I SYMPATHISE with the feelings of "great sadness" on the part of Mr E O'Doherty (March 6). It is a grave scandal that a Catholic husband and father should find over a period of 12 years that no Catholic priest has counselled him to practise self control, chastity and a spirit of sacrifice within his marriage.
Instead they have apparently encouraged the various methods of artificial contraception listed by him. It seems almost unbelievable that they even sanctioned the use of an interuterine device by his wife. This appliance is not a contraceptive. It acts after conception has taken place i.e. it causes repeated abortions apart from being quite liable to damage the woman's health. The Church's teaching on artificial contraception and abortion (two closely related evils) is abundantly clear.
I am aware that these can be difficult pastoral problems especially in regard to mixed marriages and the consequent risks of marital disharmony. The use of conscience is often cited as a means of resolving the difficulty and of course nobody can be forced to act contrary to conscience. There is an obligation to fully inform conscience by applying objective knowledge of right and wrong, by prayer and not least by the Church's guidance and constant teaching.
I suspect that in many cases the Church is ignored or easily brushed aside by both counsellor and client in the name of "conscience".
I suggest that priests and Catholic doctors should examine. their own consciences in this matter. After all if the word "Catholic" means anything to them they surely have a duty to present the teaching of the Church in a postive way as the norm.
Perhaps this season of Lent would be a particularly suitable time for this exercise in self examination. What about it Dr Poole? Perhaps you would like to lead the way!
Dr J Phelan Winchester, Hampshire.
• SO CONDOMS with holes in them are OK! Would the Vatican now like to tell us how big the hole has to be to be acceptable?
For goodness sake, can't the perpetrators of this nonsense see where it is leading? We shall shortly have a Vatican specification for "Catholic approved condoms".
Could we get back to commonsense please, and think about these matters — if we need to — in terms of motives and a bit less in terms of mechanics.
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