WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 4, 2011 ( – In the latest issue of Life Issues Forum, a weekly publication of the U.S. Bishops Conference Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, priests are being urged to “foster an understanding of Church teachings on life and chastity” through “homilies, and through bulletin inserts and announcements citing good articles on these teachings.”  Although released today, the publication is not yet available on the website of the USCCB.

Susan E. Wills, assistant director for education and outreach of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, is the author of the publication. In it Wills draws attention to three areas where there is a “profound darkening of conscience” even among Catholics.

Wills cites written material from three Catholics illustrating the trend:

– In a paper on the ethics of contraception, a Catholic college student wrote that she believes the Church does not take very seriously its objection to contraceptive use, so she doesn’t either. She has never heard it mentioned in a homily, nor been told of the teaching (except dismissively) in years of Catholic schooling.

– A co-chair of a parish-based program gave the impression she is considering being sterilized. On a popular blog for “urban moms,” she asked if other women could share their positive experiences with a particular method of permanent sterilization.

– Another Catholic woman wrote of her experiences going through multiple harrowing cycles of egg extraction and in vitro fertilization (IVF), in her effort to create children genetically related to herself and her husband.

In addition to teaching the truth on these matters, Wills suggests that priests stress “God’s desire to forgive our sins and renew his grace” and offer “extra hours of sacramental reconciliation each week.”

Wills explains, “Many Catholics experiencing fertility problems have resorted to IVF to create a child, and many consider IVF to be ‘pro-life’ simply because it may bring a new baby into the world. Few are aware that, in addition to the moral problems related to IVF, the vast majority of the embryonic children created through reproductive technologies are discarded or otherwise die in the process.”

She adds however that, “As adults we cannot claim that the Church’s moral truths are unavailable to us … It has never been easier to access the wisdom of the Church on issues of life and chastity – the writings of popes, bishops, and good moral theologians are only a Google search away.”