Saturday, March 24, 2018

Contraception Is Ground Zero For The Spiritual Battle of Our Day

If you are a regular visitor to this blog this Michael Voris video will be unsurprising. It appears to be from a talk that Michael gave just this week so it includes some very interesting up to date data and perspective. Behold, this topic explains so much of our current #CatholicChurchCrisis.

Friday, March 09, 2018

In Pre-Vatican II Canada, What Were Catholic Bishops Thinking About Contraception?

Pope Pius XII (left) dies in 1958, succeeded by Pope John XXIII
In this pre-Vatican II document from 1958 produced by the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops we see that the Church's teaching concerning contraception was being upheld and unabashedly promoted by the Bishops. It is unclear what prompted the Bishops to issue their pastoral letter entitled "The Family In Canada" but the general sense of the letter is that pressures seemed to be mounting against family and marriage and great concern was felt by the Bishops.

For historical context, it's worth noting that Pope Pius XII had died just a month prior to the release of this letter (although clearly that event was unrelated to the pastoral letter).

Keep in mind this document was compiled less than four years before Vatican II and a full ten years before Pope Paul VI's encyclical entitled "Humanae Vitae." Note that the language used concerning "artificial birth prevention" and divorce is striking and unequivocal in terms of support of official Church teaching, whereas in the aftermath of Vatican II, what was striking was a spirit of change and liberality.

Another remarkable aspect of the pastoral letter "The Family In Canada" is that there is no mention whatever of abortion. Of course abortion was in all respects illegal at that time (1958) but imagine, if you can, a society and social setting where abortion is so uncontroversially evil and criminal that it is rightly consigned to the same status and category as a grievous crime, unworthy of the attention of the faithful, even in an address on the family. Now imagine only seven or eight years hence the same Bishops resigned to a softening of law on the "complex" subject of abortion. Mind boggling. What invasion of thought and spirit so beguiled these shepherds in that short span of years?

This statement by the Bishops deserves to be revisited in 2018 if for no other reason than to support the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. That encyclical remains "ground zero" for the current Catholic Church crisis since it served as a magnet for the heresy and hatred for tradition which was metastasizing in the Church in the wake of modernism. The vast rebellion that followed vented its fury on the person of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, laying waste to altar, liturgy and doctrine in order to beat into the ground all that was holy and true. The results have been catastrophic: a pervasive culture of sacrilege and profanation, measured daily in the multiple millions and never challenged by Canada's Bishops.

[For further overall context, see my posting from 2013 entitled How Catholic Bishops in Canada Privatized Contraception, Divorce and Abortion.]


The Family In Canada

Author -The Administrative Board, Canadian Catholic Conference, Nov. 13, 1958

At a time when Christian teaching on marriage is being assailed and family life undermined, we re-affirm emphatically the Church’s' constant teaching that marriage was instituted by God. The inclination to marry was implanted in man's nature by his Creator; forthright divine teaching confirmed the inclination of human nature; and Christ not only renewed the original decree of God but raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, thereby giving husband and wife the means to attain holiness in the married state. Furthermore, the first man and woman received an explicit divine command that their permanent union should be the natural beginning of the human race. Thus the family has its origin in God, and the begetting of children is both the primary purpose and the first blessing of marriage.

Many consequences flow from this. First, God's plan concerning marriage and the family cannot be changed at the whim or even by the formal decree of individuals or societies. Second, the entire range of human relationships must be ordered to respect the nature of marriage and promote the welfare of the family. The chief reason why the Church is concerned for problems of economic and social life is that disorders in these fields imperil the welfare of the family. To enable the family to attain its destiny, the Church has repeatedly em­phasized the need for a program of social reconstruction. History shows that  no  civilization  has  long  endured without a vigorous family life, and that one of the first symptoms of the decay of a civilization is the disintegration of its family life, marked by a loss of respect for marriage,  an increase in divorce and the refusal of married couples to have children.

I— Flagrant Sins against Nature

This refusal too often leads them to prevent conception by artificial means. Such actions are sinful because they interfere with the functioning of a natural faculty. To frustrate these powers of nature is a serious matter; serious, indeed, because the conception of every human being involves the creation of a spiritual, immortal soul. For this reason the Church reaffirms its teaching, based on the law of God and of nature, that artificial birth prevention is sinful under any circumstances. As for divorce, it harms human welfare, being contrary to human nature, which tends towards a permanent union bringing security to husband and wife, children and society as a whole. Proof of this is that divorce, while seeming to solve a marital problem, almost invariably causes a host of new problems and evils, individual and social. Marriage is by nature indissoluble, in the sense that it cannot be dissolved by any merely human authority. Indissolubility is of the essence of marriage and an integral part of its constitution. Divorce, by weakening its foundation, places the whole structure of family life—and therefore of society—in peril of collapse.

Thus, divorce and artificial birth-prevention are flagrant sins against God’s plan for marriage and the family. They are also sins against human nature. Men and women are more tempted to sin in these ways as the difficulties of marriage and family life become excessively burdensome. Weak, misguided couples turn from the personal sacrifices required for domestic peace and the proper rearing of families; in divorce and birth-prevention they seek false solutions to their difficulties. All this emphasizes the need for promoting legitimate ways of mitigating or eliminating the difficulties which tempt men and women to sin against God’s plan. It makes clear the need for formal programs or pre-marital and marital instruction to teach young couples the true nature of marriage and the family.

II— Housing Shortage

Here in Canada one of the foremost difficulties confronting families is insufficient and inadequate housing. The Federal Minister of Labour has noted that many are living in houses which "no Canadian should be living in".[i] Serious evils follow from this: the family is divided by the fact that many mothers think they are obliged to work outside the home.  Poor housing has been identified as a major cause of delinquency on the part of all members of the family. It causes parents to place unnatural curbs on the growth of families. It takes a heavy toll by robbing the family of opportunities for developing and expressing the talents of its members. The real adequacy even of many new houses is open to question. Planners and builders appear to have been caught unprepared by the development in urban settings of larger families with greater need for more space, both in their houses and outside them.

III— Rights and Duties of Mothers

The regrettable spectacle of the mother working outside her home is a consequence of this housing problem and the economic difficulties of families. A recent survey of working women in Canada showed that one in four spoke of working to help pay for her home.  This was more than twice the number who mentioned all other specific material objectives combined.[ii] of other reasons given, "the great majority of the women interviewed felt that their families' economic position was such that unless they were prepared to forego all but necessities, they were obliged to work for pay.”[iii] 

Mention  of these facts is not intended as indiscriminate criticism of working women because, as Pope Pius XII has noted, it is useless to urge a woman  to return  to the  home "while conditions prevail which  constrain her to remain away from it.”[iv] The attack must be directed against the causes which, by taking mothers out of their homes, notably contribute to a breakdown of family life. The working mother cannot make her full and proper contribution towards satisfying the family's many other needs. She cannot be the leader she should be in the family's physical, spiritual, intellectual and moral education. Not infrequently her own moral integrity is endangered. But even in homes where the mother does not go out to work, the traditional family structure is endangered. Pope Pius XII has observed:

The daughter of the worldly woman, who sees all housekeeping left in  the  hands of  paid  help  and her mother fussing with frivolous occupations and futile amusements, will follow her ex­ ample, will want to be emancipated as soon as possible and in the words of a very tragic phrase 'to live her own life'. How could she conceive a desire to become one day a true lady…the mother of a happy, prosperous, worthy family?[v]

IV— Rights and Duties of Fathers

We have spoken of the abuses which follow from a neglect or distortion of the true role of motherhood. It must not however, be thought that women alone are blameworthy. In many instances, the mother is forced into the circumstances we have deplored. In others, it is the husband who fails to fulfil his family responsibilities. The father, as head of the family, has the right and the duty to provide for his family. Poor wages or unemployment leaves many fathers unable to do this properly.  All the resources of private and public institutions must therefore be directed to the urgent task of guaranteeing fathers a wage sufficient to meet adequately the normal domestic needs of their families as they arise.[vi]Beyond this social aspect of the problem, it is a man's duty to work industriously and to manage his affairs thriftily, so that all possible opportunities can be turned to the advantage of his family. Bad management, extravagant habits and irresponsible behaviour on the part of some men contribute to their families' sufferings.

Another factor undermining the welfare of families is the failure of many fathers to be leaders in their own homes. The shorter working week should provide opportunity for better mutual knowledge and familiarity of parents and children. Unfortunately, the opportunities which the shorter work week should provide are often lost through the second-job practice commonly known as “moonlighting”. Whether adopted out of necessity or in a mistaken appreciation of need, this practice not only affects the family adversely but emphasizes defects in the economic structure, as political, industrial and labour leaders have noted. The father should strive to be an understanding guide and friend, a loved and trusted parent to his children, a model of constancy and virtue especially to his sons, an example to be admired and followed. Thus, in harmonious co­ operation with the mother, the father must provide leadership in home education.

V— Research Needed

There is evidence of a great need for research into all social factors affecting the Canadian family. Many organizations are looking for something to do. One thing they could do is harness the talent in every community and encourages trained leaders in research projects. Again, universities annually require of their students thousands of term papers and theses.  The fact that few students are assigned to study and explore actual social conditions in Canada is reflected in the general lack of research material.

VI— Role of the State

Given the duty of fathers and mothers to improve the way they fulfil their roles, and the need for industry, labour unions, universities and all manner of voluntary and formal associations to do more for families—there remains a great and vital service to be performed by public authority  at every level of government. This, however, must be done in a manner consonant with human dignity. Family allowances in Canada are an example of the state's awareness of its duty to aid families. But families should also be assisted indirectly by efforts aimed at stabilizing the economy so that earnings and savings retain their real worth in goods and services, and by other means, the complexities of which cannot be treated here. Trade, monetary and taxation policies, legislative programs and public projects of all kinds have their effects, sooner or later, on the life of every Canadian family.

Since this is so, we urge government at every level to give high priority to the good of the family, in determining or implementing social policy and to recognize and respect the fact that the family has sacred rights prior and superior to any other institution, including the state itself. Thus aided and protected, families will be better able to model themselves according to the Christian ideal, becoming
…true centres of holiness,  where  the Lord is present with His graces;  where the members pray together, attend Holy Mass together and receive the sacraments together; where God's law is scrupulously obeyed; where every member works earnestly towards perfection, aided by those means which family life itself provides through the fulfilment of its own  duties; where the minds of children  worthy of the Church are formed; where love and affection animate parents and children alike; where the eyes of God rest gently, knowing that His Holy and adorable will is constantly fulfilled.[vii]

[i] Cf. Toronto Star, Sept. 9, 1958, p. 12.

[ii] Married Women Working for Pay, Dept. of Labour Publication, Ottawa, 1958, p.40.

[iii] Ibid., page 76.

[iv] Pius XII, The Duties of Women in Social and Political Life, Address to Italian Women, Rome, Oct. 21, 1945; English version in Catholic Mind, N.Y., 1945, vol. 43, p. 711.

[v] Ibid., p. 710.

[vi] Pius XII, Encyclical Letter on 150th Anniversary of Hierarchy established in U.S.A., Nov. 1, 1939, in The Papal Encyclicals, edit. Claudia Carlen, IHM (Wilmington, N.C., McGrath Publishing, 1981), IV, n. 6, p. 184.

[vii] Pius XII, Address to Spanish Family Clubs, Aug. 13, 1958, Osservatore Romano, Vatican, Aug. 14, 1958.