Church Teaching on Contraceptives: Still Relevant?

A Dialogue with Msgr. Mario Martinez 

Totus Tuus, Maria (TTM): What is the Church's official stand on contraceptives?

Msgr. Mario: The Church has always been against the use of contraceptives. Contraceptives artificially prevent the completion of the natural union of the female and male sperm (also called “fertilization"). Since contraceptives go against natural law and, further, deteriorate the act of procreation (a participation by the spouses in the divine act of "creation") into a merely human physical act, these are therefore morally bad and unacceptable. This explains the unswerving stand of the Church against contraceptives.

TTM: How important is the Church's teachings on contraceptives in the life of the ordinary Catholic and in society, in general?

Msgr. Mario: The whole moral teaching of the Church is founded on Divine Moral Law which is composed of divinely-revealed truths, natural truths and natural law. The Catholic Church merely formulates in human terms, and then publicly proclaims God's Divine Moral Law.

An example of this is the Papal Letter "Humane Vitae." This is the exercise of the Catholic Church's Teaching Authority. So any human law that touches on morality but is not based on these three laws is merely a "pseudo" moral law - it is not a true moral law and, therefore, not to be obeyed. Consequently, disobey the Church's moral laws and one indirectly disobeys God's Moral Law. This shows the importance of the Church's teaching on contraceptives.

A Catholic must obey this Church law on contraceptives because on this compliance is the basis of his/her communion with the whole Church. If a Catholic does not observe this teaching, he/she does not merely disobey the moral teaching of the Church, but removes himself/herself from communion with the Church, and more so, also disobeys God's moral teaching!

Secondly, a Catholic's "communion" with the Church and other Catholics in the world is directly rooted not only on the ritualistic observance of Sunday obligations but a1so in the understanding and public proclamation of the content of his/her profession of faith as well as his/her observance of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.

TTM: A key dispute against the Church's stand on contraceptives is the ballooning population particularly among developing countries. An uncontrolled population growth leads to deterioration of the quality of life of citizens, and leads to widespread poverty. This is particularly evident among the poor, many of whom have 5, 6, 7 even up to 10 children. How can we balance the need for controlling population growth with the need to follow the Church's strict teaching on contraceptives?

Msgr. Mario: The ballooning population among developing countries is not caused by lack of contraceptives. The population of developing countries because of several factors: the lack of, or, in some cases, a total absence of education of the parents regarding responsibility in parenting, the problem of uneven countryside development, poor economic planning, etc. In fact, this theory directly linking a ballooning population with the lack of contraceptives has already been discarded long ago!

Take the case of the Philippines, for example. Although there really are families living in very appalling conditions, the quality of life of most Filipinos is dictated not by the uncontrolled population growth but by the effect of materialism. Today, I wonder how many of our "poor" have "having a cell phone" a priority? I believe, a rational population growth can only be achieved by the proper and consistent education of the spouses and young adults. This would be a more lasting action acceptable to God! 

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