No doubt you have heard about the HHS mandate about religious institution being required to buy health insurance that covers abortificient contraceptives, sterilizations, and birth control pills. Many religious leaders have objected to there not being an exemption for conscience and that the first Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting the free exercise of religion.
The argument I see in the comments to internet articles and in the letters to the editors of our local newspaper is that it is only “pointy hat” bishops that believe this is a sin. They claim that 98% of Catholics have used birth control pills. One question: aren’t there an equal number of male Catholics as female? Men can’t use ABC pills, so that cuts the 98% in half. Despite that, I will not argue that point further because that is not what I am concerned about today.
What bothers me is that these commentators assume that Catholicism is based on personal interpretation of doctrines instead of being a creedal religion. Protestantism is based on personal interpretation of Scripture, but Catholicism is not. Catholics are not permitted to pick and choose what to believe and still rightly call themselves a true blue Catholic. You wouldn’t guess that from the way Catholics live, but that is beside the point. Those who think so have been influenced by Protestantism. Whether they are aware of that or whether they believe they have a right to dissent is not my place to say. If they think they are following their conscience which allows such sins, then they have an ill formed conscience.
There is some confusion about papal infallibility that may be the reason for a Catholic thinking Plain and simple, no Catholic has a right to dissent from officially defined doctrine. Want proof that the killing an unborn child violates Catholic doctrine? Here it is:
John Paul. II in his encyclical Evangelium vitae, paragraph 62 “I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”
A “grave moral disorder” equals mortal sin.
Pope Paul VI Humanae Vitae:
paragraph 6. “moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.”
paragraph 11. “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.”
paragraph 12. “This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.”
paragraph 14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.
paragraph 31 “These laws must be wisely and lovingly observed.”
Notice Pope Paul VI refers to these as doctrine; that is, not open to any change or dissent.
Instead of thinking that dissenting Catholics prove we don’t really believe abortificient contraceptives, sterilizations, and birth control pills are OK, one ought to think these “Catholics” are sinners. Unless they have lived in a vacuum or haven’t read anything about their faith since grade school, they ought to know better than think they are still are in good standing with the Catholic church. They are not thinking with the mind of the Church. Hopefully, they will become more informed on why the Church teaches these doctrines. They are not some arbitrary opinions of “pointy hat” men. Hopefully, these couples will be converted to understanding marriage as an elevated calling. Hopefully, they will find out about Natural Family Planning and return to worthily receiving the sacraments.
If you want to read these encyclicals, do an online search. You will find them at the vatican.va web site.