While I am not qualified to enter in a theological debate about the laws of God and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church about issues related to the family, I want to respond to Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s Nov. 6 Other Views column, Bishops reject doctrinal change.
I want to address just one aspect of the “family,” namely the use of artificial means of contraception.
As far as I’ve been able to determine, there is really no completely unambiguous passage in the Bible that categorically forbids contraception.
There seem to be no “hard sayings of the Gospel” about this issue, to quote the archbishop. The story in Chapter 38 in Genesis about Onan and his brother’s wife is well known and comes the closest to condemning contraception. But this story is open to a different interpretation.
The ban by the Catholic Church on any form of artificial contraception comes with the Encyclical Letter from Pope Paul VI in 1968, Humanae Vitae, declaring the use of these methods a grave sin.
Thus the question arises, is anyone using artificial means of contraception going directly against God’s will, or is he or she going against a “teaching” of the church?
There are a number of instances where the Catholic Church has changed it teachings. So why not on contraception?
I find it hard to accept the fact that using effective methods of family planning might be considered evil, as Wenski implies.
If it is true that the upcoming synod in Rome dealing with this and many other matters related to the family will not propose any changes in the current teachings of the church, then why even have one? The outcome will be a forgone conclusion.
I would like to take a more optimistic view. With his statements and actions, Pope Francis has indicated that he is ready to listen.
While the synod from this past month did not achieve any startling changes, I and many of my Catholic friends and colleagues certainly hope that the synod in 2015 will consider and listen to the stories and viewpoints of good people from all walks of life who have been practicing effective methods of family planning in many parts of the world.
The upcoming synod, I hope, will reach conclusions and directives that bring the teachings of the Catholic Church into the 21st century.
William J. LeMaire,
University of Miami,
Miller School of Medicine, Miami