I've been rather amused lately watching all of the dust that's been kicked up over John Kerry's Catholicism and the attempts by some people to reduce the entirity of Catholic dogma to a litmus test on abortion. Most amusing has been the reaction to this attempt by Rep. Nick Lampson to put together a Catholic Voting Scorecard, which rates legislators on a broad range of issues, including "housing vouchers, welfare and raising the minimum wage". Apparently, some Republicans are upset that he'd dare to politicize a matter of faith. Who'da thunk it?
I think it's a good thing that we're having this discussion, because it's giving Catholics a chance to point out that there are other issues besides abortion. Of course, the deeper we get into this, the more clear it becomes that neither party hews all that closely to Catholic doctrine - an awful lot of Democrats support the death penalty and voted for the Iraq invasion, as we all know. Maybe that whole separation of church and state thing, which Steve Smith (permalinks bloggered - look for the April 23 entry) reminds us the Vatican reluctantly approved in 1960, isn't such a bad idea after all.
But if we really want to make the debate about whether or not John Kerry can be a good Catholic and vote pro-choice, then at the very least I think we ought to expand the conversation just a little, and ask those who are bearding Kerry if they really oughtn't be going after any Catholic politician who doesn't toe the line on birth control.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use artificial birth control—contraception—to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.
Artificial birth control is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other methods of artificial contraception.
Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as "natural law." The natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children.
But sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God’s gift of the sex act, along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end—procreation.
Ignoring the mountain of evidence, some maintain that the Church considers the use of contraception a matter for each married couple to decide according to their "individual conscience." Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. The Church has always maintained the historic Christian teaching that deliberate acts of artificial birth control are always gravely sinful, which means that it is mortally sinful if done with full knowledge and deliberate consent (CCC 1857). This teaching is definitive and irreformable. It cannot be changed and has been proclaimed by the Church infallibly.
There is no way to deny the fact that the Church’s ordinary magisterium (cf. Vatican II’s document Lumen Gentium 25) has always and everywhere condemned artificial contraception. The matter has already been infallibly decided. The so-called "individual conscience" argument amounts to "individual disobedience."
UPDATE: More from Slacktivist.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 26, 2004 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack