is the subject of my Trade Tripper column this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld:
Through a widely publicized speech given by a senator, the Senate launched its own deliberations on the RH Bill. While seemingly coherent, the points raised again fail to persuade. Old arguments were simply rehashed and faulty assumptions employed that in the end only again reveal the paucity of logic of the contraceptive movement. Here, then, are some short simple responses to the main points raised at the Senate.
Contraception is supported by most Catholic theologians. No. The reverse is true. First of all, the doctrines of the Church are not to be taken from the personal opinions of a few theologians. This is the same as thinking that what the law really is can be gleamed by reading one textbook. Secondly, the theologians resorted to by the senator need to have their positions better examined. For example, McBrien has been called "inaccurate" and "misleading" by the U.S. National Council of Catholic Bishops, Bokentotter’s book was said to be "tendentious Modernist ideology masquerading as history" by Professor James Toner, Wilhelm’s book was called a "theological deception" by Catholic Culture, and Dwyer’s writings were critiqued as having "strong roots in a Marxist sociology of knowledge." On the other hand, Giovanni Montini, Karol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger, Steve Ray, John Murray, John Hardon, William Most, Jimmy Akin, Scott Hahn, Janet Smith, Mike Aquilina, Roberto Latorre, Mark Shea, Charles Chaput - one cannot get a better set of philosophers, theologians, and apologists than that and all uphold the doctrine against contraception as an ordinary "universal" Magisterium of the Church.
Liberation Theology is a progressive movement within the Church. Only if you call resorting to discredited Marxist views as "progressive." Liberation Theology, while it makes a good subject for movies and produces nice sound bites, has itself been discredited by the Church for teachings that constitute "deviations... damaging to the faith." The problem with Liberation Theology is its disordered priorities, putting primacy of material needs over the need to have a closer relationship to God. As Benedict XVI so cogently puts it: "the first poverty among people is not to know Christ." Having said that, let us also remember that the Catholic Church is the largest, most efficient, and most effective charitable, pro-poor organization in the world.
Vatican II made the Church "democratic." The Church has always been democratic, in a manner more inclusive in fact than others. St. Thomas More referred to this in his trial, GK Chesterton wrote about it, Pope Benedict XVI keeps referring to such. It’s the Church’s "democracy of the dead," which means that all the Apostles, saints, and the faithful "that have gone ahead of us" have a say. You get a glimpse of this fact if you go to Mass and listen closely to the priest. That is why when somebody refers to surveys or the fact that other countries or religions believe so and so, the same still do not matter when taken in the context of the Church’s tradition mentioned above. The problem with Vatican II (if you can call it that) is not that it instituted "radical" changes in Church teachings (because it didn’t) but that too many people, indulging their modernist or Marxist proclivities, misinterpret the actual documents of Vatican II.
The Pope’s authority has been diminished by Vatican II. Absolutely not true. As for the primacy of the Petrine Office, simply put: if you don’t believe in it you are not Catholic. And if you don’t like that setup, complain to the guy who made it: Jesus Christ (Mt 16:18-19). This has been affirmed actually in Vatican II’s main document, Lumen Gentium. Hence, with regard to the supposed "improper" rejection of the advisory 1963 Pontifical Birth Control Commission’s report, Pope Pius XI simply decided, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that nothing in the Commission’s findings justified deviating from Church doctrine and tradition.
We should trust our conscience more than what the priests say. True. But with one important caveat: our conscience should be guided by the Bible, Holy Tradition, and the Church. Why? Because of man’s capacity for self-deception. Anybody who tried to diet or quit smoking knows this. If we do otherwise, we are making ourselves vulnerable to acting on the basis of imperfect information and the transient emotions and desires of the time. As Pope Paul VI says: "[Catholics] must follow the demands of their own conscience enlightened by God’s law authentically interpreted, and sustained by confidence in Him."
The Church’s teachings are far more intellectually precise and nuanced than some people believe. The Church won’t force anyone to follow. Whatever one does ultimately becomes a matter between him and God. But considering the incredibly smart people who’ve defended the Church and the fact that the Church has always been proven right, you might want to take this piece of advice from Archbishop Charles Chaput: "If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church, what do you do? You change your mind."