Poll: most say they can disagree with key teachings and remain in the Church

That holds true for both Catholics and evangelicals, it seems.


Significant majorities of Americans say it is possible to disagree with their religion’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality and still remain in good standing with their faith.

The findings, released Thursday (June 9) in a detailed survey by Public Religion Research Institute, held true for major religious groups, including Catholics and white evangelical Protestants.

The findings reflect the complicated tasks faced by Catholic bishops to discipline politicians who stray from church teaching, or evangelical groups that try to toe a traditional line as cultural values shift around them.

In fact, the survey found that six in 10 Americans chafe at the idea of religious leaders publicly pressuring politicians on the issue of abortion, as has happened to several high-profile Catholic Democrats in recent years.

Overall, 72 percent of Americans say it’s permissible to disagree with church teaching on abortion, and 63 percent say the same for homosexuality.

Catholics closely mirror the general population’s position on abortion and church teaching, but are more progressive than the general population on the issue of homosexuality and church teaching.

Check out the rest.


  1. Haven’t many people really known this for a while now?

    People are formed more by the world around them instead of their faith forming them. As Catholics, the mission of the laity is to go out into the world to transform the it.

    It seems that the laity doesn’t realize that.

  2. I guess the question is: what constitutes key issues? I’m in complete agreement with the church on abortion and homosexuality. (I do have an issue on contraception. I cannot understand why contraception that does not conceive in any fashion is a sin. But that’s another issue.) I do think opposing abortion and homosexulaity are key Catholic – in fact, key Christian – positions. There ought to be pressure on supposed Catholic politicians to support those issues. I can’t see how they are allowed to receive communion and implement those positions.

  3. The reality is, when we dissent from even one key teaching, all of the other teachings are compromised, as they are all rooted in the same principles. That pretty much explains why American Catholics have no problem putting a pro abort president into office.

    Manny the reason that contraception is a sin, and a serious one at that, is that in contracepting, we exclude God. In Christian matriomy, there are always “Three in the Marriage”, the couple and Christ. To contracept, is a blasphemy to Christ, as in doing so we we deny Him inclusion in our marital act, and worst of all, His will to create human life. But that’s a hard act to follow when we think of sex only for our own pleasure and not for procreation as intended.

    It also goes without saying that if the contraception used causes the death of an embryo, it’s even more dreadful, because a human life. and the will that God had for that life, has been thwarted.

    That said, the best sex and lowest divorce rates/best marriages (less than 2%) come by using NFP, which is not only nautral, but as effective as the birth control pill when used correctly. It does require some days of abstaining, which is why most would never consider it. What most never realize is that it’s in those days of abstaining, that a marriage deepens to greater levels, and “objectification” of each other as “bodily pleasure objects” is replaced by a deeper love and union with Christ (and better sex).

    In essence, this intimate oneness with Christ/Trinity is the meaning of life. It’s what we all seek, knowingly or unknowingly. It’s also what is most wrong with our culture, and why we are so sex obcessed, as the obcession is merely our innate “need” to be connected to the God that is within us all.

  4. I see this all around me. Friends and family members who’ve grown up in the Catholic Faith, but very liberal on ‘social’ issues to the point of being completely at odds with the Catholic church’s teaching.

    They see the church as old fashioned, unyielding and needing to move with modern times.

    They aren’t fully versed in the biblical bases of the church’s teaching, viewing doctrine as ‘man made rules’ and they slam contemporaries who try to point out that it’s not the Church that needs to change to confirm with the secular world, it’s the other way around.

    It seems to me that too many people want to identify themselves as Catholic for the high days and holidays, but not for the more difficult aspects of Catholic Christian living.

    I agree with Dan S, that it is the laity’s responsibility to participate in changing this mindset, and I agree that people don’t recognize that being alive in their faith requires that they share it, and not just passively receive it but I would also add that many, many of us don’t know HOW to share effectively in a world that mocks belief in the first place, derides the specifics of some Catholic doctrine as being patriarchal, mysogynistic, out of date etc.

    It’s a real challenge to present arguments FOR church teaching in a loving way, and not in a way that sounds self-righteous or judgmental and I confess I find myself avoiding it altogether rather than engaging in a controversial conversation with someone who identifies themselves as Catholic, yet disagrees with some very major aspects of Church teaching.

  5. Joe Snavely says:

    I think that it is important to differentiate between disagreeing and disobeying, or we give the impression that every catholic has to somehow magically ignore their own conscience in order to be “in good standing.” Catholics can believe a whole range of things… because we know that the formation of one’s conscience is a process, not a blind affirmation based on loyalty to the institution…but what they CANNOT do is DO anything. They are under the authority of the Church one issues of faith an morality, including those mentioned above…so whatever they BELIEVE about these issues, they are called to live into the positions of the Church with the hope that as their conscience continues to be formed, their beliefs and practices will draw closer together.

  6. As someone who wrestles with certain teachings, I do not see this as a polemic problem.

    Christianity in general, Roman Catholicism quite specifically is about *becoming*… We are a pilgrim people, on our way, not arrived. It is nothing short of arrogance to think that we have it all and that we are 100 percent in sync and alignment with every single teaching.

    I would ask every person on this thread – every person who reads this – to look deep within their heart and consider that they are completely in agreement with every teaching. If we are challenged by nothing, then we are not catholic or Catholic!

    To remain engaged, to remain in hope of a more complete obedience is our joyful hope, but I sincerely doubt, that even the most sincere are all the way there.

    For example, where is the charity from the rule-bound?

    Now it is another matter for the many Catholics who simply say, I dismiss that. And I am pretty sure that most of have or do or will say just that in regard to something!

    That behavior does, as Klaire points out, compromise all.

    So I return to my active engagement, relationship and journey with and for the truth. If that is where I am as I struggle, then God help me to stay on the path.

  7. naturgesetz says:

    I guess I knew that lots of people felt that way, but the actual numbers are still distressing.

    What is really amazing is that more think it’s okay to “disagree” about abortion than homosexuality. If either teaching is more central, it is that on abortion. On homosexuality, the sinfulness of homosexual genital activity has been the clear and consistent teaching of the Church since the time of St. Paul, but in some other areas, such as marriage and adoption, the questions never even arose until the 20th century, and the Church’s position is derivative from the basic doctrines.


  8. naturgesetz says:

    My own take is that “same-sex marriage” is clearly an oxymoron, and the Church must say so. There can be no such thing. But when it comes to the civil law, perhaps a Catholic could think this is a case where the civil law is not absolutely required to enforce the moral law. And when we get to adoption, this is clearly a matter of prudential judgment rather than an always and everywhere rule. IMO the question is what is best for a specific child, and I can conceive of situations where a child would be better off in a stable and permanent situation with two adults of the same sex that with an abusive or badly neglectful single parent or in a succession of short term foster placements. Yes, being raised by one’s father and mother is normally best, but we don’t insist on taking children away from single parents, and I doubt very much that the Vatican would scream “Child abuse!” if a single parent had a sibling of the same sex living in the home and helping with the child-rearing duties.

    So the insanely calibrated filter has forced me to make two comments instead of one. How has this benefited anybody, Deacon Greg?

  9. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    So my 2 cents on the main topic: This proves once again, that our parents, clergy, educators, etc. are either uncathecized or misguiding the youth, and thus most Catholics don’t understand what their faith truly means or what many to all its central principles, tenets, dogma and doctrine is. Yes you can sin and screw up, but you cannot be a hypocrite in your daily life on the key items! Even Jesus has alluded to that you cannot serve two Masters (God and whatever constitutes Mammon including wealth) and that there are people who cry out the Lord’s name, but aren’t really pulling their weight.

    Manny: Interesting that you do have an issue with Contraception, yet fully believe that abortion and homosexuality is wrong in the church. Hmmm, so your issue is why its a sin even with no contraception. First I ask that you turn your attention to Paragraphs 2270-2275 of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church. In a nutshell from that area: From the moment of conception (contact of sperm and egg), a human life is present. Abortion as a moral evil (mortal sin) has been affirmed since the 1st century of the Church’s existence and teaching.

    Also, the act of procreation is tied to the union of man and woman in conjugal love and that act must be open to fertility (CCC 1643;1652-1654, Humanae Vitae 12). This conjugal love is part of God’s design of love, of God’s institution (Humanae Vitae, 8). When the conjugal love is violated either in it procreative or unitive aspect, it hence violates that relationship of man and woman and therefore God’s Divine will, constituing a grave injustice to God’s Divine law (Humanae Vitae 13). Furthermore, as in Humanae Vitae para. 14, you cannot perform an act of evil, even for the greatest reasons (which would include contraception) that good will follow. Many more immoral consequences even stem from birth control if the act itself wasn’t intrinsically immoral: it can cause women to be regarded as objects for pleasure and disrespect their dignity and personhoos, and a weapon of control over populations in the hands of secular/public authorities (Humanae Vitae 17). With all this in mind, then you can go back to CCC 2370 where it is stated explicitly that “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”. It is footnoted that this passages references Humanae Vitae para. 14.

    As a last point to leave off, I have to ask, do you believe in the Church’s principle that at the moment of conception that the soul is given to said embryo and it constitutes a human life? Furthermore, did you know that chemical contraceptives are also termed “abortaficients”? What these contraceptices do is prevent sperm to egg contact, stimulate menstruation, and create a hostile environment for the embryo. So if these are purposely taken when there’s an embyryo present, does that not constitute abortion? And even before that if no sperm and egg can contact, and given what is above, can that now connect to even non-procreatice contraception as sinful?

    Anyhow this is as much time as I can spend on this right now. Anyone else reading this or wants to chime in on either this issue or the main part of Deacon’s post, feel free.

  10. I’m not sure how I can reconcile belonging to a Church that I beleive is infallible but disagree with her on fundatmental moral teachings. If I truly believe She is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by our Saviour Jesus Christ then I must accept ALL her teachings. To me this is intellectual dishonesty. But I do understand and empathize with the difficulty individuals have with this conflict.

    The Church has to do a better job of apologetics (to its own members) as well as catechetics. But there is also a responsibility of every catholic to learn their faith. Jesus was very clear on His position of a lukewarm follower. Rev 3:15

    My opinion only… :) God Bless

  11. A question I’ve given thought to in the past – similar to the disagree/disobey difference, but in particular around the political aspect.

    Is there room to believe and follow a teaching privately and personally, while believing it should not be a legal question? Believing something is a sin, following a teaching as a Catholic, and praying for others to join us in those beliefs is distinctly different than implementing a law implementing some of those. This obviously applies far better to some than others – I don’t think anyone here disagrees that murder should be a crime and that not attending Mass on Sundays should not be; but there has to be a line in there somewhere, no?

  12. I disagree with some of the Church’s teachings. But, I accept them.

  13. This is really interesting. I wonder if this says something about the virtue of conversion. If you convert to a new religion/denomination as an adult, you force yourself to leave the cafeteria. There’s something mature about that, I think. And I suppose this is true whether you are coming or leaving the RC Church.
    Then again, maybe this is all just a polite way of saying, ‘If you don’t like it, then leave.’
    I hope not, though.

  14. Megan (#12), you sum it up PERFECTLY! That is absolutely the right thing to do. In God’s time, you will come to understand the true meaning of the teaching (the “why”)behind what you currently don’t agree with.

    It’s in your “obedience” to the acceptance, that the clarity will eventually come.

    God Bless.

  15. @Klaire
    I know the theology. I agree that God is in the conjugal act. I’m referring to contraception methods that do not concieve. I was clear on that. I should have been clear that I’m referring to married couples. Barrier contraception do not concieve. I see no difference between using barrier methods and cyclic fertility prediction. The intent of both is to have sex without concieving. I suspect the Church position arose when the notion of male seed was supposed to be carrying the embryo. Modern biology has dispelled that notion. If the intent of both is to not concieve, I ask again what’s the difference? Except that one is more efficient.

    @young Canadian
    I’m fully aware of the Church position. As I stated above, it doesn’t make sense to allow the prevention of conception through cyclic methods and not allow it through barrier methods.

  16. Manny, there is a difference – and I am sure someone will explain more eloquently than me.

    As I understand it it comes down to how one views the conjugal act. If it’s simply something that we do to satisfy urges – then it’s nothing more than a base animal act. If we believe that it is an act ordained by God for the unity of a married couple and the creation of life then it becomes something much more sacred. As such – the teaching of the church against artificial birth control be it hormonal, barrier, withdrawal etc is that we are not accepting the purpose of the conjugal act as it was ordained. The couple are not completely surrendering to each other when barriers or withdrawal are used.

    NFP provides for the spacing of children, or limiting of family size through chastity and self-control of the couple which is the ultimate act of love within a marriage and obedience to God.

    Is it easy? No way! This is something that many couples struggle with – especially when one partner subscribes to the church’s teaching, and the other does not.

    This is one example of where I think so many Catholics believe it’s so hard to obey. Be it fear over having a child that they feel they can’t afford, care for or whatever, fear for the health of a maturing mother, it comes down to fear of trust in the Lord.

  17. Perhaps one way to look at this question is to think of the Church as a real-life family.

    In most families, there are rules or expectations — ways of being that are developed over generations. Some families have rules about dinner time. Some families have rules about TV watching. Some families have expectations about vacations and holidays. Some families have expectations about the kind of people are marriage materials. Some families have very specific ideas about how children are to be raised.

    And, in the course of events, there comes a day when members of family disagree about things. There comes a day when a family member decides they are not going to do a certain thing or believe a certain thing.

    But, when this happens, you usually don’t stop loving your family. You usually don’t stop coming around. You still come home for holidays and family dinners.

    Despite the differences (or even breaking a rule) you’re still family.

    That’s how I think many Catholics think about the Church. Even when one disagrees with the Church, it’s still our family of faith. It can still be our home.

  18. @Annie
    Is it not satisfying “base urges” to allow sex with the NFP method? The point is still to allow sex without conception. It’s overly lawyery to claim that God’s will is not prevented with cyclic predictions.

  19. Eugene Pagano says:

    So what do Rome and its bishops want from those who sincerely reject some Roman Catholic teachings? Do you want us to pretend to submit and agree — or to leave openly, as I have done?

  20. Fiergenholt says:

    There is a generation of Catholics out there — those who are older than 65 and thus not members of the “Baby Boomers” so much as they are “War Babies” or “The Transition Generation” — who take a very dim view of all of this argumentation.

    They were raised in the “hard-and-fast” moral theology of the pre-Vatican Church. This was an era when authoritative church teachers identified as “mortally sinful” so many trivial things that — when Vatican II did happen and such “sins” were no longer evil at all — they had to sit back and say “Who can you trust?” It also did not help that the year after declaring from the pulpit that “The Pill” was a very big “No-No,” their holy confessor Fr. Pete walked out during the “Great Exodus.”

    Bottom line, the episcopacy and priesthood (there were no deacons then) violated a major rule of Matthew Chapter 23. They had put horrible burdens upon everyday married folk but absolutely refused to help them carry it.

    My heart goes out to that generation — who got married from about 1955-1970 — but not to the “X.” By 2000, NFP finally had a sense of quality control about it and it had enough team-couples to teach it with some credibility that it did not have in the 1950′s and 60′s.

    It may not hurt for some of the commentators on this blog to study some twentieth century church history — particularly the process that developed “Humanae Vitae.”

  21. Manny there is a HUGE difference between anything “artificial” vs “nautural.” As Annie pointed out to you, to have sex with a “barrier” is still saying no not only to God (should He chose to create new life at the time), but also a no, a LIE, to the marriage vows. Can you not see that by using any method of birth control, you are also saying a big NO to each other as man and wife. A true marriage is all in one fullness, total surrender. When contraception is used, it is like saying, “You can have me, but NOT my fertility.”

    That isn’t the case with NFP, as it’s all natural and with God as he created it. Do you think it’s an accident that God made it so that a women (outside of divine intervention of course), can only conceive at cyclical times? It’s actully pure genius if you think it through, especially human nature being what it is. With NFP, one may think of it as “birth control” , but in actuality, it’s really working WITH God in accordance to how our bodies were created. It’s also used in reverse , with much success, for couples who have problems conceiving. If when using NFP, a couple coneives, than that is God’s will, although used correctly, it’s not very likely to happen. In desigining our bodies, God designed a masterpiece with great attention to details! Perhaps an easier way to understand it so to think of euthanasia. If your loved one Manny was sick and dying, would find it better to get out the gun and kill he/she, or let God do it His way, in His time, in accordance with His plan for that life. Perhaps think of “barrier” methods as “getting the gun out”, when if fact, you never really needed the gun.

    Eugene FWIW, IMO, I think it’s far better to do what you did and leave. That said, you could take some clues from Meggan and “accept” in Holy Obedience. IF you do that, I can assure you the Holy Spirit will open up to you.
    As we learn from Acts, the Holy Spirit is ONLY given to those who obey. Consequently, that’s the big problem for all who think they know more than the church. Sadly, they are too blinded in their disobedience, which closes out the Holy Spirt upon them, leaving them only to discern on the human level, which of course is hopeless for things of God.

    I would only ask you this Eugene, would you “accpet” those teachings you now reject if you knew with certitude that they were true teachings of Christ? I only ask that because in my experience, including my own self, my rejection was rooted in not WANTING them to be true, as that would mean a major lifestyle change of which I wanted no part. Just askin’!

  22. It’s not a matter, as some readers have said, of “disagreement” with Church teachings; rather, it’s a matter of fully “understanding” the teachings. If we believe, as the Church insists, that it teaches infallibly, then we have no choice but to follow.

    It is also reasonable to expect that a Catholic who does not understand the “why” of a particular Church teaching will do the necessary research in order to understand, and hence to grow in holiness and closeness to Christ.

  23. “Overall, 72 percent of Americans say it’s permissible to disagree with church teaching on abortion, and 63 percent say the same for homosexuality.

    Catholics closely mirror the general population’s position on abortion and church teaching, but are more progressive than the general population on the issue of homosexuality and church teaching.”

    I find these numbers very high for Catholics and I will take this study with a grain of salt. A study is only as good as the methodology behind it.

    I know nothing about the Public Religion Research Institute and whether they are credible or if they have a particular agenda to promote. Their website doesn’t really give an indication. It was also a phone survey which is a notoriously poor methodology given the ability of respondents to self-select and the high potential for exclusion of certain groups due to the logisitcs involved. The very low margin of error (2%) reported for a phone survey is suspicious IMO.

  24. I’m there with Megan–I disagree with some of the Church’s teaching and at times have acted as a result of that disagreement. But I might be (and probably am) wrong–I’m wrong on lots of things. So I soldier on and pray for forgiveness–and enlightenment/acceptance/understanding.

  25. You make a good point momor. Despite the fact that many Catholics do disagree with (or as Kathy said quite well, fail to understand), a lot of what the church teaches, I find these results suspecious.

    I haven’t done the research, but this “study” smells of one of George Soros’ anti-catholic front groups, all designed to confuse and divide Catholics.

  26. pagansister says:

    I find it really hard to believe that anyone could agree on everything any church teaches. So finding out there are so many who do disagree is refreshing to me. People have brains and they should use them. No church IMO should have total control of anyones mind. Those that disagree shouldn’t be told they are disobedient etc.

  27. People can disagree that the earth is round and that it goes around the sun, too….doesn’t make either one any less true.

  28. “To remain engaged, to remain in hope of a more complete obedience is our joyful hope, but I sincerely doubt, that even the most sincere are all the way there.”
    Good point, Fran.

  29. Manny – no, because at those times, even though conception is less likely to occur, the couple is still open to life clearly, since they are not taking artificial means to prevent it.

  30. “No church IMO should have total control of anyones mind. Those that disagree shouldn’t be told they are disobedient etc.”

    I wasn’t aware that the Church was controlling my mind. One can freely leave as Eugene did or stay. If you believe as someone said the RC Church is the one founded by Christ which contains the fullness of truth then you stay. Otherwise you go over to a “church” that has watered it all down. Don’t forget that people walked away from Jesus too.

    If you disagree, you are disobedient and act in a way contrary to what the teaching states. While certain teachings may be hard to accept or understand, you follow them. Children may not agree with their parents all the time but they are usually obedient.

  31. Paul,

    They may be family but there comes a time when, like the prodigal son, they decide to collect their inheritance and leave the house.

  32. pagansister says:

    Manny, I agree with your statements on birth control—have often thought that since the whole idea with NFP is to prevent conception, why aren’t the artificial methods acceptable too, since the intent is just the same? All the explanations still make no sense to me—but then, I’m not Catholic. Know a lot of accidents with NFP.

  33. pagansister says:

    RomCath: Obviously you have chosen to let the church guide you, and you have chosen to go along with it’s teachings. Some very good Catholics I have known have disagreements and IMO they are no less a Catholic and shouldn’t leave because of their disagreements. Many are teachers in the school I taught in.

  34. From Klaire:
    “Manny there is a HUGE difference between anything “artificial” vs “nautural.” As Annie pointed out to you, to have sex with a “barrier” is still saying no not only to God (should He chose to create new life at the time), but also a no, a LIE, to the marriage vows. Can you not see that by using any method of birth control, you are also saying a big NO to each other as man and wife.”

    I don’t see any difference between preventing conception through NFP and barrier. How is using a condom a “LIE” to my marriage? Huh? And saying “NO” to each other as man and wife? No I don’t understand that at all. It makes no sense.

    “That isn’t the case with NFP, as it’s all natural and with God as he created it. Do you think it’s an accident that God made it so that a women (outside of divine intervention of course), can only conceive at cyclical times? It’s actully pure genius if you think it through, especially human nature being what it is. With NFP, one may think of it as “birth control” , but in actuality, it’s really working WITH God in accordance to how our bodies were created.”

    Sorry I see no difference. Trying to have sex without concieving is the same thing whether one uses barrier contraception or cyclic predictions. I can understand the position that all sex should intend procreation. The distinction you make is lawyerly. You are still lusting in one’s heart.

    When the church comes up with illogical positions, it creates cynacism and drives people out. Opposition to abortion and homosexuality make perfect sense; opposition to non conceiving contrception does not.

  35. Just because I’m in a church does not mean I want everyone else legislated by it.
    I have no idea why the church is making this it’s business outside of the church.
    I have no idea why the church expects more from me, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to leave if they continue to campaign against people’s rights.

  36. Either you are Catholic or you are not. The Cafeteria is closing. Be Catholic!!! There is no Luke Warm. If you want Luke Warm, there are 40000 heterodox rebel prayer halls for you to join.

  37. naturgesetz says:

    Manny — Your problem is that you are focusing so narrowly on the question of the intent of the couple at the moment that you have blinded yourself to the other elements which relate to the morality of the act.

    In marriage, the two are to become one flesh. In the marital act they are to be the image and likeness of God, of the persons of the Holy Trinity who give themselves totally to one another in love. But with artificial contraception they place a barrier between themselves to make complete self-giving impossible. It may be a physical barrier or it may be a chemical which diminishes the gift of one to the other.

    THe distinction which you are not looking at is contained in the very terms artificial contraception vs natural family planning. The desire not to conceive at a particular moment is not what makes artificial contraception always immoral. The desire not to conceive a child can be perfectly legitimate at times. The problem is, rather, the decision to take some direct action to render infertile an act which otherwise, in God’s creative will, might have been fertile. But with natural family planning, the couple do not frustrate what God has created, they cooperate with it. So artificial contraception rejects the Creator’s work, but NFP does not.

  38. naturgesetz says:

    Manny — One more point. The desire to avoid conception, as I said may be moral. But for a married couple (or individual) to wish never to have a child is immoral, regardless of the means chosen to avid conception. A marriage in which one party (or both) have an intention never to have children which begins prior to the marriage and is never broken, is an invalid marriage, and that intent, if proven, is grounds for a decree of nullity.

    And for a couple to use NFP to avoid conceiving when they do not have sufficient reason to avoid pregnancy is also immoral.

  39. Fiergenholt says:

    Perhaps some insight from civil law might help here. The term is “Willful and Wanton Misconduct.”

    –Misconduct: What you did was evil.
    –Wanton: You knew it was evil.
    –Willful: You went ahead and did it anyway.

    Now, anyone educated in morality during the pre-Vatican era knows that this legal definition is identical to the Baltimore Catechism definition of a “mortal sin” — one that, unforgiven, would send you to eternal punishment.

    Of those three terms, the only one that we humans can establish with at least some degree of certitude is the first. Is this action evil? BUT it is very difficult to even make this judgement with an absolute degree of certitude. That was the major failing of pre-Vatican moral teaching. Too often it arbitrarily stated some action was eternally evil when it was nothing more than mildly annoying to church leaders.

    I would caution some of the commentators here. You are on pretty solid ground stating that abortion is an eternal evil. You are on very shaky ground categorically stating that abortion is a “mortal sin” because you in your human inadequacy, cannot assert something was “willful and wanton.” Only God can.

  40. Deacon Norb says:

    Dissent and disagreements within our RC community do happen. By their very nature, such dissents are not immoral because the value being challenged is often temporary and ephemeral as the fog. Challenging and dissenting from eternal Roman Catholic dogma will get you branded a “heretic.” Challenging and dissenting from the temporary issues often found in the ordinary magisterium can cause you a fair amount of grief but that grief is only temporary.

  41. I believe and I think right or wrong, most would agree, if all people who had at least one area they couldn’t agree with left, the church would be relatively empty or full of older Catholics that birth control, abortion and other factors don’t hit as close to home.

    I believe NFP doesn’t work for many women and causes a lot of stress. I believe the pill shouldn’t be used but if a woman uses another method for a few days when she thinks she might still get pregnant (no method of ovulation etc worked well for me)
    I believe God wants us to use common sense…we don’t run out in front of traffic and ask him to save us, we don’t play russian roulette and ask him to make it safe…asking a woman who could risk her life and leave her other children motherless to just be celibate, might be the right choice, but using NFP is just crazy without backup measures.
    Women get pregant with rape even though the act was evil, woman get pregnant when they shouldn’t because it’s biologically possible, we have to know our bodies and how to take care of it. Children ar gifts, but you don’t just have them without any thought, you are giving birth to a human being that deserves a parent and love and a family. That’s why teenage sex really bothers me, no thought but how they feel, the baby is just a “surprise”.

  42. Gabrielle says:

    I don’t believe it’s God’s will always when birth control of any kind fails, permitting will, but not ordaining will.
    I can’t see a good God saying a young woman is going to get pregnant by her Dad when he rapes her, it happened because of the repetition and biology. I don’t think you should say, it was God’s will for everything, you have to make good decisions.

    I read of a woman that had numerous children and was told if she had another, would die, she did and she died. I can’t imagine that God thought conceiving a chiild, having sex, was more important than taking care of her chidren. That borders on crazy to me, and I think that is what makes some Catholics just ignore the good teaching that the church has toward sex and marriage in many areas.
    You take medicine for diabeties, treat cancer, you don’t just say, I’m praying and that’s it, it’s his will. You don’t use your body as a baby making machine with no regard to others in your family. You should never be selfish, but use the brain God gave you through prayer. He would never want a bad thing happening because you thought you were being good.

  43. Gabrielle — you hit the nail on the head when you said “you have to make good decisions”.

    I totally agree with you that God probably doesn’t rate sex and bearing children higher than the importance of that woman taking care of the children she had. She and her husband had a choice…

    All of these arguments for artificial birth control center on people’s inability, or unwillingness to deny themselves complete intimacy for what amounts to a few days a month.

    Like I said earlier – I absolutely know how hard this is to do – especially within the dynamic where one partner in a couple believes in this teaching, and the other does not.

  44. naturgesetz says:

    Fiergenholt — you missed one very important element in your definition of mortal sin. For a sin to be mortal, the evil has to be gravely wrong.

  45. This is just another attempt by the media to portray the Church in a negative light. And to encourage Catholics to be disobedient to Church teachings.

  46. If one believes that the Church is right about some things and wrong about others, then it is quite logically consistent — as long as one of the tenets in the “disbelieve” column is the teaching that the Church is right about all of them.

    And the only way that the Church could change those people’s minds is to convince them, since any statement which is all authoritative proclamation and not any persuasive reasoning will simply be discarded into the “disbelieved” set.

    …and yes, no matter how loud you shout or how hard you stomp your little feet, it has no effect upon this basic fact.

  47. Fiergenholt says:

    naturgesetz #44

    I did apparently miss the word “gravely” in posting #39 even though you might infer that insight when I deliberately used the word “eternally”: See my quote below.

    “That was the major failing of pre-Vatican moral teaching. Too often it arbitrarily stated some action was eternally evil when it was nothing more than mildly annoying to church leaders.”


  48. Although what the survey says is true of some Catholics, I questions the numbers. The report is on the “Huffington Post” a known liberal outlet and the research firm:Public Religion Research Institute, although their site says unbias, funding sources for them are notably bias, i.e. the Ford Foundation.
    Most of the surveys this group has is on hot button topics and many of the headlines start with “Catholic fall from Rome…. ” There seems to be an agenda with these surveys and not a seeking of truth.

  49. pagansister says:

    Deborah #41: I agree with all of what you said in your post. Human’s have common sense—use it!

    Women aren’t just for making babies. Married couples who choose NOT to be parents shouldn’t be considered breaking the laws of the (in this case) RCC. Apparently however, the idea of marriage is to procreate if at all possible and as often as possible. I think the men who came up with those rules never gave birth or raised a family! :o)

  50. Pagansister, and others who think that birth control is a man-made “rule”, you might be interested to know that before 1930, every Protestant Domination also taught against artifical birth control. It was even illegal in the US at one time.

    Subsequenly, the Catholic Church, which is nothing more, nothing less, than the “keeper of the teachings of Christ in all of their fullness”, is the only Church that has not caved to the culture. Even more so, the most divisive encycylical ever was Humane Vitae, which in retrospect, turn out to have been quite prophetic, bone chilling prophetic actually, once again validating the power of the Holy Spirt over the Chruch Christ established.

    Yes, God DID give us all a brain, and part of that brain is to try to understand WHY Christ taught what he taught, not to live out every self serving pleasurable animal instinct.

    The only “man who came up with the rule” was none other than Jesus Christ, and totally out of love for us. If there is anything I’ve learned over the year of my spiritual journey, it’s that when teachings don’t make sense at the human level, it’s even more likely that God is trying to protect us from ourselves and our consequences of our actions. One need to look no further than birth control for a great example.

  51. Firstly, sorry about my above typos, yikes!

    Wanted to share this link from the always fascinating Dr. Peter Kreeft. It’s one of his newest lectures (totally free), on “the why” of our obcessed sexual culture. It’s brilliant, and sums up the true teaching of Christ (and theology of the body), better than I’ve ever heard . It was given to a group of Catholic
    Physicians in April of 2011. The lecture itself is only 22 minutes (the rest is questions).

    For anyone really struggling with this teaching, I urge you to take a listen. If the world “got this”, quite simply, it would change the world. Instead, we continue chasing ER drugs, more and ‘better’ sex, when in reality, it’s the union and intimacy of God that we seek, cheaply being “substituted” by more and more “cheap sex.”

    IMO, this is the best ever of Peter Kreeft; all in 22 fascinating minutes!


  52. I must honestly admit that I find more support for being anti-abortion than for the birth control issue. But let’s take a look at the collective result of following our modern obsession of individulaism. Abortion, homosexuality, infidelity, broken marriages, birth control, pornography, masturbation, destruction of marriage. People are having less children. Western Culture is dying. And the cultures that follow scriptural teachings (be fruitful and multiply), Moslems and Latinos are increasing at a faster rate. Like it said in the Old Testament; God said, here is life and here is death, choose life. Well, certain cultures are choosing death. We have swung too far towards individualism and too far away from thinking about what benefits society.

    Western Culture is on a suicide path. Its not that one woman or a hundred or a thousand use birth control. It is that our enitre society sees life as inconvenient. And why all the infertillity? Who knows what affect it has on the body when a woman or man goes around for 15 – 20 years hoping (telling their body) that they want no pregnancy to occur. And then they think they can turn a switch and get pregnant at 35 or 40. Totally out of synch with nature. Our society does practically nothing to introduce single young men and women, and encourage healthy relationships.

    And you’ve got porn on the internet, and all kinds of sex toys for women – so men and women are channeling their sexual energy to masturbation rather than towards procreation. You even hear from married women that men are looking at porn rather than being intimate with their wives.

    Anyway, when you look at all the teachings of the Church, collectively, on a societal level, rather than on an individual basis, it comes down to the question of whether your society wants life or death.

  53. As I see it, the problem with NFP is that it doesn’t pass the logic test when compared to ABC and I think that is why so many Catholics find the Church’s position on artificial contraception hypocritical.

    There is a lot of ‘language’ used to describe why NFP isn’t contraception like ABC but it ignores the illogical use of the language. To state that each act of intercourse must be unitive and procreative denies the obvious when one is using technology to do everything one can to avoid getting pregnant AND ironically at the same time claiming NFP is just as effective as the Pill. The barrier issue is also illogical when applied indirectly to the effects of using the Pill but not to using NFP technology.

    NFP users cannot escape the logic that NFP seeks to enable couples to have sex purely for the unitive pleasure of it while doing everything they can to avoid procreation and exert their own will on childbearing – the exact behavior that ABC is condemned for. When NFP failure rates are as low as the Pill how can one logically claim that God is allowed into the act any more than when using ABC.

    If logic is applied, I believe the true meaning behind intercourse being unitive and open to procreation means having intercourse as a natural spontaneous occurence and expression of love in a marriage without concern about timing or use of barriers to prevent pregnancy OR alternatively with a desire to become pregnant. If the formula of unitive + procreative is mandated for each instance of intercourse, then when a couple wishes not to have a child, the only logical option is no intercourse until they are ready.

    Another way to look at this is to ask:
    If a young couple went to the Church seeking to be married but made it clear they would not be open to having children for the first 5 years (even using NFP) while they each worked 2 jobs to pay off student loans and got themselves established, do you think they would they be allowed to marry or would they be advised to remain unmarried until they were ready for children?

    If the Church refused to marry them it would be to deny as moral their intent to render marital intercourse sterile, even temporarily and for good reason, while they enjoyed the unitive benefits at the outset of marriage. If so, wouldn’t intercourse for the same purpose after marriage also be immoral?

    Just some of my thoughts on the logic of NFP from different angles. I’m not stating a position either way on abstinence, NFP or ABC.

  54. We live in a different world than hundreds of years ago and many couples don’t like the “woman stays home with 8 children and the husband works”scenerio. You can’t afford many children in some parts of the country and sometimes you have a sick child or special needs child and can’t devote more time to any more. Quality daycare is $$$. Every person is different, I have met some parents that are made for many children, others, not. They don’t have the patience, devotion or “baby gene” as they put it. Their children suffer because of it whether they work or are at home.
    NFP doesn’t work for a lot of people, they ovulate not on a schedule and temperatures and mucus testing didn’t work. The stress of making a mistake with that and harming yourself or your baby because of medical issues seems crazy…it’s like playing russian roulette and if you get pregnant, it’s because it failed, like some birth control methods do, not because you were meant to get pregnant.
    Biology is biology. You ovulated on an odd day or the sperm lasted longer than average, it happens. You have to responsible in all the things you do.

    I think birth control gave single men and women an avenue for sex without thought and that’s sad..but in a married union, I wouldn’t interfere with anyones choice.
    What is “fruitful to one family, 3 or 4 children, to another is 6 or more, but you can’t dictate that. The loving open families that want a lot of chidlren, may they be blessed with them, but some families are better off with less.

  55. It would be hypocritical if Priest were using ABC and saying it was wrong for lay people to use it. There is no commandment that every egg has to be fertilized. But they do teach that every marriage be open to the possiblity of new life. The Church always strives to put forth the highest ideal. They teach that we must strive to reach that ideal, even though they know it is not always possible. It does not mean you are condemned to Hell for every little mistake. That’s why we have confession. But just remember a lot of couples, put jobs and careers first, then years later try to get pregnant and can’t. Teachings are there to guide us. But many people are arrogant and think they know better. A lot of modern problems and stress are as a result of not following the Church’s teachings. You start bringing a lot of pills and mechanical devises into the bedroom and you never know what ther results may be.

    I don’t know that your scenario would ever play out. You are trying to take an extreme case and make Priests out to be a bunch of hard headed tyrants, which they aren’t. Most of them are patient and kind and try to help counsel people towards God’s way, which is natural and not artificial.

  56. “I think birth control gave single men and women an avenue for sex without thought and that’s sad..but in a married union, I wouldn’t interfere with anyones choice.”


    That’s an excellent point. I think it was their greatest fear at the time – (casual sex), and I think that fear has come true on a grand scale. But yes, perhaps they should re-examine the subject for married couples.

  57. It’s not just that we live in a different world than years ago. We lived with one structure for all of creation and now we are trying to live in an entirely new structure for the past 60 years. Think about it, being a “teenager” never existed. When you ovulated, you were a woman. And when you passed some sort of warrior ritual, and you had a trade, could support a family, you were a man. Now, it takes till you are 25 till you can be self sufficient.

  58. Deacon Norb says:

    momor #53 — with a note that I only rarely post more than one comment on a specific blog stream — but now that you raise this concern:

    “If a young couple went to the Church seeking to be married but made it clear they would not be open to having children for the first 5 years (even using NFP) while they each worked 2 jobs to pay off student loans and got themselves established, do you think they would they be allowed to marry or would they be advised to remain unmarried until they were ready for children?”

    You know, I have never seen this situation you describe. I’m not sure anyone has.

    If I were to go back in our files to the last 100 couples whose marriage ceremony that my parish has hosted, my best guess is that less than 10 of those couples had either the bride or groom under 24 — less than 5 couples had a bride or a groom in their thirties or older — and MAYBE only 5 couples have ever been married before.

    And I have never heard any of the couples indicate any issues about not having children because of student loan debts.

  59. In reference to Fran Rossi,
    my husband & I have been married 54 years and have raised five children, four of whom are still solid, practicing Catholics. Our oldest is a college professor and our youngest is a priest. All five went through Catholic schools and all five have college degrees. You used a phrase: “For example, where is the charity from the rule-bound?” That is a glittering generality. All of my family participate in the Novus Ordo Mass but we, without exception given the opportunity, would attend the TLM. We are considered to be ‘rule bound’ by many Catholics around us in the pews. We have had to correct the inadequete teaching that our grandson has received in his local Catholic grammar school. We, as a family, discuss the liturgical abuses that we observe so our family, at least, will understand why clown masses (etc) are wrong and why we do have the right to receive the Holy Eucharist on our tongues. As a family, we credit loving correction to be not only charitable but very, very important. We do follow the rules and our family has been much better off than most of our Catholic friends’ families which have been torn by divorce, abortion, homosexuality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and most importantly, their children’s loss of the Catholic Faith.

  60. I believe the popes that didn’t want birth control felt that way (IMHO) because of single couples. They knew without the fear of getting pregnant, even though nothing is 100%, they would take chances when not mature enough and think they could handle situations they couldn’t. In the “olden days” many still got pregnant, they just got married, some good marriages, some not, but again, the world was different. The changes in society that was feared was not from happily married couples, it was going to come from single adults having sex with numerous people and guys and gals cheating with less fear of having a child. Couples marry thinking “it’s time” rather than “I found the one man/woman to spend my life with.

    I’ve read posts on Catholic forums asking if it’s okay to have sex when child bearing is over because of age (how sad) Even though they misconstrued the teaching, to go through life thinking pleasure can’t be combined with sex is wrong..we aren’t here just to procreate but to have a bond with our husbands and wives that lasts after childbearing is over.

    I think many of the world’s troubles are morals not how many children we have, it’s how they are raised and how commited couples are to doing a good job and staying married. Without that, it doesn’t matter whether you have one or six…

  61. Deacon Norb.
    Does the fact that you have not personally encountered the scenario I proposed make it implausible? We are hearing stories all of the time now about students graduating from college with massive debt before they even get their first post-graduate job. I don’t find the scenario to be unlikely, especially for those couples who would like the mother to be able to stay at home with the children. What may be rare is the willingness of the couple to reveal this during pre-marital counseling out of fear they might be denied marriage, especially in a conservative parish.

    Assuming you did encounter this scenario, what would you do?

  62. I think many students have large debt especially if they went on to medical/law/grad school but it varies on amounts.
    Layoffs are a bigger problem, my nephew had a good job out of school, got married, laid off for 8 months, looked all over, just found one, some though aren’t as lucky. We had one neighbor, it was over a year. My nephew is skittish now, a few payments not made and you are into a lot of debt.

    Gone are the days of putting in 40 years somewhere and getting a nice pension. : (

  63. pagansister says:

    Klaire: #50: Fortunately the US and the Protestant denominations got wise as to birth control use. (at least some did). Women were at one time basicly owned by their husbands and were expected to be available for sex at his beck and call. If she had a baby from it—no problem—even if the last one was 9 months old! Now women have a choise as to whether they wish to be pregnant.

    Also you mentioned that Jesus Christ was the man who made the rule. No disrespect, but how many children did he give birth to and raise? Obviously none, since he was male, but the question could be—how many children did he “father”. None if I understand the Christian teachings. Also as far as I know he didn’t even have a “girlfriend”. So why should I follow a rule regarding when and how I should have a child, from a man who was supposedly celibate?

  64. pagansister says:

    #53, momor: That was a well thought out post and I totally enjoyed your points.

  65. Deacon Norb says:

    Following up on momor #61:

    What I left out of posting #58 (not enough room) is an invitation. Go sit down with any parish’s “intake officer” on weddings. That usually is the priest/pastor or (as in my case) a resident deacon. Ask some hard questions about your point of view in Posting #53.

    To answer your question in #61 from my perspective; “implausible?” — maybe. “Likely?” — probably not.

    BUT do your OWN fact-finding interview rather than assume you know all the answers already.

    Now there is another option you might try. Some dioceses have “Marriage Preparation Manuals” that they give to pastor/priests and deacons who are preparing young engaged couples. Often theses documents are available for online-downloads as files. See if your diocese has one and read it over. It might just surprise you what it covers — and what it does not!

  66. Deacon Norb,
    You, or any other deacon who wants to, could simplify things greatly just by saying what you would hypothetically tell that couple in that scenario from #53. I can’t understand what you find unlikely about it other than your own experience.

    I certainly don’t think I have all the answers about anything. I simply expressed an opinion and the problems I think NFP causes for some Catholics trying to understand what is wrong with artificial contraception. Feel free to refute any of my logic with your own.

  67. For all who seeking the “logic” regarding the teaching of the chruch on birth control, know there is none. If you want proof and why, listen to the link of Dr. Peter Kreeft I provided in number 51. He explains beautifully why logic doesn’t work in this case.

    Pagansister, assuming you are truly pagan, when you diss Christ/God, our creator of us AND sex, it seems a bit silly to think there could possilbly be any intelligent discussion with you, for in doing so, it would make any of us know more than God. Trying to help you understand that sex itself is an icon of/to God is lets just say, more than lost on you. It’s sort of like a stranger telling a mother of a child that she has no idea (but YOU do), of the needs of her child.

    Someday perhaps, you will be touched by God’s great grace. I hope!

  68. Klaire,
    You cannot have Truth that is devoid of logic and reason, which was the point I was trying to make about NFP vs ABC. I listened to the link you provided and I don’t believe he was making the same point that you are trying to make about logic.

  69. Catholic teachings isn’t negotiable. We might do well to learn the ancient faith before embracing the false novelties of our day. – http://www.catholicapologetics.info

  70. Lots of things change over the years, rules, etc. with the church. I will always believe that common sense should be used.
    I just read (quickly) another NFP forum on a catholic site, so many anxious, miserable people, living month after month worrying about getting pregnant. Nothing is full proof, but you shouldn’t live like that. It just doesn’t work for everyone and the many NFP ways, sometimes they do them all, it doesn’t work for everyone.

    I think the pill, unless for medical reasons, shouldn’t be used but having a few days of extra reassurance, with the diaphram or contraceptive creme and NFP, might make irregular cycles easier to deal with. I was all over the place during peri-menopause and getting pregnant at 45 (and it happens) isn’t for everyone. God gave us medicine and ways to help infertile couples (that the church approves of) and a brain. If you are using contraception for selfish reasons, not reasonable and honest truths, that is not right, but you shouldn’t live in fear every month. A child is a huge responsibility, a life long part of your family to raise, pay for education, and give time and love too. Your body gives you as many chidren as your body can make, it isn’t that God wants you to have 13 any more than a more infertile couple was only given 2, it’s your genes, biology, age, etc.
    I think with all the mucus testing, charting, temperature taking, ovulation predictors, you are trying to do the end result of a diaphram, I don’t think God minds if you used one method over the other because of a barrier, the “intent” was the same.
    Even Hasidic Jews (many in my neightborhood) use birthcontrol when needed and they follow the old testament well…but you still have to use your head.

  71. pagansister says:

    Deb: You have a very “common sense ” approach to this subject. NFP is so unreliable for so many reasons—many which you brought up. You have lived the irregularity of NFP thus you speak from experience. I have had posters (usually men) mention that the tests etc. associated with NFP handle all that irregularity. NO!

    #67 Klaire: I am Pagan in that I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. And you’re right—there is absolutely no “logic” to the churche’s birth control stance. The “fact ” that it was created by a Man (divne or not) proves that. BTW, (as unintelligent as I apparently am) no dissing going on—-just disagreement. If sex is indeed an “icon” of God, I have had a great time worshiping at that “icon”. And for those that believe that, I wish them healthy babies every time the NFP fails—and hope they can feed them and shelter them. For those blessed with common sense—-I wish them successful ABC methods. As to who created me? That would be my parents.
    Have a great day.

  72. pagansister says:

    Klaire: Left out a couple of words—for those that believe that —– NFP is the only way to do things—I wish them healthy babies every time the NFP fails—and hope they can feed them and shelter them. The rest is at I wrote above.

  73. Pagansister, I didn’t get pregnant at 45 (in case you thought that) but did, even when trying to have a baby, have regular, but irregular cycles in ovulation. NFP was not a good option.

    I just wish also for healthy babies and familes that can love and take care of them. I wish abortion would end or cease greatly and that morals and conscience will become more prevalent. You can only have so much decadance before the pendulum starts to swing the other way. I hope we are due.

    Every religion has guidance and rules but only “cults” tell their members everything to think and say and read. The Catholic church isn’t a cult, although some call it that. We are all imperfect sinners doing our best.

  74. pagansister says:

    Deb: #72.
    Yes I did thnk that you had had a later pregnancy. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I agree—it would be wonderful if no woman sought an abortion, or fewer would be sought. I too hope that more will use their conscience’s and think more than twice before acting in matters “sexual”. IMO, all that can be done is try to teach from an early age those things—whether in a religious setting or just in the home, if no faith is followed.

    I have never thought of the RCC as a “cult”. I have known too many Catholics to even try and put the Church in that category. True—no one is even near perfect!

  75. How lovely, yet another thread is hijacked by the pathetic, attention seeking, troll, better known as Pagansister. Amazing how any intelligent discussion deteriorates as soon as she chimes in.

  76. Fiergenholt says:

    Ray: #75. Be careful. You may have just violated Deacon Greg’s terms of service!

  77. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Fiergenholt is correct.

    Please acquaint yourself with the Guidelines for Comments.

    Further violations will result in comments being deleted.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    Dcn. G.

  78. My appologies Deacon, but seriously her behavior is really getting out of hand. And considering what the pagans did to our fellow Christians, is her avatar appropriate? Would a Jewish website allow someone on called Nazisister?

  79. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I appreciate your sentiments, Ray, but considering oneself a pagan in this day and age isn’t in the same league as being a Nazi. (This website, Patheos, even has a Pagan Portal, for those who follow that path.)

    Pagansister has her own views, but she has for the most part (from what I’ve read) expressed them with civility and respect — even when disagreeing, sometimes strongly, with the teachings most of us hold. Please accord her respect. Disagree with her, criticize her if you want, but do so with Christian charity. I want this blog to be a place for dialogue, not disdain.

    Thank you,
    Dcn. G.

  80. “considering oneself a pagan in this day and age isn’t in the same league as being a Nazi.”

    I respectfully disagree. It is only because the abuses are more fresh in our conscious memory. Do the deaths of our early Christian brothers and sisters no longer matter, because it was 2,000 years ago? Were they any less human than the victims of the Holoccaust? What if you had to stand an witness your family torn to pieces by animals in front of a cheering mob?

    And ironically, in your threat to ban me, you are showing more respect to a pagan than you are to a fellow Catholic. Its very hard to find places on the internet where people are not constantly insulting our faith. Look back at the disrespectful manner she spoke about our Lord and Savior, in this post. If I was the only person that had a problem with her, then I would say I was to blame. But if you are reading the posts, then you know I am not.

  81. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Ray, you’re the only one on this thread who called another poster a “pathetic, attention-seeking troll.”

    Dcn. G.

  82. And I agree whole heartedly, that would be an insult, if it wasn’t true.

    Thank you for your time Deacon. I will continue to enjoy your postings and your inspiring homilies. Have a pleasant evening.

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