Saturday 24 January 2009

Second Vatican Council tells couples to obey Catholic teaching on birth control says Bishop O’Donoghue

After President Obama’s attack on human life worldwide yesterday, it’s wonderful to wake up to the powerful leadership and prophetic voice of Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, writing in the Catholic Herald this weekend.

Describing the body of documents produced by the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church as “a Magna Carta of the Holy Spirit for the modern Church” Bishop O’Donoghue says:

“ … there is the danger that those involved in the historical search for the Council will create a picture of the ‘Council’ that reflects their own likes and dislikes. If Catholics really knew the documents of the Council there would not be so much confusion about what they actually say:

“1) Catholics could not continue to live lives focused on their own prosperity if they truly knew that Gaudium et Spes 69 teaches, among other things, that we must “feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him”.

“2) Catholics could not say that Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae, went against Vatican II if they knew that Gaudium et Spes 51 teaches that couples “may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law ... ”

Recently, the Vatican has strongly endorsed Bishop O’Donoghue’s outspoken defence of Humanae Vitae. In his “Fit For Mission? Church, Being Catholic Today”, he spoke about the mistaken reasoning of those who say the Catholic Church should drop its opposition to contraception.

When I wrote about this document last August I explained why, to my mind, it’s quite clear* that countless human lives have been destroyed as a result of the rejection of Humanae Vitae and its teaching on the wrongfulness of the separation of the unitive significance and procreative significance of the conjugal act, not least through birth control and IVF practices, including amongst Catholics (*albeit on the question of the separation of the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the marital act SPUC itself has no policy. The Society is made up of people of all faiths and none and SPUC’s remit is solely concerned with defending the right to life from conception till natural death.)