church, the 'ensoulment' of the embryo is the moment at which an individual human being is present. Thomas Aquinas--whose theology is considered the 'model' to be followed --wasn't sure when 'ensoulment' took place. He 'knew' that it was some time after conception and that boys got their 'souls' earlier than girls. Of course, no? The current science of human reproduction does not support--and is not compatible with--the 13th century's view of such things.

If we want to know what the moral status of birth control methods is within the RC church, we should ask the practicing Roman Catholics whose lives are affected rather than a minority group of supposedly celibate men, i.e., women and men who are engaged in making decisions about when and how many children to have. The overwhelming majority [+/- 98%] do not have problems of 'conscience' about using birth control methods condemned by the church. They regularly receive Holy Communion without visiting the confessional; their informed consciences do not accuse them of bad faith. After all, Humanae Vitae is an encyclical containing the opinion of a 1960's pope. It should certainly be considered, but it is hardly the final word.