Monday, February 22, 2016


Thanks to Mark Thomas for pointing me to these two article which give historical accounts of things of interest in the Church today:

There is an article in the 1956 edition of the Arkansas Catholic on the Vatican's desire under Pope Pius XII who had turned 80 that year, to have the Holy Week Liturgies be more intelligible by the use of the vernacular.  YOU CAN PRESS THIS SENTENCE TO READ IT IN THE PHOTO OF THE ORIGINAL PAPER. THERE IS A FEATURE IN THIS LINK THAT ALLOWS FOR A FULL SCREEN LOOK AT THE PAPER WHICH MAKES READING THE ARTICLE EASIER.

And from the same Arkansas Catholic Newspaper there is this historical tidbit:

Mark Thomas writes:  I just came across the newspaper archive of Arkansas Catholic, of the Diocese of Little Rock. I performed several searches and, for example, found the following:

December 29, 1961 A.D. "View On Contraceptive Pill Use In Line With Church Teaching"

Three Catholic theologians, including the future Cardinal Pietro Pallazini (elevated by Pope Blessed Paul VI), argued that women in danger of rape may use contraception to prevent conception. "A woman who has been raped or very probably will be raped...has no obligation to undergo pregnancy". The article also mentioned nuns in the Congo who faced assault.

John Allen mentioned the other day future Cardinal Pallzzini's when Mr. Allen discussed the origin of the Pope Blessed Paul VI/Congo nuns contraception controversy.

The article in question is on the right side of the Arkansas Catholic archive page.

And this is what John Allen writes in Crux:

Pope takes the classic Vatican approach to birth control and Zika

You know it was a scintillating papal press conference this week when, in reply to a question about Donald Trump, the pontiff described the GOP candidate’s stance on immigration as “not Christian,” and arguably it wasn’t even the most important thing the pope said.

In the same news conference, Francis suggested he’s open to the idea of artificial birth control as a means of trying to combat the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America, while emphatically taking abortion off the table.

That answer was more than political theater. While a pope can’t dictate the outcome of an American election, he certainly can control what the Catholic Church approves.

To be clear, Francis did not say he was formally endorsing birth control to prevent infection. He also did not signal any shift in the Church’s negative stance on contraception as a means of preventing new life.

But he definitely left the impression that he’s open to viewing birth control in some limited cases as a legitimate anti-infection tool, a point confirmed by a Vatican spokesman on Friday who said it could be “the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience.”

While we wait for the debate that’s sure to follow, it’s worth noting that the pope’s answer provided a window into how the Vatican works that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Speaking about birth control in the context of the Zika pandemic, Francis cited his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Here’s what he said, translated from Italian:
Paul VI — the great! — in a difficult situation, in Africa, permitted sisters to use birth control for cases of violence. It’s necessary not to confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy, by itself, with abortion … avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in that I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.
The reference is to Congo in the late 1950s and early 60s, where Catholic nuns faced widespread sexual violence and the question was whether birth control could be used to avoid pregnancy after rape.

Francis said Paul VI “permitted” birth control in that context, which, to Anglo-Saxon ears, implies a formal juridical act. The line sparked a frenzy of fruitless Internet searches, as people went looking for a Vatican edict or decree that just doesn’t exist.

Here’s what happened: In December 1961, the influential Italian journal Studi Cattolici (“Catholic Studies”) published an issue in which three Catholic moral theologians agreed that in the Congo case, contraception could be justified.

The future Paul VI, at that stage, was still the Archbishop of Milan, and close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici. It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.
Paul became pope in 1963, and never issued any edict writing that position into law. Thus, when pressed about it some years later, a Vatican spokesman could accurately say, “I am not aware of official documents from the Holy See in this regard.”

Still, the Vatican never repudiated the 1961 position, so the takeaway was that it remained a legitimate option. To Italians — and remember, Francis’ ancestry is Italian, and he’s very wired into the country’s ecclesiastical scene — that meant Paul VI approved.

All this is not terribly different from the way the Vatican has approached condom use in the context of a married couple where one partner is HIV-positive and the other isn’t, and the aim is to prevent the other partner from becoming infected.

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI asked the Pontifical Council for Health Care under Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, who has since retired, to examine the question. After polling doctors and other health care professionals, as well as theologians, Barragán presented the pope with a tentatively positive response.

To date, that conclusion hasn’t been codified, but it also hasn’t been rejected. In 2010, Benedict said in an interview — note, an interview, not a formal dogmatic statement — that although the Church does not regard condoms as the solution to the AIDS crisis, there are cases in which they may be “a first step” toward responsible behavior.

In both cases, the moral analysis shifts because birth control is being used not to block the transmission of life, but to prevent the infliction of a harm — either unwanted pregnancy as the result of violence, or infection by a deadly disease.

John Grabowski, a moral theologian at the Catholic University of America, points out that the reasoning behind the 1960s-era position has been translated into Church practice.

In the United States, Grabowski noted, Catholic hospitals are allowed to administer fast-acting oral contraceptives to rape victims if tests show ovulation has not yet occurred and the effect is not to induce an abortion. Germany’s bishops confirmed a similar stance in 2013.

Often, the Vatican prefers to leave such delicate questions open, not issuing sweeping declarations that could be wrongly viewed as a sea change in Church teaching, but also not denying flexibility to pastors who have to help people make hard choices.

Quite possibly, that’s what Francis was doing on the papal plane with regard to the Zika virus. Given Latin America’s large Catholic population, it could have important consequences.

That’s not quite the formal decree some may want, or fear, but it also may be the only thing we’re likely to get.


Vox Cantoris said...

A fifty year old newspaper article is not magisterial teaching. The fact is, there is no papal document or pronouncement from the past permitting this, only hearsay.

Vox Cantoris said...

Father, Aside from Father Z's recent post that the story was a "lie" you and your readers might be interested in this research by Oakes Spalding:

Anonymous said...

Now you are trying to rationalize the use of contraceptives. Have you no fear of God? I know I know, I'm the pseudo Protestant who is in mortal sin for daring to adhere to the teachings of the Church and not the FrancisChurch.

Gene said...

Another chink in the wall of Catholic teaching and dogma. These little assaults continue...the Pope aides and abets them with irresponsible talk and off-the-wall asides. The progressives will eventually get what they want...a wide open Church where anything goes as long as socialist causes are supported, everybody drives a Prius, and love is all you need.

Anonymous said...

The betrayal of the Faith by members of the hierarchy testify to the need for a new counter reformation. This time the aim is the restoration of the Church's Magisterium. A good time for a lay movement to call members of the hierarchy to repent and to convert before it is too late for them. It is Lent. It is a good time to start.

Mark Thomas said...

Vox said..."A fifty year old newspaper article is not magisterial teaching. The fact is, there is no papal document or pronouncement from the past permitting this, only hearsay."

Vox, you are correct that the newspaper article is not Magisterial teaching. However, the 1961 A.D. newspaper article just become very newsworthy as the result of Pope Francis' comments last week. That is why I had brought that article to Father McDonald's attention.

Monsignor Pietro Palazzini was one of the three priests/theologians noted in the article who argued that certain conditions existed during which Catholic women were free to use contraception. That controversial opinion did not hamper Monsignor Palazzini's status within the Church. In 1962 A.D., Pope Saint John XXIII elevated Monsignor Palazzini to the rank of bishop. Pope Blessed Paul VI elevated Bishop Palazzini to the rank of Cardinal.


Mark Thomas

Carol H. said...

In the past, it was believed that birth control pills prevented pregnancy. It is now known that the pills prevent implantation of fertilized eggs, in other words, they cause spontaneous abortions.

Decisions based on limited knowledge in the past cannot be used to justify what we know now to be sin based on scientific discoveries made since then. It's a no brainer. I fail to understand why some people just don't get it!

Anonymous said...

"Monsignor Pietro Palazzini was one of the three priests/theologians noted in the article who argued that certain conditions existed during which Catholic women were free to use contraception."

This is phrased vaguely and misleadingly. Catholic moral theology has never permitted the use of contraception before, during, or after the conjugal act in order to avoid conception. The case of the nuns in the Congo (or cases in the same nature) do not include the conjugal act - in fact, they deal with its direct opposite. Given this, it would be more accurate to state that there exists certain situations, outside of the conjugal act, in which non-abortifacient contraception may be used, which may have the inadvertent effect of stopping conception from occurring. This latter rephrasing also takes into account the long-standing allowance of Catholic women to use non-abortifacient contraception in order to treat a medical illness.

Anonymous said...

It is somewhat ironic that so much attention is given to the use of non-abortifacient contraception in cases of rape (an issue entirely separate from the use of artificial contraception by married couples), when the clarification by Fr. Lombardi of the papal interview contradicts the moral tradition of the Catholic Church by allowing married couples to use contraception after discernment in extreme circumstances. The official interpretation of the Pope’s words introduce exceptions into the ban on conjugal use of artificial contraception, leading at least one president of a bishop’s conference, Archbishop Villegas of the Philippines, to state, “First, there may be circumstances that invite a reevaluation of the judgment on artificial means of contraception; second, the prodding of conscience should always be heeded, as long as every effort is made to form conscience properly.” This is a teaching of moral deviancy that leads souls into mortal sin. And in order to justify this error, the Archbishop says, “These positions are not in any way new. They have always formed part of Catholic moral theology and belong to the treasury of the Church’s heritage in healthcare ethics,” thus demonstrating episcopal ignorance, calumny against the Church’s Deposit of Faith, and a replacement of orthodox morality with situational ethics. Maybe it would be helpful to make these statements clear to the readers of this blog so that they may know the seriousness of what is at stake here, which goes beyond an issue of historical honesty, and deals with the integrity of the Deposit of Faith, itself.

Jusadbellum said...

It boils down to modernists theologians who confuse malum in se with malum prohibitum on account that they no longer believe in Divine revelation. They believe the Church is just a human institution and consequently all the moral laws are just cynical power grabs of the 'elite' clergy and not revelatory about what is objectively good for people thanks to divine intervention.

And so, since it's not glaringly obvious that separating the unitive from the procreative, they cheerfully encourage people to contracept....and then abort....and then indulge in every other sexual perversity under the sun on account that what feels good is good because life is short and then we die.

They also believe people are better of NOT knowing the Gospel. That "invincible ignorance" is preferable to knowing the truth that will set them free inasmuch as for them, guilt is the enemy, not sin. So better to keep people blissfully ignorant of the moral code than warn people from sin!

Anonymous said...

Lifesite News points out that the Pope's latest comments regarding contraception contradict Pope Paul VI and St John Paul II The Great. Pope Francis is undoubtedly being influenced by theologians such as Fr Martin Rhonheimer (Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the School of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome), the Opus Dei priest who has defended methods for managing ectopic pregnancies, such as the use of salpingostomy and methotrexate, (abortion) to preserve the life of the mother, condoms re aids and masturbation for invitro fertilisation. Pope John Paul II The Great roundly condemns such theologians in their promotion of intrinsically evil acts which they justify as the lesser of two evils:

"Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor (the Splendor of Truth), cited the same passage of Humanae Vitae for the purpose of condemning erroneous opinions in moral theology in 1993. In opposition to those theologians who wished to claim that intrinsically evil acts could somehow be justified under certain circumstances, John Paul II writes:

Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature ‘incapable of being ordered’ to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed ‘intrinsically evil’ (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object
Pope John Paul II then quoted Pope Paul VI’s statement, quoted above, that contraception cannot be defended as the lesser of two evils. “With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: . . .” The quote cited above by Pope Paul VI follows, verbatim.

In Veritatis Splendor, John Pual also cites the following statement from a 1967 allocution by Pope Paul VI to members of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer: “Far be it from Christians to be led to embrace another opinion, as if the Council taught that nowadays some things are permitted which the Church had previously declared intrinsically evil. Who does not see in this the rise of a depraved moral relativism, one that clearly endangers the Church's entire doctrinal heritage?”

George said...

It is inconceivable to me that in the year 1960, a Religious order of nuns would have allowed its members to take artificial contraceptives. Even if they had wanted to permit this, it would have required the expressed and explicit approval from the Holy See, with the permission coming from the Holy Father himself. Does anyone seriously think that Blessed Pope Paul VI, who issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which condemned the use of all artificial means of contraception, would grant such permission? If he in fact did approve of this, where is the proof? The opinion of theologians on a matter, in and of itself does not Church law make. In issuing Humane Vitae, Blessed Pope Paul VI rejected the conclusions arrived at by the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control.
The article from the Arkansas Catholic is interesting, but to draw any meaningful conclusions form it is weaving with gossamer thread.

Anonymous said...

Gob - that comment is downright scandalous and may lead others into sin. Bad form.

Mark Thomas said...

Several days have passed following Father Lombardi's "clarification" of Pope Francis remarks in regard to contraceptives and additional issues. I have been unable to find a translation in English to Father Lombardi's remarks in question.
Does one exist?


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

The article (as have so many other sources) mischaracterizes Benedict's statement. Here's the whole quotation:

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality."

In the first place, he appears to be speaking hypothetically. In the second place, he doesn't give any indication that condom use is licit behavior. Instead, He appears to be talking about formation of an individual's conscience. E.g., if I'm a completely selfless individual with no regard for others at all, and then one day I decide that poverty is evil and that I should therefore steal from the rich to give to the poor, that doesn't mean stealing is licit. But my stealing at least is a first step towards a proper understanding of Christian love for one's fellow man.

gob said...

There is some evil, sinful....maybe criminal activity going on here. I did not write the posting above about "masturbating to porn". Somebody else posted it and forged my name. I would like him or her to be exposed so it will not happen again and so that I can consider whether to proceed with legal action against them.

Anonymous said...

Father, why did you post Gob's comment 6:12 yesterday? Did it serve ANY good purpose?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I've deleted the offending comment which did get past me. Sorry.

gob said... 6:12 PM yesterday, my wife and I were at Church.

George said...

I am glad the comment was deleted. It was highly inappropriate for this blog.
The comment was sinful in that it mocked the God-given gift of sexuality, and Church teaching on the what constitutes licit behavior when it comes to the sexual act.
It was also very seriously wrong in that it was posted under someone's name who comments here regularly.

Anonymous said...

If Gob opens up his own Google account it will prevent people using his name to post salacious comments. He can still retain the "Gob" handle that suits him so well!