"The promotion of the culture of life should be the highest priority in our societies… If the right to life is not defended decisively as a condition for all other rights of the person, all other references to human rights remain deceitful and illusory."
Contraception as Sin
Contraception is also a grave or mortal sin with the sanction of spiritual death. In this the Church's teaching - speaking with Christ's authority - is constant. Pope Pius XI, in the encyclical Casti connnubi of Dec. 31, 1930, proclaimed: "Our mouth proclaims anew: any use of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in it's natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of grave sin."
Numerous papal and episcopal statements underline the gravity of the sin of the contraceptive act.
Here I quote only a few episcopal statements from the last century, before some bishops turned away from listening to the voice of Christ to the voice of dissenters:
(a) Contraception is "a vice against nature and a sin crying to Heaven" (Belgian bishops, June 2, 1909).
(b) Contraception is a "serious sin, a very serious sin, with whatever means and whatever way it occurs" (German bishops, Aug. 20, 1913).
(c) "The theories and practices which teach or encourage the restriction of birth are as disastrous as they are criminal"(French bishops, May 17, 1919).
(d) "The selfishness which leads to race suicide with or without the pretext of bettering the species, is in God's sight, a detestable thing. It is a crime for which, eventually, the nation must suffer" (Cardinal Gibbons on behalf of the U.S. hierarchy, Sept. 20, 1919)
(e) Contraception "whether within the married state or outside it, is an unnatural vice, sinning against the nature, which the Creator bestowed upon us, and therefore grievously displeasing in His sight" (Cardinal Bourne of Westminster, Oct. 9, 1930).
(f) "Contraceptive methods were, are and always will be a sin… it was reserved to our generation to glorify vice with the name of virtue" (Bishops of India, 1957).
In sum the Church has never deviated from the teaching that contraception is a grave violation of God's Fifth Commandment.
The Sanction for Contraception
In the matter of contraception, even "abortifacient contraception", although there is no specific ecclesiastical penalty, there remains the supreme penalty of the loss of God's grace. In some places and times there have been particular ecclesiastical penalties for contraception. In Spain in 1936,absolution from the sin of contraception was reserved to the bishop in eight dioceses (cf. Catholic Priests' Association Newsletter, Vol. III and IV, 1972, p.60). That there is an excommunication attached to abortion and not to contraception does not mean that the former is a greater crime. It means that the good order of the Church as a visible society is more obviously disturbed.
The Number of Contraceptive Acts
As large as are the numbers of those murdered by abortion, much more numerous are those deprived of human life and spiritual growth by contraception. One must number in these tragic statistics those millions who should have been and are not because of tubal ligations and vasectomies. Adding to the disgrace of this pandemic deprivation of human souls is that, in general, the contraceptive rate among Catholics is not lower that that of the general population.
The effects of Contraception
The primacy effect of contraception is the gross deformity of the marriage act- the act designed by God to people earth and Heaven. Contraception transforms the marriage act from an act of love into an act of hate, from self-giving to mutual abuse. Although some forms of contraception do not kill, they prevent life and so demonstrate a willingness to put self-gratification before life. Abortion is a single crime. Contraception is usually a habit which tends to harden the heart with the passage of time. Although the conscience may not suffer the trauma that normally accompanies abortion, contraceptive practice more likely sedates the conscience, with all the deadly consequences of the sinful state, including the loss of Faith. Contraception leaves all the great gaps listed under abortion, but multiplies them as the attack on life is multiplied.
The encyclical Humanae Vitae, under the heading of "Grave Consequences of Methods of Artificial Birth Control", lists the most notable effects of contraception: "the wide and easy road opened to conjugal infidelity and general lowering of morality"; the lowering of respect for the woman who becomes an" instrument of selfish enjoyment" and no longer a respected and beloved companion; the dangerous weapon placed in the hands of evil authorities (cf.n.17)
Following in the wake of contraceptive practice is the acceptance of that other sterile deformity of sex called homosexuality. Christians long recognized the relationship between the two. It is interesting to note that Martin Luther saw this in his condemnation of contraception. He said, "This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomistic sin" (Faith Facts, p.113). A contracepting society, with sex separated from love and life, leads to a society tolerant of homosexual conduct.
The Death Chain
Contraception is at the top of the chain. Contraception gives birth to abortion deaths and to the acceptance of sterile sodomy.
Father John Hardon, S.J., a truly great theologian, summed up the effects of the contraceptive mentality: "It has been correctly said that Humane Vitae divides the Catholic Church into two periods of history. The Church will survive only among those who believe that contraception is deadly both to Christianity and the promise of a heavenly reward. Contraception is fatal to the true faith and to eternal life."
By Msgr. Vincent Foy, PhD.
Of Catholics against contraception. Monsignor Vincent Foy was born in Toronto on August 14, 1915. He was ordained on June 3, 1939; he received a doctorate in Canon Law in 1942. In 1957 he was named a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII. Although officially "retired", Msgr. Foy still keeps up with current developments in the Church and maintains an active correspondence with many Bishops and Church leaders across Canada. He also continues to write booklets and contribute articles to many Catholic periodicals on issues affecting the Church. Among his writings are: "Tragedy at Winnipeg, parts I and II," "From Humanae Vitae to Veritatis Splendor," "From Winnipeg to Fully Alive," "The Arians of the Twentieth Century," "AIDS, Condoms and Catholic Education," and "Did Pope Paul VI Approve the Winnipeg Statement: A Search for the Truth.