A SERVICE BUT MISSES POINT
Catholic Herald Reporter Catholic Herald Reporter A NEWLY PUBLISHED booklet advising artificial methods of birth control has, at one and the same time, done a service to Catholic doctrine and completely missed the point of it.
"Family in Freedom", pub lished by the Counsel Press commence with a foreword by Dr. Winifred De Kok, fairly and incisively outlines Catholic teaching on family limitation, with well chosen references to Pope Pius XII.
But it then goes on to say that Catholic opposition to "appliance methods of birth control is largely based on the teaching of Thomas Aquinas in 1227. But to adhere to doctrine of this sort is, to say the least, unrealistic since it had little to do with the conditions of the twentieth century world".
A theological correspondent This is one of the fairest and best informed pamphlets on this subject with regard to the Church's position which I have read. Nevertheless, the two vital sentences you quote from it are not even halftruths.
They neglect the gravamen of the Church's tradition and teaching, direct and indirect, throughout the ages. These can only be understood in their context of love, marriage and respect for the sacredness of the act by which God's greatest gift passes from generation to generation.
Catholic teaching is not geared to the passing needs of the 13th or any other century, nor to any considerations of apparent social expediency. It is purely accidental that the doctrine may have been particularly well formulated at a particular point of time.
Our teaching stems from Catholic understanding of the laws built into human nature by God, laws which are timeless and irrevocable. Catholics claim to see these laws in the very structure and foundation of the human body, Deliberately to frustrate them by an appliance or chemical or hormonal preparation is wrong.
There is no suggestion in the pamphlet that contraception can do anything but good. Yet one gynaecologist has told me that 60 per cent of the women coming to him for "safe period" instruction were non-Catholics, psychologically disgusted by contraceptive measures. Very few doctors would let their wives take the so-called contraceptive pill.
Japan's experience of having the abortion rate rise from 266,000 a year in 1948 (when contraceptives were allowed and encouraged by the Eugenics Laws) to over 1,000,000 legal ones a year since 1954 should surely suggest that the Church's attitude is not so oldfashioned after all.
A survey showed that abortion was six times more common among those who used contraceptives. The figure for England, given by the Royal Population Commission was 8.7 times.
What Britain needs is not contraception, but capital outlay on really first-class centres where the Church's teaching can be explained and applied, by expert theologians and medical specialists.
In view of the huge leakage traceable to this problem, this need is surely a prime charge on the financial resources of the Church herself.