It happened again. The Pope changed infallible Catholic moral teaching while on a recent flight during an interview with the press. And as everyone knows, this is exactly how Church teaching changes. On an airplane. With reporters. And an individual pope totally has the power to change infallible, unchanging doctrine of the Church.
Ok, nothing in the above paragraph is true.
Still, people (mostly Catholics in “damage control” mode) are freaking out over the most recent pope-in-the sky interview. The latest revelation: Contraception is ok, sometimes, according to Pope. (Oh, and Donald Trump isn’t a Christian. But you probably already knew that).
By saying what he said, he is “relaxing” the teaching on contraception, according to some. He is opening the door to understanding contraception as not always being an absolute evil. He is misleading and confusing the faithful, according to others. He should just stop conducting interviews with the press, if many had their way.
I would just point out that what he actually said was in answer to a question regarding “avoiding pregnancy,” not contraception. Of course, to the world, the phrase “avoiding pregnancy” is totally synonymous with “contraception-” I mean, is it even possible to not get pregnant without using birth control?! Yes, in fact a much more surefire way to “avoid pregnancy” is to practice abstinence. If you’re married, practicing periodic abstinence, or NFP, to avoid pregnancy has always been perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the Church if there are serious reasons for doing so. Potential disease is obviously a serious enough reason. Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. That’s what the Pope said.
In the process, he also mentioned a case in which nuns were supposedly allowed to use contraceptives as an act of defense against rape, which, yes, confuses the issue a bit. I’m not going to dive into it too much here because I don’t pretend to know the Holy Father’s heart. If the contraception in cases of rape thing is news to you, here is an article that explains what that is all about.
The Real Crux Of The Issue:
My intention in writing this post isn’t really to take part in the damage control efforts. It is pretty well covered by now, and by people much smarter than I am 🙂
I wrote this post really just because I wanted to say that if you’re looking for a way to bend God’s teaching to your own whims, my personal feeling is that you’re probably not waiting on the Pope to tell you it’s ok to do so. Case and point: Every time this happens that the Pope says things in ways different than the faithful would have wanted him to, you have the media reporting major changes in Church teaching, faithful Catholics reiterating what Church teaching actually is, and some angry Catholics finger-wagging at the Pope to be quiet.
The truth is, not a whole lot will be different two days from now. The people who take seriously the teachings of Catholic faith will still believe in the truth of humanae vitae, those who think they know better than the Church will still practice contraception– regardless of what the Pope said or didn’t say in this interview– and the rest of the world will go back to thinking us Catholics are just as crazy as we ever were.
You either want to follow God and His commandments, or you don’t. Perhaps the Pope thinks that those who want to love God with all their hearts will read further than a USA Today headline for their moral formation—I’d like to think so, at least. I understand that it is frustrating to read a CNN headline that says: “Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika,” but I find it much more troubling that so many of us would buy into the notion that a one-liner from the Pope on an airplane would reasonably give any halfway serious Christian the impression that the Church is changing Her moral teaching regarding contraception. If you love God, I have to believe you’ll give it a bit more thought than that.
That’s my two cents on the issue, anyway. If you’re looking for what the Church teaches, stick to the Catechism, not the latest news headlines. And instead of rolling our eyes and wagging our fingers, why not just rejoice at the opportunity to share the beauty of the Church’s teaching with others!
“The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage. You don’t need to defend it – you simply need to open the cage door.”
– Archbishop Fulton Sheen