Gallup: 82% of Catholics approve of contraception


A new Gallup Poll has found that contraception is “morally acceptable” to 89 percent of Americans, including a top heavy 82 percent majority of American Catholics, despite the Church hierarchy’s opposition to the pill.

The poll was released a day after Catholic dioceses and institutions sued the Obama administration to block a requirement that employers cover contraception in health care plans offered to women employees.

Catholic bishops have rejected an administration compromise under which the cost of birth control coverage would be borne by health insurers, and not Catholic hospitals and universities.

“The issue involved here is the broad separation of church and state, not necessarily the morality of using birth control,” Gallup reported.  “Still, current data show that the substantial majority of Catholics interviewed say birth control is morally acceptable.”

The national poll showed attitudes on social issues that may not go down well with Catholic bishops or leaders of the Christian right.  Its findings include:

–By a 59-38 percent majority, Americans find it acceptable for medical researchers to use stem cells obtained from human embryos;

–A 59-38 percent majority approve of sex between an unmarried man and unmarried woman;

–A 54-42 percent majority find relations between gays and lesbians to be morally acceptable;

–A similar 54-43 percent majority find having a child outside of marriage to be morally acceptable.


  1. And I’m sure a huge proportion of American Catholics approve of capital punishment.

    And an enormous proportion approved of the Iraq War.

    And an astronomical proportion of American Catholics probably believe that prioritizing the accumulation of wealth, power and status is perfectly compatible with the Gospel.

    So – freakin’ – what?

  2. ron chandonia says:

    Ironically, this may well confirm the wisdom of the recent public stands our bishops have been taking. When they kept relatively silent about some of these trends–particularly the increasing acceptability of out-of-wedlock child-bearing–more and more Catholics came to see them as acceptable or even normative. I wonder if some of the Ch-easter Catholics are not surprised to learn from the morning talk-shows that the Church sees things differently than their friends and neighbors do.

  3. Agreed: so what.

    Now, instead of playing the the wussy victim, the Church, especially its married couples, need to demonstrate the clear advantages and fruitfulness of declining to use contraception.

    I also think something else would help: to widen the expectations of what a generative sacramental marriage should be. There’s too much focus on the sex from both sides of this argument. Not enough examination on the evangelical aspects of sacramental marriage.

    At the very least, the 18 could make more inroads with the 82 by locating and affirming the ways in which couples facilitate the “procreation” of God’s grace–and not in general ways, but in very specific actions. In this way, procreation expands from a biological aspect of young and middle-aged couples, and urges all couples, even the elderly, to discern ways in which their relationship brings life to the Church and to the world.

    The persuasion needs to be more acute, creative, and incisive, and focus on actions, less on knowledge. Why? The 18 are never going to out-rationalize the 82. Soon enough it will be the 8 working with the 92, or worse.

  4. How much of that 82% attends Mass weekly? Or has been to confession in (even) the past year?

  5. Ben Story says:

    Regardless of what the popular or church opinion on birth control is, the real issue is not birth control. The real issue is whether the United States government has the right to force a religious organization to do something that is against their beliefs. It may be birth control today, but it opens a slippery slope for a massive erosion of first amendment protections.

    If you chose to work for an organization, you have the opportunity to find out their views and policies before you work there. No one is forced to work for a Catholic hospital or for a Jewish school or anywhere else.

  6. There are two reasons why Catholics are using birth control:

    1. They have been poorly catechized thanks to Vatican II

    2. The doctors & medical industry who push birth control as a cure all for women who are having menstrual problems. I have seen this happen way too often.

  7. Kind of what I was thinking, Lisa… The Church ought to govern by polls, just like our secular leaders.

    I wonder what the results would have been had Jesus queried the Apostles about whether he should say things like, “Woe to you Pharisees” or turn over the money-changers’ tables in the Temple or not do any tricks for King Herod.

    Also, how does “charging the insurance company” not equate to the Church in effect paying for contraceptives and other objectionable drugs. Aren’t the costs just passed along to those paying the premiums?

  8. IntoTheWest says:

    Who knows how some of these questions were worded. I mean, what’s a Catholic supposed to say — it’s immoral for a single woman to have a child, therefore she should get an abortion if she finds herself pregnant? That’s the problem with Catholics making a big huge deal out of one piece of a larger problem.

    If the Church, from the beginning, had taught young girls AND boys how to respect each other, and had not the onus been placed on girls alone to not be pregnant out of wedlock, perhaps fewer of them would have had abortions. And if abortion hadn’t been so exclusively focused on as something separate from the whole person, regardless of gender, then single motherhood wouldn’t be seen as a moral end in itself. It’s a hot mess, and mostly because the message has been so fractured and so poorly expressed by all sorts of people, from the hierarchy on down, and for decades.

    The hierarchy has for too long remained “above” and left the rest of us to sort these things out. Are we supposed to throw young pregnant girls out on the streets because it’s “immoral” to be pregnant out of wedlock? If so, abortion becomes a desirable option for those who’d end up on the streets.

    In focusing on “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy as the immoral state, rather than pre-marital sex as the immoral state, the message is that it’s the pregnancy that’s to be avoided, either via contraception or abortion. Once abortion became legal and fairly easy to obtain, then abortion became the great evil of the day (and, again, the onus ends up falling on the woman, not the man — or girl, not the boy), and single-motherhood was celebrated as a moral choice.

    Right now, we have the pro-life movement inadvertently “glorifying” women who’ve aborted (as long as they toe the Catholic line in the regrets department), while bemoaning single-motherhood as immoral. I mean, the mixed messages the Church sends! What did they expect?

    The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Catholic women were treated so poorly for so long that this is the obvious outcome. Of course they started to reject what the Church, for so long, passed off as “correct” Catholic teaching. And of course they raised their sons and daughters to think differently.

  9. It is easy to swim with the zeitgeist, especially one that paradoxically celebrates ‘thinking for oneself.’ Add to this the popularity of the ‘recovering Catholic’ or ‘lobotomized Catholic’ memes, and one could easily hypothesize that there would be many who would be quite happy to wear the Catholic label while denouncing its teaching on a variety of things.

    However, we should note that there is a strong correlation between attestation to the Church’s position and education, as the data indicates. Thus, it would be interesting if those Catholics who were polled about such things had to first take a quick quiz on basic Church teaching.

    Based on the data, my guess is that it would be rare to find a Catholic who says:
    “As the quiz you made me take just now shows, I fully understand the Church’s position on x. Nevertheless, I reject what the Church teaches on x, because of reasons y and z.”

    Thus, the quiz.

  10. Exactly right.

  11. IntoTheWest, I suspect you and I disagree on a lot, but I’m completely with you on the superficial question about the “morality” of having a child out of wedlock. You nailed it on that one. That’s fourth-grade reasoning on the part of Gallup — i.e., a questions that likely asked, essentially, do Catholics think poorly of women who aren’t married but who are obviously pregnant? The woman who is carrying a child to term may be an incredibly moral person, while the man behind her who fathered a child out of wedlock (or did not father a child but pressured his girlfriend to chance a pregnancy because he wanted unprotected sex) may be not only a jerk but also immoral — and no one would know about his guilt, since his sexual entanglements are not public knowledge.

    Yep, there is no doubt still is a double standard out there for sexually involved women vs. men, but I don’t know many faithful Catholics who universally denounce a woman for having a child out of wedlock. Most people (apart from a few folks who rant about “welfare mothers”) seem to keep things in perspective. In other words — God bless the child, who is a gift from God, and let’s not be in a rush the morality of the parents.

  12. IntoTheWest says:

    Steve, I’m thinking over time, lol — I’m older than dirt. ;-)

    There was a time when Catholics nearly universally rejected women who became pregnant out of wedlock. Thankfully, that’s not so today.

  13. First of all, the Catholic Church permits natural family planning. Some couples do not mind this. However, it is totally splitting hairs with the objections made to most forms of artificial contraception. The ends have been approved, the means are what is at issue. The Catholics are not Christian Scientists who are to avoid medications, thus most people wonder what is really so bad about artificial contraception.
    Also the Church’s denunciation of condoms as a means of promoting public health is very unfortunate.
    With young couples who attend college graduating with incredible mountains of debt, I imagine that the 82% will increase, not decline.

  14. Nate you nailed it:

    Quote: there would be many who would be quite happy to wear the Catholic label while denouncing its teaching on a variety of things. End Quote

    It’s sort like our Congress; most couldn’t pass a test on the US Constitution (or in some cases, a drug test), yet they “know best” for all of us.

    The reality is, there are only about 25% or so regular mass attending catechized Catholics in the US, so where’s the surprise in this?

    What this proves to me is how much we NEED the ‘big bad Catholic Church’, in what Mother Theresa called the poorest nation (spiritually), on planet earth.

    And just as the the crowds yelled “Crucify him, crucify him”, the “masses” are often wrong.

    So, it comes down to either “said” catholics THINKING they know what the CC teaches, or in most cases, not caring what it teaches.

    Personally, I think people like Maureen Dowd who have so much to say about Catholism should be required to be “Catholic certified by exam.” At least the other lost sheep would at least know she, and others like her, have no credibility. Funny how that works, we need a licensce to polish someone’s fingernails in nail parlor but influental writers and politicans only need an audience.

  15. I would not make the assumption that the Catholics who attend mass regularly are properly catechized. Looking around my parish at all the 2 children families and talking to fellow parishioners I know there are plenty of people who regularly attend mass who don’t know the Church’s teaching on this and/or don’t care.

    I would say that most of the people in the pews every Sunday are very poorly catechized and not just on the issue of artificial contraception. I am 48 years old and I can count on 1 finger the time I have heard any mention of this subject at mass. I understand that priests and bishops have a heavy load, but they have to start teaching the faith on Sunday.

  16. pagansister says:

    Maybe reason #3, NBW, is that some Catholic couples today don’t want 10 kids!

  17. pagansister says:

    Cathy D. If indeed the priests and bishops focus on how every Catholic couple should be open and accept all children ” God gives them” if I remember some of the words at a couple of Catholic weddings I have attended, then perhaps those men should be willing to feed, clothe and educate those children. I’d find it hard to imagine those 2 family couples you see at Mass have no idea of the Churche’s teaching on birth control. I’m not Catholic and I even know what the Church thinks. Also many couples can’t afford to have more than 2-4 children today—-and NFP doesn’t work for everyone—lots of unplanned kids with that method—especially if a couple is supposed to only use that for years before a woman is sure she will never be fertile again! Besides, NFP is supposed to make conception less likely to happen—thus “birth control”. IMO, and not a Catholic, obviously, Catholic couples who prevent pregnancy with ABC make the chances of a possible abortion a lot less likely. That is a positive of ABC.

  18. pagansister says:

    OOP! Cathy D. —–Should be “2 children couples” you see at Mass—-

  19. Some people blame Vatican II for everything bad. There was change brewing in the Church even in the 1950s. There also were many problems with the Church and society before Vatican II.

  20. Barbara P says:

    It’s not an issue of whether people are being taught correctly on this issue. People know where the Church stands on artificial birth control and have rejected the Church’s absolute position. Even people who go to Mass regularly. There were theologians back in 1968 who urged a different result but the Pope did not accept their interpretation. So here we are.

  21. Catherine says:

    I’m not so sure that I would want to hear a lot of homilies on the subject of contraception. How do you talk about that to a church full of families with young children? My two are nine and six years of age, and I do not consider them ready for that topic.

  22. To those who say “it doesn’t matter” that many Catholics disagree with Church doctrine on birth control, and that you can’t make policy based on “poll results”, consider this. Sometimes it pays to ask why huge numbers of people reject a specific doctrine. Could it be that there is something wrong with Church teaching in that specific area? Isn’t one of the indicia of legitimate Church teaching widespread acceptance by the faithfull over time?

  23. IntoTheWest says:

    So you go to Mass to count other people’s children and make assumptions about them? And you’re “properly Catechised”, right…?

  24. IntoTheWest says:

    Plus, that’s not the purpose of Mass or the homily. Yet all the “properly Catechised” Catholics seem to think so. Go figure.

  25. Well, of course — they’re selfish and thanks to cheap pharmaceuticals have a way to indulge themselves.

  26. IntoTheWest says:

    Yes. Especially when that particular teaching is formed by men who haven’t the slightest idea what the consequences of that teaching is.

    Catholic priests don’t have to support families — or pick up the slack for families who have more children than they can afford. If they did, I’m willing to bet the Church’s position on some methods of non-NFP birth control would change in a heartbeat.

  27. Todd, sometimes I wonder if you believe in the supernatural nature of the Church and of the combat in which she finds herself. If the Church caved in this instance — ceased to play the wuss, in your schoolyard slang — would that be the end of her difficulties? Would there be no further territorial demands?

  28. I know many families with one, two, or three children born in the 1940s and 1950s. If you go to church and count heads you might be coming to the wrong conclusion.

  29. IntoTheWest says:

    You are not privy to any particular couple’s reason for using hormonal contraception. To claim that they’re selfish and just indulging themselves is not the in keeping with Catholic teaching.

  30. There was certainly a lot of debate back in the late 1960s.

  31. bemoaning single-motherhood as immoral.

    I call BS.

  32. I am not surprised at the results of the poll. When someone like Nancy Pelosi is quoted saying that her Catholic faith “compels” her to support same-sex marriage you’ve got to wonder which voices most Catholics are hearing when it comes to informing themselves about their faith. The failure of the bishops to rein in people like Pelosi, Sebelius, and the others who openly oppose Church teaching is the greatest scandal.

  33. Hi Barbara,
    Well, I would certainly disagree that people are being taught correctly. Fortunately, I think our disagreement can be settled empirically. I’m making a falsifiable claim: if you simply *understand* the Church’s position and *know what it is*, you are probably going to accept it. I’m making a claim, I think, that can be verified empirically: give Catholics a quiz, whereby they have to display knowledge of the Church’s conception of human sexuality and anthropology, and the Catholic philosophy of nature and human flourishing. I’d hypothesize that most everyone who scores highly on the quiz would also accept those very teachings, or, at the very least, could not give a good reason for rejecting them. We can accept rather minimal standards for what constitutes a ‘good’ counter argument, even.

    I realize that I”m putting a pretty high amount of trust in our ability to reason from facts. Certainly, I myself want to resort to psychoanalysis, since I wonder why so many people reject the Church’s position and instead accept a position on contraception that is so clearly misogynist and anti-woman; but one should not have to resort to psychoanalysis. I think we can simply say that people are ignorant.

    I could be wrong. Perhaps the reason is psychological. But I think a quiz would show otherwise.



  34. IntoTheWest says:

    You can call it what you like. I’ve seen several prominent Catholic bloggers point to acceptance of single-motherhood as part of the breakdown of society. It’s not an uncommon theme by any means.

  35. IntoTheWest says:

    “…I wonder why so many people reject the Church’s position and instead accept a position on contraception that is so clearly misogynist and anti-woman”

    Maybe it’s because women can think for themselves and don’t need to be condescended to and patronized by men, especially celibate men who will never have to be responsible for a family?

    A method of birth control cannot, in and of itself, be “misogynist and anti-woman”.

  36. Intothewest:
    just to piggy back on your point, but i have not met many married deacons with large families.
    just wondering if they all practiced NFP??

  37. it would be very interesting and helpful to hear more from the “married clergy” on this topic and the process of discernment that they went through to be faithful to the church’s teaching and how they handled the struggle. this is where the “rubber hits the road” and i am sure many would love to hear how the married deacons have struggled and lived this teaching.

  38. Hi IntoTheWest,
    To say that contraception is anti-woman is a verifiable claim, both anthropologically and sociologically. Moreover, one can make rather easy empirical arguments for why Paul VI’s predictions concerning the eventual and total exploitation of women by men as a result of the widespread practice of contraception were vastly, vastly understated.
    One must, in order to counter these claims, do more than resort to long standing shibboleths, or worse, cultural memes that are, as mentioned in the previous post, paradoxical at best, and incoherent at worst. I see three such instances in your short post alone:
    1) Thinking for themselves.
    2) Condescended to and patronized…
    3) And oh yeah, this was all decided on by people who don’t have sex.

    The first two are rhetorical cries that stand in place of actual counter arguments (anyone can say them, whatever one’s position: if you don’t have an argument, accuse one’s opponents of being jerks), and the third, while having the virtue of being falsifiable, is indeed empirically false.



  39. IntoTheWest says:

    Who knows? And who wants to? :D TMI

    Seriously — this stuff just isn’t anyone else’s business, ever, and it’s pretty creepy for adults to be sitting in Mass fantasizing about what happens in someone else’s bedroom.

    But what do I know? I’m sure I’m considered one of those improperly Catechised Catholics…/eyeroll.

  40. IntoTheWest says:

    Well, this individual woman is perfectly capable of making birth control choices for herself without being exploited by “men”, which, in my case, is only the one, dear, and he’s been my husband for nearly 30 years, so if you want to tell me he’s been exploiting me, you’d damned well better be able to “empirically” prove it’s so.

    Your argument fails totally because it lumps all women in every circumstance together and makes assumptions about all of them, plus it completely leaves men and their responsibilities out of the equation.

  41. Matthew, you’re on to something, here. Stats show about 23% (see here):

    So if only 18% of Catholics accept Church teaching against contraception, I think it’s fair to assume that the majority of that 18% are among the 23% who attend Mass weekly. Clearly, we need to evangelize the 5% or so of weekly Mass-goers who think contraception’s fine and dandy instead of gravely morally evil, but the other 77%, the Catholics who don’t even bother to show up for Mass on Sunday when missing Mass on Sunday without a serious reason is also (objectively) a mortal sin, need to be convinced to take their faith seriously enough to show up at Mass more regularly before the Church will be able to tackle their abysmal ignorance in other matters of faith and morals.

  42. Barbara P says:

    Many couples view openess to the creation of life in the context of their lives and total relationship so reject the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae that requires couples to view openness to life act by act. People have knowledge of what the Church states. The sense of the faithful has rejected the Church’s position.

  43. Barbara P says:

    Women enjoy sex too. They can exploit men just as easily as men can exploit women. The Church’s position assumes an out dated view of women.

  44. pagansister says:

    Romulus, how is either NOT wanting children at all OR limiting the number of children called selfish and indulgent? Believe it or not, there are women and men who wish not to procreate for any number of reasons, and some of those are Catholic couples. There really is no law that says just because one has intercourse, that one has to make a child. I would think that even those who “run the Church” can understand a couple not wanting children (or limiting the number). There are other purposes in life for married couples besides having a bunch of kids. Really. A question: Do you believe it is possible for a woman(yes, even a Catholic woman who practices her faith and treasures it) to have absolutely NO desire or instincts to have a baby? Some women aren’t cut out for kids.

  45. IntoTheWest says:

    True, Barbara, and NFP actually gives women a tool with which to exploit men quite effectively.

    These things are always individual matters, and regardless what method anyone uses, someone may well abuse it. Doesn’t mean all men and women abuse these things, or misuse them. Just some.

    NFP is just another method of birth control and can be abused and misused, and can result in men and women being reduced to objects as much as any other method of BC.

  46. pagansister says:

    Is it a problem for Catholics to start thinking for themselves when it comes to certain things—such as how many children they should bring into the world? IMO, no.

  47. People thinking for themselves on any issue is a fatal problem for any institutional organized religion. The entire financial and political infrastructure hinges on people taking orders without question.

  48. Some women aren’t cut out for kids.

    What you’re saying is that some women aren’t cut out for marriage (we would say they “haven’t a vocation” to it). I agree; they should not marry.

    Those who do marry are “cut out for” a life of generosity in innumerable ways, not least of which is living out the truth of their human nature, that human beings are sexual creatures. In human beings, it is a matter of free will whether sexual faculties are to be exercised in ways conformable or else contrary to nature — but the abuse of sexuality does not negate the truth of what it is. Sexual intercourse is a mutual, complementary act of giving and receiving of entire persons, each to the other. When this act is frustrated, sexuality is reduced to a lie.

  49. IntoTheWest says:

    It worked even better when most folks were illiterate, too! ;)

  50. food for thought:

    anecdotal info: My mother and father had 5 children before we all converted to Catholicism from being Episcopalian- I believe they occasionally used ABC, but they have never really told us specifics (personal info, anyway)- all 5 kids are married in the Church and do not use ABC (that is all I know- NFP or Providentialism, maybe- again, personal subject)
    my oldest sibling- 8 children
    me- 2 kids, lost one child at 20 weeks in utero, two more kids with serious medical intervention for me and prematurity (36 weeks, 32 weeks) for them
    next sibling- no pregnancy for 10+ years, 1 adoption, now 2 bio kids
    next sibling- lost 1 child to SIDS at 6 months, 6 more kids
    next sibling- 2 kids

    ….lots of ‘variety’ there- maybe some NFP to space or conceive….every woman has a story amd sorry- I don’t need to pollute my body with hormones or put a copper wire in my uterus to irritate the lining for early abortions or other evil things to space children and be “punished” (as Obama would say) with 10 kids….the world is in a sad state.

    —-I am tired of the excuse of being poorly catechized- OPEN A BOOK—-BE INTERESTED!!!!! and yes- priests should be courageous- but it is a very mixed population at a Mass- so even the most pro-life priest usually speaks in generalities.

  51. IntoTheWest says:

    And those who do not marry are also cut out for a life of generosity in innumerable ways. This narrow, utilitarian view of women’s purpose in life is not what the Catholic Church teaches. It’s only what a very small percentage of legalistic Catholics themselves teach. Very few of whom, apparently, are actually living what they teach — they just like to criticize from the sidelines.

    If sexual intercourse is only to be a giving and receiving of entire persons, including their fertility, you’re going to have a hard time justifying NFP, which is a tool that allows couples to pinpoint their fertility to a 99% accurate degree and then remove that part of themselves from their sex lives. And that is why the majority of Catholics reject the teaching — it’s completely and fundamentally illogical.

  52. Catherine says:

    As you say, every woman has a story. Some of those stories are very painful, and some want to keep the story private. My mother (who married in 1945) could not have children, and had people say “what kind of Catholic are you?” Meanwhile, her sister-in-law got her to ask the doctor how to practice “rhythm” because she was too embarrassed to ask her own doctor. You can imagine how much my mother loved that assignment, but she did it to be helpful. By the way, the President did not say that children are a “punishment” — what he said was that he didn’t think that young girls who “make a mistake” should have to raise a child. I actually agree with him — I’m all for advising the young girl who has a child out of wedlock to give it up for adoption, as my birth mother did with me. Where I part company with the President is on whether or not the young mother-to-be should have the option of abortion.

  53. IntoTheWest says:

    You can’t really “advise” girls and women to give up their children. That’s a decision they must make without any coercion or pressure. What we should do — should always have done — is offer a safe haven and support without any conditions attached. Back in the day, young women were given no choice but to “give up” their children for adoption. This is as bad as cornering women into abortion.

  54. Catherine says:

    We’ll have to disagree on that one. When a very young woman has a child, it is only fair to her to make her very aware that she can give the child up. To me that is the most kind option for the girl and (I’m biased here) for the child. I have had a lot of people ask me for advice on adoption over the years. Most have said that it was extremely helpful to hear from someone who was adopted herself. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my children are also adopted.

  55. “there are women and men who wish not to procreate for any number of reasons, and some of those are Catholic couples.”

    Just to be clear, those of child bearing age who refuse to be open to having children cannot be validly married in the Catholic Church. Those who get married in Church and have lied about that are not sacramentally married.

  56. IntoTheWest says:

    Yes, she must be aware of her options. But she cannot be told what is best for her. God gave her that child, and it is her decision.

    I’m biased, too, I guess. I was told I “must” give up my oldest daughter. I didn’t, and it was the best decision I ever made, and now I work with a few organizations that help young women in similar circumstances keep their children while remaining in school and pursuing higher education and securing good jobs afterwards.

  57. There’s only one answer. The rosary. Pray for the conversion of sinners (that’s me), the salavation of souls and the reparation for the sins of this world against the sacred heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of Mary.

    Our Lady of Fatima

  58. Hi Barbara,
    Well, I guess we disagree about quite a bit!
    A couple of quick things. You say:

    “Many couples view openess to the creation of life in the context of their lives and total relationship so reject the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae that requires couples to view openness to life act by act.”

    Not to split hairs, but precisely because those faithful to the Church do not use contraception, there is no need to make an act by act anything. Me thinks that your description of the faithful couple open to the creation of life in the context of their lives and total relationship precisely describes those faithful to the Church’s teaching on contraception. I might also suggest that it does not describe what you want it to describe.

    “People have knowledge of what the Church states.”
    I would beg to differ, and as mentioned, I think that my belief that most are quite ignorant of the Church’s position could be shown empirically.

    “The sense of the faithful has rejected the Church’s position.”
    Ignoring the oxymoron, I agree!

    “Women enjoy sex too.”
    I should think so!

    “They can exploit men just as easily as men can exploit women.”
    Indeed, but one has to be blind to the causal impetus of cultural changes in sexual norms to see your statement as anything other than a red herring.

    “The Church’s position assumes an out dated view of women.”
    As a purely descriptive claim, you are absolutely right. :) Thank God that they haven’t kept up with the times.

  59. Catherine says:

    I understand your decision completely. None of this is easy. I owe a great deal to my birth mother and to my children’s mothers as well.

  60. I don’t believe in combat, which I see as a secular value. I believe in persuasion–that the ideas and the grace of God are more powerful. I’d say that those who deny the supernatural nature of the Church are the ones who seem to need to have it and them propped up by secular legislation.

  61. Hi IntoTheWest,
    As to your worries about the fecund imaginations of those around you in Mass, I worry that thous dost protest too much.

    I cannot speak for your level of catechesis. I’m quite happy to find that you totally understand the Church’s position and arguments concerning contraception’s immorality, and have rejected this teaching for reasons that you think are good, and that I would think were, while wrong, reasonable.
    My argument is that this makes you an exception, cultural zeitgeist notwithstanding: I’d wager that most who became educated on the Church’s position would still find your positions reasonable, but like me, would find them wrong.
    Again, the beauty of my claim, meager as it is, is that we could test it, if only we started, er, teaching it. :)



  62. IntoTheWest says:

    I was referring to someone who had already commented on her toting up the number of children in the families surrounding her during Mass. Had nothing to do with MY imagination.

    You’d have to speak to each dissenting — or fallen away — Catholic as an individual. And this is where the Church fails. They oughtn’t fail so badly on this level — theoretically, the hierarchy is set up to address individual matters in a private, thoughtful, respectful way. That sort of thing, however, requires a very special sort of person, equipped with a supernatural level of compassion, patience and kindness, and those people are rare indeed. Not nearly enough to go around.

  63. pagansister says:

    RomCath, I have a feeling that there are some Catholic couples (those married in the Church) who have no intention of getting pregnant on purpose. IMO, that doesn’t automatically make them “bad Catholics.” I also expect many of those attend Mass on a regular basis, and truly believe—they just don’t want to raise children. BTW, they have already been married in the Church and since it really is no one else’s business, they would just be a couple who never had children. A friend of mine married in the Catholic church, and after her marriage, realized she and her husband didn’t want more than 2 children—even after the “acceptance of all children God gives them” vow. She very happily left the Church and they are now Christians with 2 beautiful children. That vow wasn’t realistic. Her mother, also Catholic, had no problem with her decision—-as she was pleased that the children are being raised in a Christian faith. The use of women to continue the faith (or try) is a bit out of touch with reality now, as is evidenced by the 82% of Catholics who approve of contraception. Having seen what happens to some children born to mothers who really didn’t want children, it is best if they don’t have them.

  64. Hi IntoTheWest,
    That’s an interesting thought about the Church and compassion. You might well be right!
    I might suggest, however that the Church has failed in its *pedagogy*, if it has failed anywhere. From individual Catholic to individual Catholic, we find an abysmal level of knowledge of moral doctrine. You are right that the level of compassion and kindness that the sort of person would need to be equipped with to approach the fallen-away Catholic with care and charity would indeed be superhuman (thanks to God that there are some like that in our midst!). Fortunately, the job of educating the faithful on their own faith does *not* require such supernatural virtues. Just a basic level of pedagogical competency.

    IN other words, we now require a level of superhuman ability to deal with a situation that could have been avoided by simply teaching the faith–a job that takes, aided by God’s grace, mere regular human powers. :)



  65. You do realize that all of the data indicates that those who accept Church teaching on human sexuality are more often than not highly educated, right?

    The meme of the lobotomized Catholic is perpetuated almost miraculously at this point. It involves a severe level of delusion.

    At the risk of psychoanalyzing, I might suggest that you yourself don’t even believe the ‘think for yourselves’ meme. It’s just something you say, er…without thinking.

  66. Midwestlady says:

    I agree. Right and wrong isn’t a popularity contest. These people can explain it to God when they see him.

  67. Midwestlady says:

    Make that: I agree with Lisa. These nested comment boxes are weird.

  68. Midwestlady says:

    Todd, I wonder what you’d do if you ever found yourself face-to-face with ravening evil incarnate. Would you try to explain its nature away to it?

  69. pagansister says:

    Your decision to not use ABC worked for you—-others do what works for them, priest’s wife. No Catholic married woman should be made to feel “non-Catholic” for not having kids on purpose.

  70. pagansister says:

    True, Kenneth.

  71. Midwestlady says:

    Correction pagansister:

    1) They think they might have 10 kids without the pill because everything really is about sex for some people. [Although, the way divorce statistics are, I think some of them are being VERY optimistic to hope that they might actually stay married long enough to get 10 kids.]

    2) They don’t trust God and the spiritual world more than the physical world and their job, with the idea that they might actually get more than 2 kids.

  72. Midwestlady says:

    Will. True, but some people blame before Vatican II for everything too. So same, same.

  73. Midwestlady says:

    People who aren’t open to kids probably shouldn’t be having sex. That’s what causes kids. Birth control doesn’t always work. In fact, abortion covers up fact that it fails a lot of times…..

    Those of us in the baby boomer generation know about all about the latex-related “accidents” that used to happen all the time.

  74. I did not realize that. Can you provide links to the data?

  75. Midwestlady says:

    I’m not sure you’re right, Nate. People have the ability to say “no” and do it all the time. But this isn’t the only topic they say “no” about. Let them explain it to God when they see Him. They can hash it out without me.

  76. Midwestlady says:

    No, Peter. People often don’t like things that are right. Tough. It is what it is.

  77. pagansister says:

    No Romulus, what I’m saying is that some married women are not cut out for kids. My niece and her husband have been married for 17 years and made it quite clear they weren’t having children—and they haven’t and won’t. Being married shouldn’t automatically mean: babies. Sex between married couples should be for pleasure in the most intimate of ways. Conception isn’t the only purpose of having sex with your spouse. And true, there are some women who aren’t cut out for marriage either. :o)

  78. Midwestlady says:

    Will, the average number of children per family is much lower now than in the 40s and 50s, and you know it.

  79. Exactly!. This isn’t rocket science. Couples DO know what the Church teaches. They just don’t believe it. I hear all the intellectual arguements here about how highlyeducated couples don’t contracept etc. BFD. MOST couples live in a very touch economic situation and the Church ain’t writin’ the check for the mortgage payment every month etc. Most of the great theological arguments here fall on deaf ears because most people aren’t intellectuals etc. It doesn’t hit them where they live.
    The Christian Science Monitor had an article a few years ago that said that 33%-40% of all parents when asked if, knowing what they know now, would they have children, said a resounding NO. Let’s look at the economics. To raise a child from birth to age 18, it costs minimum of $197,000. My HOUSE didn’t cost that and I like it a lot more than most children I meet these days. And a lot of couples think about that and make the decision to limit the number of children they have.

    A lot of the language here can be summed up in the old Woody Gutherie song “There”ll be Pie in the Sky when you die”. at least a lot of friends think so.

  80. Midwestlady says:

    Seriously? In most parishes there are so few kids, you could set up an activity for them in a single classroom next door and then really preach on birth control. But then again, I’m not sure how much good it would do. More than half the parish is usually post-menopausal anyway.

  81. Midwestlady says:

    I know one deacon with a whole busful of kids. He’s a great deacon too. But I think he’s the exception to the rule. Most deacons have grown kids–but sometimes not very many. And actually many deacons are sort of retired guys, too.

  82. pagansister says:

    Midwestlady: True, people who aren’t open to kids probably shouldn’t be having sex—due to the fact that that is what causes kids. However, people not having sex us very unrealistic—and actually always has been. And I totally agree, birth control doesn’t always work—but IMO, birth control has probably prevented some terminations. That is a good thing.

    As to the possibility of having 10 kids without the use of ABC?—I truly would hate to think that NFP would have to be used constantly to prevent pregnancy for my entire fertile live. (however that part of my life has been over for a very long time). NFP probably prevents some pregnancy (which is it’s purpose even though the Church would be displeased if that method was used often to prevent pregnancy. That would be considered not living up to the ‘given kids” vow.) However there are a lot of NFP children out there due to women who aren’t totally regular etc. I’ve never regretted my use of ABC—-worked for me without any problems and when we had our 2, the husband took care of the situation with a little “snip” at the doctor’s office. He has never regretted it either.

  83. Nice, well, not really … awful try, Catherine, because you flat-out lied.

    Barry said that he wouldn’t want one his daughters to be “punished” with a baby.

  84. Midwestlady says:

    Yeah, Will, but we painted our buses with psychedelic colors, went barefoot and said F-A-A-A-R OUT in the 60s. I don’t need to do that anymore. Do you?

  85. Midwestlady says:

    Well, I mean if you’re saying that people will do anything that occurs to them whenever it occurs to them, sorta like chickens or bugs, I suppose that for some people, you’re probably right. Some people are like that. But people don’t have to be that way, and not everyone is.

    It’s kind of insulting really to think that everyone is always going around ready to roll out the sheets and get one on at the drop of a hat.

  86. I never said individual Catholics have to be uneducated or unable to reason in order to accept any particular Church teaching. What I am saying is that for bishops, or really any religious hierarchy to command the near-universal deference that they’d like (and once had), they do need a large mass of people who are not equipped to think for themselves. In the glory days that Church conservatives seem to pine for, the middle ages, most people fell in line because they were impoverished and illiterate and had no access to alternative ideas even if they had been able to read. There was also a highly developed Church-state system of secret police and torture to “assist” anyone whose thinking and communicating did color outside the lines a bit too far. Religious authority has declined very consistently since the advent of printing and literacy and modern pluralist states and economies and education (all tools required to effectively think for oneself). This diversity of belief and opinion is exactly what would be expected among a population of people thinking for themselves. Some, including some highly intelligent and educated folks, will concur with Church teachings on human sexuality and any other number of subjects. Others will not. Christianity does not need fear and ignorance to thrive. Christendom did…

  87. exact;y…good comment…

  88. pagansister says:

    MIdwestlady, I’m not saying that people will do anything that occurs to them whenever it occurs to them—-though some do. I’m saying that some people who are committed to each other—some married and some not, should be able to enjoy each other without fear of pregnancy and should be able to. I am not an advocate of indiscriminate sex —but I can only hope that those who engage in that behavior use protection. I agree, it would be a little scary to think that everyone is doing the “nasty” at the drop of a hat! :o)

  89. Barbara P says:

    People who use birth contro are faithful to the Church. The Vatican has made many mistakes and errors in its history. Just read about what is going on now with all the leaks. Pope Paul VI did not want to tell all those people with large families that they could have used birth control without going to hell so he came up with a tortured encyclical that somehow justified NFP. The Church, ie, the people of God, otherwise known as the Body of Christ, has rejected the absolute prohibition on artificial birth control

  90. It must be time to close comments.

  91. Catherine says:

    Um, no, Gerry, I did not lie. I put his remark in context.

  92. Catherine says:

    “When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include — which should include abstinence education and teaching the children — teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual,” he said.

    “But it should also include — it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old,” he added.

    “I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

  93. IntoTheWest says:


    Maybe YOUR parish. Mine is mostly young families. Very few single older women, AAMOF.

  94. I also don’t believe in evil incarnate. It’s too much of an easy way out in explaining away human sinfulness, and the simple fact that fallible people make bad choices.

    And yes, I have encountered people who have made truly evil choices. I think I’m enough of a Christian not to wish it on anybody, even those I might consider naive or inexperienced.

  95. Did not then and do not now – except the bare feet.

  96. Contraception is against Church teaching. Taking a position on capital punishment and the Iraq war permits for varying opinions.

  97. Catherine says:

    We attend Masses in four different parishes, all within a stone’s throw of one another. All four have thriving parish schools, and there are always a lot of families with children at the Masses. There are also teenagers — there are six Catholic high schools in the area, with one more about to open up nearby.

  98. Joseph Wingate says:

    You know its interesting to hear everyone’s opinions of what is right and acceptable. It ultimately comes down to what does God want for us and are we willing to be open minded about it? Does He want us to prevent pregnancy, use drugs to alter our fertility? Kill the innocent life within us?

    I hear all kinds of people foam at the mouth about sex and what the church teaches about it. Would we not survive without it? Is it one of the essential necessities in life after food, shelter, clothing,…. sex? From a procreation point we would not survive, we would die out.

    Many people have lost their faith and become very dumb because they thought they knew what was best for them. A little secret, only God knows whats best for you and hopefully I will be open to listen and follow Him.

  99. IntoTheWest says:

    Joseph, couples who are living in a committed, monogamous relationship that includes a healthy sex life are generally healthy than individuals who are not in such a relationship. Healthy intimacy (and I believe this is limited to marriage, although the statistics include those who are in unmarried long term relationships) fosters healthy state of mind and physical health. Do we _need_ it to keep blood pumping through our veins? No. But God created us with this capacity for intimacy and wants us to reap the benefits of it. We don’t _need_ more than an IV pumping nutrient-rich fluids into us, but I don’t see anyone calling for us to give up good food.

    Yes. God knows what’s best for us. And many of us are open to God — to God first. And, for many of us, that means using some methods of non-NFP BC during the course of our married lives.

    BTW, not _all_ non-NFP birth control is hormonal. Seems like most of these conversations limit birth control to NFP v. hormonal contraception. I’m pretty sure I know the reason why, although I doubt the NFP-only proponents would agree. ;)

  100. IntoTheWest says:

    *generally healthier…sorry!

  101. That’s simply nonsense.

  102. Romulus, what do you know about the internal spirituality of anyone’s marriage? Your comments are the highth of arrogance. If I didn’t have more control, I would wonder if you are truly a Christian, much less Catholic.

  103. naturgesetz says:

    Pagansister —

    I know you have your opinions about what’s reasonable and wise in this area. The thing you need to realize is that your opinions are very different from what the Catholic Church holds. Therefore it does not make sense for you to propose them as appropriate for married Catholics.

    An absolute unwillingness to have children is an impediment to marriage in the Catholic Church. Such an unwillingness enduring throughout the marriage is grounds for an annulment.

  104. naturgesetz says:

    “The ends have been approved, the means are what is at issue.” There is a principle in ethics: the end does not justify the means.

    “[M]ost people wonder what is really so bad about artificial contraception.” If they’d take the time to try to find out, and listen with an open mind, they could find out.

    “Also the Church’s denunciation of condoms as a means of promoting public health is very unfortunate.” This is off topic. But I’ll comment that in his interview with Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict gave indication that the Church’s teaching in this area is not absolutely settled. It seems to me that the Church has never directly considered the question of condom use by persons who are not married to each other. Condoms are wrong for married couples because they constitute an intervention to frustrate the potential fertility of their intercourse. But since the unmarried are not called to fertility or total self-giving they are not violating the nature of marriage as the married couple are when they use a condom. Indeed, since they are not supposed to have children, it seems to me that an argument could even be made that the unmarried ought to use condoms. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Church develop its teaching in that direction when we finally begin to think through the question.

  105. pagansister says:

    So naturgesetz, you’re saying that EVERY Catholic couple wants to have children? Really? And to purposely NOT have a family makes them rule breakers? Yes, you’re correct, I have opinions. I’m not proposing that “true” Catholic couples refuse to have children, but I suspect some do—as it is truly their business and between them and their God. I would also suspect that both the man and woman would be in agreement, as the subject of children really should be at least talked about before the commitment is made. So how does one have an annulment if both members of the marriage have agreed to not procreate? They don’t get either an annument or divorce or both—as they are happy being childless.

  106. naturgesetz says:

    No, pagansister, I’m not saying that every couple wants children, just that those who don’t are violating the nature of marriage, since procreation, if possible, is one of the inherent purposes of marriage.

    Yes, they should discuss the subject of children before marriage, but it is possible that one party could deceive the other (but admit to friends that s/he doesn’t want any). Or one party could change his/her mind some time after the wedding and decide s/he wants children after all.

  107. pagansister says:

    naturgesetz : To a certain point, I agree with you as I feel the institution of marriage was set up by religions to make sure the faith, whatever it was, was continued. So as far as some faiths are concerned, intentionally not having children is going against the religion’s teachings. There may be other religions (Orthodox Jews for one?) where it is expected that married couples are to have as many children as possible.
    And yes, I know that sometimes one party can agree they want children in order to get the other person to say, yes, let’s marry, or after the marriage he/she rethinks the whole mother/father role and says–forget it!
    Before organized religions—humans first steps on this planet, I would guess that the strongest male would just mate with the females he wanted and they became “his”. Procreation with many females made sure the species continued. Many wild animals still do that instinctively to continue the species.

  108. Nate:
    That’s an insult.
    And by the way, I know a lot of well educated, I dare say highly academic, people who in the mid to late sixties stood up to the curia and said, no this is wrong. Didn’t do this in hiding either. Not because they misunderstood, or couldn’t comprehend. They wanted to act as true diciples. Humanae Vitae is what broke the backs of a lot of good clergy, because they also had the ability to step out of their imperial thinking minds to meet where people were at, and apparently the Curia couldn’t do this. They couldn’t come out of their heads. They were academically and intellectually handcuffed. This is not an attack, but simply true. Humanae Vitae has no place being in the middle of our spirtualness and bodliness when it comes to our sexual lives as married men and women. It went way to far. There were Cardinals and Bishops close to the Pope as well who begged him not to publish it. Highly intellectual men. Were they confused? The Curea won. As usual. I see your premise as false. It does not assume your conclusions are true, just mistifying and a bit wordy.

    God Bless

  109. delusion…hmmm

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