Pope reaffirms Church opposition to contraception

Pope Benedict XVI on has reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s condemnation of artificial birth control, a position that has driven millions of people away from the faith.

Contraception “means negating the intimate truth of conjugal love, with which the divine gift (of life) is communicated,” the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics wrote on the 40th anniversary of a papal encyclical on the controversial topic.

The message came two months after an appeal for a retraction by some 60 Catholic groups who said the Church’s stance had been “catastrophic” for the world’s poorest and weakest.

The open letter in July by dissident Catholic bodies from countries including Britain, Brazil, Canada, France and the United States said the Church’s opposition to birth control endangered women’s lives and exposed millions of people to the risk of contracting AIDS.

It said the impact of the 1968 encyclical had been “disastrous in the southern hemisphere, where the Catholic leadership exercises considerable influence on the politics of family planning.”

A classic example of how sectarian politics is counter-productive. Though opposition to contraception has its roots in the whole superstition, some areas of Catholic doctrine have been diminished in practical importance – through one rationale or another. Coexistence with the study of evolution is an example which some American bible-thumping brethren might learn from.

When populations learn about contraception and realize the essential effect on family economics, birth control is adopted generally – and formerly loyal followers begin to question priests who still have a poker up their backside over the issue.

My family went through this in the 1940’s. When my paternal grandfather died, his children gathered at the community church for burial preparations. All eight of them.

The priest stood before them and asked each how many children they had? None had more than two. He then proceeded to berate them for having turned their backs on their own father’s religion, God, country and any possibility of redemption – since they obviously were practicing birth control.

The funeral was the last time any of them attended that church.

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