‘Church teaching on contraception often wrongly understood’

USING artificial contraception is a sign of “moral degradation”, the pope said recently. Defending the Church’s ban on artificial birth control, he said contraception “deformed” married love.

The pope was speaking to Italian natural family planning instructors at the Vatican. He said the Church would continue to propose a combination of selfcontrol and natural methods when couples have good reason to limit family size.

He said the Church saw an ethical difference between natural family planning methods and artificial contraception. Natural methods rely on sexual abstinence during a woman’s fertile period.

He said when couples use the natural methods, they “bring the instinctual and psychic dynamism of sexuality to the level of the person”, integrating it with human love. By abstaining from sex, a couple avoids falsifying the act of conjugal love. “The contraceptive choice, on the other hand, leaves sexual behaviour practically unchanged but falsifies the intrinsic meaning of the giving and receiving that are part of the conjugal sex act, closing it off arbitrarily to the dynamics of the transmission of a new life,” he said. The pope said the Church recognises that couples may have problems with the teaching. Therefore the Church offers “human support” through parish programmes and movements directed by Catholic lay people.

The pope said the Church’s teaching on birth controls is often wrongly understood as “refusal or low regard for human sexuality”. On the contrary, he said, the Church is promoting spiritual energy needed to defend love from the danger of selfishness. (The Universe) •

THE CATHOLIC NEWS, March 1,1992, page 16