No change on Church’s teaching on contraception

No change on Church’s teaching on contraception

The breathless headlines report that Spain’s Catholic bishops endorse condoms or that the Church has changed her teaching. AIDS and gay groups cheer and say it was only a matter of time. But what has really happened?

Is it true that “Spain’s bishops” have changed to endorsement of condom use? The article only says that a spokesman for the Spanish bishops’ conference has said, “Condoms have a place in the global prevention of AIDS. But is a single spokesman’s comment indicative of a change in teaching by the whole college of bishops? Our experience of the bishops’ conference bureaucracy in the US would tell us that such staffs often have a mind of their own and go off in directions that have nothing to do with the magisterium of the Church.

Yet, even if the spokesman does speak for every bishop in Spain and they all agree that condoms are good, does that change anything? Not a whit. The fundamental misunderstanding of both the general public and many Catholics is the belief that bishops decide what the teaching of the Church is. They don’t. The Church discerns the truth, which is the will of God, through the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit as she searches Revelation, both written and oral. You can’t lobby the Church to change her teaching because the teaching is from God. God is unchanging and He’s not going to suddenly decide tomorrow that all the reasons why artificial contraception and fornication are bad have been wrong all this time.

That’s why such stories are silly, except for the fact that by allowing this to happen the bishops have allowed confusion on a matter of grave importance to endanger many souls.

Update: It is now being reported that the spokesman says he was only saying that the bishops want to work on a common ground promoting abstinence with those who think condoms are the answer. Thus the promotion of Uganda’s successful ABC strategy (Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms). While the strategy is successful and certainly better than condoms alone, it is a Trojan horse (pardon the pun) and not worthy of the bishops’ support in any fashion and this incident shows exactly why.

This is what happens: the pro-condom brigade invites the bishops or their spokesman in for a talk; they discuss the ABC strategy and the condom-pushers talk up abstinence and fidelity; the bishops like it and say something complimentary and conciliatory; the pro-condom people trumpet the tepid approval as if it were a full-throated endorsement. And thus the Church is suckered-in once again. So whether it’s a bureaucracy pushing an agenda or just getting conned, once again the quest for dialogue with those pushing a hard-line of objectively immoral behavior is rewarded with a slap in the face.

A friend sends the following analogy: It’s pretty clever as a ploy to get the Church on board.  You try not to snicker and put on a serious face and say in public: Either Abstinence Or Fidelity Or Full-Throttle Sodomy, which is like telling a nine-year-old, Either do your math homework Or clean the attic and garage Or take a handful of Snickers bars and play videogames.  The episcopal policy wonks think, “Great!  They have conceded the value of abstinence and fidelity.  Let’s go with the package and spin it so that everyone sees that Science has jumped on the Church’s bandwagon!”  Suckered by the jab-feint, they step forward and walk into a straight right to the jaw. 

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli