Carolyn Moynihan

Why do Catholic women reject their Church’s teaching on contraception? Now we know.

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan
Image

September 18, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Back in February this year, when the battle between religious leaders and the Obama administration over the latter’s contraceptive mandate reached a new pitch of intensity, the White House defended its policy by alleging that 98 per cent of Catholic women had used contraception. If that was the case, we were meant to ask, what on earth were the Catholic bishops, for one, making a song and dance about? Hadn’t their own female constituency effectively deserted them on this issue?

The claim, quoted far and wide at the time, turned out to be a political factoid rather than a real statistic. People who analysed the Guttmacher Institute study it came from pointed out that the study was selective and self-contradictory. For a start it was based on a survey restricted to women aged between 15 and 44, so it could say nothing about women between 45 and 100. And one table showed that 11 per cent of sexually active Catholic women who did not want to become pregnant were using no method of contraception at all.

Still, nobody is pretending that hordes of Catholics don’t dissent from their Church’s “thou shalt not” regarding contraception. We do not need the Guttmacher Institute or the White House to tell us that. Nor do we need them to tell us why the many Catholics who never go to church would not bother with one of its more difficult moral teachings.

What we don’t know is why practising Catholics who do go to Mass—and even, if only occasionally, to confession—also feel entitled to reject the teaching.

Why, for instance, do “Catholic moms in minivans drop their children at the parish school and head to their gynaecologists to be fitted for diaphragms or to get a new prescription for ‘the pill’ —and think nothing of it,” as the authors of a new study, What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception, put it.

Do the parish moms have an accurate idea of the Church’s teaching on family planning? After four decades of dissent it would be surprising if they all did. And when the teaching is presented accurately to practising Catholics are they more open to it? What are their reasons for rejecting it, and what would they like to know more about?

For all the times Catholic women have been surveyed on whether they have “ever used” contraceptives, no-one has asked those who practice their faith but not its teaching on family planning, “Why?”, say the study’s authors, lawyer Mary Rice Hasson, a Fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C, and director of the Women, Faith, and Culture project, and Michele M. Hill, a Baltimore Catholic and co-director of the project.

National survey of church-going women

To answer that question a national online survey of church-going Catholic women aged 18 to 54 was carried out in June and July of last year by the polling company inc./WomanTrend. (This is a preliminary report, say the authors, as further insights are expected from focus groups and ongoing in-depth interviews with 100 of the women.) Of the 824 women in the sample, half attended church at least weekly, while the other half attended less than weekly but at least a few times a year.

Their responses confirm that, on this issue at least, church-going Catholics have been influenced far more by popular culture than by Catholic teaching on sex and reproduction. Fully 85 percent of all the women believe they can be “good Catholics” even if they do not accept some of this teaching, including the 37 percent who completely reject it.

The picture, of course, looks decidedly better among regular Mass-goers. Among young women (18-34) who attend every week, 27 percent completely accept the Church’s teaching, and among those who both attend Mass weekly and have been to confession within the past year that figure rises to 37 percent. Just 24 percent of the women who go to Mass every week completely reject the teaching on contraception, and for those who have been to confession that figure drops to 12 percent.

Even among the dissenting majority, however, not all are closed to the Church’s message on this subject. Hasson and Hill point out that about a third of these women mistakenly believe that the Church itself gives them the right to make up their own minds about which methods of family planning are morally acceptable. Many do not reject the Church’s authority out of hand.

Top reasons for contraceptive use

Mistakenly or not, 53 per cent of all women in the study who dissent in part or completely from church teaching cite a couple’s “moral right” to decide which method of family planning they will use. This makes it the top reason given for rejecting church teaching on the matter.

Two other reasons are cited frequently among this group: 46 percent say couples have “the right to enjoy sexual pleasure without worrying about pregnancy”, and 41 percent think that natural family planning is not an effective method to space or postpone pregnancy.

The authors perceive two main dynamics shaping these views: the influence of a cultural mindset that divorces sex from procreation and promises “sexual pleasure without consequences”, and a deficit on the church side in presenting Church teaching.

The latter can be deduced from the fact that 72 per cent of women surveyed said they rely mainly on the homily at Sunday Mass for learning about the faith, and yet just 15 per cent of that group fully accept the Church’s teaching on sex and reproduction. The weekly Mass homily, the authors say, “seems to represent a lost opportunity when it comes to conscience formation on the contraception issue.”

As for cultural influences, they seem likely (although the authors don’t say so) to account for at least some of the scepticism about natural family planning given the systematic bad press NFP is give by mainstream family planners and the media.

For the pastors of the Church, all this represents a steep challenge. Yet Catholic women may be more receptive to the Church’s view of things than first appears.

Openness of the “soft middle”

Importantly, the survey shows they are more open to children than the average American, their “ideal” number of children averaging 3.5 (or 4 if money were not a factor) compared with the American ideal of two or fewer.

Also, say the study authors, “When presented with an accurate description of the Church’s teachings on family planning many Catholic women show reluctance to completely reject the Church’s teaching.”

Instead, three groups emerge: “the faithful” (who fully accept the teaching—13 percent of the sample), “the dissenters” (who completely reject it—37 percent), and the “soft middle” (who accept “parts” of the teaching). In addition, a significant number of women in the “soft middle” (about half of weekly Mass-goers) show openness to learning more about church teaching on contraception and natural family planning.

Good will shown by many women in the “middle” represents an opportunity for the Church, the authors point out—and natural family planning may be a good starting point for communicating the Church’s teaching about procreation. About one in four of those who attend Mass regularly shows an interest in learning more about the method: hearing from other couples about the health and relationship benefits of NFP, what doctors say about it, and scientific evidence about its effectiveness. Such messages may be more persuasive than spiritual or authoritative ones, the authors suggest.

But alongside their message that many Catholic women are “reachable” the authors warn that the task is becoming more complicated. While the survey shows 10 percent of church-going women have had abortions (lower than the national average), 17 percent of younger women have used emergency contraception. This means that the Church has to inform women about the potentially abortifacient nature of EC “as well as arguing more persuasively that contraception itself is wrong.”

The Catholic bishops are fighting the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate—that is, the policy of forcing all employers, including Catholic institutions such as hospitals and schools, to provide full cover for contraceptives, sterilisation and emergency contraception in their health insurance plans—as an attack on the free exercise of religion, which it is.

But in light of the information in “What Catholic Women Think…” the mandate may be a blessing in disguise. By forcing the issue of contraception to the top of the Church’s public agenda it has created an opportunity for the Church to have an internal conversation on the subject—the kind of opportunity that perhaps has not been seen since Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968.

The study from the Women Faith and Culture project shows that such a discussion is long overdue.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet. This article reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

FREE pro-life news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Dan Guernsey

, , ,

Where’s the tolerance in San Francisco?

Dan Guernsey
By

April 20, 2015 (CardinalNewmanSociety.org) -- Proclaiming their values of tolerance, inclusion, and non-judgment, 100 “prominent” San Francisco Catholics last week took out a full-page ad in the newspaper to tell the Pope and the world that they will not tolerate or include and indeed soundly condemn the archbishop of San Francisco.

His crime? Following Canon law, which requires him to ensure that “Instruction and education in a Catholic school must be based on the principles of Catholic doctrine, and the teachers must be outstanding in true doctrine and uprightness of life” (Canon Law, 803, § 2). He is also condemned for following the teachings of the U.S. Bishops, who have consistently taught that “all members of the faculty, at least by their example, are an integral part of the process of religious education…. Teachers’ life style and character are as important as their professional credentials” (1976, Teach Them, p. 7), and the bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis which requires Catholic school leaders to “Recruit teachers who are practicing Catholics, who can understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the gospel, and who can contribute to the achievement of the school’s Catholic identity and apostolic goals” (2005, National Directory for Catechesis, p. 231, 233).

Archbishop Cordileone and all U.S. bishops are bound by Canon law and Church teaching to do what he is doing: ensuring that Catholic schools in his diocese are Catholic. And indeed, he is not alone in this effort. He is joined by similar significant efforts underway by bishops in the dioceses of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Santa Rosa, Honolulu and Oakland, among others.  He is just currently the biggest target in a bastion of the fully-empowered tyrannical Left who will not tolerate any deviance from their liberal orthodoxy.

The sexual dogmas of the liberal orthodoxy are so confused and so consuming that any other understanding of the nature and purpose of human sexuality and marriage, even those views held by the vast majority of humanity throughout all ages, must be condemned and ultimately silenced. To state the clear and unequivocal Catholic teaching that the only proper and moral exercise of the marital act is exclusively in the context of a committed natural marriage in the service of both love and life is viewed by some as a type of hate crime.

These “anti-bully” bullies are doing what bullies do. They are seeking to gain in their own social status and self-concept by belittling, shaming and humiliating someone outside their local social norm. As the authors admit, the social sexual norms in the Bay Area are completely supportive of sex outside of natural marriage. Those who control the culture are dead set on humiliating and eliminating anyone who would not fully support their power and the status quo.

Many other dioceses have stipulations in their employee handbooks and in their contracts related to the need to uphold Catholic teachings in word and action as terms of employment. This is nothing very new. A challenge has occurred more recently, because of the rapid deterioration of social norms related to human sexuality, and because so many Catholics and Catholic school employees are so poorly catechized regarding human sexuality and complex but critical human life issues.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

It is possible that some employees can unwittingly jeopardize their employment by running afoul of the expectations of their employment agreements. In a preemptive effort to avoid such suffering and embarrassment, a number of dioceses are striving to clarify and publicize these expectations of Catholic teachers in a spirit of truth and charity and to ensure that folks do not unwittingly join in an evangelical enterprise they cannot advance, support or—even worse—work against. Charity demands clarity and truth. Justice to one’s employees demands clarity and truth as well. Justice to ones’ employer demands that one should not work against his interests or intent. The more clearly we can all be about what we intend and believe, the better.

It is also important in a pluralistic society, where we should not all have to agree with each other on complex issues and matters of faith, that we leave room for dissent and marginalized thinking and thinkers—especially in the realm of religious thought. Our country was founded by religious dissidents whose religious views and practices did not fit in with the dominant cultures and beliefs of the powerful in their home countries. They came here seeking freedom of religion—freedom to practice their faith as they saw fit without governmental persecution. Archbishop Cordileone has sought no retribution or even disparagement against those in San Francisco who clearly disagree with the Church; he only seeks to protect his right not to hire them to do the work of the Church, a reasonable and just freedom.

While these wayward Catholics seek to drive their archbishop out of San Francisco in the name of the dominant culture, but not the Catholic faith, we must be aware that many more of us are endangered from attack as well in this rapidly declining culture. These same bullies demanding that Archbishop Cordileone lose his job as a bishop for teaching the truths of the Catholic faith will next deem it critical that Catholics lose their jobs for agreeing with him and the Church.

Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 7, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, , ,

Rubio: I’d attend a gay ‘wedding’. Walker: I have. Santorum: I wouldn’t. Cruz: Pass.

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Are you now, or were you ever, willing to attend a same-sex “wedding”? That seems to be the question lighting up the Republican presidential field, as GOP hopefuls who may one day have their finger on the nuclear button are asked the query over and over again.

So far, the Republican hopefuls' answers are yes, no, I have (sort of), and...unclear.

The media began by asking Florida's U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, if he would attend a homosexual 'wedding' ceremony, especially if he were invited by a relative or close friend.

“If there’s somebody that I love that’s in my life, I don’t necessarily have to agree with their decisions or the decisions they’ve made to continue to love them and participate in important events,” Rubio told Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV's America program.

Rubio, who became the third Republican to throw his hat in the ring last week, likened attending a same-sex “marriage” to attending the second marriage of a divorced friend. “If someone gets divorced, I’m not going to stop loving them or having them a part of our lives,” he said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who has not yet formally announced his candidacy yet is considered a front-runner – said that he attended a same-sex reception, but not a ceremony. “I haven’t been to a [homosexual] 'wedding,' that’s true,” he said, “even though my position on marriage is still that’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the Constitution of the state.”

“But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception,” he added.

A series of candidates and potential candidates have faced similar hypotheticals.

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, a libertarian-leaning Republican who strongly supported Mitt Romney in previous primaries, asked two contenders “a meta-question.” Is it more important to know whether a candidate would attend a homosexual wedding or whether a president will “destroy the Islamic State before it throws hundreds of thousands of gay men to their deaths”?

Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has said he is considering another presidential run, said it was “amazing that the Left has not risen up” against Islamic Shari'a law. “They don't focus their energy on anything except the attempt to gather more power in this country by using this issue of same-sex 'marriage' as a tool to do that.”

Then he addressed the direct question: Would he attend a gay “marriage” ceremony?

“No, I would not,” he replied curtly. When asked why not, he said, “As a person of my faith, that would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them, but I would not participate in that ceremony.”

Ted Cruz, the first Republican to say he will seek the GOP's presidential nomination next year, gave a more roundabout reply.

“That's part of the 'gotcha' game that the mainstream media plays, where they come after Republicans on every front, and it's designed to caricature Republicans to make them look stupid or evil or crazy or extreme,” he said. “Sadly, most media players are not actual, objective journalists. They're active partisan players.”

He called reporters “the praetorian guard protecting the Obama administration” now gearing up to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

Cruz said he had not attended a gay “marriage” ceremony but made no commitments about the future.

“Well, I will tell you, I haven’t faced that circumstance,” he said. “I have not had a loved one have a gay wedding. You know, at the end of the day, what the media tries to twist the question of marriage into is they try to twist it into a battle of emotions and personalities. So they say, 'Gosh, any conservative must hate gays.'”

The Texas senator said that he is a conservative Christian and also “a constitutionalist.”

“What we’ve seen in recent years from the Left is the federal government and unelected federal judges imposing their own policy preferences to tear down the marriage laws of the states.”

“And so if someone is running for public office, it is perfectly legitimate to ask them their views on whether they’re willing to defend the Constitution, which leaves marriage to the states, or whether they want to impose their own extreme policy views like so many on the left are doing, like Barack Obama does, like Hillary Clinton does,” he said.

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Lesbian teacher Pam Strong teaches a classroom of elementary students at Ellengale Public School on Day of Pink in 2012. http://etfovoice.ca
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

,

Lesbian teacher: How I convince kids to accept gay ‘marriage’, starting at 4-years-old

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski
Image
Some of the pro-gay children's books Strong uses with her students. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Image
The chart Strong uses to show her students that same-sex partnerships are the same as male-female families. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

TORONTO, April 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A primary grade lesbian teacher from an Ontario public school revealed in a workshop at a homosexual activist conference for teachers earlier this month how she uses her classroom to convince children as young as four to accept homosexual relationships.

“And I started in Kindergarten. What a great place to start. It was where I was teaching. So, I was the most comfortable there,” Pam Strong said at the conference, attended by LifeSiteNews.

The conference, hosted by the homosexual activist organization Jer’s Vision, now called the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, focused on the implementation of Bill 13 in Ontario classrooms. Bill 13, called by critics the ‘homosexual bill of rights,’ passed in June 2012 and gave students the right to form pro-gay clubs in their school, including Catholic ones, using the name Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).

Strong, who is in an open relationship with another woman and who has been a teacher for about five years, focused her workshop on what she called the “power of conversation” for promoting LGBTQ issues in an elementary classroom. She began her talk by relating how she reacted the first time one of her students called another student ‘gay’ as a putdown.

“With [the principal’s] encouragement, we decided that I would go from class to class and talk about what ‘gay’ means, what does ‘LGBTQ’ mean, what do ‘I’ mean,” she told about 40 attendees, all educators, at her workshop.

Strong related how she began with the junior kindergarten class.

“And I read a [pro-gay child’s] book [King and King], and I started to realize that conversations can be very difficult, and they can have the most power when they are the most difficult.”

“But difficult conversations are a part of what we do as teachers, right? And when these conversations are properly supported by teachers within the safety of the classroom, they provide a rich environment for our students as they unpack these complex social issues and they reflect on their own preconceptions, right, of gender, sexuality, love, all these different things,” she said.

Strong related that as she was reading “King and King” in the junior kindergarten class as a springboard to discuss her sexuality with the kids, she got to the part where the two princes become ‘married’ when one of the boys suddenly shouted out: “They can’t do that! They can’t get married. They’re two boys.”

Recounted Strong: “And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, they can. It’s right here on page 12.”

To which the boy replied, according to Strong: “Oh, yeah, I know Mrs. Strong, but that’s just a story. That’s not real life.”

“And I said: ‘It happens in real life too. I am married to a woman. I am gay. And I am in love with my wife.”

Strong said the young children “just all kind of went silent.” She then told them: “That may seem different to you, how many of you have heard of that before?”

“Not one hand went up,” she related. “And so I said: ‘That may seem different to you, but we’re not that different. Would you like to know about what I do with my family?”

“Yeah, tell us,” she recounted the children enthusiastically saying. 

“I said, you know, we take our kids to the park. I swing them on swings,” she related, telling conference attendees that she could share things she did with her own children that “mostly likely all of their families did with them.”

Then she told the children: “We laugh together. We go grocery shopping together. I read to them. I tickle them, sometimes until they scream and laugh and when they cry, I hug them until they stop.” 

Strong said that at that point, the boy who had used the word ‘gay’ looked and her and said: “Well, you’re a family.”

“And I said, yeah, we are,” she related. “And off I go to the next classroom.”

Strong said that she went from “class to class to class and continued with these conversations, and they were very powerful.”

‘It’s normal in my classroom’

Strong related an incident that happened last fall involving a new boy who had recently entered her grade 5 classroom. The new boy had not yet been made aware of Strong’s sexual preference for other women.

“All my class is very used to who I am. My family picture is very proudly in my room now. On Mondays they quite often will say, ‘What did you do with your wife?’ It’s normal in my classroom.”

Strong said that a conversation between herself and the students came up one day where it was mentioned that she was a lesbian. The new boy put his hands over his mouth and said, according to Strong: “Oh, my God, I think I’m going to puke.”

“As I took the abuse — personally, as an individual – of those words, I also saw half of my class look at me with incredible concern. One student who was right in front of me already had tears in her eyes. And I noticed several other students who were looking at him. They were just very, very upset with this kid,” she related.

Strong said the boy instantly became aware that “something he had said had just created this unbelievable tension in the room.” She related how she addressed the boy, telling him: “I think that what you might not be aware of is that I am gay, and I am married to a woman, and my family has two moms.’”

“His eyes just started darting around, and he was incredibly uncomfortable,” she related.

“I looked at the other kids and I said: ‘Ok guys, what I want to ask you is: Am I upset with him?’ And the one little girl in my class put up her hand — that doesn’t usually get into these conversations very much in my classroom — and she said, ‘Mrs Strong, I know you’re not upset with him, because he hasn’t had the benefit of our conversations.”

“And I looked at my little friend, my ‘new’ friend, and I said: ‘But, we’re going to have one now,’” she related.

Strong said that she then directed her class to the board and asked them to write everything she had told them related to LGBTQ.

“And my class all of a sudden popped up. ‘LGBTQ’ was on the board, ‘lesbian,’ and all the different words coming out there. And I sat back and said, ‘Let’s review.’ So, the last year and a half of ‘inclusive’ education came alive in my classroom.”

Strong told her workshop attendees that her “new little friend” is now a devoted champion of diversity. She boasted how he was the one in her class to count down the days to the pro-homosexual Day of Pink that took place earlier this month. When Strong took a photo of all the children wearing pink shirts in her classroom, she said the boy requested to be in the front.

“For me, that is the power of conversations. That’s the power of sharing our stories,” she said.

LGBTQ classroom ‘conversation starters’

Strong called it “key” to develop a “positive classroom culture” — and she mentioned it often takes months — before getting into what she called “difficult conversations” with students about convincing students of the normality of her sexual preference for women.

She mentioned how she spends time “building a common vocabulary” in her classroom of words like “stereotype, prejudice, discrimination” so her students will be able to more readily conform to her pro-LGBTQ message.

“Sometimes with these big ideas there are also very big words that are very hard to understand. I find that whether it’s kindergarten, right up to grade six, visuals help a lot,” she said.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

The lesbian teacher has amassed a collection of “conversation starters” that she says helps get her started when presenting to her students the LGBTQ message. She said pro-gay children’s books are one of her favorites.

“I use current events, news articles, advertisement are great for gender, especially with Kindergarten kids, pink and girl toys and all the rest of it. Commercials are great, I use one right now, the Honey Maid commercial.” The 2014 “Dad & Papa" commercial depicts two male same-sex partners engaging with their children in normal family activities such as making s’mores, eating dinner around the table, and walking in the park.

Strong says she watches the commercial with her students up to three times, asking them to make a list of all the similarities between the gay-partnership and their own families.

“Of course they think it’s going to be so different, [that] this family is going to be so different,” she said.

Strong said the kids notice dozens of similarities, but usually only one difference, namely that the commercial has “two dads.” Other than this, she said the students “could not find one thing in that commercial that was different than their own families.” In this way she convinces the kids that a gay-partnership is identical to a family made up of a male and female. Strong called it a “fantastic lesson for kids of all ages.”

“There was nothing left for me to teach at the end of it. It was a huge learning for some kids,” she said.

‘Recruiting children? You bet we are’

Though homosexual activists their efforts in the schools as a way of combatting bullying, a number of homosexual activists have highlighted that the movement’s goal is in fact to “indoctrinate” children into accepting the normalcy of the homosexual lifestyle.

“I am here to tell you: All that time I said I wasn't indoctrinating anyone with my beliefs about gay and lesbian and bi and trans and queer people? That was a lie,” wrote Canadian gay activist Sason Bear Bergman, a woman who identifies as a transgender man, in a March 2015 piece titled “I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I'm Not a Bit Sorry).” Bergman holds nothing back, stating she wants to make children “like us” even if that “goes against the way you have interpreted the teachings of your religion.”

In 2011 U.S. gay activist Daniel Villarreal penned a column for Queerty.com stating that the time had come for the homosexual lobby to admit to “indoctrinating” schoolchildren to accept homosexuality.

“Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

“We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it. Recruiting children? You bet we are,” he added.

Homosexual activist Michael Swift wrote in 1987 in the Gay Community News that school children would become explicit targets for homosexual indoctrination. “We shall seduce them in your schools…They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us,” he wrote at the time. 

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook