National Public Radio (NPR) is a well-known, respected news organization. So why can’t they get basic facts right when it comes to Catholicism?
Case in point, this story from July 3, 2018: 50 Years Ago, The Pope Called Birth Control ‘Intrinsically Wrong’
First quibble: The Pope didn’t call birth control intrinsically wrong — after all, NFP to avoid pregnancy is a method of birth control, and its use is sanctioned by the Church. He called contraception intrinsically evil.
Moving on to the very first line:
A papal encyclical issued 50 years ago this summer marked a turning point in the way Roman Catholics view the teachings of their church.
Um… not really? The Church had always condemned contraception. Pius XI condemned it in Casti Connubii, published in 1930, as a direct response to the Anglican Lambeth Conference. The response was needed because the Anglicans were the first major Christian denomination to give the green light to contraception. (They gave permission for married couples with serious reasons to use condoms. Look how well that turned out.)
Humanae Vitae, published by Pope Paul VI 50 years ago, merely reiterated existing Church teaching, so it should not have come as a surprise to faithful Catholics or really any Catholic that was paying attention.
NPR even admits this in their second paragraph (emphasis mine)!
On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI stunned Catholics around the world with his announcement of Humanae Vitae, “Of Human Life,” a document in which he forcefully reaffirmed the church’s previously stated position on the use of artificial birth control, calling it “intrinsically wrong.”
Humane Vitae came as a surprise to many Vatican observers. Though an encyclical issued in 1930 already prohibited birth control, a papal commission had been assembled to revisit that ban, and a majority of the commission members suggested that it be dropped. Moreover, a Vatican II document stipulated the right of man “to follow his conscience.”
Sorry, “but my conscience!” is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. That same Vatican II document said that a person’s conscience had to be properly formed. If my conscience told me to go and shoot up a school, that would still be a grave sin. I can’t go and do evil and claim my conscience said I could.
One recent survey found that large majorities of U.S. Catholics now think it’s possible to be a “good Catholic” without going to church every Sunday or obeying the church’s teachings on divorce, remarriage, birth control, or abortion.
The whole article is rife with moral relativism and painful logical pretzels — as well as ignorance of Catholic teaching — but here is the part that bothered me most.
When Krista Sanders, 32, attended a marriage workshop with her husband at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Milwaukee, she learned that her church was still promoting the “rhythm method,” which advocates avoiding sex during the part of the month a couple is most likely conceive, as the only acceptable way to avoid pregnancy. It did not impress her.
“They give you handouts with all these testimonials about natural family planning, with testimonials from couples who have done it,” Sanders says. “But I don’t know that very many people follow it. It’s kind of, like, ‘O.K., that’s a nice suggestion. I appreciate the information.’ But in this current day, I don’t know that it’s as relevant for couples like us or other people starting out their marriages in the Catholic faith.”
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOES NOT PROMOTE THE RHYTHM METHOD. It hasn’t in decades. For all intents and purposes, it’s dead.
Saying that the Church promotes the rhythm method is like saying that the Ford Motor Co. still promotes Model T Fords.
For crying out loud. The rhythm method and NFP aren’t the same thing. The rhythm method is the precursor to NFP, but it’s old and outdated and no one uses it anymore. There are many other methods that are much more accurate and effective, because they are based on trackable fertility biomarkers instead of random guessing games.
If Krista wants to meet people who use NFP, I help admin a Facebook group for NFP-users. There are over 15,000 of us — and it’s not the only NFP group out there.
Then there is this whopper:
U.S. Catholics however, show in their daily lives that the church’s official prohibition of artificial birth control means little in practice, even if it has some value in theory. As a rule, married Catholic couples clearly believe they have a right to control the size of their families, no matter what the church says.
Newsflash, NPR: the Church ALREADY TEACHES that married Catholic couples have the right to control their family size! And we can do that just fine without contraception!
And of course, NPR tries to suggest that Humanae Vitae is going to be revised or reconsidered, which is also bunk.
The whole article boils down to this: “If Catholics don’t like a teaching, they ignore it. Thus, doctrine should change!”
No. Just… no. Catholic doctrine won’t change just because Catholics are sinners. And thank God for it.