Date: 10/13/02 10:48:14 AM

Name: Mo4

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Subject: Re: Convincing arguments

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There's the rub, James. The minority report of the papal commission DID set forth tradition and authority as THE central issue in the question of artificial contraception. It maintained that reason alone couldn't solve the issue.

Humanae Vitae, although it rang true with much of the majority report's position on conjugal love, at least implicitly seemed to take the minority report's position that reason could not decide the issue because 1) it did NOT address why artificial contraception was intrinsically evil or why it couldn't be allowed as a lesser evil or why it rejected the majority report's appeal to the total good of the marriage, whereas 2) referring to the "constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church", the encyclical DID explicitly address tradition and authority as central issues (though it didn't dwell on them).

So, there is my theory on why debates in this forum and elsewhere get so entangled in magisterial theorizing, rather than teasing out the nuances of natural law perspectives. That's pretty much how it got permanently framed by Rome, especially once setting aside the majority report, which could have reframed it.

This also would account for the functional illiteracy, we witness in this forum and in others, where natural law concepts and principles are concerned. What you get is ultraconservative Catholic reactionaries beaming their radio broadcasts all over the world and its listeners throwing around all sorts of big words which they can't even spell, not having done any depthful reading or serious research on their own. The 1975 CDF Declaration did little to advance such knowledge of natural law issues although it gave the self-proclaimed "orthodox" a way to concede exculpability to the artificial contraception practitioners, patronizingly and condescendingly, by pointing out that, in sins of the sexual order, "it more easily happens that free consent is not freely given".

So, there's my social critique, which undergirds my prediction that this forum will always have its superficial flamers and trollers, unable to substantively engage people like you. They simply lack formation. Like radical Protestant Fundamentalists with bumper stickers that read: "The Bible said it. I believe it. That settles it." , the radical Catholic Fundamentalists take the position: "The Pope said it. I believe it. That settles it." How do they differ, therefore, from the radical Islamic fundamentalists?

I simply don't want to predict that we might never happen across some worthy debate partners re: natural law theory but how likely is that to happen if the official church teaching doesn't believe that either side can advance such arguments, in principle?

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Replying to:

It is true that there is a long historical tradition in the Church that condemns contraception, and both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have reaffirmed this teaching. This certainly has to be taken into account in any discussion of the matter. But the condemnation of contraception represents just one part of the Church’s teaching on the subject, and however solemn this teaching has been, it has not been proposed as an infallible and irrevocable one.
Further, arguments from authority cannot and should not be the main arguments here, for the condemnation of contraception is based on natural law, and natural law falls within the scope of human reason, and therefore the upholders of this condemnation should welcome the opportunity to show how reasonable their position is. Unfortunately, thus far, these upholders of condemnation have been remiss in providing these convincing arguments on the supposed reasonableness of this teaching. This is true both in CCLI writings, such as those from the honorable Sheila and John Kipply (sp?) and in this forum as well. It is unfortunate since it lends itself further to the lack of credibility the Church currently experiences due to the many scandals and its appearance of being out of touch with the laity.


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