June 5, 2012 (ALL.org) - To obstinately deny an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church is an act of heresy. That being said, when it comes to contraception, a variety of studies and surveys conclude that the majority of Catholic women support the practice of contraception. Even so, “98 percent of Catholics use birth control” mantra is hogwash.
The USCCB has repeatedly debunked the claim, effectively arguing that the percentages are skewed and designed to pave the way for acceptance of the Obama mandate. This is all good, but such arguments do not address the fundamental problem.
The reality is that most Catholics do not oppose the use of contraception, nor do they think it is sinful to use it. Even though the Church has always taught that the use of contraception separates an individual from Christ, the average Catholic is either unaware of this or is in denial about it. In fact, what is provable is that Catholic women use contraception at the same rate as their non-Catholic counterparts.
This is precisely what the fundamental problem is—a crisis in authority within the Church, not the Obama administration mandate.
The infallible teaching of the Church does not change with modern practices or Gallup poll results or federal regulations. But when the faithful refuse to understand such teaching or fail to comprehend the gravity of offending God by certain actions, the challenge is to remedy the situation. This has nothing to do with Obama or his mandate, but rather it has everything to do with the clear possibility that the Church’s bureaucracy — the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — will lose this political battle because Catholics will not accept truth. From my perspective I find it truly deplorable that, in opposing the Obama mandate on contraception and attempting to muster Catholic action in opposition to the mandate, the USCCB does not understand why there is so much apathy among Catholics in the first place. The bishops’ failure to teach has apparently not occurred to them as yet.
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Pope Paul VI eloquently explained what is wrong with contraception: “The fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”
Contraception contradicts human reason and the nature of the human person, and insults the awesome mystery of the marital act. Today’s culture, soaked as it is in immoral sexual innuendo and practice of every kind, rejects this truth. Catholics, in large part, are of the same mind and therefore do not interpret the use of contraception as wrong because the rejection of contraception does not suit their personal agenda of sexual gratification at all costs.
The bishops, if truly concerned about the state of the Catholic soul in a grave matter such as the acceptance of contraception, must begin investing individually in catechesis, homiletics, and personal involvement. They must refute the cultural norms by standing in the gap to defend and teach the faithful, making every effort to save souls.
Lobbying will not accomplish this.
Petition campaigns will not accomplish this.
But through grace and the strong will to defy the status quo and begin anew to educate the individuals within their flock, the Catholic bishops can accomplish this.
They may get bad press, guffaws from political pundits, and derision among dissenters within the priesthood and without, but that is the price to be paid for teaching truth in a cultural moral freefall.
Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.