A recent article in the newspaper caught my eye with the intriguing headline, “Catholic Church updates fight as pill marks 50th anniversary.” I am too young to remember the original controversy over the pill, which seems to have happened only in the Catholic Church. The pill was promoted as a great advancement for women and for families. The pill would give women control over their own fertility and over their own bodies, allowing them to choose a pregnancy rather than being surprised by a child. Families would be free from the financial and emotional worries of leaving family size to chance, they said, and couples who could not afford to have another child could continue to be intimate without the worry of a possible pregnancy. Everyone said the pill was a great gift to women and marriage, and it would make marriages stronger and less stressful.
In all the world, the only people who stood against this new freedom and opportunity was the Catholic Church. The popular media tried to say that it was only the Pope and a few old celibate Bishops who really rejected the pill. The truth was a little more complicated, as it usually is, but the whole incident created a separation between laity and clergy, and between doctrine and practice, that has not yet healed. Behind the media story was the simple fact that, rather than inventing some new prohibition, the Church simply upheld the same teaching which Protestant churches has also taught until the 20th Century. Morally, the Church said that the meaning of intimacy lies in two purposes, both a loving union of a husband and wife, and the gift of new life which that union tends to create. Taking fertility out of the picture deprives the intimacy of an essential element, and not only undermines the meaning and purpose of that intimacy but ultimately undermines the meaning and purpose of marriage.
(Continue reading at BrotherPriests.com)