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The Sisters who cheer on Melinda Gates’s birth control campaign seem eager to drop Church teaching for their own ‘core values’

The statement by the Ursuline Sisters of Dallas is a hotchpotch of vagueness

By on Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Melinda Gates (PA photo)

Melinda Gates (PA photo)

I blogged recently about Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates and a co-director with her husband of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billion charity aimed at the Third World. With the help of an enormous budget, Melinda has launched a new “No Controversy” campaign to spread access to birth control in the developing world. As I mentioned in that blog, although describing herself as “a practising Catholic” she is publicly critical of the Church’s stance on contraception and has stated that “it is important to question received teachings”, especially “the one saying that birth control is a sin”.

I don’t plan to answer this last statement in this blog, except to say that the Church always defends the true conjugal dignity of couples wanting to space their children and that the late Dr John Billings (for whom I had great respect and with whom I used to correspond) and his wife, Dr Lyn Billings, found a willing receptiveness in Communist China, both from local officials and couples, in teaching their method of natural family birth regulation in accordance with Church teaching. The same is true of Mother Teresa’s nuns among the Hindu poor in Calcutta.

I might add that according to a report from the C-Fam News agency, the “injectable contraceptive favoured by the Gates Foundation is Depo-Provera, which can cause early abortions by preventing a newly conceived zygote from attaching to the uterine wall”. Gates’s goal is to make contraceptives available to 120 million women by 2020, using a $4bn budget.

However, what interests me here about Mrs Gates’s campaign, launched at a recent conference in Berlin, is that she appears to be supported by the nuns of the Ursuline Academy of Dallas where she received her education. It seems the nuns contacted her after her conference speech by a phone call to her hotel room to say: “We’re all for you. We know this is a difficult issue to speak on, but we absolutely believe that you’re living under Catholic values.” Mrs Gates found this support “just so heartening”.

A formal statement was then issued by the president of the Ursuline Academy, Sister Margaret Ann Moser, which said that the nuns “are proud of Melinda French Gates, her dedication to social justice, her compassion for the undeserved and the great work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.” The president added that “Melinda Gates leads from her conscience and acts on her beliefs as a concerned citizen of our world”. She emphasised that “the mission of the Ursuline Academy of Dallas is to educate young women for such leadership.”

Sister Moser also said that the Ursuline order is committed “to the social and doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church”. While recognising that “Melinda’s beliefs on birth control are different from those of the Catholic Church”, the Sisters “respect her right to speak from her research and experience of the world we live in”.

What is there to comment about all this? Briefly, the phrase “Catholic values” used on its own can mean what you want it to mean; the question is: does Mrs Gates believe the Catholic teachings from which right values flow? Again, the phrase “social justice”, divorced from Catholic social and moral teaching, can mean anything; in this case it involves a deep injustice towards Third World couples. The same comment can be made about the word “compassion”; once you have used it, any criticism infers a lack of compassion – ie how dare those nasty Catholics talk about “compassion” when they want to keep Third World women in the Dark Ages, and so on.

Further, use of the phrase “leads from her conscience” begs other questions: how do we discern if our conscience is telling us the truth? Has it been formed by fidelity to Church teachings or by the secular world? Finally (a breathtaking contradiction), the Ursulines both recognise that Mrs Gates dissents from Church teaching while at the same time respecting “her right to speak from her research and her experience of the world we live in”. This of course suggests that such “research” is obviously valid and that the Church has little “experience” of the real world (run as it is by elderly celibates in the Vatican and so on). One could hardly invent such a hotchpotch of vagueness, suggestiveness and plain disingenuousness if one sat down and tried. No wonder Mrs Gates commented: “You know, the nuns who taught me were incredibly progressive.”

After reading Sister Moser’s statement I checked out the “mission, core values [that word again] and philosophy” of the Ursuline Academy of Dallas. It speaks of the “total development of the individual student through spiritual formation, intellectual growth, service to others and building of community…Dedicated to the Church’s mission of communicating the Gospel, the academy seeks to foster the message of God’s love… in support of Gospel truths and values” (what a loaded little word this is becoming). There is also mention of “communal openness to truth in all its forms”. It all sounds like James Murdoch describing, in his Harvard Business School kind of jargon, the “core values” of his father’s media empire.

A priest I used to know was sent to a parish that had slowly been taken over by lay committees dedicated to compassionate values; it had inevitably become a hotbed of liberal heresies. He immediately nailed to the door of the church the motto “Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia” (“Where there is Peter, there is the Church”) ie where there is fidelity to the teaching authority of the successor of St Peter, the first Pope, there is the Church.

Perhaps when they use the word “Church” so freely, the Ursuline Sisters of Dallas and Melinda Gates should remember this?

  • Gavin Wheeler

     “Finally (a breathtaking contradiction), the Ursulines both recognise
    that Mrs Gates dissents from Church teaching while at the same time
    respecting “her right to speak from her research and her experience of
    the world we live in”.”

    How very dare they!

    Clearly ‘freedom of speech’ applies only to those who agree in every detail with the Catholic Church.

    All others should be silenced. That is the only Christian thing to do.

  • Lazarus

    Not silenced but their errors should be challenged and publicly corrected.

  • Bert

    Sorry, Gavin, but your ignorance is showing.
    Every organization - secular or religious – has a Code of Ethics that its members are not permitted to violate.  The Catholic Church is no different.  And, just like every other organization, if you are a member and you violate that Code of Ethics, you will undoubtedly be asked to leave or possibly even kicked out.  If a Catholic wishes to proclaim that Jesus isn’t Divine, s/he is perfectly free to do so, just not as a Catholic.
    If these Nuns wish to teach something that violates the Teachings of the Church, they should do the honorable thing and resign.  If they refuse, the Church should close their school and disband their Order.  That is the way of the world.

  • Halasz Christina

    We can get the same wisdom from any number of prostitutes and miscreants.

  • JByrne24

    Dear Ms Phillips, your articles are normally distinctive in the sense that they often pose a specific question (or a few questions), sometimes actually comprised within the title itself. But the questions themselves can usually be easily and accurately answered in a few words.
    This article is no exception.

    You write: “the question is: does Mrs Gates believe the Catholic teachings from which right values flow?”
    Well, you also write: ‘she [Mrs Gates] is publicly critical of the Church’s stance on contraception and has stated that “it is important to question received teachings”, especially “the one saying that birth control is a sin”. ‘

    It seems abundantly clear that the answer to your question (this time) is: “No, Mrs Gates does not believe all of them”.

  • JByrne24

    Yes Gavin.

    But I think that some of the 7 likes here for your posting (@4 hours ago) have misunderstood your mock pomposity and have mistaken it for the genuine pomposity that usually accompanies postings with which they normally agree.

  • JByrne24

    “Every organization - secular or religious – has a Code of Ethics that its members are not permitted to violate.”

    No – not true.  Further, the word “Ethics” is used here inappropriately.

    Dissent must be allowed, always, if the organisation is to grow and flourish.

  • Amy

    The Catholic Church and it’s stance on birth control is a sad state of affairs. This is what you get when celibate men make up the hierarchy of a church. Any questioning of this hierarchy and you are threatened with spiritual separation from God. My teenage daughter has continually had her period for almost a year. It was devastating for her and the pill was the only medication that stopped this condition. It brings to mind the Miracle of the Bleeding Woman. Jesus healed her out of his compassion. The lack of compassion for women on this issue is blatantly obvious in the Catholic Church. You are going to tell me that a married woman with mental or health issues that make it important for her that she not get pregnant is sinning by taking birth control? A woman who carries a incurable, deadly genetic disorder that has a 90% chance of giving it to her children, is sinning if she decides to use birth control or her husband is sinning if he chooses to have a vasectomy? Birth control is a medication that prevents pregnancy. So is family planning….a way of preventing birth but without medication. Same result, different tool. You can talk all you want about “natural family planning” but there are many, many women who have unpredictable periods and cannot predict their fertilization times. BTW, the Catholic Church as an institution is not infallible…Jesus never spoke on the uses of birth control. To allow birth control, in my mind, would only be a change of discipline not of doctrine—like clerical celibacy. My grandmother, a devoted Catholic, was pregnant 13 times. Only 8 of her children lived to adulthood. On her deathbed, she made me promise her that I would not have this many children and that I would use birth control. Though she loved every one of her children, she would never wish that emotional, financial or health strain that it brought upon her, my grandfather, and all of her children. She told me that she wanted a better life for her grandchildren. 

  • maryclare

    Dear JByrne24,
    In order to remain or to become a Roman Catholic you have to agree to believe in all the Church believes and teaches. Dissent means that you don’t believe. I’m afraid there are truths and doctrines that are not open to discussion or dissent. And no, dissent does not encourage growth but schism. Doubt however always happens. If I have a problem with a particular doctrine I 1) Pray for enlightenment from the HolySpirit, 2) Endeavour to ask someone who knows (Parish Priest/Bishop/Spiritual Director) 3) Read my Catechism 4) Trust in the teaching of the Holy Father who is Christs’ appointed Vicar on earth.
    I don’t invent my own Magisterium.

  • Bert

    1) Question the tenets of many organizations and you will be shown the door.  If you don’t believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, don’t be Catholic.  It’s very simple.

    2) The Catholic Church does not, under any circumstances, forbid the use of birth control medication when it is used for medicinal (non birth control) purposes.  Your daughter’s use of “the pill” is perfectly acceptable in the Church.

    3) Lack of compassion?  Sorry, I don’t see it.

    4) There are other ways to control the possibility of pregnancy that are acceptable to the Church.

    5) No one has ever stated that the Catholic Church is infallible.  Nor is the Pope.

  • Halasz Christina

    This violent woman with a past as a prostitute (how she paid for her college degree), and her female mistress, both of whom have drug and alcohol abuse issues, both of whom are CIA operatives, are an embarrassment to any organization they associate with. They are in no position to criticize anyone and we would be remiss to take their advise on anything. The idea that you work for the British government; you pretend to work for the US government; you commit all manner of crimes against the citizens of Commonwealth countries by illegally leveraging tax-funded government services against the crown’s economic competition through a network of like-minded spies whom you promote into public-sector middle-management; posing as someone of faith while simultaneously breaking all the rules; living a life of sexual deviancy and excess; aggressively promoting a culture that sexually victimizes young people— especially women, all the while posing as this ultra-conservative prude— the whole thing is absurd. Just because the woman is not easy on the eyes does not absolve her of the laundry-list of psychopathic, criminal behaviors. I understand the Royals chose her because she was ruthless; I see how she is competitive in that she has no conscience to speak of and no observance of any laws or customs. I see how this might allow certain advantages in a lawless armageddon but the erosion this woman’s approach to leadership has had on the lives of our people is not something any sane person could justify. Not only is it not economically sustainable but it goes against all logic, reason, faith! Furthermore, she lacks the most basic English comprehension and math skills, she has serious problems with retention and problem solving; is intellectually inferior in so many ways. She has no respect for the Arts, no respect for any of the disciplines required to sustain a civilization. She’s a shameful boor. The prisons are full with people like her, evidently many of them far more literate than she is!

  • Bert

    Inappropriately?  How so?

    The Catholic Church has made it for over 2000 years.  I think that that is a pretty good indication that it is flourishing, no?

  • Halasz Christina

    That’s right— none of us are infallible, however using Russian satellite technology to spy on people in their bathrooms as a means to leverage yourself in business crosses a certain line that nobody has any business crossing, Melinda.  When the people abusing the technology are having orgies, laundering money, investing in snuff porn, they have no place using other people’s (comparatively insignificant) private business as a means to blackmail.  If you live a clean life, then maybe you’re in a position to criticize if you can get around the legal infractions of privacy invasion but as Jesus said, “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.”  I realize Jesus is nothing to you, privacy is nothing to you, Church doctrine is nothing to you, you worship sex and money in that order and everything else is smut to you, but you run into problems when those who share your sentiments comprise .001 of the population and everyone else takes grave offense to your political views… you cannot conceal your true self indefinitely no matter how much disinformation you spread in the mainstream press; your homely wardrobe belies the face of a sexually-experienced drunkard.  When you play as though your psychosis and access to married money makes you invincible, this is when you underestimate others and expose your true sentiments to your own detriment.

  • Halasz Christina

    Using my middle initials to insinuate things about my inner life is childish but I gather this method worked for you since early childhood when you exchanged sexual favors with your own father so you could get out of doing your share of the household chores.  Before you endeavor to discuss Church doctrine or any other form of government, much less comprehend the complex inner lives of those with something called a conscience, you must learn that you cannot ignore people if you wish to address them directly.  My advise is to see a new psychiatrist because whatever your current doctor has you on is not working. 

  • Halasz Christina

    I wonder how well Melinda Gates would fare under non- consensual hypnosis?  I wonder how she would cope with a pauper’s income, no access to medical, dental, legal, tax rebates, bank loans, mortgages, distribution channels, shut out of public services, formal education?  If she had self-respect and selling her body/ stealing someone else’s identity was never an option, how would she have gotten to where she is today?

    In the Olympics we have drugs testing for people who use performance-enhancing drugs because we have such a thing as a sense of fair play— we believe as a society in the fundaments of a level playing field where any form of competition is concerned.  In school, we keep competition among same-aged peers for this same reason, so people can develop at a reasonable pace.  We are a society who believe in fair play.

    This woman has leveraged billions of dollars, global influence, a monopoly of the mainstream press, homely looks, mind-numbing drug-dependency, ruthless disregard for the values I adhere to religiously, including sobriety and faithfulness, criminal disregard for our laws and customs, ties in organized crime, government and law— all this to her advantage and still she cannot kill me.  I am living proof of this woman’s absolute incompetence.  I’ve also proven that evil is obsolete where there is solid public education; ignorance works to its own detriment.

  • Amy

    #1-Good point, it is time I left. 
    #2-My daughter shouldn’t have to “explain” it. 
    #3-As to lack of compassion in the church, Bert, you are obviously not a woman in need. 
    #4—There is only one way to control the possibility of pregnancy that is acceptable to the Church—”natural” planning. Don’t have sex during your fertile time—again, if you have unpredictable periods (BTW, that is 72% of women), then the natural method doesn’t work. Why is it that the Catholic Church insists that birth control has to be “natural” when they are completely ok with other forms of medical interference? At least the Christian Scientist beliefs in no unnatural interference is consistant. Catholic Church is completely ok with all other “unnatural” medical procedures like transplants, etc. just when it comes to sex—the church loses it’s mind. According to the church these are the unnatural ways of birth control—the Pill, the intrauterine device, foams, diaphragms, condoms, mutual or solitary masturbation and under no circumstances—withdrawl. If all the Catholics that disagreed with this statement left the church, there would be no one left to minister to.

  • theroadmaster

    The supporting words of the local Ursuline order in Dallas to describe the global pro-contraception campaign of Melinda gates, are so full of equivocation and fuzzy language, that one would think that Church teaching was inherently non-controversial and adaptable to all situations. rather like a furry teddy bear.  But this reveals a rather secularized mindset which has not taken account of the transforming nature of biblical teachings in relation to worldly values.  Mrs Gates embodies the professional career woman, who has benefited greatly from the very fine educational traditions of this iconic teaching order.  But her misguided emphasis on contraceptive pills or devices to deal with the false global overpopulation scare, impoverishment and other social ills in the developing world, smacks of a condescending, imperial colonialism which views citizens in certain countries as constituting the main obstacles to development, rather than the monopolization of resources by criminal regimes/greedy families or the injustices of globalization.  The immoral nature of contraception has been lost sight of, in her promulgation of it as a panacea for solving social justice issues and thus undermines the natural reproductive order, as the Creator had intended.

  • Halasz Christina

    I would not interpret their words as “supportive”.  In fact, there is contempt between the lines and the word, “respect” was used, suggesting they feel they have little alternative but to feign agreement if they do not wish to be targeted.  I imagine if they spoke out in her favor to begin with this is only because they had their privacy invaded by Gates prior to this sudden need to speak out in her favor— the customary threats of revealing things such as masturbation habits of people in the Church is Melinda’s bread and butter.  It makes no difference to her if people suffer in the clergy from deprivation— the red herring of contraception is a means for this woman to prolong the suffering of the clergy by sidestepping the issues that address the quality of life of her own race.

    She’ll always flip-flop from the topic of poor people in the West to the subject of the Third World because her means for survival is parasitic not on the people of the Third World, but on her own people.  The Third World can keep growing at this rate for another 100 years and still never reach the means we have available to us in the West— the reason leaders of foreign countries flock to her is they enjoy the disadvantages she thrusts on the Western population as a means of catharsis for perceived ills of Caucasians over colored races.  They do not want their poor to advance any more than the rich whites do.  They do not want a middle class.  

    Melinda is like a small child who, when sent to her room to clean, expends energies spreading the dirt around evenly under the rug so Mom & Pop won’t notice she never cleans. One look at the house she lives in will tell you why she flip-flops invariably whenever the topic of poverty in the West arises— it’s also the reason she cannot make eye contact with me even as she lives like a leech from my intellectual property for over 3 decades— she’s got a guilty conscience.  

    She would not have the privilege she enjoys if she did not bleed those in her vicinity.  There are ways to build wealth that are not parasitic but someone of inferior breeding and intellectual capacity cannot master these.  She has a need to live as a parasitic organism— it’s not a choice but a necessity for someone with her limited means; to minimize competition so she can compete.  She spends her every waking moment creating the illusion that she cares about the people in her own back yard when in fact she has to take psychiatric medication to assuage her burning conscience.

  • Jeannine

    When I read that Melinda Gates was educated by the Ursuline Sisters a few yrs ago, I knew right then & there that she would be disagreeing with the Church on the usual, hot-button social justice teachings. 

    She & Bill were doing so much good combating malaria & dirty drinking water in the 3rd world countries along with improving the education among the American poor. Why can’t they just stick with these 3 great issues? They were saving millions of lives unlike artificial contraceptives which is debatable.

  • Halasz Christina

    I know you don’t want to broach the subject of Third World toilets…

  • Patrick_Hadley

    In 1967 the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control, consisting of 72 eminent people (theologians, seven cardinals, 16 bishops, 12 doctors and some married lay people), agreed almost unanimously that it was time to change the teaching on contraception. Unfortunately Paul VI did not agree with them.

    Do you think that they all changed their minds on reading Humanae Vitae? Hardly. I doubt if even one of them did, since it is full of idiotic natural law arguments which simply do not make sense. Does anyone know of a member of that commission who recanted his views?

  • JByrne24

    Ofcourse the definition can be extended indefinitely, but ethics implies a high degree of systematic and logical consistency in the ideas concerning what is proper and improper.  The Church’s stance on contraception totally lacks these qualities.

    Made it for OVER 2000 years?  But it is the changes in our understanding of the world, in more recent times, that the Church really must face up to. 
    The Church took a timid step with its review of Galileo – but then it stopped!

  • JByrne24

    “In order to remain or to become a Roman Catholic you have to agree to believe in
    all the Church believes and teaches.”

    I cannot agree.  If this were so, then Catholics, over the years, would have been required to accept, what are now clearly seen to be, many silly ideas.

    Fallible Human Beings have always played a critical role in determining what the Church teaches.
    The acceptance of well-meaning dissent is an attribute of a healthy Church. It is a
    denial of such dissent, rather than an acceptance of it, that has been the
    cause of schism.

  • Bert

    Perhaps in your mind the Church’s stance on contraception isn’t logical but to many it certainly is.

    The Church has faced up to everything.  For that matter, the world really hasn’t changed very much over the last 2000 years.  The problems faced during Jesus’ time are the same problems faced today.  Technology is different but human nature isn’t.

    Why is it that I have a funny feeling that you have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about the relationship between Gallileo and the Church or what happened?

  • Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal





    ” …..and that the Church has little “experience” of the real world
    (run as it is by elderly celibates in the Vatican and so on).  OR AS SOME MIGHT REFER TO THEM USING EVEN



  • Halasz Christina

    Let us reflect on the fact that the only reason you are permitted to write on this subject in public, Gates, is due to your shameless inclination to photograph the clergy in flagrante delicto.  The last crime scene reality show unfolded three weeks ago and there’s nothing so consuming taking place at this time so you occupy yourself with Churchiness; it’s the flavor of the week. 

    Nobody wants your opinions; nobody needs your opinions, nobody asked for your opinions. Your opinions on my personal life, are, furthermore insignificant because I lead a remarkably dull and civilized little existence.  All the drama in my life was thrust onto us by the grace of your own criminal insanity.  One might think you at least had the presence of mind to realize you only further incriminate yourself by drawing focus on your own criminality, but then again, those of us who are familiar with your own special brand of crazy have ceased to marvel at your skill and enthusiasm in digging your own grave.

    So far as theology and Church doctrine are concerned, I’ve had my eye on the ball all the while you were lying drunk under a table somewhere in Southeast Asia.  If you ever hope to recover from this scandal, I suggest you do a bit of autobiographical writing— it’s a popular option for serial killers these days.  If only the prospect of visualizing such things were not so unpalatable where your own physical appearance is concerned, you might even have a new career as the next V.C. Andrews.

  • Halasz Christina

    It’s true— we cannot preach what we are not capable of living…

  • Halasz Christina

    Now we have some commentary on the Dilbert blog: 

    +6  “May 16, 2012At a 5-day series of presentations, I was asked to arrive on day 4. My presentation was last for that day. I turned up early that morning and sat in the front, occasionally glancing backwards to gauge the audience. They seemed thoughtful and attentive, as their laptops weren’t being used for goofing off. Someone else turned up after me, so I moved to the back of the room. It was then I noticed that the audience’s laptops were being reformatted and reinstalled. One of the audience members quietly and sadly confessed they had run out of other tasks. I excused myself out of that meeting, cut down my presentation from 3 hours to 15 minutes, came back in when I was scheduled, did my 15 and told them to look for the full presentation in their e-mail, then gave them the rest of the day off.My drinks that night were all paid for.”
    I have information that x-rated material of this young girl, featured on my local news site in a Youtube video, is being passed around through the Rotary Club:

    Coinciding with the following press release from the Vatican:–pope-defrocks-roman-catholic-bishop-convicted-of-child-pornography”Wed May 16 2012 1 0 RecommendPope defrocks Roman Catholic bishop convicted of child pornographyANTIGONISH, N.S. The Pope has defrocked a Roman Catholic bishop who was convicted earlier this year of importing child pornography into Canada.The Holy See stripped Raymond Lahey of his clerical duties in what is one of the most serious penalties that the Roman Catholic Church can impose, the Diocese of Antigonish, N.S., said Wednesday.The decision means Lahey, a former bishop of Antigonish, may no longer carry out any ministerial functions on behalf of the church.Archbishop Richard Smith, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Lahey’s actions have left the Catholic community deeply wounded.In January, Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years of probation after he was caught at the Ottawa airport in September 2009 with hundreds of pornographic images of young boys on his laptop and a hand-held device.But because Lahey was given double credit for the time he served in custody before his sentencing, he was released on probation upon conclusion of his trial.Smith said Pope Benedict XVI has also ordered Lahey, 71, to continue his daily prayers.The Canadian Press”

  • Halasz Christina

    What this suggests is that Gates has access to hundreds of thousands of users of explicit child pornography within his contact list and his wife leverages herself in business with such information while it is never reported unless someone from outside her circles is perceived as an economic threat.  I have done tests in the past and I know for a fact that all the high-level government employees are copied immediately to anything racy that’s sent to Gates’ email account.

  • LocutusOP

    Okay, so we had 72 heretics on the commission. What’s your point?

    Am I right in assuming that “idiotic natural law arguments” is another way of stating “things which limit me in doing what I want”?

    There’s nothing non-sensical about the natural law arguments used in Humanae Vitae, and even if there had been, it would take nothing away from the fact that artificial contraception cannot be advanced as moral given there are perfectly natural ways to space children.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    All heretics? Have you ever even heard of the sensus fidelium? 

    All natural law arguments are nonsense. They are supposed to be obvious to all people from reason alone without the need for faith or revelation in order to believe them. Yet who, apart from a tiny minority of Catholics, accepts the arguments in Humanae Vitae? And they only believe them out of misplaced loyalty.  

    We are told that it is gravely sinful to separate the procreative from the unitative ends of the marital act, but we are not told why using just part of the good of an act is not allowed. For example the primary purpose of walking is locative, that is to move from one place to another. Agreed? Walking is also undertaken for exercise. Would it be gravely sinful to walk without moving location, for example on a treadmill in the gym? Would that not be separating the primary locative purpose of walking from the exercise purpose of walking?

  • JByrne24

    But our knowledge of the world has changed greatly.
    The Church’s teaching must reflect this.Jesus, of course, did not speak about contraception or of many of the other things the Church now speaks about (officially) with such apparent certainty.
    I made no reference to “technology”. 

  • JByrne24

    There is widespread opposition within the Church at a high level against the current stance against contraception (except, of course, for the natural thermometers and graph paper).

    The point, LocutusOP, is that these people were not heretics, but rather persons committed to the Church who were doing their level best, in all honesty and conscience (and with deep theological knowledge) to steer the Church away from an absurdity.

  • Gavin Wheeler

     Not EVERY organisation.

    Still, for those that do, it can be very revealing to see what is in that Code.

    Are you claiming that the Catholic Church’s Code of Ethics forbids these Nuns from respecting someone’s “right to speak from her research and her experience of
    the world we live in”? That freedom of speech really does not extend to disagreeing with the Church or even acknowledging another person’s right to do so?

  • cprust

    I find it sad (and unfortunately typical) to read this
    ignorant (and in many way “mean”) article. A group of nuns offered
    their support to a woman, who they thought was making the world a better place.
    In return they are attacked, one low blow at a time in this article. What is
    wrong with the author? Since when did every person in world have to follow one
    set of values? Is this the Third Reich were anyone who disagrees is shunned and
    ridiculed. And what is worse is that the author of this article clearly hasn’t
    done any actual research of her own on the potential benefits of birth control.
    She doesn’t care about the health of women around the world; She just blindly
    follows what she is told to follow. Thank God there are people out there who
    are not as ignorant and naïve as her and people who are actually willing to put
    common sense before ignorance and stupidity.


  • Jacquelineparkes

    Oh dear Amy – how sad..I have had 12 pregnancies – 10 living children..thanks be to God my own children wish to marry & have large families themselves. My eldest daughter is a doctor – recently married..the next studying for her Masters Degree..all are clever & value the teaching of the Catholic Church on faith & morals – truly liberating!

  • theroadmaster

    Your ignorant dismissal of  natural law arguments, demonstrates a “head in the sand” attitude to the processes of Nature e.g the unity achieved by the procreative intent and selfless,mutual love in the love-making of a married couple.  In the complete giving of a couple to one another without any contraceptive impediments, we can see the full intent of the Creator’s gift of sex in all of it’s aspects.  Your walking analogy is not germane to the debate concerning the immorality of deliberately frustrating the procreative act and thus undermining the unitive side of it.   Walking is a physical act, whether on a treadmill or down as street and has no more profound meaning that that, while the true nature of sex is very much distorted by the sterility of the contraceptive act which divides the procreative aspect from the unitive.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    I fail to see any explanation in your reply for why it should be immoral to separate the unitive from the procreative. If a natural law argument is true then it must be obvious to all rational people. By definition natural law arguments which are not accepted by the vast majority of rational people who have considered them, cannot be valid. Arguing from authority “The Pope says it is so, therefore it must be accepted,” in connection with natural law is self-contradictory.

    Neither have you explained why it is not against natural law to separate the locative from the exercise functions of walking. The fundamental nature of walking is that it moves a person from one place to another. God gave us the act of walking so that we might be able to move around the world and this is written into the essential nature of the act itself. Locomotion is as important to mankind as procreation, it is a fundamental good.  While walking is also capable of providing exercise, to deliberately indulge in it on a treadmill which frustrates God’s design for how the act of walking should be used. contradicts the design of the First Mover that we should use all our acts of walking for changing position. To use the act of walking while depriving it, even temporarily, of its meaning and purpose is repugnant to the nature of man and woman, and is in opposition to the plan of God and his holy will. Just as man does not have dominion over his body, so he does not have  dominion over the parts of the body involved in walking, for these are concerned with the very nature of moving around the world, of which God as First Mover is the source.

    Total nonsense of course, but exactly the same idiotic argument was used by Paul VI in Humanae Vitae.

  • theroadmaster

    Natural law does not depend on people who recognize it, stating that it is there because “the pope said so” It is more or less the definition of how things are in reality, which is often missed by those who look at life through a  narrow,subjective perspective.

    You state that the whole area of natural law is false because the vast majority of people disagree with it.  How have you come to this startling conclusion, without taking a representative sample poll of what the general population is thinking.
    A person comes to terms with the nature of things when they are true to themselves in relation to other people and their environment.  True human flourishing can only result in people acting in co-operation and respect with the highest moral desires of their nature. I will expand on this point later. 
    I realize that walking is a locomotive act involving our limbs but your point concerning the differences between static and motional walking, is not on the same moral plain as the implications of the contraceptive act.  No discernible natural process is broken by walking on a treadmill as distinct from walking towards a certain destination.  One person may be simply exercising for pleasure while someone else has to meet an appointment.  I can see where your argument is coming from, but it does not do justice to the serious damage done by the “contraceptive” mentality to society.

    To return to the natural order of things as pre-ordained by the Creator in the sexual act.  As we have learned in biological class in school, the primary function of it is to propagate the species or else it would not realistically survive.  As humans are endowed with reason and the capacity for love which starts from attraction to a member of the opposite sex, the act of intimate love making can strengthen this love into an unbreakable mutual bond within marriage.  A neutral observer can judge that these are the main elements of the reproductive act in humans.  The sundering of one from the other has had dire consequences for societies as Pope Paul V1 prophesied in “Humanae Vitae”. i.e increasing levels of abortion ,divorce, teenage pregnancies.  The pill had facilitated the era of value-free sex which has created the conditions for these trends to happen

  • Patrick_Hadley

    If God had wanted the primary function of sex in humans to be procreation why did he make us so that only around 3% of human sex acts naturally lead to procreation? Most animals only have sex when the female is fertile, and all their sex acts are procreative.  God could have designed human reproduction in the same way, but he chose not to. Instead he made it that for humans the unitive function occurs 100% of the time, while the procreative is naturally only present in a small minority of the acts. 

    I do not accept natural law arguments, but if I did I would learn from nature that the primary function of human sex is unitive. 

  • theroadmaster

    During the monthly fertile periods in a woman’s biological cycle, the woman can conceive on average around 30-40 % of the time on average.  Procreation is the primary physical function of sexual activity while it cements the unitive bond between the married couple. To separate one from the other, is to interfere in an insidious way with what God the Creator had pre-ordained.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    Reply to “theroadmaster”. Since you are a fan of Paul VI’s natural law argument against contraception can you find me one example outside sexual ethics where natural law is used today in papal moral teaching as the only argument to justify a doctrine? In the past Popes have used natural law to argue in favour of: slavery; the divine right of kings; corporal punishment;  torture; and capital punishment, and against: charging any interest on loans; freedom of speech; democracy; and married women having rights. Even in those cases natural law was not the only argument used by Popes to support their definitive moral arguments, which at the time they were issued all Catholics were supposed to accept, but have since been changed. 

    In the case of contraception everything depends first on accepting natural law arguments as valid, and secondly on accepting Paul VI’s understanding of the primary purpose of sexual intercourse. Is there any non-sexual activity we are banned from just because of a Pope’s argument based on natural law alone? 

  • Womanofvalor

    By referring to contraception you are referring to technology -technology doesn’t just contain micro-chips!
    Have you ever read the Church documents in relation to humane vitae? If you had you would have understood the very real issues that contraception poses ethically.
    Also, as Francis points out, natural forms of contraception are as effective as those created by man. The only difference being that they require the commitment of the couple to each other in a long term relationship and be open to any child that may result; all contraception fails after all. Natural forms just make you aware of the chances of failure, it doesn’t provide a false consciousness of safety that man made contraception does.
    As a result those practicing natural forms of contraception are more accepting of a life that is formed and able to provide for that life in a committed relationship.
    This, by the way is foreseen in humane vitae. The Church has Jesus at its core and as such He guides it to be a living witness as to what is morally right for Christians. In this way we understand that Jesus has spoken about contraception, through His Church.
    You talk about our knowledge of the world changing greatly, but as Catholics understand it this knowledge is always darkened through sin, there ore our deductions are always affected. The whole point of Adam and Eve’s grasping at the fruit was to ‘be like gods, knowing good from evil’. This is why they fell. That doesn’t mean seeking wisdom and knowledge is wrong, but it does mean that when we seek this without the means by which God has established for us to come to a full understanding of it i.e. The Bible and the Church it will be faulty.

  • Womanofvalor

    Gavin you repeating yourself and Bert has replied.

  • Womanofvalor

    Macron thought that the trinity was a silly idea, his dissent was well meaning. If they hadn’t denied his dissent we may not have schism, but we also wouldn’t have Christianity.

  • Womanofvalor

    If you had provided any rational arguments yourself perhaps your point would have been made. However you seem go be just insulting the author for presenting a dissenting view about the nuns. Hypocrite.

  • JessicaHof

    I am clearly missing something here. There are many arguments pro and contra contraception, but I thought the Catholic teaching was clear?

  • cprust

    My point isn’t to attack her position on birth control (even
    though I find it silly, but to do so would take up several pages). The main
    reason that I can’t stand articles like these is that the authors never seem to
    have any opinions of their own. Like I said above, they seem to just blindly
    follow what the church teaches, like in this article the author didn’t seem to
    be attacking the nuns for their specific beliefs but more generally for having
    beliefs contrary to the church. The fact that the author is attacking nuns
    doesn’t matter to me. I find it scary to think that there are millions (maybe
    billions) of people like this who clearly don’t think for themselves but
    instead let old men at the Vatican (whom they have never met or really know
    very little about) decide what is right and wrong. The author presents an issue
    like birth control in a very black and white manner. The truth is that issues
    like this, along with many other issues in the modern world (such as abortion,
    same sex marriage ec.) are extremely complicated and can’t be represented as if
    it’s a multiple choice question in an exam (evil or good). There are many
    nuisances, which there is no way that any two people will agree on, let alone many
    millions of people. To let a institution dictate your values seems extremely
    dangerous and has shown time and time again in history to lead to disasters.

  • cprust

    I don’t understand how you could be so foolish as to not
    think for yourself. The church is just a collection of fallible men completely
    capable of making mistakes. Reading this post reminds me of the quote, “Religion
    is for the weak”. Cleary that’s the case here because you seem to be too weak
    minded and lack the common sense to question what you are told. Like a little


  • theroadmaster

    The long accepted view on marriage is based on the “natural law” that is currently being challenged by liberal modernists across the Western world.  Even societies across the globe, which were not influenced  by the great monotheistic religions, instinctively knew that the marital union between one man and one woman and open to procreation was the ontological reality in relation to men and women and familial relationships  There is a “sexual” side to this topic, but there also anthropological and social traditions innate to many global communities which have influenced this development.  These traditions have also helped to form the Christian argument on marriage but these are informed by the natural order as discovered by mankind.

    In short, the rightly ordered view of the world and human interaction lies at the heart of the natural law.  You ask in what other situations outside “sexual ethics”, does the Church use the “natural law” argument to justify Her teachings.  I can think of any number e.g sacred prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery and character defamation. Your list of now recognized injustices i.e slavery,torture or capital punishment etc were never supported by past or present popes on the grounds of natural law.  Rather they were tolerated on the grounds of secondary causes e.g capital punishment was allowed as a penalty for grave acts which threatened societies.  Although Thomas Aquinas condemned slavery and popes issued edicts and bulls against it, I would have to say that the teachings of the Church evolved on this subject to the point where all forms of this insidious activity is outrightly condemned.  

    The teaching on contraception has remained immutable in Christian teachings from the earliest days of Church teaching.  The apostolic work “The Didache” from the 1st-2nd centuries, issued a strong condemnation of practices which interfered with conception.e.g.“You shall not practice birth control, you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor kill what is begotten”.  This has remained unchanged in the life of the Catholic Church and has thus not been effected by human custom or law over the centuries.  It is based on the law of the ultimate law-giver, God the Creator and in that sense is a reaffirmation of the Natural law.