Report of K.S.C. Discussion
SIR,-One hears much too Much nowadays about the so-called "population problem", and it is gratifying to find the talc that there is an over-abundance of babies being born so ably refuted in the new C.T.S. pamphlet, "Overpopulation: Is Birth Control the Answer?" by Fr. Arthur McCormack, M.A. As a local Action Convener of the Knights of Saint Columba I have been interested for some time past in this very question. A debate was staged recently in this district by the Knights of my Council, in conjunction with colleagues from a neighbouring Council, and I consider the event sufficiently important to warrant my bringing to your readers' attention some of the points which arose in the course of the discussion.
For the purpose of illustration let us imagene that John and Mary Smith live in a flat which has only two rooms. They have four children.
Another baby? Well, honestly, they don't see how they could manage another addition to their family. Things are tough enough as they are. They have been on the local council housing list for years, but nothing seems to turn up. Where can they get advice on their problems?
Henry Brown-a good man-has been informed by an experienced doctor that it would be dangerous for his wife to have another baby. He is not a Catholic and does not think that artificial methods of birth control are morally wrong. What is his wife, who is a Catholic, to do?
"Go along to your local Family Planning Association clinic." That is the answer that their friends and neighbours will put before them. And most probably their own doctors woisld say the same. An instructed Catholic knows that he cahnot go there, for he would be told to do something which he knows is wrong. He realises that artificial methods of contraception are immoral, because they are contrary to the slaws of God. They arc evil in themselves, in that they go right against the purpose of a law implanted in human beings by the Creator. On the other hand, a Catholic also knows that in certain circumstances he may legitimately make use of what is termed the "safe period". The Church holds the view that the use of the "safe period"-or rhythm-is certainly not sinful where serious reasons of a medical, eugenic, economic or social nature are involved.
As Pope Pius XII stated in his address to the National Congress of the "Family Front" on November 26, 1951: "The Church knows how to consider with sympathy and understanding the real difficulties of the married state in our day. Therefore we have affirmed the lawfulness and at the same time the limits-in truth very wide-of a regulation of offspring which, un like so-called 'birth-control', is compatible with the law of God. One may even hope (yet in this matter the Church naturally leaves the judgment to medical science) that science will succeed in providing this lawful method (rhythm) with a sufficiently secure basis. The most recent information seems to confirm such a hope."
The problem which quite a number of Catholics have to face is where can information on this matter he obtained. Not all doctors are experts in this field, and some of them say they haven't the time to devote to working out the safe pei iod in particular cases.
Could you argue from all this that it would be a good thing to set up centres at which sound advice is given to those who need it? Perhaps the foundation of these centres would help to solve the difficulties of the people like John Blunt, who wants to become a Catholic, but finds the Church's teaching on contraceptives very hard to put into practice.
"It is all very well," he points out, "telling me that I must not use contraceptives, but where can I get guidance on what you call lawful methods of family planning? My wife is not a Catholic and she does not want any more children."
How many Catholics lapse from the Faith because they do not know where to turn for advice? Figures, I feel sure, would be most interesting. It is true that you can point out to a Catholic that the state of marriage results from a tri-party contract made between the husband, the wife and Almighty God. Provided that the husband and wife do their share of the contract, God will not let them down.
He has pledged His supportthis can he seen from the fact that He has raised the natural contract of marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament. A Catholic would agree with all of this, but it may not be easy to put it into practice if his partner is not of his faith.
It would be interesting to learn what your readers believe to be the real solution. What, in their opinion, is the best way to tackle the above problems? Is there, in fact, a need for centres which would give couples all the help they require? Or is there another answer?
J. Albert Steiert
116 Sherwood Avenue, S.W.16.