The recent mandate from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in forcing all institutions to include coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in the healthcare plans they offer, is an attack against religious liberty as it doesn’t allow religious institutions to be exempt from the mandate. Those who are morally opposed to contraception, sterilization and abortifacients – including Catholic hospitals and universities – should not be forced into acting against their consciences.
This mandate has not only escalated the secularists’ war against the Church, it has also revealed some disturbing things about the general Catholic population’s understanding about the evil nature of contraception. A recent survey done by the Pew Research Center on February 14, 2012 showed that only 15% of Catholics say that using contraceptives is morally wrong. 36% say that it’s not a moral issue. Even among Catholics who say that they attend Mass weekly,only 27% say that using contraceptives is morally wrong. Those numbers are stunningly sad and disappointing to me, but it shows that we have A LOT of work to do.
All of this having to do with the HHS mandate is has given us an opportunity to further emphasize the Church’s teaching from the beginning that the use of contraception is an intrinsic evil: “Every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2370; Humanae Vitae, n. 14).
We can start by making sure that everyone reads Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical “Humanae Vitae”. It’s a short document (there are thirty-one paragraphs), but it is both an amazing and prophetic document. I also thought that I could post one paragraph a day here for 31 days.
Let’s start with the introduction:
The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.
The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.
Paul VI begins by pointing that married couples being able to cooperate in God’s work of procreation is both a “serious role” and “a source of great joy.” However, the pope also recognizes that “the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions”. Remember that this was written in 1968. It’s amazing to think how those challenges have multiplied and intensified in the last forty-three years.
The Church is not oblivious to what’s going on in the world. In fact, she is the one who is dealing with these challenges head on because “they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.” This doesn’t only affect individuals. It affects all of humanity.
(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)