Catholics and Birth Control
Assessments and recommendations by Catholic Scholars
The Church has called for wide discussion, on national, diocesan and parish levels, in preparation for the Roman Synod on Marriage and the Family scheduled to take place in 2015. Starting point for the discussion will be the document that emerged from the 2014 Synod. This website has been specifically started to support that process of discussion.
Here we will bring together the considered judgments of Catholic family doctors, psychologists, church lawyers, theologians and other experts in all fields of family life.
2014: The concept and reality of ‘marriage’ in our present world
In response we prepared the Catholic Scholars’ Statement on Marriage and the Family. In this statement, 86 experts from many academic areas of study regarding family life, question the validity of this model. They say that the ideal of a stable monogamous marriage should not make the Church reject people living in much more complex family situations.
2015: responsible use of contraception in family planning
Paragraps 18 and 57 of the official Synod document of 2014 still rule out the responsible use of contraceptives in birth control. This total ban on any form of artificial birth control rests on underlying unproven principles.
One principle is the view that artificial birth control goes against ‘Natural Law’. Based on a ‘physical’ reading of Natural Law, the prohibition of contraceptives is prescribed as absolute, valid in all circumstances and unchangeable. Transgressions are called intrinsically wrong.
But what does Natural Law say about contraception? The official Church still follows the so-called physical interpretation of Natural Law. Even classical theologians such as Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas rejected such an interpretation. With modern scholars they held the rational interpretation of Natural Law. God created us in his image by giving us the use of reason. This means that in all specific moral questions human beings have to use their own reason to judge what is, or what is not, according to Natural Law in specific circumstances.
Another principle is based on “the inseparable connection, established by God, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act” (Humanae Vitae par. 12).
This principle is not found in tradition, cannot be substantiated from Scripture or theology, and contradicts the teaching of Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes).