Home > Tag Archives: Contraception

Tag Archives: Contraception

February 10, 2015

You Don’t Have to Have a Bit of the Other

When I was in the East Surrey Regiment back in the mid-1950s, the two main topics of conversation among my comrades were football and what they delicately referred to as The Other. (When they were being somewhat  less delicate it was known as Your Oggins.)  It was regarded as beyond debate that a regular Bit of The Other was absolutely essential to a man’s general well-being.

During the next decade this view  came to prevail among most Catholics: hence the wails of distress when Pope Paul VI overruled the majority report of the Papal Commission on Birth Control and produced the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which basically confirmed the provisions of Pius XI’s Casti Connubii, only in somewhat less forceful terms. I seem to recall that  one progressive book entitled Contraception and Holiness (which my friend Fr Brendan Purcell later dubbed  “Fornication and Mental Prayer”)  maintained that married couples had an absolute  right to a Bit of the Other several times a week, and if they wished to be sure of avoiding pregnancy this would only be possible if contraceptives were used. It was all put in the most delicate language; lots of references to love, responsible parenthood and “the totality of marriage”.

It was just special pleading; self serving nonsense.  Pope Paul’s  prophecies about the woeful effects of the widespread  use of contraceptives have been more than vindicated.

I am sorry I may have offended some readers by expressing myself so crudely.   Of course sex is a most vital component of marriage, for reasons spelled out in detail by the Church’s magisterium over the centuries. One of these reasons is the fact that it nurtures and sustains the mutual love of  spouses (or it should do, anyway). But the point I’m labouring is that today it has come to be worshipped as a false god—perhaps particularly by  the thousands of priests who have jettisoned celibacy. Some of these have tried to use the existence of married Anglican Ordinariate Catholic clergy to justify their own betrayal.

Fr John Hunwicke, himself a married Anglican convert, has no time for  this sleight of  hand:

I suspect that few of us would want the tradition we have inherited to be used as, or in some way become, an engine for the demolition of the Western norm. In this sexually obsessed world, there has never been a greater need for the bright light of Celibacy as a Sign that Sex is not inevitable; not dominant.

And we must not over-romanticise the Married Priesthood. Somebody once sent me a page or two of the American Clergy List, which detailed the matrimonial history of PECUSA [Episcopalian] clergy … and how very common divorce seemed to be; often, multiple divorce. Nor does a permission for clerical marriage guarantee that there will be no sexual hanky panky. On the contrary: priests’ wives themselves are not ring-fenced from the snares of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil! And husbands, even clerical ones, can do wicked things in frustration because of problems in their marriages. We all need to be very careful indeed, and not clutch at facile ‘solutions’.

 

 

January 19, 2015

 False Mercy-Mongers Put Down by Anglican Bishop

One wet autumn afternoon in the mid 1950s, just before the end of the long summer holidays, I was bored out of my tree but too lazy  to catch up on school work. I looked listlessly through my father’s bookshelves, eventually pulling down Bishop Charles Gore’s Roman Catholic Claims.  It was the first Anglican book I had ever perused, and I began reading the first chapter with increasing fascination. I had never really appreciated why some Anglicans regarded themselves as Catholics in the same sense as we did, only without acknowledging the role of the papacy.  Moreover, that they defended  their position by quoting some of the Fathers of the Church—selectively, if you like, but very cogently.

I could  have ended up thoroughly confused if  I hadn’t noticed that next to Gore’s hardback volume was a tattered paperback entitled Bishop Gore and the Catholic Claims, by Dom John Chapman OSB. No longer bored, thanks to Bishop Gore, I decided I would read each book, chapter by chapter, and see which of these two learned clerics, in my very limited opinion, had the better of it.

As the Anglican prelate developed his case,  although I considered Gore was  prejudiced and quite anti-Catholic,  I wondered at times how Abbot Chapman could possibly counter some of his arguments. In the end I concluded that Chapman had  by far the better of the exchange insofar as the papacy was concerned, but I was a little less certain about the question of  Anglican orders. Later I accepted that as Roma locuta est, in the form of Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae,  that causa  must be finita  for a faithful Catholic.

I suppose that from that day onwards I had hardly given Bishop Gore a second’s thought.  But it recently came to my attention  that he issued a strong protest against the decision by the Lambeth conference of 1930 to support the use of contraceptives, praising  Rome for the  consistency  of its teaching on sexual morality.  He even described ‘the Roman Church’ as ‘a strong fortress against the advancing tide of sensualism’ in Europe and America. Gore points out that the ‘movement for Birth Prevention’, as he quite rightly calls it, is ‘quite frankly hostile to the whole Christian tradition of sexual morality’. He is well acquainted with the works of  Margaret Sanger, whose Planned Parenthood movement is still thriving today—more powerful than ever throughout the world.  He concludes that the function of the Church in such matters is ‘to maintain the healthy conscience which condemns artificial prevention as unnatural and wrong in itself.’ In a prophetic passage, he notes that  at ‘the Conference of Modern Churchmen’ (which closely resembled  our own present-day ‘spirit of Vatican II’ faction) the forward-thinking Dean William Ralph Inge of St Pauls was suggesting that the Church of England should reconsider its condemnation of suicide in extreme cases. Gore wonders what, if the pro-suicide movement were to become popular and urgent, a future Lambeth conference might have to say about it.

Today, Gore’s words stand as a powerful reproach to the likes of Cardinal Walter Kasper and every other false mercy-monger seeking to accommodate the Church to the ways of the world.  See what you think of  this passage:

Again and again in Christian history we find the Church practically accepting and acting upon the idea of the double standard—one for the perfect, which is probably identified with the monastic or ‘religious’ life, and the other, the lower standard, for the men and women who live in the world. This latter class must avoid specified sins and attend to specified religious duties, but no great sacrifice such as the ‘religious’ life involves is required of them. But surely nothing can be more contrary to the teaching of Christ or of the New Testament than this doctrine of the two standards—the one admirable, the other tolerable. Our Lord calls all men who would be His disciples to a life of unlimited liability. It may be martyrdom that will be required of them, it may be submission to loss or outrage, it may be the stern mortification which our Lord describes under the figure of plucking out the eye or cutting off the hand or foot. We can indeed discern in our Lord’s teaching the recognition of different states of life. The future evangelists of His kingdom have prescribed for them a state of absolute detachment from worldly ties: others are to live the old life at home in their old occupations but in a new spirit. But all equally who would be in either sense His disciples must enter the path by the strait gate and tread the narrow way. In S. Paul again we trace the same recognition of different states but not of different moral standards. All alike must die to live: before all alike lies an unlimited liability—to suffering loss, to the effort of extreme mortification, even to death itself ‘for the Name’. We are not called to seek suffering, but we are, all of us, called to be ready for even the extreme of endurance—as much those who are living the normal life of the home as those who make the venture of the celibate life. If the Church has ever sanctioned the idea of the ‘second best life’, which does not involve the same unlimited liability, we must…recognize that it has deserted its Lord.

To-day we are living in a world which has widely revolted from the obedience of Christ. Our literature is saturated with this spirit. He Himself bade us be prepared for such an experience, even in its extremest form. ‘When the Son of man cometh,’ He asked, ‘shall He find the faith on the earth?’ Our business, then, is to uphold the full standard of the good life, through evil report and good report. The worldly world must go its own way and may seem to prevail. We must not attempt to pronounce any final judgement on individuals. We can ‘judge nothing before the time.’ If the Church has been slack in the past, it must expect God’s sharp judgements on itself; but it is still its business to open the eyes of all its members to the true implications, social and individual, of the ‘life which is life indeed,’ and under persecution or unpopularity to consolidate the faithful remnant, who are to nourish their souls in the readiness to suffer with Christ and in the secret security of final victory in Him. We have no right to sanction the ‘second best.’

This is from a man whom we would regard as a schismatic, and very possibly a heretic. But his words are as true now in 2015 as they were in 1930 when they were penned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 17, 2014

The Birth Control Box in Your Living Room

What is played out in the imagination of the artist foreshadows, however dimly, the social reality of tomorrow.

Daniel Bell, The Contradictions of Capitalism.

If you want to know just what sorts of “change”  the movers and shakers would like to see take place in society, then watch a few episodes of some soap operas. Take  Coronation Street, the only one  I see on a regular basis. It is set in a suburb of Manchester, and most of the characters are lower-middle or working class. A disproportionate number of them are active homosexuals, but there is  never any suggestion that this could conceivably be a matter for disapproval, however mild. All the “straight” characters accept such behaviour, and even encourage their “gay” friends to look around for “partners”.  I don’t believe this yet totally reflects proletarian life  in  Northern England, but there is reason to believe it may well do so in the not too distant future. Not so many years ago, sodomy was universally regarded as depraved and reprehensible, even among many atheists and agnostics, but nowadays it is seen as an acceptable lifestyle “choice”  by virtually the entire media and political establishment.

“Sean” has been in Coronation Street for a long time now. In the early days he was a  figure of fun, camping it up like  Kenny Everett or Benny Hill. Now,  time is devoted to his love life, which is taken quite seriously. The latest twist, which is still working itself out, is that Sean picks up a vicar in a “gay bar”, and they are just on their first date.  He asks this vicar whether he is  a “shalt” or a “shalt not”  type of guy and receives an evasive reply. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

In an earlier episode,  “Sophie” a holy roller evangelical, decides she is a lesbian. It doesn’t seem to bother her particularly when her group tell her that such conduct is incompatible with Christianity, probably because they can’t give her any convincing reason why this is so, beyond mentioning a few Bible verses which they don’t elucidate. Now she is still “a Christian”, and apparently at ease living with her “partner”.

It is well established that in most of Europe and North America, Catholics are contracepting, and even aborting, at just the same rate as the rest of the population. This is not just  because their  clergy hardly ever dare to speak out about it, but because for decades now the laity have been exposed to intense anti-life propaganda by the media and entertainment industries.

The same story seems to be developing all over the world. The latest issue of the New Oxford Review, in a well-documented article, confirms the process I have outlined above, particularly in relation to population control in Latin America, and even parts of Africa. The importance of the part played by soap operas in conditioning entire populations to accept contraception, in particular, would be difficult to exaggerate.

Take Brazil, for example. There, one television network has for  decades had a near monopoly on telenovelas (soap operas) . In over a hundred Brazilian telenovelas from the 1970s to the 1990s, 72 percent of the female characters under 50 years of age had no children, and 21 percent had only one child. Needless to say, this did not reflect the reality of Brazilian life: The average woman had five children. But a peculiar thing happened: “As the soaps reached each region and as the majority of the population tuned in, there was a discernible, additional fall in fertility.” Today, the Brazilian fertility rate is down to 1.8 children—lower even than that of the U.S.  So it seems life really might imitate art.

Though the link between idealised families in Brazilian soaps and the fertility rate of the country at large may seem a bit tenuous, there is no doubt that farther north, in Mexico, soap operas have directly been used to reduce fertility. In the 1970s, the average Mexican woman had five or six children. Miguel Sabido, then-president of Televisa, Mexico’s national TV network, developed a soap-opera format designed to effect social change. In what would become known as the “Sabido Method,” viewers are encouraged to identify with a “transitional character” whose personal ethical dilemmas drive the story. Sabido’s first offering, Acompáñame, focused on an impoverished woman living in a crime-ridden slum who uses artificial contraception to limit her family size in order to break out of the cycle of poverty. While some have likened the Sabido Method to “crude social engineering,” the U.S.-based Population Media Centre praises it as “a highly successful and proven mass media instrument” that excels at “raising awareness among large numbers of people about critical issues,” such as “the benefits of smaller families,” and motivating audiences to “adopt new behaviours.”

The PMC is quite open and unashamed about its methods. It has produced a television series, East Los High, targeted at  young Latinos  based in the U.S., and boasts of its success in getting them to use contraceptive devices.  I googled “Population Media Centre” to watch their propaganda video, and found it a depressing experience. There is no doubt about their professionalism.

Getting back to the situation in Mexico…According to the PMC, over the course of Acompáñame’s nine-month run, more than 2,000 women registered as voluntary workers in Mexico’s national family-planning programme, as was suggested in the telenovela; contraceptive sales increased 23 percent in one year, compared to a seven percent increase the preceding year; and more than half a million Mexican women enrolled in family-planning clinics, an increase of 33 percent, compared to a one percent decrease the previous year.

Miguel Sabido went on to develop five similar telenovelas from 1977 to 1986, a time during which Mexico’s population growth rate declined by 34 percent. As a result, in May 1986, the United Nations presented its Population Prize to Mexico as “the foremost population success story in the world”.

Not surprisingly, the population controllers at PMC and elsewhere were eager to export the Sabido Method worldwide. Copycat shows were broadcast in numerous impoverished nations. In Jamaica, for example, Naseberry Street ran from 1985 to 1989, a period that saw the island’s fertility rate drop from 3.3 to 2.9 children. When Tushauriane topped the ratings in Kenya in the late 1980s, it coincided with a drop in that nation’s fertility rate from 6.3 to 4.4 children. David O. Poindexter, president of Population Communications International, which worked with the Kenyan government to develop the soap, told The New York Times that Tushauriane “is not, first of all, drama, but value reinforcement” (June 14, 1987). Greg Adambo, the soap’s Kenyan producer, echoed Poindexter’s utilitarian approach to entertainment: “Our first concern,” Adambo said, “is to persuade our audience to go for family planning and health services.”

More recently, since Makutano Junction was first aired in 2001—it’s now in its twelfth season—Kenya’s fertility rate has dropped again from 5.0 to 3.8 children.  Makutano Junction is funded by the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in conjunction with Marie Stopes International, a British non-governmental organization whose aim is to export abortion. The purpose of Makutano Junction, according to DFID, is to provide viewers with “very specific and practical information” about family planning, including how to find Marie Stopes clinics.

One would think that a country like Kenya would be wary of Western cultural influences. But maybe the Kenyan government considers the importation of Western sexual values to be more benevolent than old-style colonialism.  Nevertheless, as the New Oxford Review comments, this  imposition represents a type of spiritual enslavement.

There is little doubt that television is  “the most dynamic force in changing social mores in villages and slum communities” in impoverished regions. But its power is not limited to the so- called developing world.  Soap operas have played a role in changing attitudes about homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the U.S. and Europe. Coronation Street, the example I gave at the beginning of this article is a case in point.

It will be interesting to see how the campaign for the forthcoming referendum on homosexual pseudogamy  (“gay marriage” ) will develop in Ireland. Of one thing you may be sure; the media will have an enormous influence on the result.

That little glowing box in the corner of your living room is more powerful—more insidiously powerful—than it appears. It has the power to affect, however subliminally, not only its viewers’ outlooks but their most intimate habits as well. It is a transformative presence whose content is at times controlled by forces that have a very specific agenda in mind—a radically anti-family agenda. Used without caution  by unwary viewers, television subtly applies its imprint on their hearts and minds.