This is an apt question after RC Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently got on his pseudo-moral high horse and insinuated that if his Church were coerced into abiding by the contraceptive provisions under Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, his Church might have to resort to pulling back on assisting the poor via their assorted charities. Okay, so let me see if I've got this straight, and paraphrase Dolan: "If the government forces the Church to provide lawful benefits to NON-Catholic employees, we may have to respond by cutting all services to the poor including meals and housing to the homeless, health care to impoverished kids and meals, assistance for the elderly and disabled."
Sorry, Timmy, but that's the response I'd expect from a psychopath. All this over the provision of a law that says nothing on how the Church must deal with its own members, only the Protestants, Jews, agnostics or atheists that may be working at its institutions, e.g. schools, universities, hospitals etc. What is it that these ideologues don't grasp?
Maybe a better take entails examining the claims of the Church's archaic apologists. This also includes why artificial contraception is such a big deal to this Church.
Perhaps we need to begin with a bit of history. The ancient Manicheans (founder Mani, b. 219 BCE) absolutely were against ANY form of birth. They believed that the human was essentially a spark of deistic light locked within a body fashioned by 'Satan'. Hence, enabling birth, was in effect tantamount to multiplying the total of diabolically imprisoned 'sparks' in the world. Since there was never any assurance these sparks could be liberated, it was paramount that the diabolical flesh be prevented from reproducing itself. Thus, contraception became a regular practice and most often via coitus interruptus. (Those diabolical sparks that were conceived had to be carefully trained and disciplined lest the Satanic flesh break out).
Females figured into this, and came to be regarded as 'vessels of the Devil' - since it was within their wombs that the devilish flesh sprouted.
St. Augustine, the early Church Father, was originally a Manichean, and like his peers, practiced contraception. While he converted to Christianity in 387 CE, however, the only Manichean tenet he ditched was contraception. He retained all the other flesh/pleasure =demonic connotations and interjected them into his various teaching including his 'letters'. (For more on this, see the excellent monograph 'Eunuchs For the Kingdom of Heaven' by Ute Ranke-Heinemann, Doubleday, 1990). Most scholars, like Ranke-Heinemann (and also Elaine Pagels, the Harvard-based author of 'Adam, Eve and The Serpent') believe Augustine's stance altered owing to a passage in the bible to do with Onan "spilling his seed".
As Augustine himself writes:
"It is impermissible and shameful to practice intercourse with one's wife while preventing the conception of children. This is what Onan did, the son of Judah, and that is why God killed him". ('The Adulterous Relations', II, 12).
In fact, this false interpetation of the Onan passage is also what is probably responsible for engendering the masturbation bogey- which has also incepted vast frothings at the mouth from Catholic clerics (who seemed to have no froth left when the priest pederasty was disclosed some years ago) . Anyway, from then, "spilling seed" was equated to "onanism" and onanism to masturbation as well as artificial contraception (which is still called "mutual masturbation" by many RC ethicists today).
In reality, Onan's sin was neither a form of contraception (coitus interruptus) or masturbation but rather an offense against the Hebrew law of succession, wherein the nearest male relative of the deceased husband is obligated to fertilize the wife. He refused, spilled his seed, and was therefore guilty. But it evidently turned out to be a convenient peg on which the Church could hang its anti-sexual crusades (unless its own priests were engaged in child molestations.)
Fast forward now to the early 20th century and the arrival of a meme that insinuated itself not only into western society and nations, but the Catholic Church. This was spelled out by author Leslie Dewart in his chapter Casti Connubii and the Development of Dogma (pp. 178-79) in Contraception and Holiness: The Catholic Predicament (1965, Fontana Books, UK). This referred to a "social morality in which a social premium was put upon the repression of genital activity".
In many ways, western society at the time deemed it critical that they control their citizens' gonads, since as those gonads were chained down, so also were the owners' minds. How truly genuine a free thinker could one be, after all, if his or her most private parts were put under lock and key by either the state or the Church?
In the U.S. the seed of sexual-genital repression was probably sown as early as 1873 via the infamous Comstock laws, e.g.
But little known, or seldom mentioned today, is that these laws not only targeted "obscene" literature but also all contraceptive devices and any and all educational material explaining their use. It was exactly these archaic Comstock laws that Margaret Sanger confronted when trying to widen the availability of contraception for the poor women she beheld being ground under.
The RC Church's role emerged coincidental with Sanger's editorial oversight of The Birth Control Review (1917- 1938) and in the encylical Casti Connubii issued by Pope Pius XI on December 30, 1930, viz.
More specifically, this was a pre-meditated response to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church which had approved birth control in limited circumstances.
In so many words, what Pius XI sought to do was issue a comprehensive definition of "Holy Christian Marriage" that amounted to a pseudo-rational reinforcement of atavistic attitudes of fear, hatred and contempt for human sexuality that had long lay smoldering in the Manichean recesses of the Church's primitive collective mind. As Ute Ranke -Heinemann notes, these were foursquare mounted for control of the body in any and all its sexual expressions since it was believed this was the most straightforward way to control minds. (As indeed it is because, again, if one is prevented or inhibited from manipulating his or her own sexual organs then the ultimate test for individual autonomy has failed. One may believe himself to be an "individualist" but in fact he's merely a eunuch or appendage for his church's or society's dictates, and he's certainly no free thinker. Sexologist Betty Dodson has correctly insisted the first litmus test of a true free thinker- whether male or female- is the ability to masturbate.)
So, the original declaration for refusing to be "part of the mainstream" was issued in 1930. According to Catholic Theologian Janet Smith, of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit "the Church has long been pressured to change its position but has never accepted it".
She goes on to claim ('Faithful in Birth Control', The Denver Post, May 20, p. 1B) that there is no shortage of statistics showing that contemporary views and modern contraceptives have created a messy society in which sex has been cheapened and family devalued. She also has the nerve to add:
"We are drenched in contraceptives in this country yet 42% of babies are born out of wedlock. More than half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by 45 and 3 in 10 women at current rates will have an abortion:"
So what is she trying to insinuate here? That contraceptives or the acceptability of them created the out of wedlock babies? If this is so, then why don't the Dutch, for example, have an even greater out of wedlock teen birth problem than the U.S. - since Dutch teens in their Sex ed classes are actually issued condoms from the age of 12-13? In fact, it must be something else! Because yes, while there is the widespread psychological acceptance of contraceptive use there is not the accompanying educational mastery of their use.
Why not? Because most U.S. Sex ed classes have fallen prey to the knuckle-dragger 'just say no' - teach abstinence only idiocy instead of adopting the practical Dutch methods of Sex Ed which really do work in reducing teen births, as well as preventing STD transmission. So, one wonders why Smith avoids citing those stats, as opposed to only the sex-ignorant American ones. Well, because like most apologists she has an agenda!
This also addresses Smith's other complaints (ibid) that "Six out of 10 teens are sexually active and we have an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease."
OF COURSE WE DO! Because these kids are not being taught how to use condoms etc. in their Sex ed classes like the Dutch kids are!!! What the hell does she expect?
In the same way, of course more than half of American women are likely to have unintended births, because again, they aren't properly taught contraceptive use! Indeed, assorted polls have shown numerous cases where women have actually skipped pills - either because of money issues or because they thought they didn't need to take them every day if they only have sex once a month (they do!). Then, despite having an economic situation which can ill afford another mouth to feed, their only recourse is ex post facto birth prevention, as in abortion. Hence, again explaining how it is that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by age 45.
Yet, fewer than 1 in 20 Dutch women do. Why? Because they're taught from early what to do and how to truly ensure control over their bodies to the extent of preventing accidental births. The antediluvian RC Church on the other hand would be quite happy to have as many accidental births as possible - because they erroneously believe higher numbers confer power in the world.
In fact, all they're doing - in a world of receding resources- is engendering more destitution. To me, this is both immoral and insane! (One reason the late Arthur C. Clarke included Paul VI's later encyclical - Veritatis Splendor - supporting earlier anti-contraceptive stands, as a "crime against humanity"). As many sober minds have asked: WHY are we even having such a regressive debate in the year 2012? Why do we allow a band of temporally misplaced robed misfits to dictate their temporally backward mores to people that don't even belong to their Church? And why do we allow them to do so in the name of a god that has to be totally whacked if it's main concern is the sexual proclivities of a mammalian biped inhabiting one dust speck planet two thirds of the way out to one ordinary galaxy among billions?
Next: The Chuch's Non-method of Contraception.