Bishops at fore of same-sex marriage fight

Several Catholic bishops across the US have been at the forefront in the fight against same-sex marriage in recent weeks:

In Newark, Archbishop John Myers released a pastoral letter, apparently meant for August but held back until just weeks before November elections, in which he suggested that Catholics who support same-sex marriage might refrain from taking communion. Read more here and listen to a report from NPR here.


Washington state is putting the question of same-sex marriage to voters after the legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year, signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Catholic who cited her faith’s emphasis on social justice as a motivating factor. The three Catholic dioceses in that state are coordinating efforts, and Seattle’s Archbishop J. Peter Sartain released a video in which he urged voters to defeat the law. Read more here.

Voters in Minnesota are being asked if that state’s constitution should be amended to ban same-sex marriage. Archbishop John Nienstedt is asking the Catholic faithful there to fund television ads to adopt the amendment. Nienstedt has long been a vocal opponent to same-sex marriage in Minnesota, with his efforts including the distribution of anti-same-sex marriage DVDs to hundreds of thousands of households. Read more here.

In Chicago, Cardinal Francis George used the occasion of a golden anniversary ceremony for hundreds of couples to remind them of the Church’s teaching against same-sex marriage. He suggested that same-sex relationships are friendships and should be honored in some way, but denounced any change to current marriage laws. The Catholic governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, supported civil union legislation in that state, and has promised to advocate for full marriage rights. Read more here.

Finally, San Francisco welcomed its new archbishop, Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, who is considered the architect around the campaign to overturn the same-sex marriage law in California in 2008. Several gay rights activists protested outside the installation Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Read more here.

Same-sex marriage is already a reality in many states, and its adoption in several more is inevitable. The Catholic Church offers a much needed voice for many of our society’s most troubling issues, including poverty, the environment, and immigration. Should church leaders continue to focus their energies on marriage, or redistribute its resources to other areas where their efforts might be more impactful? Have they considered the pastoral challenges they and their pastors may face after waging so public a campaign on so emotional an issue? Has acceptance of same-sex marriage become common, even among Catholics, and, if so, are some church leaders harming evangelization efforts with these political campaigns?

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Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Sorry Mark.
I mis-read your question. I have seen several articles on Cardinal George's homily, but could not find the full transcript. However, it appears from the news reports that he said pretty much the same thing as Archbishop Myers, in terms of the harm that would be inflicted on society and religious freedom should the loosening definition of marriage occur.

 ''There must surely be ways in our civil society, where we can honor friendships, where we can respect other people, without destroying the nature of marriage...It is very important, for your whole lives, give witness to what marriage truly means. And while civil laws might change – if they do – then society will be the worse for it.''
7 years ago
Well put Brian.
ed gleason
7 years ago
A lot of links above about what bishops say about marriage.
Today's Gospel by Mark [10] says no divorce.
 Matthew a little later says maybe divorce  ok for infidelity. {Matt5:32]
St Paul a little more later, says it's OK if the other partner is not a believer  [Corinthians ]. I see revisions here.
As one who is married for 57 years I would like to point out,  the Lord/Scripture is not as 'hard' on marriage and divorce  as the un-married bishops. I guess they are burdened because they think they have Western civilization in their hands. .  
Rick Fueyo
7 years ago
One day these actions will be a source of embarrassment to the Church, much like prior support for the Inquisition or tolerance of slavery.  It's just a morally wrong position.

In the short term, I think the Church's desire to be a partisan political actor in the November elections, manifested in its prior political statements on contraceptive care, has had the opposite effect of what they anticipated, and it helped the candidate they hoped to defeat. It is difficult for a moral body to get too immersed in politics without corrupting itself, and we appear on that route.

Seeking temporal power is ultimately corrupting.
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

It is good to hear from you once again. Don't you think that A/B Myers is being extreme by focusing on marriage in his pastoral letter when he says that Catholics who disagree with the Church's definition of marriage should refrain from receiving the Eucharist? He reasons that a disagreement with a core teaching should have "consequences" and that he is only defending the truth.

If this is so, it is perplexing to me why he should not extend his pastoral letter to those that practice contraception. After all, that is a core Church teaching. We all know that most priests and bishops have been silent (e.g., the so-called silent pulpit) on this issue for the past 44 years. More than 90% of Catholics practice contraception while many attend weekly Mass and receive the Eucharist. Most Catholics don't confess contraception as a sin and this has been widely known as attested by many Catholic polls over the last 30 years. Interestingly, a America Magazine blogger a month or so ago mentioned that her priest (in Flatbush, Brooklyn, N.Y.) decided to proclaim from the pulpit each week that "any one who practices contraception and has not received absolution, must not stand in line to receive the Eucharist". After about a month of this, most Catholics from that Church started to attend a neighoring Church. The priest from the neigboring church, who knew about issue, never mention or condemned anyone who wanted to receive the Eucharist. The is one example that clearly demonstrates that when it comes to a core teaching (e.g., contraception) there is a profound contradiction between the letter of doctrine and the deed of pastoral practices!

While the Catholic Church believes that marriage is a sacrament, other Christian Churches do not. The Luthern Church developed a social model grounded in the Luthern doctrine of the heavenly and earthly kingdom. The Calvinist tradition established a convenantal model of marriage. For Calvin, marriage was a sacramental institution of the chruch, but a convenantal association of the entire community. The Anglican tradition brought forth a commonwealth model of marriage. Each of these Christian models of marriage struct its own balances between church and state, clergy and laity, rights and duties, order and liberty, dogma and adiaphora in matters of sex, marriage and family life.

We live in a pluralistic society and there is, for better or worse, a separation of church and state. The state is empowered to pass civil laws involving marriage, same-sex unions, rights and duties, et al., that apply to all Americans. The Catholic Church, other Christian Churches, as well as those of the Jewish religion are empowered to to formulate laws and models of marriage that apply to their faithful parishioners. 

It is also perplexing that A/B Myers did not reiterate the condemnation of receiving the Eucharist (and the sacrament of reconcilation) to those Catholcs who are divorsed and remarried. Is this not another core teaching? A case in point: Cardinal Ratzinger in the mid to late 1990s wrote an essay suggesting a sound philosophical and theological justification that the Church could use to reform this teaching about the divorsed and remarried and allow them access to the sacrament of reconcilation and Eucharistic reception. Yet, as Pope he has not mentioned it once. Perhaps A/B Myers knew this but forgot to mention this core teaching and remind Catholics of its "consequences" in his pastoral letter. 

In conclusion, the Catholic Church has a right forumate laws of marriage that apply to all Catholics who wish to be married in a Catholic Church. The state has the right to formulate laws of civil marriage that apply to all Americans of different faiths who wish to be married civily. All Americans, Catholics and non-Catholics can voice their opinions. However, A/B Myer's pastoral letter and his message of consequences is over the top.

Ed Gleason,

Great comments. 
Brian Pinter
7 years ago
To Tom Piatak:

From Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the editor of the Catechsim, and a major voice in the "teaching authority" of the Roman Church: 
“We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships...A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.  The primary thing to consider should not be the sin, but people’s striving to live according to the commandments.  Instead of a morality based on duty, we should work towards a morality based on happiness” 

This dichotomy you offer of Totally Orthodox, Unambiguously Clear and True Bishops/Pope Vs The Secular, Depraved New York Times is a false one and, I say respectfully, unhelpful.
ed gleason
7 years ago
O'Leary says  " Once again, your anticlerical fanaticism'
I have been censored on this blog but you seem to have a free pass to add words on another's post and then label them names. . {'Church is harsher than Jesus or Paul on marriage.'] Jesus and Paul have no opinions, notions, excuses about annulments.. Furthermore, no where do you find those words on my posts.  You seem to count as  the entire  Church, the SMALL number of bishops who have led a full court press against SS marriage.  The majority of Catholics think SSM is very small change in the present world. Read the papers and stay out of city hall basement marriages  and your fear will subside. .
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Oh, fer hevvin's sake!  These prissy old "celibates" are about as relevant on this topic as they are (not) on most others.  They should stick to their clerical knitting and let people who live a real life get on with doing just that.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
#38 - ''O'Leary..... you seem to have a free pass to add words on another's post and then label them names.''

Yes - this is a very bad habit of Mr. O'Leary's. I am dealing with the same issue with him on the How to Evangelize thread (he judges me on words I did not say - but he ''interpreted'' from my post), and I noted that someone else recently had a long discussion with him on his habit of judging people with whom he disagrees and reaching conclusions about them and ''naming'' them - even though they said not even one word about any of the things he is judging them on. I don't remember the thread though.

I have decided that the best thing to do is simply not engage with those who refuse to stick to what is actually said and stop judging everyone else.

I haven't posted here in a long time - I am no longer an active Catholic and am reaching the point where what crazy bishops come up with is of no interest to me (or most of the world, if you want to be honest about it).  Few people take them seriously anyway because their ideas are too divorced from the real world to be of interest.

 I re-engaged because nobody had responded initially to the ''How to Evangelize'' article and related blog. As one of the ''disaffected'' Catholics they hope to ''reach'' with their campaign, I jumped in and offered some reasons that this campaign to the ''disaffected'' will most likely not produce much fruit.

Theresa Maccarone
7 years ago
I say,  "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's".  Let the Church define the Sacrament of Marriage the way she wants and let civil law define marriage they way it wants.  
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Michael #37
There is a difference in degree and clarity between the civil endorsement of sodomy and the practice of contraception, and while both have bad consequences for society, the first is more serious because of the impact it will have on children and religious freedom. Note that abortion is even more serious in Church teaching, carrying an automatic excommunication (from communion).

Also, the statement “More than 90% of Catholics practice contraception” is completely bogus, as you should know from previous posts that completely discredit this number (or are we to suppose that all children and the elderly are also on contraception?). The fact that Archbishop Myers didn’t bring up a host of other sins or practices is hardly a reasonable criticism. This pastoral letter ''Two Become One,'' was about the unique heterosexual nature of marriage. As regards your post #39 on divorce, this is a separate issue, but your examples confirm for me that the Church (including the early bishops) could have been softer than Jesus’ firm teaching. (and remember Tammy Wynette’s song, it is D-I-V-O-R-C-E, not ''divorse'').

Gleason #38
To quote you directly in #35: “the Lord/Scripture is not as 'hard' on marriage and divorce as the un-married bishops.” How is it wrong to interpret this sentence that you mean that the Church is harsher (meaning harder) than Scripture, unless you now believe the bishops do not represent the teaching of the Church? Have you excommunicated them?

Anne #40
You here call the bishops crazy and generally have judged many of them and in your other post want the Pope indicted for crimes he didn’t commit and you think I am judgmental? You have voted with your feet for the Episcopalian Church, going from a growing Church to a shrinking one – not exactly a harbinger of effective evangelization. As regards prospects for success, the ''new evangelization'' efforts - meaning the outreach to those in the West who have left the Church of their youth - might fail. It is like the Lord's parable on sowing seeds in Mark 4. Even some seed of the Lord's falls on barren ground, or in this case, shallow soil. Many evangelical efforts in history have failied, but the Church always seems to grow, even if in different places.
Mike Brooks
7 years ago
One of the problems with people jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon is that they focus on the individuals who are crying victimhood, but they fail to consider the consequences on the rest of society.  With a gay "marriage" initiative on the ballot in Minnesota in November, Minnesota for Marriage has put together a great series of "Marriage Miunute" videos discussing the issue.  Here's one of the latest of about 40 produced thus far.  This one talks about some of the unintended consequences of gay "marriage."  If you have the time, all of their videos are worth a look.

Talk of seperating civil marriage from religious marriage is nonsense.  Do we talk about civil abortion and religious abortion?  Of course not.

Watch the video; learn.  Stop letting your emotions get in the way of your common sense.  Yes, we all know gay people, and they're all very charming; that is not reason enough to change an institution that has assured children a mother and a father for thousands of years.

Vince Killoran
7 years ago

How on earth is your "religious freedom" violated when two people marry?! Thta reminds me of southern slave holders who maintained that emancipation interferred with their "pursuit of happiness." Also, I remember from a previous post that you had difficult defining "sodomy" so some clarification would help.

The 90% figure isn't "completely bogus": it refers to women throughout their life cycle. Catholic women's use of natural family planning is down in the single digits. I guess you've concluded that they are all in a state of mortal sin.

Political organizations like the USCCB et al. should not be tax exempt.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years ago
Americans have a background rule-of-thumb that if you are born a certain way, it is not held against you. Under this principle, homosexual people have the right to the same associations and privileges as heterosexual people.  Homosexuals do not threaten heterosexual marriage.  All the damage done to that institution has been done by heterosexuals.  If my bishop ever says I'm not Catholic because of my views on civil homosexual marriage, I just may decide to take him at his word.  Either way, it's not my greatest concern.  It's the climate, stupid.
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

There you go again, never reading or listening (but ignoring) the facts that your fellow bloggers like myself have given you in previous blog commentaries on this subject. There is ample and well grounded evidence about the frequency of contraception among Catholics. I will repeat it here "again".

1. Only 1.1% of Catholics ages 15-44 use Natural Family Planning-Periodic Continence are as birth control method, compared to .6% of non-Catholic women. SOURCE: Under the Microscope: Catholics, Contraception and Abortion-the National Survey of Family Growth in Current Medical Research, Summer/Fall 2010, Richard Fehring, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing.

2. Periodic Continence (NFP) methods are currently used by 2% to 3% fo all women in the U.S. between 15 and 44 years of age. SOURCE: New Low and High Tech Calendar Methods of Family Planning, Richard Fleming, Marquette University, published in Journal of Nurse Midwifery and Women's Health, Vol., 50, No.1, January, 2005.

3. 89% of all Catholics, 90% of post-Vatican II Catholics (ages 18-39 years) and 92% of Vatican II Catholics (ages 40-64) say that it is not always morally wrong to use a condom or brith control pills. SOURCE: Dean Hoge, Opinions of Catholic Generatioal Cohorts, Catholic University of America, 2007.

4. Only about 3% of alll women world-wide (in child bearing years) practice NFP-Periodic Continence as a birth control method. SOURCE: United Nations Report. If you want the specific reference I will look it up. It was not immediately avaiable to me.

Other Information of Note:

1. 44% of priests think using artifical methods of birth control is seldom a mortal sin. Los Angelus Times Survey of Roman Catholic Priests and Nuns, 1994.

2. Only 35% of priests support he Church's teaching on contraception..some studies show it is as high as 47%. Janet E. Smith "Contracepion: Why Not". Note: Theologian Janet Smith is one of the strongest defenders of Humanae Vitae.

It is perplexing to anyone that you can definitively assert that same-sex marriage is more serious an issue or a sin than contraception. You use it as an argument why A/B Myers chose not to include other disagreements to core teachings, and their consequences, in his pastoral letter. If I take the Church's position for the moment, same-sex marriage involves non-procreative sex, while contraception prevents procreation, and also prevents a fertilized egg from implantation, an act of quasi-abortion (e.g, the pill is professed to be abortificacient by the church). Unfortunately, your argument is weak and unreasonable. You will say almost anything rather than admit you are wrong in this situation or that the Church is misguided. You will never admit the Church is inconsistent and contradictory in light of the facts I offered.
As to Scripture, you once dismiss and ignore Jesus's teaching in Matt. 5: 27-32 when He allowed for divorce in cases of adultery or unchasity. You only point to other passages where He did not fully articulate all circumstances. Somehow, some of what Jesus said must be a misprint and other things Jesus said reflects the complete truth.

Tim... Jus to be clear...I am against direct abortion, but not the definition that the Church maintains...e.g, the conclusion and judgement of the Church in the Phoenix case. Hence, don't paint the entire abortion issue as black and white as you like to do. Even the most orthodox of theologians don't agree with the decision of the Bishop of Phoenix based on a comprehensive moral analysis by Theresa Lysaught of Marquette University, and Bill Murphy of the Pontifical College Josephium. Diito for the common sense of most Catholics. The fetus in this case could not survive under any circumstances and was threatening the life of the mother. I guess you would have let both the mother and fetus die, rather than to save the life of the mother. Another blogger claimed that she believed that the mother in this case was called to mardyrdom. How absurd.

You dont' offer any facts but only opinion not adequately defended. You also never give any sense that the other person has raised solid points of argumentation. At least I admit to disagreement and differences but try to stick to I offer above.

If you are so certain that you know the percent of Catholics who practice contraception or NFP, please provide the source. Lastly, let's try to be civil and professional in our commentaries, rather than demeaning and degrogatory which, in the past, has not been appreciated by our fellow bloggers.
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Ed #35
Once again, your anticlerical fanaticism distorts your judgment. Given the number of annulments approved each year in the United States, it is amazing that you would say the Church is harsher than Jesus or Paul on marriage. On marriage being for life, on it being between one man and one woman, and on adultery, fornication, (Jesus in Mt 15, Mk 7), on the sinfulness of homosexual practices (St. Paul in Romans), they are harsher than the Church.

When you quoted Jesus, you left out the two places where he was even more emphatic.
In Luke 16:18 Jesus says: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” No hint of an exception here.

In Mark 10:6-12, Jesus says: “From the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female’. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.'' And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, ''Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.''
Bill Freeman
7 years ago
@Amy Ho-Ohm, you state:  "Same-sex "marriage" is popular with the segment of the population that wants to change people's attitudes; those who want to confuse the sacred marital act with plain, banal, meaningless "sex" and those who want to confuse objective moral principles with mere "psychological insights."

Your comments are hateful and cruel - not to mention downright ignorant.  How dare you so viciously judge what so obviously you do not understand.  

I know from many of your other comments what a wing-nut you are - not you have set a new low.

Michael Barberi
7 years ago
Tim and Ed,

It is true that there is a difference between Matt. 5:27-32 and Luke 16:18 and Mk. 6-12...or for that matter Matt. 19:6 RSV. However, in 1Cor. 7:15 Paul wrote that "spritual desertion" was a second ground for divorse in addtion to the ground of adultery or "unchasity" which Christ had recognized. Let us not forget that divorse was permitted by Mosaic law on the grounds of adultery as well.

Even the early church father, Clement, allowed divorse for adultery but counseled against remarriage (but did not condemn it).

The fullest expression of early church law came from the Council of Elvira in Spain with the issuance of the Edict of Milan (313). "A husband who knows of his wife's adultery and who remains with her may not commune (receive the Eucharist) even prior to death. If he lived with his wife for a period of time after her adultery and then left her, he may not commune for 10 years. This clearly demonstrates that divorse and Eucharistic reception was allowed after penance.

It was Augustine and his negative view of sex and marriage (he believed that celibacy and virginity were better) that changed the Church's teaching about marriage. What the Church refuses to mention or take into consideration is that Augustine believed in the marital debt, allowing for an exception to his teaching that the only justification for sexual intercourse in marriage was for procreation. This was based on 1 Cor. 7 and Ephesians 7....It is better to be sexually active than to court the temptations of lust and adultery.

Augustine in his early writings followed the patristic readings of the "exception" clause in Matt. 19:9 and allowed for divorse on grounds of adultery. He also hinted that 1 Cor. 7:15 can be read to condone divorse on the grounds of spritual dissertion as well. However,
Augustine later concluded that the divorsing spouse could not remarry until the other spouse had died. This remained with the Church to this very day. However, it is not free from controvery. 
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Vince #42
I wonder if you ever read the previous posts before you respond? Please read the last paragraph of #31, where I list the damage to religious freedom.

As to the 90% figure that Michael quoted, he said 90% of all Catholics, not 90% of sexually active women. So, maybe he wishes to correct that? As to the claim of 90% of sexually active women (or your lifetime number), see this article I shared with Michael back in June from Lydia McGrew: article “How to Lie with Statistics, Example Umpteen.” Now, how many Catholics lie in their lifetime? The frequency of a sin doesn’t make it right.

Michael #43
See my response to Vince re the 90%.

Contraception is typically meant to refer to obstruction/interferance of fertilization with normal heterosexual intercourse. Anal intercourse, between a man and a women, or between men is a much more serious sin (a desecration of the body) and pertains to gay marriage. Abortifacient drugs are abortions and are worse than both, as they kill a child.

In Matt 5:32 (NIV), Jesus says “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Read closely. It is not an endorsement of divorce for “sexual immorality.” It just distinguishes sexual immorality (Greek “porneia”) from this condemnation. Read here about uses of the term “porneia” in Leviticus, regarding sex among close relatives (as in incest).

Bill #44
It is hateful and cruel for you to call another human being a ''wing-nut.'' You should be ashamed of yourself. What is the world coming to?
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
#46, Michael - this is ''off topic'' but.... it is nice to ''see'' you also. I posted on a different article only because I am among the ''disaffected'' (former) Catholics being targeted by the ''new evangelization.''  Although I still regularly scan America and a couple of other Catholic websites, reading if an article catches my eye, I find that fewer and fewer articles catch my eye! Most are (understandably) Catholic-focused and I am no longer Catholic-centric in my spiritual life. It took many years of intense study, and of prayer and reflection, and overcoming the ties of a lifetime of an active member of the RCC - the hardest part - to finally leave, but after five years, I find I no longer really care a lot about the internal politics of the Catholic church nor about what various bishops have to say about matters of which they know very little.

So, while I applaud you and others who continue to ''fight the good fight'' within the church, some of us who chose a different path now have more spiritual peace, and thus are more able to focus on other things - deepening spirituality, and simply trying to be more christian, following the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, mindful of the two commandments of Jesus - to love. Sadly, there seems to be very little love in the RCC these days.  Each person responds differently, but for me the RCC had become a huge obstacle in the path towards God. Since I can't move that obstacle, I chose to go around it and continue the spiritual journey as best I can.

Unfortunately, the discussions on sites such as this are almost an ''occasion of sin'' for me, as they too often make me angry and frustrated, so it's best to avoid them - but  I do sometimes engage in spite of my intentions and I always regret it. There seems to be very little love in the RCC these days.

All are called to God - God has designed a path for everyone. But it is up to each of us to be still, to listen, and then have the courage to go where we are led.

Peace and blessings on the journey!
Michael Barberi
7 years ago
Anne Chapman,

I am happy that you are back blogging and offering your opinion. I find most of your commentaries insightful and respectful. I did read the evangelization blog that you referred to. IMO, you have not said or implied the things that Tim's interpretation claim.

To be fair to Tim, many things he says are not wrong, but they don't tie into the discussion of the facts others are making in argument. Thus, if someone makes a good point, and someone like Tim either ignores it or changes directions or makes another point, it does not help move the conversation forward when all of us are seeking the truth and striving to be respectful and open to the points others are making. If we don't deal with the facts and points of argument, we go round and round in a big circle. 

While this blog is not about evangelization, the issue you raised was an important one.  It is the message that drives many Catholics from the Church. It is not a lack of courage in living our the Gospel or the Church's teachings. People are not leaving the Church because they are misguided or possess an erroneous reason. Catholics disagree with certain, mostly sexual ethical teachings. It is the compassion and charity, and social justice (as well as an unintelligible and unconvincing moral theory) that is missing that make certain teachings incomprehensible to most Catholics (and most theologians and many priests and bishops). It is not a matter of faith and submission to authority, it is a question of an informed conscience, adequate education of the subject matter, much prayer, advise of our spiritual directors and frequent sacrament. This is not individualism or relativism.

For my part, I choose to stay in the RCC and respectfully fight for appropriate reform. This I am aware will not happen in my lifetime, but it will eventually happen. I hope these comments give you the strenght to keep up the good fight.
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Sandi #70
Sorry you react so negatively but I am honestly trying to work only with the real numbers.

Michael #68
You asked me one question in your piece above, asking if I agree with this statement: ''More than 90% of Catholics who use a birth control method, practice contraception (a form of birth control condemned by the Vatican).''

So, I go to your paper, which claims to be the best data, which I do not have other data to dispute, and look at the Table of the ''current use'' as you suggest, leaving aside the ''ever use'' because it is also the past.

I note up front that you equate ''NFP'' with contraception, although the author in the study does not (Table 1 title has the phrase ''contraception or NFP''). I think they classify contraception as ''artificial contraception'' and only the latter runs afoul of Catholic doctrine. 

But, here is the table:
Percentage of Current Use
17.10% - Pill (OC)
14.30% - Woman Sterilized
3.80% - Man Sterilized
3.70% - IUD
3.30% - Withdrawal
2.80% - Depo-Provera
1.10% - NFP/Rhythm

This comes to 46% of those interviewed. I cannot make out what the other 54% women do, but I suppose that includes 30% who do not use contraception (mentioned in the conclusion paragraph) and 24% others?  Do you know where the 24% fit, or am I wrong to add up these percents? I honestly don't know.

One more point, a person who is sterilized cannot be said to ''be using contraception'' per se, as this is not an ongoing process but an event that occurred in the past, like the 48% that said they had an abortion. Maybe, these are confessed sins, maybe not? 

So, while I can't confirm if 90% is correct, once you narrow it down to ''people who actively contracept'' it could be reasonable. But since the study used self-identification for Catholic, it includes non-practicing, nominal, cultural and pro-choice Catholics, with no mention of mass attendence or religius commitment (the focus of the author's next research).

So, I would still estimate that a minority of women at Mass are actively, daily contracepting. Amy (#69) put it better than I did of the likely situation at Mass.  

In all, we probably need better statistics, such as a poll of people at Mass, asking them questions to see if they a) know what the Church teaches and B) whether they accept what the Church teaches, and C) whether they are actively practicing any form of artificial contraception (a list could be provided, with check-off boxes). This kind of data would be helpful to priests for their preaching.

And for those lapsed Catholics who don't come to Mass, we would need separate statistics to assist in an outreach to them, as part of the ''New evangelization.'' 

Vince Killoran
7 years ago
I do read the posts Tim but you contribute so many (& usually have the last word) that it is sometimes difficult to keep up.

To respond (briefly):

1. The WASHINGTON POST followed up on both the Guttmacher Institute's study and McGrew's somewhat confused analysis of it ("confused" because it succeeded in demonstrating that the study wasn't entirely clear about the age group studied but offered no scholalry proof that it was much, much lower). The WP's conclusion: "What it does, however, bear out is the claim that many have made with this statistic: that sexually-active, Catholic women do tend to use contraceptives at the same rate as their non-Catholic counterparts." Contrary to right wing Catholic blogs the study hasn't been "debunked"-it's been corrected to note that the group under examination were women ages 15-44. Much ado about a technical clarification.

2. Your comments at #31 are hardly proof that legalizing gay marriage would somehow violate the rights of anti-gay marriage folks. The broad and fuzzy claim that society would be changed and that would violate some fictive, timeless institution of marriage is feeble. History in both meanings of the word is not on your side on this one. The second assertion, i.e., opponents would have to honor the newly-won ciivl rights of married gays and lesbians, recalls former Georgia governor Lester Maddox, who as a restaurant owner became notorious for selling ax handles in a campaign to keep his establishment segregated in the early 1960s. His claim? The timeless, unchangeable racial order was in fact undergoing change and he was being persecuted for it.

p.s. I can't resist noting that your "proof" to Michael is a blog written in 1998 by. . .who? It would be nice if you drew on scholarly sources once in a while. In any case, the author "Matt1618" engages in a bit of fanciful analysis of the use of "porneia" in Matthew. Scholars of Near Eastern culture such as Stephen Davis do not agree with "Matt1618."
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

In another blog where we debated a similar point, your experiences (e.g, those involving your church) are not the experiences of all Catholics in all Catholic Churches. 

We are discussing married Catholics in child bearing years where the use of birth control is most prevalent. As for those Catholics who attend weekly Mass, the only statistic I know of is the Dean Hoge Survey (2007) where various cohorts of Catholics were polled for their opinions on various teachngs, as well as how those opinions where brokendown by all Catholics, those that attend weekly Mass, those that won't leave the church, and those where the Church is important to them in their lives. 

For those that attend weekly Mass, note the findings as "the percent of the total sample saying you can be a good Catholic":

55%...without going to Mass every Sunday
64%...without obeying Church teaching on birth control
52%...without obeying Church teaching on divorce/remarrigae
40%...without obeying Church teaching on abortion
55%...without obeying Church teaching on marriage

On the percent of Post-Vatican II Catholics (ages 18-39) saying it is always Morally wrong: engage in homosexual acts terminate pregnancy by abortion engage in pre-marital sex use condoms or birth control pills

Hence, your opinions don't fit the facts of the Catholic population that attend weekly Mass and those Catholic ages 18-39 (important with respect to the percent of Catholics who use birth control...the issue we have been debating).


1. I don't equate NFP with contraception. I said that I equate surgical sterilization with contraception where I was describing another study that classified surgical sterilization as not contraception. I use the word contraception to mean all forms of birth control methods condemned by the Vatican as intrinically evil (e.g., sterilization, withdrawal, condom, IUD, pill).  NFP is a birth control method, the only method the Church asserts as licit....and God's procreative plan.

Sterilization as a method of birth control is condemned by the Church as a form of intrinsic evil. The study on Contraception Practices in the US, by the Centers of Disease Control (1982-2008) show that male and female sterilization is the most prevalent form of birth control/contracepton. The pill was the second most prevelant for women 15-44.  

Yes, sterilization is a one time event, but sexual intercourse while sterilzed is condemned by the Church as illicit. It is perplexing that one can theorectically confess this sin as a mistake and be truly sorry, and receive absolution....then have licit sexual intercourse in marriage. However, those who use other condemned forms of birth control (e.g., the pill) cannot receive absolution or receive the Eucharist unless they stop using it.  However, few Catholics confess birth control, e.g. the pill, as a mortal sin. I don't know what percent of women who have been sterilized or had other surgical procedures performed to pervent conception during sexual intercourse, confess this as a sin and receive the Eucharist either. However, I believe we are going off point.

2. As for the sample of females that call themselves Catholic, I would presume that the sample reflects the distribution of Catholics who are non-practicing but abide by most teachings, those non-practicing that don't abide by most teachings, those that attend weekly Mass, those that attend Mass once a month or a few times a year, etc. 

For those that attend weekly Mass, see the information provided above to Amy. These facts (Dean Hoge's Survey) refute your estimate that only a minority of women that attend weekly Mass actively use contraception (e.g., those between the ages of 15-44). Just the opposite is true. Since only 1.1% of Catholics ages 15-44 practice NFP, and since we can presume that this group includes Mass attendees (a minority, since about 30% of all Catholics attend weekly Mass), infrequent Mass attendees and non-Mass attendees, most of the group who attend weekly Mass must be practicing NFP to make the numbers come out as they did. As the Hoge survey suggests, this is not possible because only 10% of the Catholics ages 18-39 think using a condom or taking the pill is morally wrong. 

In conclusion, more than 90% of Catholics (ages 15-44) who practice birth control methods, use a form of birth control that is condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil (sterilization, withdrawal pill, condom, IUD). Based on the Hoge Survey, it is reasonable to presume that at least 64% of weekly Mass attendees practice a form of birth control condemend by the Vatican (e.g, condom and pill). However, this group would include seniors, the infertile and those not sexually active. Hence, the 64% is likely much higher if we limit this group to those in child bearing years. What is clear is that a very small percent of Catholics and those that attend Mass use NFP as a form of birth control.

Would you agee with the above paragraph?

Michael Barberi
7 years ago

Let's get to the points in question, shall we.

1. The reference you offered is a critic of the Guttmacher Report. However, my references did not include the Guttmacher Report. The article you sighted implies that proof certain that your argument is based on solid ground and convincing. Game over. The article did not demonstrate that Guttmacher's overall conclusion was wrong. Nor for that matter did the author offer a statistic or any evidence to refute the Guttmacher Report conclusions. The author offered no statistical evidence that was different from the Guttmacher repor. This tactic is classical, where if you can't offer a sound argument backed up with an evidenced-based alternative conclusion, then discredit the source and move on. 

Again, I ask you to tell us what percent of married Catholic women in child bearing years are practicing NFP-PC? If you can't, stop pontificating that your argument holds water. It does not. More importantly, refute the sources I offered. If you cannot, stop the rhetoric. This is an example, where you fail to understand my argument, fail to address the facts I offer and provide rediculous and irrelevant counter-arguments (e.g, I never mentioned the Guttmacher Report, but other crediable research).

My initial comment that 90% of Catholics practice some form of contraception was based on the CAU survey. It does not take a genius to know that children and seniors don't practice forms of bith control. Nevertheless, you fail to acknowledge my sources and facts, or the findings that most people know by common sense. Your argument is weak and not on point. All you offerred is one person's opinion that criticized the Guttmacher Report. Are you implying that all other surveys I offered is bogus and full of lies...or am I putting words in your mouth? 

2. There you go again ignoring my point about Scripture: "But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of adultery [my emphasis-added], causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorsce women commits adultery". Matt. 5.27-32. 

3. You show your ignorance of the anovulant pill. It does not interfere with the physical sexual-marital act. The penis and seed is placed in its proper place. Its primary mechanism is suppression of ovulation. Thus without ovulation, there cannot be any interference with the fertilization process (e.g., no egg, no fertilization). For your information, no respected scientific organization (e.g, the National Institutes of Health or the Amercian Association of Gynecologists and Obstectrics) has concluded that the anovuant pill is abortificient. Additionally, based on PDE, any potential abortificient consequences are indirect and not intended.

4. If you believe that contraception, the pill, is abortifacient, then it is worse than anal intercouse. This makes your argument contradictory... that same-sex marriage is more serious than contraception. Your argument continues to get weaker.

5. I fail to understand your (A/B Myer's) argument that same-sex marriage is a violation of religious freedom and would severely impact the common good and the begging of the next generation of children in our soceity. Get real. According to many survey's, about 10% of the population is gay and many don't get married. How does this severely impact the next generation of an entire society? The issue about discrimination is a weak one. This has to do with abiding by federal (civil) discrimination laws and following such laws where an organization (e.g., the Catholic Church) that is also getting federal funds must abide by federal law. You like to spout these arguments without reflection or their usefulness or relevance. It is like throwing as many things against a wall, hoping that one of them will stick.

Adrianne Hamilton
7 years ago
When I got married 20 years ago, I got a license from NY State for my civil marriage.  I got a certificate from my priest for the Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony that I engaged in a few days later.  If I were to divorce, the Catholic Church would still consider me married, as I took a vow ''til death do us part.''  The State, however, would disolve that civil marriage and I would no longer enjoy the benefits of being a married person in the eyes of the government.  I don't see the Church working to make divorce illegal, or to force the State to change the way it sees me.  I think the Catholic Church absolutely has the right to make the rules about the sacrament of Catholic Matrimony.  But I think they should stay out of who can and cannot get legally married in the United States.  Heterosexual people get married every day - some are in love, some do it for money or status, some do it several times in their life time.  There are some heterosexual marriages that make a mockery of the idea of the ''sanctity'' of marriage - there are some homosexual relationships that have been true testaments to love and commitment to another person in sickenss and in health, til death do them part, and are a model for true love.  Why the Church should have any say over whether or not two people of the same sex should be recognized as married by a State or a Nation's laws just makes no sense whatsoever.  What a waste of time and energy the Church is expending on trying to deny Americans equal rights in the eyes of the Law regarding marriage.  There are so many more issues that they could be focusing on.  Implying or straight out telling Catholics that they will go to Hell if they vote for a candidate who believes in equal rights for all Americans is the true abomination.
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

In fairness, I wanted to clarify my point, and yours, about Matt.5:27-32.

Most Christian scholars disagree about the meaning of this passage, especially the interpretation of the Catholic Church. A good insight into its meaning is what Paul said. Paul allowed divorse for spiritual desertion as well as for unchastity or sexual immorality. At that time, these sins included: incest, sodomy, prostitution, polygamy, seduction, immorderate dress, fornication and perversion.  This ethic allowed a couple to separate and divorce in the event of a fundamental betrayal of the essence of marriage. However, while divorce was not condemned on the grounds of unchasity, Paul and Clement preached that such couples should try to reconcile with each other if at all possible in emulation of God's abiding convenant love for Israel and Christ's eternal love for his church.

There is much disagreement when it comes to interpretating Scripture. For example, it is clearly written in the NT that Jesus had brothers and sisters. Other Christian Churches believe this. Yet, the Catholic Church says that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters, from Joseph's previous marriage, but they offer no proof of it. They attempt to justify this interpretation by asserting that the words "brothers and sisters" sometimes have referred to cousins and half-brothers and sisters in the OT. Yet, they offer no examples of this in Scripture or their prevalence. A low prevalence of these words and their meanings would is no justification for their truthfulness. The NT mentions the brothers and sisters of Jesus several times. We know why the RCC makes this claim (that Jesus had not true siblings) because it could contradict the Church's teaching that Mary was a pepetual virgin. 
Mark Burke
7 years ago
Does anybody have a link to Cardinal George's homily? The CBS report states he made his point "without mentioning gay marriage specifically." 
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
I never said above that the anovulant pill was an abortifacient. Where did you get that? Some contraceptives and IUDs that prevent implantation are. You say that interfering with ovulation is not interfering with fertilization. Are you serious? Isn't ovulation necessary for fertilization.

On the 90% of women in child-bearing years, I suppose the 10% must include all the conservative Catholic and some other Christian, Jewish and Muslim women, those who know they are infertile, those who have difficulty getting pregnant yet want to have children, those who marry late and still want a family, the chaste unmarried women, those not in sexual relationships, and all the lesbians. Yet you also said you think 10% of the population are homosexual, so you must think 100% of heterosexual women are on contraceptives. What about the nuns? Math is hard.

On religious liberty, I understand that you and Vince want the government and law to force society to treat homosexuality as normal, irrespective of deeply held religious beliefs, and to discriminate against those who view homosexual acts as immoral, by fines and lawsuits and worse. So, the stakes are very high for orthodox believers of any of the Abrahamic faiths. People should know that before they vote.
Craig McKee
7 years ago
Would that these same teachers, leaders and GOP ''tools'' were found at the forefront of society's battles against CHILD RAPE, the institutional harboring of child rapists and -most recently- DRUNK DRIVING.
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

1. You are seriously ignorant of the history of contraception. For thousands of years up until the 20th century, there was no word "contraception". The term used in the Church was Onanism, or coitus interruptus. Up until the 19th century, coitus interruptus was the major method people used to regulate family size. Then came the condom and it was condemned because of the same principle of coitus interruptus, namely that the male seed had to be placed in its proper place. If not, it was immoral. Hence, spilling the male seed in a rubberized condom or on the ground was illicit.

When the anovulant pill came about in the late 1950s, it was not interferring with the physical act. The male seed was being deposited in its proper place. It was Humanae Vitae, really Wojtyla's philosophy and theology of marriage and procreation that Paul VI embraced. For the first time in the history of the Church a new teaching was formulated, namely, the inseparabilty of the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marital act. This was not a constant teaching of the Church, yet it was declared Divine Law...and NFP-PC was now "God's Procreative Plan".

Spouses who take the pill have the same intention as those who measure body temperature and cervical mucus in order to determine the days that will be infertile, then limit sexual intercourse to those order to avoid and prevent conception during sexual intercourse. Either both NFP-PC and Contraceptin violated Humanae Vitae, or they both do not.

2. If you read and study the survey's I offered you, you would not be so ignorant of the findings or the method used, as well as and the answers to those rediculous questions and comments of yours. The finding of importance is the percent of married females in child bearing years that practiced NFP-PC as a method of birth regulation. FULL STOP. You will take any chosen number out of context, and offer an argument based on incomplete facts to suite your own erroneous conclusions. You ignore the sources and findings that are widely available to everyone, and close your mind to any facts that contradict your defense of Church teachings. You try to discredit legitimate professional surveys with some bogus and irrelevant article about the Guttmacher report, that was never in debate. 

3. I want society not to discriminate against homosexuals. I don't want society to "force" religous institutions to allow same-sex couples to marry in a Church or synogoge. You are putting words in my mouth and asserting a falsehood about what I said. PLEASE STOP IT. Your only demonstrate how foolish you are in any type of debate by twisting and misrepresenting what people say. 

Thomas Rooney OFS
7 years ago
@Tim - aside from all the figures and percentages sited in these comments, could you please explain something to me?

How does civil homosexual marriage - of themselves - undermine the religious liberty of anyone?  Canon law will not change.  Government cannot force or fine houses of worship to sacramentally legitimize it.  Period.   How is YOUR religious liberty, or any of your liberty for that matter, being diminished?  You don't like it and you think it is immoral; I understand the theological and ethical arguments for that. 

Demonstrate the harm it does to you, please.  How are your personal rights being diminished?  How are you being discriminated against?
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Thomas #52
Archbishop Myers had a list of likely infringements on religious liberty, which I summarized in the last paragraph of #31 above, but since this is the second time the question has been asked, I copy it here: ''Those who hold to the truth of marriage will be discriminated against in employment and the public square, and will be prevented from running adoption services (as has already happened in IL and MA). Legal and civil actions will be taken against houses of worship of many denominations and religions, hotel managers, photographers, owners of reception halls, whose consciences are opposed to hosting gay marriages. Catholic teaching and biblical teaching on homosexuality has already been defined as “hate speech” in Canada and Britain.''

It is clear from the HHS mandate discussion that freedom of religion is being narrowed to places of worship, and that lay people will not be protected, no matter what their religious beliefs are. Even publishers of bibles will not be free from the secular arm of the law (see that Tyndale House Publishers has recently filed suit). There are 30 suits, presently.

But, it is not only religious rights that are at risk, but the rights of children. The good of an orphan in adoption is at stake. Giving a 2-man homosexual household equivalence to a father-mother marriage has already happened in IL and MA. Will private religious schools be required to accommodate homosexual couples at events, on family committees, on retreats? Will they be permitted to teach that homosexual sex is immoral (and dangerous, medically)? Abandoning the definition of civil marriage we have had for thousands of years is not innocuous at all. It will have profound effects on society, altering the understanding of marriage that has lasted thousands of years. People should reflect on this before they vote.
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Why does every blog topic find its way back to contraception with you? Are you an advocate of gay marriage, the actual question on this post?

Anyway, so much for civility - you called me ignorant twice in your post, once about the history of contraception that I never mentioned above, and again about a survey you never gave me a link to. I just asked if you could show that 90% made mathematical sense? Can you?

By the way, my wife and I never used contraception in many years of (fertile) marriage, and never used NFP either, and many other Catholic families I know would say the same, so where would we show up in a poll? But if we used it once, we would fit into a poll of ''ever having used contraception.'' Even one slip up would get us into the 90%? (We do have a lot of children, though we think that's a blessing.)

As regards your earlier question about the pretty important doctrinal beliefs that the Virgin Mary was perpetually a virgin and that the word brother had other meanings, I give the links rather than distract from this post’s topic.
Thomas Rooney OFS
7 years ago
@Tim says, quoting Archbishop Myers - "'Those who hold to the truth of marriage will be discriminated against in employment and the public square, and will be prevented from running adoption services (as has already happened in IL and MA). Legal and civil actions will be taken against houses of worship of many denominations and religions, hotel managers, photographers, owners of reception halls, whose consciences are opposed to hosting gay marriages. Catholic teaching and biblical teaching on homosexuality has already been defined as “hate speech” in Canada and Britain."

Taking off on Michael's point earlier, a lot of businesses and services went under because of the supposed "immoraility" of black customers attempting to buy goods and services from white businesses.  That's the free market.  The establishments that practice exclusivity for any reason are free to do so. Just as their potential clientale are free not to partake of their services if they disagree with said exclusivity.  Same can be said here...if they cannot stay afloat, they've shot themselves in the foot.  The societal need will be filled by other organizations that will not discriminate.

Hate speech.  In order to keep in line with the spiritual works of mercy, do you point out to same sex couples that they are an abomination before God?  If "God Hates Fags" should we not follow Westboro Baptist's example and let them know?

"Will private religious schools be required to accommodate homosexual couples at events, on family committees, on retreats? Will they be permitted to teach that homosexual sex is immoral (and dangerous, medically)?"

Private relgious school accomodation for SSC's and curriculum?  No.  See my above comments above on exclusivity.   

You've not answered my questions, however.  Where is the discrimination against you?  How have you been victimized by same sex couples?   

We do agree on one thing however.  People should reflect on all of this before the vote.

Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Sandi #66
It was a one month ''snapshot'' not a three month snapshot, but I'm guessing you didn't actually read the document. In the ''ever use'' category there are no data where 90% can be deduced from, since the right question is not asked and there is no denominator. It just isn't there.

And, my argument never was about NFP, so repeating that has nothing to do with my argument that the unqualified 90% on contraception is bogus.

While I know a lot of you dissent on Church teaching, must you also dissent on math and honesty as well? Why do you fight so hard for the false 90% number when a 40-60% number would do just as well for your argument? In the ''ever use'' table, only 65.6% Catholics said they ever used the pill. The same table has 19.6% using the calendar method. Why omit the calendar method number every time?

I agree with you that ''sadly, it's a losing battle trying to educate someone who doesn't want to learn. They don't want the facts that get in the way of their preferred perceptions.''
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Vince #55 and Tom #56
You both directly equate the righteous fight against racism with the fight for homosexual marriage, as if the color of skin (an attribute like color of hair) is akin to a form of alternate sexual behavior. I think this is illogical and unscientific but understand the strength of this political tactic.

Would I be right that you both endorse sodomy for those inclined to that practice (sorry for being blunt, but the truth matters)? Do you go further and hope that the Catholic Church blesses this practice in a Church wedding at some time in the future? And if they do, why should they even frown on fornication, masturbation, fetishes, consensual sadomasochism, etc.? Should all this teaching be tossed out? If so, my only conclusion is that you both have come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church has been teaching false doctrine for centuries, so, it couldn't be the true Church.

Tom, thanks for asking about me, but I think I will be fine. I don't intend to open up a reception hall or an adoption service anytime soon. But I am not in this discussion just to protect myself. I truly believe that the common good, and especially children, will be harmed by this change.

As regards the Christian approach to our homosexual brothers and sisters, we should always treat everyone with as much love and consideration as possible, without abandoning the Gospel. It is evil to pretend that a sin is a good, if it is really a sin. It would be like a doctor telling a patient not to worry about his alcoholism, or even a cancer. How caring would that be?

So that ''truth'' judgment must be made first, especially in matters that can decide a person's eternal destiny. As regards to preaching the Gospel, in season and out, shouldn't we do the same for anyone, no matter what their sexual inclination is, such as prostitution, adultery, various fetishes, even those oriented to children? Or, do you just single out the last as an abomination?
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

The issue we are discussing is a statistical one. I never said that statistics, e.g., counting heads who disagree, make a teaching true or false. Polls and opinion polls are not used to formulate doctrine. However, if a teaching (such as JP II's Theology of the Body) makes a claim that any form of contraception is a false, evil and destructive love, and couples who practice contraception have a utilitarian attitude and a diabolical love grounded in concupisciense....but there is no evidence whatsoever in existential reality that such a claim is true, then statistics can be used to claim a truth or a falsehood.

Nevetheless, and to your point about Humanae Vitae and the overwhelming number of Catholics that disagree with this teaching, a teaching "not received" means that the teaching does not posses any power to change behavior. This is particularly troublesome when a teaching is claimed to be Divine Law and a moral absolute, and the contraceptive act is professed to be intrinsically evil. Kindly note that based on the history of the Chruch, all teachings not-received were eventually reformed. 

Your comments about the 64% might be right. Then again you may be completely wrong. You seem to be implying that only an enlightened few who attend weekly Mass abide by all Church teachings. If so, I would agree that a small percent of Catholics who attend weekly Mass agree completely with all Church teachings. Frankly, I could not understand where you were going with your rhetoric. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that your experience and opinon is not the reality of all Catholics in the U.S.

Amy, I do appreciate your comments, but disagree with your conclusions. Thanks for agreeing that it is plausible that 90% of all couples 15-44 who practice birth control, use some form of contraception condemned by the Vaticana as intrinsically evil. 


I agree with your comments about being accurate. I was a senior partner in a worldwide healthcare consulting firm and was responsible for many studies involving actuarial science. However, cut me a little slack and I will cut you some. We need to see the larger picture and not get lost in the numbers. Hopefully, as a professional you know what I am taking about. I reached a pinicle in my profession for becoming a national expert, knowing numbers and their practical well as their limitations.

Since email blogging is a poor communciations method, let me try to put aside some of your concerns. When I say NFP-PC, I mean natural family planning and periodic continence. This term stands for all effective methods of NFP-PC such as the Calendar Method and the SymptoThermal Method and other modified versions of these methods. These methods all involve abstaining from sexual intercourse on fertile days as proscribed by the Church as the only licit method of birth control. 

Tim, I hope we are both learning about precise language as well as respecting and responding to each other's points. 

With respect to your puzzlement about why I did not profess that 97% or 99% of Catholics ages 15-44 who use a birth control method, use a method condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil (e.g., steriliation, condom, withdrawal, pill, IUD)....I was being ultra-conservative. Many other studies say the number who use NFP-PC is 2%-3%, not necessarily based on the degree of religiosity.  Since there are limitations in all studies of this kind, I choose to use the words "more than 90%" for a number of reasons, one of them included the results of the Hoge Survey, where 90% of Catholics who attend weekly Mass don't believe that taking the pill or using a condom is always morally wrong. Hence, I choose to be ultra-conservative to make my point....that an extremely small percent of Cathlolics ages 15-44 who use a birth control method, use NFP-PC. 

R. Fehring (the author of the study we were discussing) also conducted a study in 2007 on "The Relationship Between Religiosity and Contraceptive Use Among RC Women in the U.S."  In this study, he found that only 2% - 3% of Catholics ages 15-44, who are considered orthodox and take their faith very seriously, use NFP-PC programs while 39% used sterilization. 

The link to the Hoge study is (hopefully it works):

Hoge may have updated this survey, but I am unware of it. He died a few years ago but CUA continues his good work. 

Since we both have spent quite a lot of effort on this point, let's reach a conclusion and agreement. To that end, let me know if you agree with the statment below:

More than 90% of Catholics (ages 15-44) who practice birth control, use a birth control method condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil (sterilization, withdrawal pill, condom, IUD). Further, only about 2% -3% of those Catholics ages 15-44, who either attend weekly Mass or consider themselves orthodox and take their faith seriously, use NFP-PC as a birth control method.
Thomas Rooney OFS
7 years ago
Tim #58 "Would I be right that you both endorse sodomy for those inclined to that practice (sorry for being blunt, but the truth matters)?"
Speaking for myself, I wouldn't say I endorse it.  I would say it's none of my business.

"Do you go further and hope that the Catholic Church blesses this practice in a Church wedding at some time in the future?"
No.  The Church has its doctrines about what constitutes a valid sacramental wedding for its members.  (the underlined being the crux of my point)

Homosexuality is not a disease, and it should not be treated as such.  It is not an "inclination" along the lines of prostitution and adultery, and I think the CCC bears that out in its statements regarding homosexuality, in that I do not see specific canons devoted to the treatment of adulterers and prostitutes. 

Are homosexual acts to be avoided?  For Catholics who wish to remain faithful to the Church, yes.   However, our Church doesn't get to make the rules for the vast swaths of the population who ARE gay and who do NOT practice our faith.  We're not talking about doctrine here; we're talking about  discriminatory treatment of a sizeable minority in a free country.  I've said it here and it's been said by others before - we live in a pluralistic society.  How someone chooses to set up housekeeping or probate or whatever is none of my business and it is none of yours.

"I truly believe that the common good, and especially children, will be harmed by this change."
This unfortunately is our impasse; our opinions are diametrically opposed when it comes to this last.  I truly believe that the common good, myself and my children are unharmed and are in no danger whatsoever by the civil acceptance of same sex couples.   

Thank you for the discourse nonetheless, Tim.  Peace be with you,

Helen Deines
7 years ago
Today there was an obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal for an 84 year-old woman who died leaving her husband and four children, all married, with many grandchildren.  The obit explained that the couple had owned a neighborhood grocery for many years and were lifelong parishioners in the church from which she will be buried with a Mass.  The couple's oldest daughter was listed with a wife, by name, praise God.  Memorial gifts were requested to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

I said a little prayer of thanksgiving this morning, and smiled in appreciation for how supportive families like these are gradually changing our church.  Most Catholics outside the hierarchy seem to have a deep understanding of the basic principles of the dignity of the human person and God's unconditional love. 
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

1. The issues involving sexual ethics, e.g., same-sex marriage, In vitro fertilization, abortion, contraception, divorce and remarrige, all have their root in principle, in large part, in Humanae Vitae. My comments, if you read and reflect on them, covered many issues, not just contraception. The moral dilemma and suffering facing many married couples today are caused by an intrasignent Vatican and unintelligible and unconvincing moral theories the underpin the teachings. I gave multiple examples: the Phoenix case, a married women whose life is threatened by another pregnancy, the use of Plan B in a rape case, and the use of a condom for seropostive couples. Each of these common cases, lacks compassion and charity as well as social I mentioned. 

Here is the link you wanted about the recent study.  
In this issue Natural Family Planning ...

Adobe PDF
Richard J. FehringPhD, RN ... CatholicsContraception and Abortion—theNational Survey of Family Growth ... Current Medical Research –Summer/Fall 2010 Author 

This study makes clear that only 1.1% of Catholics ages 15-44 use Natural Family Planning-Periodic Continence are as birth control method, compared to .6% of non-Catholic women. These Catholics (and non-Catholics) also use other methods of birth regulation (e.g., sterilization, the pill, condom, other), and no method (those who want to become pregnant, seniors etc). 

Tim...why don't you own up to the facts and stop using your logic based on incomplete information and ignorance of the surveys I offered you for reflection. If you want the links to the other surveys, let me know. I apologize if I made your effort difficult, but making definitive arguments (e.g., using your math on incomplete information and not focusing on the real issue) is not scholarly or professional, especially when you did not read the survey.

2. I called you ignorant of the facts because it is the truth and because you constantly make erroneous statements that you assert I made. This habit of yours has been criticized by other bloggers. Your knee-jerk reaction to most factual statements and evidence lacks any degree of serious study and reflection. If you want to start afresh, let's agree on some rules where we, and others, can have a conversation with you on point. I don't like to use rhetoric and I am open you your thoughts. However, I do not like your style of argument. 

3. Your last stream of comments were answered in that females in child bearing years were accounted for in terms of all forms of birth regulation used, and those that do not use any birth control method, as they were part of the survey.

4. As for same-sex marrige, I made my points clear in post #37 which you largely ignored. They are in line with the comments of Thomas Rooney, OFS. I reiterate one of my conclusions:

We live in a pluralistic society and there is, for better or worse, a separation of church and state. The state is empowered to pass civil laws involving marriage, same-sex unions, rights and duties, et al., that apply to all Americans. The Catholic Church, other Christian Churches, as well as those of the Jewish religion are empowered to to formulate laws and models of marriage that apply to their faithful parishioners. 

While the RCC can and does formuate doctrine and teachings (mostly negative injunctions when it comes to sexual ethics), only 44% of Catholics believe that to engage in homosexual acts is always morally wrong. 55% of Catholics who attend weekly Mass say that you can be a good Catholic without a Church wedding....and 64% of Catholics who attend weekly Mass say you can be a good Catholic without obeying the Church's teaching on birth control. See other findings in the link below.

Source and link: Dean Hoge "Catholic Identity Among Young Adult Catholics",
Vince Killoran
7 years ago
"Abandoning the definition of civil marriage we have had for thousands of years is not innocuous at all. It will have profound effects on society, altering the understanding of marriage that has lasted thousands of years. People should reflect on this before they vote."

I don't see "the profound effect" unless you mean that there can be no discrimination in public accomodations. Fair enough.  Just as the segregationists plead that their "timeless" institutions must change so too do those who harbor anti-gay positions and take taxpayer money, police & fire protection, etc.  As Michael has pointed out several times-and you chose not to engage or acknowledge-this doesn't mean you need to invite a married gay couple to your next BBQ, or that a church must conduct marriage ceremonies for them. 

Your argument can't be based on some sense that civil disorder will result because the definition of marriage in civil society isn't really changing much at all: Anglo-American law quite easily accomodates the marriage of same-sex partners. If you have evidence from legal scholars that proves otherwise-or, better yet, evidence from states where gay marriage has been legal for a few years already and has resulted in chaos, that would strenghten your position. Or at least raise it above the level of raw self-assertion.

We're back to a moral or religious-based argument then-and the reality that we live in a pluralistic society that protects invidividual rights.  
Vince Killoran
7 years ago

Since you are unwilling or unable to respond to the questions I posed directly to your original points I'll sign off on this thread.
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

Just to be clear, the 2012 Gallup Poll was a poll of "Catholics".  
David Smith
7 years ago
It sort of depends on how you define ''leader''. The hierarchical Church believes that its leaders should be teachers. A lot of Western cultural Catholics seem to believe that Church leaders should, like political leaders in democracies, follow the crowds they lead. Semantic disconnect.
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
I tackled those with a ''?'', but thought the rest were just statements.

Thomas #59
''None of my business'' is not very caring, sounds a little like ''I am not my brother's keeper.'' I don't think we can abandon any of our neighbors as we are called to evangelize all, especially the marginalized, and to protect children (remember the millstone). We do part ways on the prudential judgment of the harm civil gay marriage will have on society. But at least we do agree that engaging in homosexual sex is not compatible with faithful Christianity. 

Now Michael #61
First, thanks for the link. It contains a whopping admission in the conclusions paragraph, defined by the author as a key limitation of the study. 30% of the respondents were not using any method of family planning (the author describes this as the largest single answer) and only 17% were using the anovulant pill. No hint of 90% anywhere in this study. In the ''ever ever used a method,'' the pill only rose to 66% Catholics. See that what is called ''calendar rhythm'' method hit a not-so-small 19.6%. 

It is very troubling that 48% of the women 15-44 who self-identified as Catholic had had abortions. I hope this poll doesn't lead my liberal colleagues to conclude the sensus fidelium says abortion is ok (because one has to be faithful to have a sensus fidelium). Given this, the author says it is his goal to get a better handle on the degree of Catholicity in his future research, as self-identification is inadequate. I think I mentioned this problem to Vince in a recent post. 

There were some other interesting/sad articles in your PDF, relating to decreased sexual libido in women on hormonal contraceptives, and Loyola University (once Jesuit?) teaching it's Medical Students on how to abort a child, to comply with external Medical Review boards. Makes one think the Lapsi in Diocletian's time were far better than our lapsed (collapsed?) today.
Eugene Pagano
7 years ago
How is it any of the Roman Catholic bishops' business whether non-Roman Catholics can enter into same-sex weddings?
Michael Barberi
7 years ago

As I mentioned several times, the key issue is the percent of females in child bearing years who are practicing NFP-PC. For Catholics it is 1.1%. You missed other important findings.

> The 30% of respondants that were not using any method of birth control were: women that were not sexually active, were trying to get pregnant or were currently pregnant.

>  44.2% of Catholics in this survey used some form of contraception (e.g., the pill, sterilization, IUD, withdrawal) and a similar percent of non-Catholics used contraception (44.7%).

> Of the percent of Catholics that had "ever used" birth control methods, only 5.1% ever used NFP-PC, 87.4% used a condom, 65.6% used the pill, 56.8% used withdrawal, 27.1% were surgically sterile or had a vasectomy, and 19.6% ever used calendar rhythm. 

Thus, if we exclude those women who want to get pregnant, those not sexually active or who are currently pregnant, we are left with women who are sexually active and don't want to have children (or more children) and use birth control methods to avoid conception during sexual intercourse. Of these women (Catholic and non-Catholic), more than 90% use some form of contraception.

These conclusions are similar to the findings of the 1982-2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Survey on "Use of Contraception in the U.S." In this study, 61.8% of females ages 15-44 were using contraception (defined as including NFP) but only .6% were using NFP-PC or NFP-Rhythm. The other 38.2% of females ages 15-44 were not using contraception and this included those that were surgically sterile (which I would include as using contraception), pregnant, seeking pregnancy or never had intercourse. Hence, of all those who were using some form of contraception (inclusive of NFP that the government counted as a form of contraception), more than 90% were using a form of birth control condemned by the Vatican as intrinsically evil. In other words, the percent using NFP or Rhythm was less than 10% of all contraceptive methods used.

Tim, give it up. Very few Catholics use NFP. 
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Eugene #2
What a strange question to ask of Christians! You may as well ask why Jesus didn't bring Salvation only to the Jews and left the rest of humanity unsaved? How Christian would it be if we cared only about our own members, and left the rest of the world to their sins? That would be the opposite of the Evangelical mission. If you truly love someone, you should care about their health and well being, both physical and spiritual, even if they don't want you to.
Tim O'Leary
7 years ago
Michael #64
I never made the argument for % NFP practice, in any of my posts, ever!

You are making a completely unwarranted presumption that everyone who isn’t using NFP is contracepting. But, most people who do not use contraception are not using NFP, as in this survey. I and my wife never used it, even though we know how to. In #50 above, I gave you multiple subsets of women who would not use contraception but you only now have come to accept that many women, Catholic and other, do not practice contraception for most of the time in their lives.

Here is a direct quote from the paper you linked to (page 17): “Despite the fact that the NSFG data is probably the best and largest data set on contraceptive use among a representative sample of women in the U.S., there are limits to this study and to the data set. The NSFG data set focused on all women between the ages of 15-44, not only married women. Approximately 30% of the U.S. respondents were not using any method of family planning in the month of interview (i.e., the most frequent method was no method of contraception). Some of these women were not sexually active, some were trying to achieve a pregnancy, and some were currently pregnant.” – no mention of 90%, here or in the whole paper.

So, the 90% remains unwarranted. Of the 30%, the author says some were not sexually active, some were pregnant and some were trying to get pregnant. But look at the quotes above, and the shrinking denominator.
#37 (Michael) - “More than 90% of Catholics practice contraception” – all Catholics!
#42 (Vince) - “it refers to women throughout their life cycle” – all women, ever (including withdrawal at some time)
#48 (Michael) – first concession to eliminate the old and the young, but not fertile or pregnant…
#64 (Michael) – excludes those who are pregnant, or want to be pregnant, or not sexually active, and focuses only on women who want to have sex without children.

So, in your last post, the 90% is now for those who want to exclude new life while still having sex. But, this has already dropped the majority of women who attend mass.

The shrinking denominator is a major way for bias to creep into statistics, as it is the easiest way to pass off the percents in a smaller subset for the whole group. I recommend everyone with any familiarity with statistics have a look at this paper (page 13-17 of the pdf).

Michael – While we now agree that the 90% could only possible refer to a subset of Catholic women, I do not dispute that a lot of Catholics are struggling with the contraception issue, and even the abortion issue. It is important to understand their situation but to also understand the universal call to holiness (even martyrdom) and the duty of the successors of the apostles to preach the true faith, in season and out (2 Tim 4: 1-4). I also know that you are working harder than most to reconcile your personal beliefs with those taught by the Church. You are to be praised for that. 


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