September 18, 2014 9:40 pm
The list of bad health effects of contraception continues to grow.
September 14, 2014 4:39 pm
September 12, 2014 9:11 pm
On March 25 of this year (2014), Bishop Conley of Lincoln, NE. issued a powerful call to Catholics to embrace the Church’s teaching on contraception.
Here it is:
The Language of Love
A letter to the Catholic families and healthcare providers of the Diocese of Lincoln
Most Reverend James D. Conley, STL
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Twenty years ago, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood before the President of the United States, before senators and congressmen, before justices of the United States Supreme Court. She spoke about her work among the world’s poor. She spoke about justice and compassion. Most importantly, she spoke about love.
“Love,” she told them, “has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” 
Sacrifice is the language of love. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who poured out his life for us on the cross. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of the Christian life, sharing in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. And love is spoken in the sacrifice of parents, and pastors, and friends.
We live in a world short on love. Today, love is too often understood as romantic sentimentality rather than unbreakable commitment. But sentimentality is unsatisfying. Material things, and comfort, and pleasure bring only fleeting happiness. The truth is that we are all searching for real love, because we are all searching for meaning.
Love—real love—is about sacrifice, and redemption, and hope. Real love is at the heart of a rich, full life. We are made for real love. And all that we do—in our lives, our careers, and our families, especially—should be rooted in our capacity for real, difficult, unfailing love.
But today, in a world short on love, we’re left without peace, and without joy.
In my priesthood, I have stood in front of abortion clinics to offer help to women experiencing unwanted pregnancies; I have prayed with the neglected elderly; and I have buried young victims of violence. I have seen the isolation, the injustice, and the sadness that comes from a world short on love. Mother Teresa believed, as do I, that much of the world’s unhappiness and injustice begins with a disregard for the miracle of life created in the womb of mothers. Today, our culture rejects love when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception
Mother Teresa said that, “in destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife…destroys the gift of love.”
Husbands and wives are made to freely offer themselves as gifts to one another in friendship, and to share in the life-giving love of God.
He created marriage to be unifying and procreative. To join husband and wife inseparably in the mission of love, and to bring forth from that love something new.
Contraception robs the freedom for those possibilities.
God made us to love and to be loved. He made us to delight in the power of sexual love to bring forth new human beings, children of God, created with immortal souls. Our Church has always taught that rejecting the gift of children erodes the love between husband and wife: it distorts the unitive and procreative nature of marriage. The use of contraception gravely and seriously disrupts the sacrificial, holy, and loving meaning of marriage itself.
The Church continues to call Catholic couples to unity and procreativity. Marriage is a call to greatness—to loving as God loves—freely, creatively, and generously. God himself is a community of love—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christian marriage is an invitation to imitate, and to know, and to share in the joyful freedom of God’s love, an echo of the Holy Trinity.
In 1991, my predecessor, Bishop Glennon P. Flavin, wrote that “there can be no true happiness in your lives unless God is very much a part of your marriage covenant. To expect to find happiness in sin is to look for good in evil…. To keep God in your married life, to trust in his wisdom and love, and to obey his laws…will deepen your love for each other and will bring to you that inner peace of mind and heart which is the reward of a good conscience.” 
God is present in every marriage, and present during every marital embrace. He created sexuality so that males and females could mirror the Trinity: forming, in their sexual union, the life-long bonds of family. God chose to make spouses cooperators with him in creating new human lives, destined for eternity. Those who use contraception diminish their power to unite and they give up the opportunity to cooperate with God in the creation of life.
As Bishop of Lincoln, I repeat the words of Bishop Flavin. Dear married men and women: I exhort you to reject the use of contraception in your marriage. I challenge you to be open to God’s loving plan for your life. I invite you to share in the gift of God’s life-giving love. I fervently believe that in God’s plan, you will rediscover real love for your spouse, your children, for God, and for the Church. I know that in this openness to life, you will find the rich adventure for which you were made.
Our culture often teaches us that children are more a burden than a gift—that families impede our freedom and diminish our finances. We live in a world where large families are the objects of spectacle and derision, instead of the ordinary consequence of a loving marriage entrusted to God’s providence. But children should not be feared as a threat or a burden, but rather seen as a sign of hope for the future.
In 1995, Blessed John Paul II wrote that our culture suffers from a “hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and… a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment. ”  Generous, life-giving spousal love is the antidote to hedonism and immaturity: parents gladly give up frivolous pursuits and selfishness for the intensely more meaningful work of loving and educating their children.
In the Diocese of Lincoln, I am grateful for the example of hundreds of families who have opened themselves freely and generously to children. Some have been given large families, and some have not. And of course, a few suffer the very difficult, hidden cross of infertility or low fertility. The mystery of God’s plan for our lives is incomprehensible. But the joy of these families, whether or not they bear many children, disproves the claims of the contraceptive mentality.
Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed John Paul II reminded us that, “man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.”  The sexual intimacy of marriage, the most intimate kind of human friendship, is a pathway to sharing in God’s own life. It is a pathway to the fullness of our own human life; it is a means of participating in the incredible love of God. Contraception impedes our share in God’s creative love. And thus it impedes our joy.
The joy of families living in accord with God’s plan animates and enriches our community with a spirit of vitality and enthusiasm. The example of your friends and neighbors demonstrates that while children require sacrifice, they are also the source of joy, meaning, and of peace. Who does not understand the great gift of a loving family?
Yes, being lovingly open to children requires sacrifice. But sacrifice is the harbinger of true joy. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to be open to joy.
Of course, there are some true and legitimate reasons why, at certain times, families may discern being called to the sacrifice of delaying children. For families with serious mental, physical, or emotional health problems, or who are experiencing dire financial troubles, bearing children might best be delayed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that couples must have “just” reasons to delay childbearing. For couples facing difficulties of various kinds, the Church recommends Natural Family Planning: a method for making choices about engaging in fruitful sexual relations.
Natural Family Planning does not destroy the power to give life: instead, it challenges couples to discern prayerfully when to engage in life-giving sexual acts. It is an integrated, organic and holistic approach to fertility care.
Natural Family Planning is a reliable and trustworthy way to regulate fertility, is easy to learn, and can be a source of unity for couples. To be sure, using NFP requires sacrifice and patience, but sacrifice and patience are not obstacles to love, they are a part of love itself. Used correctly, NFP forms gentle, generous husbands, and selfless, patient wives. It can become a school of virtuous and holy love.
Those who confine sexual intimacy to the infertile times of the month are not engaging in contraceptive practices. They do not attempt to make a potentially fertile act infertile. They sacrificially abstain during the fertile time precisely because they respect fertility; they do not want to violate it; they do not want to treat the gift of fertility as a burden.
In some relatively rare instances, Natural Family Planning is used by couples with a contraceptive mentality. Too often couples can choose to abstain from fertility by default, or out of fear of the consequences of new life. I encourage all couples who use Natural Family Planning to be very open with each other concerning the reasons they think it right to limit their family size, to take their thoughts to God, and to pray for his guidance. Do we let fear, anxiety, or worry determine the size of our families? Do we entrust ourselves to the Lord, whose generosity provides for all of our needs?
“Perfect love,” scripture teaches, “casts out fear.” 
Dear friends, I exhort you to openness in married life. I exhort you to trust in God’s abundant providence.
I would like to address in a special way Catholic physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. The noble aim of your profession is to aid men and women as they live according to God’s perfect plan. Bishop Flavin wrote that, as professionals, “you are in a position to be God’s instruments in manifesting his truth, and his love.” 
No Catholic healthcare provider, in good conscience, should engage in the practice of medicine by undermining the gift of fertility. There is no legitimate medical reason to aid in the acts of contraception or sterilization. No Catholic physician can honestly argue otherwise.
Healthcare is the art of healing. Contraception and sterilization may never be considered healthcare. Contraception and sterilization denigrate and degrade the body’s very purpose. Fertility is an ordinary function of health and human flourishing; and an extraordinary participation in God’s creative love. Contraception and sterilization stifle the natural and the supernatural processes of marriage, and cause grave harm. They treat fertility as though it were a terrible inconvenience, or even a physical defect that needs to be treated.
Contraception attempts to prevent life from the beginning, and when that fails, some contraception destroys newly created life. Many contraceptives work by preventing the implantation of an embryonic human being in the uterus of his or her mother.
Contraception is generally regarded by the medical community as the ordinary standard of care for women. The Church’s teachings are often regarded as being opposed to the health and well-being of women. But apart from the moral and spiritual dangers of contraception, there are also grave physical risks to the use of most chemical contraceptives. Current medical literature overwhelmingly confirms that contraception puts women at risk for serious health problems, which doctors should consider very carefully.
Some women have health conditions that are better endured when treated by hormonal contraceptives. But the effects of contraception often mask the underlying conditions that endanger women’s health. Today, there are safe, natural means of correcting hormonal imbalances, and solving the conditions that are often treated by contraception.
Contraception is an unhealthy standard of care. All doctors can do better.
Catholic physicians are called to help their patients and their colleagues learn the truth about the dangers of contraception and sterilization. The good example of a physician who refuses to prescribe contraceptives and perform sterilizations or a pharmacist who refuses to distribute contraceptives in spite of antagonism, financial loss, or professional pressure is an opportunity to participate in the suffering of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the Catholic physicians and pharmacists who evangelize their patients and colleagues through a commitment to the truth.
Tragically, a majority of people in our culture and even in our Church, have used contraception. Much of the responsibility for that lies in the fact that too few have ever been exposed to clear and consistent teaching on the subject. But the natural consequences of our culture’s contraceptive mentality are clear. Mother Teresa reflected that “once living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”  She was right. Cultural attitudes that reject the gift of life lead very easily to social acceptance for abortion, for no-fault divorce, and for fatherless families. For fifty years, America has accepted the use of contraception, and the consequences have been dire.
Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to read the encyclical by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae with your spouse, or in your parish. Consider also Married Love and the Gift of Life, written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Dear brother priests, I encourage you to preach about the dangers of contraception, and to visit with families in your parish about this issue.
Dear brothers and sisters, if you have used or prescribed contraception, the merciful love of God awaits. Healing is possible—in the sacrament of penance. If you have used or supported contraception, I pray that you will stop, and that you will avail yourself of God’s tender mercy by making a good heartfelt confession.
Today, openness to children is rarely celebrated, rarely understood, and rarely supported. To many, the Church’s teachings on life seem oppressive or old-fashioned. Many believe that the Church asks too great a sacrifice.
But sacrifice is the language of love. And in sacrifice, we speak the language of God himself. I am calling you, dear brothers and sisters, to encounter Christ in your love for one another. I am calling you to rich and abundant family life. I am calling you to rejoice in the love, and the sacrifice, for which you were made. I am calling your family to share in the creative, active love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I pray that in true sacrifice, each of you will know perfect joy.
Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Holy Family, and in the love of Jesus Christ,
+James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
March 25, 2014
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
September 15, 2014 10:11 pm
Every doctor who deals with females should know about NaPro Technology.
September 14, 2014 4:36 pm
Fascinating charts. You can move the line over the chart to see how effective different contraceptives are over a period of time. Be wary of the stats for Fertility Awareness Methods — they tend to have no idea where to look for the true stats; this chart likely includes the use of condoms during the fertile phase.
September 12, 2014 8:37 pm
LOVE IS LIFE*
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
The following pastoral letter was issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines last October 7, 1990. A few months before that, after the Philippine government requested a dialogue, the bishops released a number of guidelines considered as “non-negotiables” in the issue. These guidelines are reproduced here after the pastoral letter.
All human life has its basic value and dignity for “God created man in the image of himself… male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). Added dignity and value to human life are given by God becoming man in Jesus Christ, for his mission of salvation in the service of life. As “Word of life” (1 Jn 1:1), “light of life” (Jn 8:12), and “living bread of life” (Jn 6:35, 51-66), Jesus came “so that we might have life, and have it in its fullness” (Jn 10:10). He sent us the Holy Spirit who “gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). At the climax of his life, Christ, in fulfillment of the Father’s will, gave himself up to death “but by rising from the dead, he destroyed death and restored life” (Euch. Prayer Iv). Through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ has become for us “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25).
The basic value behind this service to life is that God alone is the ultimate Lord and Master of life. Since life comes from and is sustained by God, it belongs to Him. We are then stewards of life, called by our faith to respect and care for our own lives and the lives of others. Our faith response, therefore, to life is not just to refrain from killing, but of promoting, protecting, and enhancing the “quality of life.” “God, the Lord of life has entrusted to man the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception” (GS, no. 51).
Seventeen years ago, in the name of protecting life, we, your Bishops, conveyed to you in a Pastoral Letter our deep anguish over an expression of “the mystery of evil …” (seeking) to infect not merely the hearts of men, but even the institutions and structures that men establish.” Much of what we said in the Pastoral Letter remains valid. A number of its reflections have acquired more clarity and sharpness, particularly in two areas, namely: the common recognition of the seriousness and complexity of the population problem, and the common obligation of all sectors of society to understand well and resolve this problem. Despite the many differences in principles and perceptions as to how the problem might be solved, we gratefully note the many concrete efforts of government and non-government agencies towards this end.
It was to assist in and search for solutions that we issued the “Guiding Principles on Population Control” last July 10, 1990. Significant developments have taken place since the issuance of those guidelines, one worth mentioning is the dialogue that took place between the representatives of the government and of our Conference last August 14, 1990, and the publication of a joint statement of the dialogue members.
Nevertheless, a need for further critical evaluation has been felt, in view of repeated appeals from many of you for clearer guidance on the Population Control Program of the present government, as well as those of some non-government organizations. It is in response to your appeals that we issue this Pastoral Letter.
We shall focus on the current population control program, as you requested. Then we shall dwell on the moral and pastoral problems created by the program. Since some problems and issues are specific to a sector, we shall address the various sectors by turn. Furthermore we shall not merely make statements, but also raise questions. By so doing, we hope that you and your pastors will enter into a dialogue that will be mutually enriching in our understanding and convictions regarding the human and gospel values involved in the issue of population control.
We shall first present here a summation of our view of the population control program primarily of the present government, but these views shall also apply to some non-government organizations affiliated with foreign planned parenthood organizations. The London-based IPPF was founded by Margaret Sanger in 1952 to provide an international link for planned parenthood activities, and is the largest NGO promoting contraception and abortion (Cf. Menstrual Regulation, IPPF, London, 1977, pp. 7-10) as means of population control worldwide, and provides assistance on how to circumvent laws prohibiting abortions (Cf. Donald P. Warwick, Bitter Pills: Population Policies and Their Implementation in Eight Developing Countries, Cambridge University Press, London, 1982, p. 64). It also promotes adolescent sex and the view that 10-year-old children have rights of access to contraception, sterlization, and abortion (Cf. Adolescent Fertility, IPPF, London, 1983, pp. 31-41). The Philippine affiliate is the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). After this, we shall present our overall stance on the population control question in the present context.
Our view: In its overall thrust, the present program continues the draconian Marcos program and intensifies it. Its thrust is to lead our nation to zero population growth, through the widespread acceptance of contraception technology. This thrust is not peculiar to the Philippine program. It is the thrust of all population control programs worldwide, promoted by foreign governments and a number of international NGOs.
Our stance: By the very nature of Her mission, the Church can never associate Herself with such anti-natal programs, not even to give a hint of approval to any form of association with it.
In 1970 the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) accepted membership in the Board of Commissioners of POPCOM, an event that was exploited by Government. Our presence was used to give a semblance of a blessing upon the contraceptive policy of the government. Efforts to associate significant Church figures and institutions with the popular control program continues. For instance, some Catholic research institutes are in the listing of Population Projects, though the research topics are sometimes unrelated to family planning activities. This deceives people into thinking that these Church institutions and their officials fully approve and promote the population control program.
Let us turn to the various moral and pastoral problems arising from the program. Allow us to relate these problems to the specific groups directly affected.
A) WE FIRST TURN TO YOU, OUR CHRISTIAN PARENTS AND SPOUSES, AND IN PARTICULAR THOSE AMONG YOU WHO ARE UNDERPRIVILEGED, who live a hand-to-mouth existence. You are the at the forefront of our concerns.
The Church praises those couples who are able to responsibly raise large families. We are aware of the love you bear for your children, and of the sacrifices that weigh on you as you strive to raise them properly. We recognize that your first need is for assistance to improve your situation, so that your decisions can be free of intolerable economic burdens.
In these temporal matters, assistance in your material needs such as health, nutrition, livelihood, etc. is primarily the responsibility of government. We, your Bishops, also try to assist you through the services of our Church collaborators in the various Commissions: on Social Action, Health, Family Life, etc.
In the national population control program the regulation of births is treated as merely transfer and use of contraceptive technology. However, this results in disregard of values of parents and inevitably leads to coercion and violation of conscience. For example, we know of many young couples who were talked into having themselves sterilized after two children. When they came to regret it, it was too late to reverse their decision. They were so vulnerable.
Precisely because in the regulation of births, a world of values is involved, the Church as the pastoral obligation to see to it that in this matter, the value of human life is not only preserved, but above all held in high esteem. The Church collaborators who assist you in this matter are Christian parents. They may sometimes be physicians, nurses or paramedical personnel.
However, they assist you appropriately as parents since pregnancy is not an illness. It is not in itself a health problem. First and foremost, pregnancy is valuing and caring, caring for new human life. This valuing expertise belongs primarily to parents and spouses.
The regulation of births involves skills. But our Church collaborators, themselves married couples, do not regard this matter as a mere transfer of skills. What they will share with you comes from their own experience, and in this sharing there will come an enrichment in parenting. It is alien to their outlook to consider the child as no more than a consumer. The child is experienced as a source of joy and not merely a burden. This is why the base for their ministry is the home, not a clinic. The proper setting for coming to understand Christian parenting is the home.
Due to your economic difficulties, you may be constrained to have a small family. Though we understand your plight, we your Bishops, counsel you to keep that decision open, and strive in your married love to apply the virtues of prudence and generosity.
Look upon your children as challenges. Even in the midst of much self sacrifice, is it not true that they are a source of joy? Experience the rewards that come from generosity in self sacrifice.
A Different way of Regulating Births
For the sake of fairness, justice and love, the way of regulating births that our Christian couples follow requires the participation of both husband and wife, both in decision making and in living out the consequences of those decisions. Throughout the process husband and wife together must be involved, as in all aspects of married life. The regulation of birth should be a joint undertaking.
The birth regulation method acceptable to Christians follows the natural processes of the human body, without unduly interfering, without polluting the human body with chemicals and other substances, or mutilating healthy God-given organs. Thus it leads to a discovery of the beauty of the body that God made, of the respect it deserves, and leads to an experience of growth in authentic love between husband and wife.
There are already many couples who are living this way of life. They are the principal formators in our formation programs. Surprisingly, they are to be found in squatter areas like your own, in settlements adjoining wharves, and in remote barangays. When offered contraceptives or sterilization, they feel insulted. What this is telling them is that men cannot learn to control themselves, or that wives are unable to encourage their husbands to grow in their manhood.
Experiencing God in Marriage and Parenting
It is said that when seeking ways of regulating births, only 5% of you consult God. In the face of this unfortunate fact, we your pastors have been remiss: how few are there among you whom we have reached. There have been some couples eager to share their expertise and values on birth regulation with others. They did not receive adequate support from their priests. We did not give them due attention, believing then this ministry consisted merely of imparting a technique best left to married couples.
Only recently have we discovered how deep your yearning is for God to be present in your married lives. But we did not know then how to help you discover God’s presence and activity in your mission of Christian parenting. Afflicted with doubts about alternatives to contraceptive technology, we abandoned you to your confused and lonely consciences with a lame excuse: follow what your conscience tells you.” How little we realized that it was our consciences that needed to be formed first. A greater concern would have led us to discover that religious hunger in you.
A Program Respecting the Dignity of Man
While designing a program that respects the dignity of couples , we were chastened by an early experience of mounting a program of Responsible Parenthood that fail the “Responsible Parenthood Council.” We were constrained by fund donors to mount a crash program, to produce immediate and mass results in the regulation of births. We discovered that such a program cannot succeed unless people are manipulated and deceived. And this we do not want to do to you.
We believe that it is derogatory for man to manipulate his body and its healthy organs, through chemicals or surgery. We believe that man can be trusted to achieve self-mastery, no matter how lowly his condition might be. Furthermore, we believe that the indicator for success is the development of couples in their relationship, and an appreciation of human life however helpless.
Our vision should not be narrowed down exclusively to reduction of fertility rates. Such an obsession reveals an abnormal paranoia about our fellow human beings. We do not assist in drawing up impersonal blueprints with their targets or indicators, their schedules and time frames which will in effect dictate how many children married couples must have. We ought not mix our activities with those of the contraceptive programs. We reject the cafeteria approach. We should examine and discover in prayer the regulation of births in the context of an overall family life program.
Our Church collaborators assist couples freely, and with joy. And we look forward to the day when many if you, in turn, will be moved to share with others, your own experience of what it means to be united in the Lord through your marriage.
B) NEXT, WE ADDRESS THOSE OF YOU, IN PARTICULAR, WHO RAVE GIVEN YOURSELVES TO PUBLIC SERVICE: OUR GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL.
We know that some of you are moved by a sincere desire to be of service to our people, and strive to do your best in your service while seeking to grow in your life of faith. But we are very much aware, too, of the conflict in conscience that at times, arises from the type of service expected of you. We refer, for instance, to health workers who are asked to dispense contraceptives, or to refer clients to sterilization clinics. We have met many of you who are caught in such situations.
The Laity Called to be Evangelizers:
Here the intervention of the Church is usually questioned, and the issue of the distinction between roles of the Church and State are raised. The true issue here, our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is the conflict between your Christian conscience and the questionable form of service you are asked to render. You are not a third party, made an object of dispute between the Church and the State. As members of the Church, you are Church, and as Church you partake of the mission of the total Church to evangelize. It is not only priests and Bishops who are Church. You too, laypersons, by virtue of your very Baptism, are called upon to give witness to the religious convictions that a well-formed conscience holds.
To dispense contraceptives and to refer to sterilization clinics, is to already give counter witness to one’s religious convictions about the evil of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion. To advocate these as a matter of principle is even more serious. The government and those NGOs associated with international planned parenthood institutions claim that they merely make available a range of alternatives in methods. As we listen to the continuing propaganda being mounted in the media for contraceptive technology, can we in all honesty say that the government is merely making the full range of methods available? Or is not the government aggressively marketing contraceptives, sterilization, IUDs etc.?
In the dialogue on this issue between panelists of the Church and government, the government pledged to respect the consciences of government personnel and not to impose any penalties on THOSE who exercise their freedom of conscience such as privation of position or of employment, or of loss of qualification for promotion or privileges and benefits, withdrawal of tax benefits, etc.
This right to freedom of conscience equally belongs to all, from top officials to low level personnel, directors of hospitals, rural health personnel, barangay supply point officers, etc.
Thus, following the government policy of decentralization, a Regional Health Officer must assume responsibility in conscience of determining what the priority health services of his region are. If he deems Family Planning Programs to be diverting attention and fluids from more urgent needs of health care, he may, in freedom forego such programs. The same holds true in the requisition of needed medicines that merit priority over supplies of contraceptive products.
C) TO YOU, MEDICAL AND PARAMEDICAL PRACTITIONERS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE:
We know that to many of you, involvement in the art of healing is seen not merely as a career livelihood, or profession, but as a mission and a vocation to help man regain and maintain his wholeness.
We encourage you to be true to your commitment to be truly healers. Today, new products of reproductive technology are being introduced into healthy human reproductive systems. We urge you to ponder upon the responsibility of physicians and medical groups, and not government personnel alone, to be involved in evaluating the risks to health posed by these products. Your commitment to health is not merely to your individual patients, but to our people at large.
Insist on the highest standards of medical practice: that where products of contraceptive technology are under a cloud as to their safety for the life and health of fetus and mother, you must be honest in your evaluation, and be ever more uncompromisingly for life. Such highly questionable products for instance, are the IUDs, the mini-pills, injectable contraceptives, etc.
In an age where your service is vulnerable to the comipting power of subsidies, your courage in rejecting such bribes will be a source of strength to your brother and sister physicians and nurses
IN HOSPITALS where services for direct abortion or contraceptive sterilization are offered, Catholic physicians, nurses and medical attendants should notify the Hospital in writing, of their conscientious refusal to directly participate in such procedures.
When compelled to do so, they should protest to the administrator or to competent superiors, this violation of conscience, as an act of injustice.
Source: CPCB, Moral Norms for Catholic Hospitals and Catholics in Health Services (St. Paul Publications, 1974).
Is massive family planning truly a “health issue” as presented?
The Population Control Program in the past has been pursued under the names of “population control,”family planning,” “responsible parenthood.” Today, it is being presented as primarily a Health Program: “Health is the issue.” Its focus is on infant and maternal morbidity and mortality which revolves around pregnancy. The health workers involved in family planning activities are instructed not to focus on fertility reduction although the program “can contribute to curbing population growth.”
The proper regulation of births can facilitate the management of complications that create risks to safety and health in pregnancy. What create health problems are the complications and not the pregnancy itself. Given health and nutrition, child bearing and child care are not burdens in themselves. Motherhood, for all the sacrifices it calls for, is a gift of God and is the natural and spontaneous aspiration of women untainted by the contraceptive outlook. The challenge to our medical personnel is to develop competence in managing pregnancy, not in diminishing it per se.
What raises questions in our minds are the “outcomes” of the “health-oriented” massive family planning programs. There are no indicators given to measure gains in improved “health and other socioeconomic status.” Instead, the entirety of the “outcome” is measured in terms of “contraceptive prevalence” and fertility reduction.” Overall, the fertility rate is to be reduced from 3.90 children to 3.38 per woman.
In its overall goals and strategies, the Philippine Family Planning Program (PFPP) was, in fact, not an original design of the Philippines. In 1985 the World Bank presented such a program to be implemented in Bangladesh. The present PFPP carries many of the same features of the Bangladesh program.
The Bangladesh program was also a five year program. The Department of Health was also the lead agency in Family Planning activities. The same selected maternal-child care interventions were introduced oral rehydration, immunization, and basic child care measures. The intent was to increase contraceptive prevalence rates. This was also sought mainly through sterilization.
The integration of Family Planning into health services led to the neglect of basic health care. It made the establishment of a Primary Health Care system more costly. It was discovered that the selected maternal-child care interventions were sufficient to achieve the fertility goals. Health personnel, as many had also observed in the Marcos program, were torn between health services and family planning activities. Donors, especially foreign institutions, were applying pressure to intensify the recruitment of family planning users. Much of the budget for health services was absorbed by population control.
The integration of family planning into health services leads to the deterioration of health services. The basic issue confronting health personnel involved in family planning is this: What should take precedence, curing a sick child or preventing the birth of a brother or sister? Health care is a basic right of THOSE now alive. This was the protest of UNICEF.
D) TO OUR POLICY MAKERS. Allow us to share a few reflections with you, upon whose hands rests the fate of our people.
You, no less than your other brothers and sisters in Christ, have the mission of proclaiming, without imposing, your religious convictions by your manner of life. This must be reflected in the decision you make for the public good.
Underlying many of the major policies and decisions for development of our people is this basic choice: which takes priority–man? Or money? In the reality of international relations, huge loans come only with a policy of population reduction. To place one’s hopes on material resources above all, is to be led to a less lessening of the sense of value of human life.
The Holy See has repeatedly called attention to the injustice of imposing population reduction as a condition for loans for development. But behind all population control programs is a worldwide drive for zero growth, through the prevalence of contraceptive technology. The Holy See has finally come to designate this drive as “contraceptive imperialism.”
E) TO OUR LEGISLATORS we raise the question: what is the competence of the legislative branch of government in reviewing major policies formulated by the Executive branch?
Let us consider the policy of population control, for instance. Though explicitly rejected as a proposed Constitution mandate in 1987, a policy has been shaped to produce a program that will work for the achievement of the goal of zero population growth by the year 2010–through the terms of four successive Presidents. A structure with personnel and financing is created to ensure the continuation of the policy. The Legislature has been effectively bypassed. Thus, the reasons for the vote three years ago deleting the mandate of the State to set population targets has been rendered irrelevant. W urge you to study the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 on this matter even before delving into emotionally laden discussions on growth reduction.
Still extant are anti-life laws and department directives that patently go against the spirit of Article XV of the 1987 Constitution, on Family Rights. These provisions await action from you, our Christian legislators. We invite you to reflect, and listen to what is being said in the innermost recesses of your conscience. It is your constituents who are concerned, and you as well are answerable to God for them.
F) A FEW WORDS TO OUR LOCAL EXECUTIVES: Governors and their Board members, Mayors and their Councilors:
You are being asked by the government and entreated by planned parenthood NGOs to allocate funds for contraceptive and abortifacient family planning activities. The power to determine priorities, however, in looking to the welfare of your constituents is yours. In the exercise of your powers, what might be a sure guide?
We suggest: our Constitution. The Constitution proves us with a basic guide in matters of public welfare. And that is, to choose always in favor of Life, to promote it, safeguard it. THOSE who are now alive merit prior attention over THOSE who are not yet. Attend to the sick, the homeless, the unemployed, the undernourished. Use your funds for these, first, before you use them to prevent the coming of life to others. Every Article in the basic law favors Life, and so must statutes, administrative laws and all practical directives.
In the exercise of priorities, your constituents look to you for an example of men of wisdom, right reason, and a moral conscience.
G) TO OUR DEMOGRAPHERS, we say: Transparency
However tenuous population projections are, demography provides a rule of thumb for planning for the future. Sometimes, major decisions are based on your “findings,” like the expenditure of more than 5 billion pesos on the family planning program. Perhaps the subjection of your “findings” to public discussion might have led to some needed correction of a significant element in the decisions concerning the program.
In 1983 a high-scenario population projection of 62 million people by the year 1990 was considered unattainable. However the 1990 Census reveals an actual population of only 60.5 million, 2 million short of the high scenario estimate. The situation is typical of alarmist scenarious set up to justify intensified population control programs. The fertility drop expected to be attained by 1994 in the 1983 projection has already been achieved in 1990 indicating that a definite trend of fertility decline has set-in. This trend would make the 5.265 billion-peso program not only unnecessary but above all wasteful.
Two questions arise: Firstly, for what purpose will the 5.265 billion pesos be spent? Its goal will have already been achieved even at the start of the program. Secondly, since the decline of population growth has been more rapid than expected is not the UNFPA survey of Asian countries nearer the truth when it predicted that “under the 1987-1992 development plan, the population program will achieve a net reproduction rate of one by the year 2000?” Our population is declining faster than is publicly acknowledged. The government’s intensified program will be pushing our fertility reduction to the edge of irreversibility. When this comes to pass, on whose conscience will this crime fall?
H) TO OUR PRIESTS, OUR FELLOW PASTORS
We are one with you in your concern for families who are in dire economic circumstances. Like you, we are anguished over how to assist them. It is a temptation to ease our consciences by giving them pills, IUDs and condoms, or refer them to sterilization clinics. This may give a semblance of offering them relief from their hardships. But that would be false compassion.
Over the twenty years of its existence, the population control program has failed to resolve the poverty level of our people. On the other hand, despite the acclaimed “weakening” of the population control program over the past years, the President announced in the State of the Nation address, the reduction of the poverty level of our people.
The Church does have programs that help couples moderate their fertility. But she does not regard people as a collectivity. Our indicator of success is not fertility reduction per se, but a growing appreciation of children as sources of joy, as incentives to growth in virtue, and the development of the relationships of spouses and parents.
Of greater urgency in assisting the underprivileged than the distribution of pills, condoms, etc. is the provision of opportunities for improving their situation and for them to gain self reliance. In this manner they will not be constrained in their choices, but may experience the freedom to opt for a large family. To be able to responsibly welcome an added child is to worship the God who made them co-creators of life. The bias of the Christian is always a pro-life bias. This is the proclamation of the good news about man.
Provide the Alternative to Contraceptive Technology
We must support THOSE zealous couples who yearn to provide other couples with a human alternative to the inhuman contraceptive technology in the regulation of births. We must institutionalize in our parishes the provision of Natural Family Planning, but always in the context of a total Family Life Apostolate. We must take to heart the intuition of Pope John Paul II that the future of evangelization will depend to a large extent on the family as the church in the home. This may lead us to review our priorities in our vision of pastoral ministry.
There have been theological efforts to make distinctions between contraception, sterilization and abortion. Some have endeavored to assign degrees of fault to each, according to the distinctions. All of these look at the methods of regulating births from the point of view of individual practice, what is called individual morality. Heretofore, Church documents spoke of contraceptive technology also from this perspective. And this a valid perspective.
But there is another dimension to contraceptive technology which would not be recognized until after a wide and prolonged spread of its influence has been observed and studied. That other dimension is the logical structure, the inner dynamism of contraceptive technology. This is what has finally emerged in our times. The contraceptive culture created by this technology. It is understandable for someone to be unwittingly caught in the culture and espouse it while remaining in good faith. But his activities will be promoting its counter values.
Two major elements characterize this culture. One is the drive for population deceleration. The other is the entry of contraceptive technology into the lifestyle of the people. In such a culture, a) an anti-life mentality is fostered, and b) a rupture in marital life occurs by the separation of the conjugal act and the giving of life. Let us dwell on each of these by turn.
Let us take a current pastoral phenomenon to illustrate how this has taken hold of our young. Many if you have no doubt noted in the course of your pastoral ministry, how, among engaged couples, there is a growing number of THOSE who plan to raise only two children in the course of their entire married lives. This phenomenon occurs not merely among the underprivileged, but even among the privileged. Clearly, it is not dire economic circumstances which account for this phenomenon. Is it not intriguing how couples of widely different backgrounds, total strangers to one another, can come to the same magic number of two children only for their family size, and that for the entirety of their married lives?
This phenomenon is not peculiar to this country. It has become a worldwide phenomenon whose message is zero population growth. The message becomes even more pointed when the main method used is sterilization, rendering the decision irrevocable.
Let us pause and reflect on what our pastoral ministry tells us: have we sufficiently reflected on the extent of the drive for sterilization after two children? And how much anguish in conscience takes its toll on mothers and fathers who awaken to the meaning of what had been done to the source of life that God had given them?
You have no doubt become aware through your ministry, of the persistence of reports about abortion. That is the most radical expression of the rejection of life. In the contraceptive culture, there is one god who lords it over all: the god of efficiency. And it directs the flow of choices from the less to the more efficient. The philosophical distinction between contraception and sterilization, and between these and abortion, are now in reality irrelevant.
When contraceptives are introduced on a mass scale, sterilization and abortion inevitably follow. We were deceived by the original policy which professed to exclude sterilization and abortion. All the population control programs worldwide have been very instructive in this regard. It is naive to believe that a population control program can be restricted to only contraceptives. It is illusory as well to believe that abortion can be stopped merely by declaring it illegal. Abortions are already a fact. By promoting a contraceptive culture the government program subverts the Constitutional mandate to value life.
Research in contraceptive technology bears out the inner linkages between contraceptives, sterilization and abortion. Among the new contraceptive products, the same pill can act as contraceptive, or as sterilizing agent, or as an abortifacient by turns. Pastorally, the conceptual distinctions are now irrelevant. You cannot stop the entry of sterilization and abortion while you promote contraception.
There is no such a thing as a “moderate program of population control,” neither in its goal nor in its methods. These programs can be made to sound as such and promoted to be such by deception and manipulation. They are anti-developmental. “Systematic campaigns against birth, launched by governments are anti-developmental.”
Giving Life by Exchanging Love
Today, in a prevailing contraceptive culture, we see the consequences of the rupture between the giving of love through the sexual act and the giving of life. Once this rupture has taken root in the minds and hearts of people, then there emerges various forms of disorder in the sexual mores of a people. Homosexual unions gain acceptance as a form of sexual union, marked with sterility. Premarital sex, too, seen apart from life in a fruitful home, becomes justifiable in the name of “1ove.” In these circumstances, what was meant by God to be a mutual expression of love is reduced to a form of masturbation between spouses. On the other hand, there emerges the technological drive to beget human life apart from the life of affection between spouses: in the petri dish, or through insemination from a sperm bank. And then there are experiments in cloning human beings.
These are the macro dimensions of the contraceptive campaigns. The pill, or the IUD, or the condom, may be small objects in themselves. But they are symbolic of the destructive force that surpasses the damage wrought by all the violence around us.
The intelligence behind the world-wide drive surpasses human intelligence. The father of lies purports to offer fruit from the Tree Life. And in the guise of an angel of light, he claims to aim at the\improvement of the quality of life.
Let us bear in mind that all love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. … God is Love” (Jn 4:7-8). Strictly speaking, therefore, Christian couples do not “make” love; rather, they exchange between themselves in a most intimate way the love that they have each received from Cod.
Why this drive against life? The rejection of life is really the rejection of wanting to care, to love. This link between Life and Love is traceable to Cod, from whom all life comes. And because God has no need for our lives, we can only explain our existence now as a superabundance of love that overflows and spills over into our creation. It is truly against the God who is Love that the drive against Life is aimed. Life can be explained only by Love, from which it came, and towards which it is journeying. In the worldwide drive against births, is the slow crippling of the capacity and the will to love.
We need to wash our eyes anew, to see with a new vision, this wonder of God’s creation and the mystery of our existence. Then, perhaps, with His grace, we shall gain a glimmer of the Love that God must be, and of what it must mean when we say that God is Love.
We your Bishops are solicitous of your fundamental desire to remain faithful to Jesus and to remain in his love. Shortly before he suffered, the Lord told his disciples: If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love” (Jn 15:10). Together with you we contemplate the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are” (cf. 1 Jn 3). As Christian pastors, we strive as well to sincerely be generous, ready to “go through the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19).
For the Catholic Bishops Conference
of the Philippines
Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP President
Manila, 7 October 1990
An excommunication is attached to deliberately induced abortions. This applies to THOSE directly responsible for creating the decision, and implementing the decision to induce abortion In practice, this will involve: the mother of the foetus, her advisers, the surgeon, and those whose cooperation was indispensable for the abortion to take place. Nurses and other assistants generally do not incur this penalty.
OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
OF THE PHILIPPINES ON POPULATION CONTROL
IN DISCUSSION of matters regarding population control, it is the Pope and the Bishops alone that give the official, authoritative Catholic moral teaching regarding the principles involved. We set forth in the following paragraphs the guiding principles approved by the CBCP for the guidance of the Catholic faithful in the Philippines.
1. Respect should be given to the sacredness of human life in all its stages.
2. Marriage and the marital act have two aspects: the unitive and procreative. These two aspects are never to be separated through man’s initiative. Though it is not forbidden for couples to engage in the marital act during infertile periods.
3. Directly willed abortion, the use of abortifacients, sterilization and contraception are wrong in themselves. They are wrong not because the Church forbids them; the Church forbids them because they are morally wrong.
4. The Church teaches the need for responsible parenthood. This means among other things, that couples should bring into the world generously the children whom they can raise up as good human beings, but they should seek to bring into the world only THOSE that they can raise up as good human beings.
5. The Church advocates Natural Family Planning as the only morally acceptable way of practicing responsible procreation.
6. The Church rejects the contraceptive mentality, i.e., the attitude that selfishly avoids the procreation of offspring solely because the couples do not want to bear the responsibility that comes with having a child. It is wrong to use even Natural Family Planning methods in pursuit of such a contraceptive mentality.
7. The Church teaches that the decision on the number of children lies solely on the parents. No one can make the decision for them. But the parents are to make their decision responsibly, that is, with a sense of their responsibility to each other, to their children already born, to their children still to be born, to society, and to God.
8. Hence the Church is against any coercion exercised on couples to pressure or force them to limit or increase the number of their children. It is also against any coercion exercised on any other person involved in helping in the regulation of birth.
9. The increase or decrease of population growth does not by itself spell development or under-development. The Church does not forbid the advocacy of the acceleration or deceleration of our population growth, according to circumstances, provided this is achieved within the parameters of freedom of conscience, the responsible decision of couples, and the principles of sexual and family morality.
It should be kept in mind that injustice in society is a more fundamental cause of poverty in our country.
10. Because the Church regards artificial contraception as wrong in itself, the Church will object to their dissemination and use. Further, Church personnel and institutions cannot be expected to cooperate with the dissemination and use of contraceptives.
11. The Church acknowledges religious freedom and freedom of conscience. But she has the duty to announce and promote the moral law regarding the regulation of population.
IN CONCLUSION, “there are no ‘value free’ methods of family planning. Research scientists, medical personnel, government officials and welfare agents should reflect seriously on the consequences of their activities, on the assumptions they hold, and on the goals they pursue in family planning.” (Submission of the Holy See to the WHO-sponsored International Conference on the Ethics and Values of Family Planning held in Bangkok in June 1988.)
Tagaytay City, 10 July 1990