Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On the Sanctity of the Marital Act

The heated debate on the Reproductive Health bill has taken a turn for the worse when so-called "Catholic" groups emerged in support of this bill. They say that they continue to be "faithful" Catholics while rebuking the Philippine bishops for their opposition against the said bill. How can they call themselves "faithful" when the mere support of the bill in a clear defiance of the teaching of Catholic Magisterium? Many falsely think that the Church's opposition to this bill is simply founded on the fact that we equate artificial contraceptives with abortion. Many think that if this were the issue, then the Church is "mistaken" because not all contraceptives are abortifacients. Their reasoning is that contraceptives prevent conception. Therefore, how could these cause abortion when these are used before conception takes place? Without a fetus involved, there is no abortion.

But many of us forget that the issue here is not abortion but rather the integrity of the marital or the sexual intercourse between husband and wife. Pope Pius XI, in Casti Connubii, taught:

"53. And now, Venerable Brethren, we shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desire without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother oron the part of family consequences.

"54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

"55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, 'Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.' (S. Augustine, De coniug. adult., lib II, n. 12, Gen XXXVIII, 8-10.)

"56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin that surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and the law of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

"57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our sollicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: 'They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.' (Matthew XV, 14.)

Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 31 December, 1930.

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