According to the Religion News Service, Pope Francis he’s starting to chip away at the contraception ban. Ironic eh? Just as Wheaton College (a school that used to be evangelical) becomes anti-contraception, the Pope starts talking like evangelicals used to before they were hijacked by the loony Roman Catholic right.
The Pope derided the idea that “in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits” and produce litters of kids.” “No,” he told reporters on his flight home from the Philippines. “Responsible parenthood.”
Contrast that sane new papal endorsement of sex without procreation, with the loony right in the Catholic Church.
To plumb the depths of the tortured “reasoning” behind the Roman Catholic version of the Breed Like Rabbitts Movement, consider the writing of Roman Catholic philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. She’s a heroine to today’s leading conservative Roman Catholics. She wrote passionately in defense of the papal prohibition of contraception:
In considering an action, we need always to judge several things about ourselves. First: is the sort of act we contemplate doing something that it’s all right to do? Second: are our further or surrounding intentions all right? Third: is the spirit in which we do it all right? Contraceptive intercourse fails on the first count; and to intend such an act is not to intend a marriage act at all, whether or no we’re married. An act of ordinary intercourse in marriage at an infertile time, though, is a perfectly ordinary act of married intercourse, and it will be bad, if it is bad, only on the second or third counts.If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here—not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? It can’t be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example.If you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition.It’s this that makes the division between straightforward fornication or adultery and the wickedness of the sins against nature and of contraceptive intercourse. Hence contraceptive intercourse within marriage is a graver offence against chastity than is straightforward fornication or adultery.
Here is how far right leader Roman Catholic Robert George (the man the New York Times credits as behind the move of the Church to the far anti-Obama right) lauded this insane “argument” in his gushing Anscombe obituary:
In 1968, when much of the rest of the Catholic intellectual world reacted with shock and anger to Pope Paul VI’s reaffirmation of Catholic teaching regarding the immorality of contraception, the Geach-Anscombe family toasted the announcement with champagne. Her defense of the teaching in the essay “Contraception and Chastity” is an all-too-rare example of rigorous philosophical argumentation on matters of sexual ethics. Catholics who demand the liberalization of their Church’s teachings have yet to come to terms with Anscombe’s arguments. (Robert George, “Elizabeth Anscombe, R.I.P.: One of the 20th Century’s Most Remarkable Women,” National Review, February 3–4, 2001.)
Robert George will have to be pushing for Pope Francis to be excommunicated. Pope Francis is just too sane for some people in his church his church. Anscombe and George would dismiss the Pope’s sex talk like this: “If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery..?”
Conservative Catholics and contraception opponents like Wheaton College must also dismayed by the Pope criticizing traditional big families (the pope said three children seemed about right) as well as undermine advocates of natural family planning (controlling birth rates without using contraception) by seeming to give aid and comfort to the church’s enemies.
Robert George and other ideologues must be having kittens (no pun!).
Francis even stumped some regular Catholics who aren’t used to hearing popes speak this way, and especially not about birth control, long seen as beyond debate. “As a Catholic, it’s kinda shocking to hear @Pontifex say, ‘Catholics must not breed like rabbits.’ Really?” tweeted CNN anchor Carol Costello.
Also lost in that hubbub, however, was the fact that the church’s support for regulating births even by natural means represented a major shift in Catholic teaching. In fact, in 1930, Pope Pius XI had issued an encyclical (in response to the Anglican church’s decision to OK contraception in some circumstances) saying every conjugal act must be open to the conception of children, an absolutist view that inspired decades of jokes and a memorable Monty Python song.