Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Cardinal Collins Admitting That Humanae Vitae Is Being Ignored In Toronto?

Published today to

In yesterday’s interview with Brandon Vogt of WordOnFire blog on the subject of Marriage, Divorce, and Communion, Cardinal Collins did a very fine job of reiterating and confirming the Church’s teaching on marriage. In expounding and defending the Word of Christ he fulfilled his duty as a Successor of the Apostles and I trust that whatever the consequences of the upcoming Synod His Eminence will continue to be faithful in proclaiming the same truth unwaveringly to his flock in Toronto.

However, very important questions relating to the evils of the contraceptive mentality must be raised as a result of statements arising from this interview. The Cardinal is quoted as saying:

But Christian teaching is based upon the natural law that is written in our very natures by God, and especially upon the revealed word of God. We discover God's will, and the scriptures and the living faith of the Church help us to do so. We do not shape God's will according to what currently seems best to us.

So when Pope Paul did not change what he could not change, but re-affirmed Christian faith, many, many people were upset, and simply decided to ignore the teaching. That is our present situation (my emphasis).  I certainly hope that we do not suffer a repeat of that, as unfounded speculation swirls concerning a change by the Church of the explicit teaching of Jesus on marriage.

When the Cardinal said, “That is our present situation”, was he indicating that in his Archdiocese the teaching of Humanae Vitae was likewise being ignored? Either it is being ignored in Toronto also or it is not. I think we have a right to know the answer to that question.

If it is being ignored in Toronto also then only Cardinal Collins can, and must, answer for that grave denial of the Catholic faith. As the Cardinal himself stated, “Pope Paul did not change what he could not change, but re-affirmed Christian faith.” If Toronto is ignoring Humanae Vitae, it is ignoring a divine truth that even a Pope dared not change, a weighty truth that was intimately connected with the Christian faith, according to Cardinal Collins.

But how would we evaluate whether Toronto was ignoring Humanae Vitae? By definition, to ignore is “to refrain from noticing or recognizing” and to “disregard.” If the Archdiocese functioned as though HV did not exist or as though it didn’t matter, then couldn’t we say that Toronto was ignoring Humanae Vitae?

In his encyclical Humanae Vitae, which Cardinal Collins noted “upset” many people, Pope Paul VI declared contraception to be a grave sin and intrinsically evil. Were the majority of practicing Catholics (those that generally seek to live out their Catholic faith) in Toronto ignoring Humanae Vitae, we should probably find that they, like Catholics from other prominent dioceses in Canada, disregarded the Pope’s characterization of contraception and that they failed to identify the behaviour as gravely sinful. As a result, we should also expect to see high numbers of Catholics engaging in the practice, as do high numbers of the general population.

Again, if Toronto were ignoring Humanae Vitae, we should probably find that it was due largely to a lack of emphasis by the Archdiocese on the subject matter of Humanae Vitae. That is to say, very little effort would be expended in teaching and preaching on the subject of contraception, either in homilies, statements by the Cardinal or in printed matter released by parishes or the Archdiocese. Very few, if any, seminars or workshops dealing specifically with the evils of the contraceptive mentality, as expressed in Humanae Vitae, would be taking place.

On a more basic and practical level, since the teaching of Humanae Vitae is so intimately connected with the marital act, one would expect to see very little emphasis on the “hard teaching” about contraception taking place in marriage preparation classes in the Archdiocese. More to the point, one would expect that the Archdiocese would rarely, if ever, highlight the practice of contraception as a grave (mortal) sin and again would rarely, if ever, characterize it as an evil practice. To further avoid the possibility that Catholics would take seriously the sinfulness of artificial birth control, as identified in Humanae Vitae, the Archdiocese would be very reluctant to insist on its priests requiring Confession of their parishioners who practiced this mortal sin, in contravention of the Vatican’s Vademecum for Confessors (Prop. 2.4).

Furthermore, when discussing abortion and pro-life matters, the Archdiocese would be very reluctant to highlight the incontrovertible connection between the practice of contraception and the resultant outcome of abortion, what some call the “evil twin” link, because contraception, in fact, does more to fuel abortion than any other phenomenon.

In short, the Archdiocese would, largely through silence, ignore that the “knowing choice to reject the definitive teaching of the Magisterium on an important matter of morality [in this case, contraception] is formal heresy.”

So I ask again: Was the Cardinal indicating that in his Archdiocese the teaching of Humanae Vitae was likewise being ignored? Either it is being ignored in Toronto also or it is not. If it is NOT being ignored then we should observe an entirely different dynamic—than the one described above—at work in the Archdiocese of Toronto in regard to the practice of contraception by Catholics. If the teaching of Humanae Vitae is being honoured in Toronto, let us understand what Cardinal Collins is doing there that other Bishops in Canada are not doing so that His Eminence might lead the charge and help to turn back the tide of the culture of death in our great nation.

However, if the teaching of Humanae Vitae IS being ignored in Toronto, then we have a right to ask the Cardinal why he is not, as a worthy Bishop, doing everything possible to teach the divine truth contained in Humanae Vitae and to spare the sheep under his care the temporal and spiritual judgments of a pernicious, evil practice?

Some Catholic leaders claim that, in respect to Humanae Vitae, the current state of affairs in our parishes is just too big a problem to tackle and fix. Presumably, Catholics are doomed to continue in the practice of behaviour which to God is repulsive and repugnant, which also is fatal to one’s faith and which also contributes to the deaths and murders of millions of innocent Canadians? Is it conceivable that the Cardinal also could be resigned to such a horrendous and preposterous notion?

If we examine more of the Cardinal’s statements in his recent interview, we are forced to ask more questions:

In a society in which permanent commitments are not valued - and that applies to the priesthood and religious life as well as to marriage - it can take great spiritual strength, and is certainly counter-cultural, to renew each day a sacred lifelong commitment, trusting in the grace of God. That must be our path as Christians, and anything that tends (even unintentionally) to re-inforce a culture that undermines fidelity to sacred permanent commitments must be resisted, as also any action that suggests that the Church does not take seriously the permanence of such covenants.

Our Lord's teaching on marriage, like his whole teaching on discipleship, can at times be very difficult. Especially in the world in which we live, but really in all periods of history, a certain heroism is required in the Christian life. We are all called to holiness; that is not just the vocation of the few who are canonized, but of all of us.

Could not the same challenges be put forth in regard to adhering to the Church’s teaching on contraception? Is not the grace of God sufficient and effectual for heroic living in terms of the full understanding of chastity, which forbids contraception? “We are all called to holiness; that is not just the vocation of the few who are canonized, but of all of us.”

The Cardinal stated well:

Many people who are divorced, and who are not free to marry, do enter into a second marriage. There are various reasons that can lead to this, and their fellow parishioners should not occupy themselves speculating about them. Catholics in that tragic situation can be involved in many ways in the life of the community, but they may not receive the sacraments, such as Holy Communion, since whatever their personal disposition is or the reasons for their situation, known perhaps only to God, they are continuing in a way of life which is objectively against the clear command of Jesus. That is the point.

Cardinal Collins says that Catholics who continue “in a way of life which is objectively against the clear command of Jesus” may not receive the sacraments. Humanae Vitae reiterates the clear command of Christ as well. Will he likewise forbid the sacraments to Catholics who obstinately persist, after clear instruction, in the grave sin of contraception? If not, then why not? He needs to explain this scandalous contradiction.

Was the Cardinal blinded to an obvious truth when he later said in his interview:

The Synod on the Family will surely deal with the whole range of issues facing the family today, not only this one issue of communion for those who are divorced and remarried. For example, one of the key problems we face now is that couples are more often living together without getting married. And there are many societal trends, especially in the western world, that undermine the family.

Notice that the Cardinal admits that it’s a “key problem” in the entire debate. He says “couples are more often living together without getting married.” Why is that? It would be both pointless and impossible for such a cultural norm described by the Cardinal to occur except for the widespread availability and practice of contraception. Your Eminence, why not attack the problem at its root? Why not re-examine the upcoming Synod in that light? Be bold, Your Eminence, and lead the way to a new future for Canada!

As Monsignor Foy said, “the greatest evil in the Church today is the contraceptive mentality.” It is, in fact, almost single handedly responsible for a host of other evils that we face, not the least of which is the crisis affecting the subject of this interview: Marriage, Divorce, and Communion.

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