Monday, May 08, 2006

Bishop Vasa on Contraception

Bishop Vasa has written an essay on Contraception in The Catholic Sentinel. You can read it here.

On Who Can Receive Communion:

I was further struck by the reading from the second century martyr, St. Justin, who writes: “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.”

It appears that the tendency to believe that one may reject certain teachings of the Church and that this rejection has no impact upon either our love for God or upon the appropriateness of sharing in the Eucharist is not something new. Jesus dealt with it, St. John dealt with it and St. Justin the martyr dealt with it. This is the same question raised in reference to Catholic politicians and others who reject the clear teachings of the Church about the sinfulness of abortion. Yet, the concept is not limited to these sex-related sins. A man who somehow believes that his excessive drinking, his spouse abuse, his child abuse, his adultery, his theft from his employer, his dishonesty, his missing of Sunday Mass, and the like have no impact on his love for God would be equally mistaken and in serious need of conversion. The apparent difference between these behaviors and abortion or contraception is that these sex-related sins have achieved a high degree of societal acceptability. This societal acceptability has given the impression to Catholics that God really has nothing of value to say about these life issues.

The Schizophrenia of Contraception:

The truth is that it is simply not possible to say on one hand, “I do love the Lord with my whole heart, mind and soul” and at the same time to say, “My decisions about how to deal with the most marvelous God-given gift of fertility has nothing to do with God.” The claim that one loves God with one’s whole self while exempting a very significant element of that self from the sphere of God’s dominion, indeed from the sphere of God’s love, must answer to the First Letter of St. John, Chapter 2, Verse 4.

Why Isn't the Teaching on Contraception Taught?

The one question which stands in the tape as a condemnation to all teachers and preachers within the Church is simply, “Why haven’t we been told this clearly and consistently?” The answer is as difficult as the question. I suspect that if we took some liberties with the Scripture we could envision Jesus saying: “You cannot love God and contraception at the same time. You will either love one and hate the other or be committed to one and despise the other.” There it is then. If God is really saying, “If you love Me then abide by my commandments including My Church’s teaching about the sinfulness of contraception” then many in the Church are faced with the same conflict which led to conversion for this One More Soul speaker. We cannot separate the concrete realities of our lives from the love of God.

It is not an easy thing to present this very personal and emotional subject in such direct black and white terminology but the truth is that Jesus and His Church either include contraception in the list of prohibited practices or they do not. There may be huge numbers of Catholics who reject this teaching but I do not know of any who deny that it is what the Church clearly and consistently teaches.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who would argue that the teaching of the Church is not upheld by priests. If it were it would be preached about. If it were, in Confession, Catholics would not be told that using birth control was "up to their own conscience". And if it were, large families would not be treated like they have done something wrong by having more than a boy and a girl by priests and their fellow parishoners. Conclusion, if one is using contraception they may not receive Communion. It's radical; so is the teaching. It's also unchanging.

1 comment:

Tradcatholic said...

It is so great to see an article really teaching the Faith without apology from one of the Bishops! Would that some of this clear teaching were coming without exception from Holy Rome. It is very encouraging to me, at least, to know that the Truth is still out there in plain English and not hidden under a bushel basket. Would that more of the red hatted ones would come forth!