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Fr. Peter Fehlner’s Last Word on Plan B

By October 29, 2007December 14th, 2007Fr. Peter Fehlner, News, Pro-Life


Here is the last word from Fr. Peter on this subject. It is meant to address comments in discussions going on here at AirMaria:

Father Peter Damian Fehlner, S.T.D. Weighs in on Plan B in Connecticut
Father Peter Damian Fehlner, S.T.D. Weighs in on Plan B in Connecticut. (Continued)
Fr. Peter vs. Plan B the Battle Continues

And at Mark Shea’s site Here?and Here

And at American Papist Here

Now for Fr. Peter:

On the Malice of Contraception or Onanism.

My critics, almost unanimously, define the malice of contraception in terms of the separation of procreative and unitive ends of marriage in the use of the marriage act or intercourse by the married.? As one of these critics put it, since in rape there is no unitive end, there is no possibility of separation, hence no possibility of contraception.

For the moment I will prescind from this point and merely note that I could find no standard or approved moralist writing before 1968 who defined the malice of contraception in such terms, or insisting that the sin was only possible for the married.

The authors I consulted are the following: St. Alphonsus, Lehmkuhl, Genicot-Salsman, Sabetti-Barrett, Tanquery, Prummer, Callan-McHugh, Rigatello-Zalba, Noldin-Schmidt, Jorio.? All of them hold that the malice of contraception consists in the perversion of the primary end of the marital act, a perversion which is contrary to the very nature of the act and therefore to natural law, a perversion rightly described by Gen. 38 as “detestable?? and inexcusable under any circumstances, viz., intrinsically evil.

The malice of contraception is identical with that of the sin of pollution or masturbation, hence akin to that of any “unnatural?? sin against the sixth commandment.? While its most grievous form is the practice of onanism by the married, most grievous because it destroys the unitive aspects of marriage and has serious consequences for the children, contraceptive actions, or actions which pervert the procreative end of the marriage act or human nature itself, are always grievously sinful.

Once the liceity of contraceptive actions is admitted in hard cases, it will only be a matter of time before “safe sex?? outside marriage involving the use of contraceptive devices and pills will be considered reasonable for “grave?? reasons, viz., “emergency contraception??.? Eventually, exceptions will be found for the married as well.? All this? clearly reflects a “philosophy?? or “mind-set?? concerning sex, very different from that traditionally associated with purity of heart, an anti-human mind-set fueling contemporary hedonism, an abnormally, fatally low birth rate, and the “culture of death??.

Finally, the definition of contraception found in pre-1968 manuals can hardly be described as mere theological opinion long since abandoned by the Church.? It reflects the received and unquestioned tradition of the Church when treating of the liceity of the contraceptives for the married.? They cannot be used, not only because they are disruptive of marriage, but because they are contrary to nature for everyone.

Father Peter Damian Fehlner


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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • C says:

    Dear Fr. Fehlner,
    I thank you for sharing your wisdom. God bless you for your patience.
    I am so grateful to you for the clarity you have provided!

  • Corinn says:

    Way to go Father Peter– I have to whole heartedly thank you for your response. If contraception is undermining God’s will in marriage, it is undermining God’s will in the case of extramarital sex AND rape. I have to believe that is one reason He does not often permit conception after a rape, but when He does, it must be for a greater purpose. CONTRACEPTION is an intrinsic evil NO MATTER HOW YOU SLICE IT. In addition, there is much evidence to demonstrate that women who do conceive after a rape, have the baby and either give it up for adoption or raise it herself she has a much easier time getting over the rape than the woman who does not and is far better off than the woman who aborts the conceived baby. We are certainly not being compassionate to women when we kill her child no matter who the “father” is. This act is even more evil in that the woman will not know if she is ovulating and even has the possibility of aborting her baby– and she may never know which will haunt her more than the rape ever could.

  • william bannon says:

    Actually in some periods the Onan story was not used against contraception by the Church….passages in Tobias and the example of fecund Rachel were instead. The problem in Genesis 38 is that Judah and Tamar also commit sexual sins (fornication and incest) and are not killed by God at all….in the very same story. And the new translation of Onan uses the adverb “whenever”….ie ” whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.”
    The question is: what does “what” in verse 10 refer to….spilling the seed or “whenever”. In other words, did God kill Onan for spilling his seed or for never wanting any children from Tamar whatsoever….which is implicit in the word “whenever”. I think it the latter because the latter put the appearance of the Messiah in jeopardy……and all throughout scripture, God kills intimately for sacrilege (advertent or inadvertent) not for sex. And Onan was risking the non appearance of Christ by his actions since Christ would come from the house of Judah…..finally from Onan’s father Judah and his sin with Tamar which produced Perez who is the line leading toward Christ.

    Indeed when Christ comes He does not strike the prostitutes physically but He does strike the money changers in the temple for sacrilege and in Acts 5 God strikes down Ananias and his wife for lying to the Holy Spirit and in Acts 12 God strikes down Herod for accepting the praise word of the crowd…”god”…..sacrilege not sex.
    Likewise in Joshua 6:19, all gold and silver within Jericho was “sacred to the Lord ??? but Achan stole some anyway and was soon stoned to death by God’s order; in Judges 19, the concubine of not an ordinary man but of a Levite priest is raped and killed and 25,000 Benjaminites pay with their lives by the power of God; in I Kings 20:35, a guild prophet tells a companion to strike him and the companion does not and is killed by a lion since the word was from God through a prophet; in 2 Kings 2, forty two children are killed by two she bears for taunting Elisha who again is a prophet as in the preceding case; in I Sam 2, Eli’s sons are killed by God since Eli and his sons took the choice portions of the sacrifices that were meant for God; in I Sam 6, seventy descendants of Jeconiah are slain by God for not participating in greeting the “ark???; also David’s son by Bathsheba is killed by God because David committed adultery with her but David had also killed Uriah her husband who was sacred in a sense because he had honored the “ark??? (in a reversal of the above sacrilege by the 70 descendants of Jeconiah). Uriah, one might read between the lines, became sacred to God by not returning home to his wife, saying in 2 Sam 11:11, “ The ark, and Israel and Judah are lodged in tents…can I go home…I will do no such thing.???
    Onan risked the non appearance of Christ and God actually also “had” out of necessity also to kill Onan so that Tamar would move on to either Shelah or Judah so as to produce the child who would next lead to Christ in the genealogy. Look in the gospel genealogy and there is Perez in Matthew 1:3.

  • Kate says:

    Thank you, Fr. Fehlner, for a more lengthy explanation. We continue to pray for the bishops of Connecticut and a reversal of their Plan B decision.

  • Roy and Robin says:

    Ave Maria!

    This reminds me of the recent speculation that the Church would permit married couples, where one spouse carries the AIDS virus, to use condoms to protect the uninfected spouse during the marital act. It would all be part of the rapidly accelerating slippery slope when these moral loopholes are sought under the guise of a allowing an evil to bring about a good – something that we must never tolerate, and something which is becoming all too commonplace in this age of blatant moral relativism.

    Thank you Father Peter for your persistence in speaking the truth on this matter and for helping us to form our consciences. Whereas many of us in our hearts knew that this couldn’t be right — we now know exactly why and can defend these truths to others.

    Ave Maria!

  • apostolate says:


    Wow! that was a stretch. No one is saying that sins against chastity are the worst sin but they can still get you in Hell and is the sin that sends most people there. You read so much into the Onan text but show me a Father that teaches that. Fr. Peter cites: St. Alphonsus, Lehmkuhl, Genicot-Salsman, Sabetti-Barrett, Tanquery, Prummer, Callan-McHugh, Rigatello-Zalba, Noldin-Schmidt, Jorio.

    Also, the Pharisees call Jesus a demoniac. This is at least inadvertent blasphemy and sacrilege (but given the evidence of his miracles it was hardly inadvertent) but they were not killed.

    The “whenever” argument changes nothing. The fact that he did not want to follow God’s command to have children with Tamar is clear from the text with or without the word “whenever.” But bottom line is that he was contracepting against God’s will and was killed for it.

    So many words you spill here and at other blogs on this topic. I wish you had some meaningful content.

    Friar Roderic

  • Fr Angelo says:


    I have heard this Onan revision many times before as well as untold other novel interpretations of Sacred Scripture, prefaced by the words “most modern scholars agree” and qualified by something like: “I don’t deny the doctrine of the Church, its just that theologians used to just use scripture as proof texts for Church teaching, and we don’t do that anymore.”

    The next revolution of this way of thinking eventually comes: “I believe all the dogmas of the Church, but thanks to modern scholarship we have a more enlightened understanding of their meaning.”

    I don’t mean to suggest that you would subscribe to this way of thinking, but with all due respect, I do know where this kind of exegesis comes from and where it is headed. It is one of the reasons why so many priests over the last decades have been so unprepared to preach on anything of substance, and so deformed as to teach their own opinion and not what the Church teaches.

    In any case the following propositions were condemned by Pope St. Pius X in his syllabus of errors (Lamentabili sane):

    23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s dogmas which rest on them. Thus the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.

    61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian.

    Lest anyone have a doubt that onanism is, in fact, a sin condemned by the Church and identical with contraception.

  • william bannon says:

    Fr. Angelo
    List for me the authors who have given this interpretation of Onan. It does not have to be complete…just several of the names…or at least two of the names.

    On the Syllabus of Errors…it is not infallible and its number 11 is one that no Catholic biblical scholar now would assent to though I, like you, do not like the general direction of biblical scholarship which overdoes the error area…to number 11 of the Syllabus:

    11. “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.”

    John Paul II and Paul VI appointed Fr. Raymond Brown to the Pontifical Biblical Commission and he was famous for showing empirical errors or contradictions in scripture like John putting the explusion from the temple in the beginning of the ministry and Matthew putting it at the end of the ministry.

    But Pius seems also not to have known that Augustine in the Harmonization of the Gospels reaches a cul de sac himself wherein he has to admit that two versions of John the Baptist’s words cannot both be empirically true: did John say he was unworthy to tie the thongs of Christ’s sandals or carry the sandals. Augustine finally concludes that such surface mistakes in two different people reporting do not matter.

    I’m not a fan of Brown most of the time because he denied that Mary said the Magnificat (Birth of the Messiah, pgs.346-352) and I think his type of approach had a bad effect on John Paul because it allows one to skip what one does not like and in that aspect on the matter of wifely obedience, John Paul saw the mutual subjection of Ephesians as meaning that married subjection was always mutual and the pastorals (concerned more with order) indicate otherwise than that and Casti C. in 1930 by Pius XI in section 74/1st sentence… insists on wifely obedience in the strongest terms linking its non support to false teaching and that insistence is now totally absent from the present catechism or from our homilies as it was absent from Vatican II…..and that is damage from modern biblical scholarship’s tendency to subtract the unpopular. Indeed wifely obedience is 6 times explicit in the New Testament which neither birth control nor other issues can claim and no one is lamenting the neglect of it at all…..which means we are obsessed with the one issue and not concerned so deeply with what God spelled out perfectly clearly. Likewise the lineage of the death penalty is more full and is seen in Romans 13:4 and no one is objecting to John Paul overturning such a long tradition which begins in the Bible and was Vatican City law up till the 1970’s. Not a peep out of the most writing Catholics. Always and everywhere taught seems to be quite selective.

  • Fr Angelo says:


    I think the author, Pope Pius XI will suffice:

    54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

    55. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.”

    56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin (Casti Cannubii).

    Further, if you wish to deny the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, take it somewhere else. Period.

  • william bannon says:

    Fr. Angelo
    Thank you for the list of 2…and for your future defense of section 74 of Casti Canuubii on wifely obedience.

  • Fr Angelo says:


    I think one pope reiterating the ordinary magisterium is plenty.

    Ephesians 5 teaches mutual submission: the obedience of a wife to her husband (the Church to Christ) is not contrary to the self-sacrifice and non-domination of a husband relative to his wife (Christ to the Church).

    From TOB:

    The author of the letter underlines this love in a special way, in addressing himself to husbands. He writes: “Husbands, love your wives….” By expressing himself in this way, he removes any fear that might have arisen (given the modern sensitivity) from the previous phrase: “Wives, be subject to your husbands.” Love excludes every kind of subjection whereby the wife might become a servant or a slave of the husband, an object of unilateral domination. Love makes the husband simultaneously subject to the wife, and thereby subject to the Lord himself, just as the wife to the husband. The community or unity which they should establish through marriage is constituted by a reciprocal donation of self, which is also a mutual subjection (August 11, 1982, 4).

    Seems you are eager to posit inconsistencies where they don’t exist.

  • william bannon says:

    Fr. Angelo
    You left out the previous paragraph…number three…watch the emboldened words where he says the husband is not lord of his wife and then after I will quote the 1st Pope speaking under inspiration of the Holy Spirit not in the ordinary magisterium:

    “3. The opening expression of our passage of Ephesians 5:21-33, which we have approached by an analysis of the remote and immediate context, has quite a special eloquence. The author speaks of the mutual subjection of the spouses, husband and wife, and in this way he explains the words which he will write afterward on the subjection of the wife to the husband. In fact we read: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22). In saying this, the author does not intend to say that the husband is the lord of the wife and that the interpersonal pact proper to marriage is a pact of domination of the husband over the wife. Instead, he expresses a different concept: that the wife can and should find in her relationship with Christ—who is the one Lord of both the spouses—the motivation of that relationship with her husband which flows from the very essence of marriage and of the family. Such a relationship, however, is not one of one-sided domination. According to the Letter to the Ephesians, marriage excludes that element of the pact which was a burden and, at times, does not cease to be a burden on this institution. The husband and the wife are in fact “subject to one another,” and are mutually subordinated to one another. The source of this mutual subjection is to be found in Christian pietas, and its expression is love.

    Now watch I Peter 3:6:

    “1 Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct 2
    when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. 3
    Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, 4
    but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; 6 thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.”

    You can see the difference…can you not. It comes from our no longer memorizing the Bible the way Aquinas did. He is the last Catholic with a stupendous memorization of the Bible as Augustine also had as did Jerome. John Paul, not having memorized I Peter, then proceeds to actually contradict its spirit and its terminology.

  • Fr Angelo says:


    Why do you insist on seeing discrepancies everywhere, even to the point of pointing out what you think is a failure in a pope’s memory?

    Passages of scripture need to be read in their own context, so that the same terminology used in a different context is not misunderstood. You compare what a pope said in reference to one passage of Sacred Scripture to what was written by by a different author of a different epistle. I have no problem with making a comparison. I do have a problem, when, as it seems, no effort has been made to reconcile the differences, especially when to do so does not seem to be such a monumental task.

    There is no contradiction between Ephesians and 1 Peter. I know any number of Catholic families in which the father acts as head of the household, and at the same time is at the service of his wife and children.

    Headship without domination: Difficult to achieve maybe. But difficult to conceive?

    It seems that you favor a hermeneutic of discontinuity (Fra Roderic’s phrase).

  • william bannon says:

    The detail on “Lord” is symptomatic of the larger problem that you are not noticing. Permit a digression that will shed light on what he is doing herein.
    In both this issue and regarding the violence in the Old Testament, John Paul is seeing the old testament way as deficient.
    As to Old Testament violence, see section 39 of Evangelium Vitae where he quotes Genesis 9:5-6 without ever letting the reader know that he has excised out this phrase: “if anyone sheds the blood of man, by man will his blood be shed”. He removes it in an encyclical that treats extensively of the death penalty.

    His reason for removing it is seen in section 40 where he disparages Old Testament violence while he coyly does not detail which violence but we know it contains some of the God ordered death penalties because he proceeds to say that that violence fails to have the refinement of the Sermon on the Mount. Obviously he failed to memorize Acts 5 and 12.

    So he is a person influenced by people like Fr. Brown who he appointed to the PBC and who disbelieved that Mary said the Magnificat
    and who therefore had a very wide freedom as to what in the Bible comes from God and what comes from human culture only.

    Now return to the above passages and a similar thing happens in Dignity of Women which he also wrote and which also is not of the level of an encyclical on this husband wife matter. Just as in the case of his finding the Old Testament deficient on violence and that it really came not from God’s ordering it but came from the culture, on the husband wife thing he again refers to the OLD…the past burden on marriage in that the man then had a submission from the wife that was not mutual:

    ” Such a relationship, however, is not one of one-sided domination. According to the Letter to the Ephesians, marriage excludes that element of the pact which was a burden and, at times, does not cease to be a burden on this institution. The husband and the wife are in fact “subject to one another,??? and are mutually subordinated to one another.

    John Paul wanted the submission to be mutual which it is in most moments of marriage….but not in all moments of marriage. That is why he never quotes in detail the 5 other new Testament passages that insist on the ( him) wifely submission. He never quotes them just as in Evangelium Vitae, he never quotes the two passages that most oppose his view of the death penalty…Genesis’s “shedding blood passage” delivered not to just the Jews but to the Gentiles…ham and Japheth….and he never quotes Romans 13:4 which supports in the death penalty as Aquinas noted.
    Likewise John Paul never quotes in detail the wifely submission only passages from the NT but simply refers in one place to their existence without adequate attempts to say a real thing about them.

    Above in authority of his talk and above his apostolic letter, is the encyclical level….Casti C. which insists on the wifely obedience that is to exist along with mutual submission which latter obtains in most days of marriage but the former is needed espcially for dead lock areas of decision making…
    John Paul was trying to make wifely submission identical to mutual submission by using only Ephesians and not using the other 5 passages because he considered them the OLD way of jewish culture rather than NT passages willed by the Holy Spirit as permanent.

  • Fr Angelo says:


    Your analysis of JPII’s choice of texts is insightful. Even so, I do not think an effective faith-filled approach to magisterial teaching, is in keeping with an inclination toward discerning discontinuity.

    We are not free to dissent from even non-infallible teaching of the magisterium. So as teachings that belong to the ordinary magisterium, which are irreformable, are determined by their continuity with the received tradition and perennial teaching, we should make an effort to harmonize.

    I do not think this does violence to the texts you mention. What is more, it seems to me, such an approach is conducive to assimilating the Church’s teaching and translating it into the best possible interior dispositions.

  • william bannon says:

    Fr. Angelo

    One can dissent from non infallible teaching according to seminary and imprimatured and nihil obstated moral theology tomes which post date Lumen Gentium’s section 25 on “religious submission of mind and will” and which are part of the ordinary magisterium themselves. Take a conservative one in the US…Germain Grisez’ Way of the Lord Jesus copyright 1997, volume one, page 854… ” a faithful Catholic is not in a position to think a moral norm currently proposed by the ordinary magisterium is false, unless there exists a superior source (such as Scripture, a defined doctrine, or a teaching proposed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium) which requires this conclusion.”

    Since I have read the bible from beginning to end and read most of Augustine and all of the ST and have memorized much of that either word for word or in principle, I think I know when a Pope who appointed Raymond Brown…. is erring on the above two issues and I’d be mentally unhealthy if I still thought he was correct despite the pattern he showed of not dealing with the passages that opposed his views on both issues.

    Parroting errors of authorities is why we had several errors last for centuries in the ordinary magisterium…perhaps the worst being just titled slavery ( a person born to a slave mother or caught in war) which actually lasted from prior to Aquinas to 1917 when the canons were revised….but still lingered in moral theology books like the 5th edition of Tommaso Iorio’s Theologia Moralis in 1960.

  • Fr Angelo says:


    In his motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem of May 18, 1998, John Paul II promulgated the following modification to canon 750, the second paragraph being an addition:

    Canon 750 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.

    § 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    It is not permissible to dissent from the ordinary magisterium or anything “definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.”

    We have gone the gamut here. You are free to believe what you want, but what you have articulated is inconsistent with Catholic faith.

  • william bannon says:

    Your system of moderation should include a note to readers that you have voided responses so that the reader does not think your position went unchallenged.

  • Duane says:

    On Oct. 13 I posted a comment about Fr. Peter’s analysis of the Connecticut Bishops’ policy to allow for the use of plan B in Catholic hospitals. Fr Peter in his second post on this matter claimed that I questioned “whether ‘contraception’ in the phrase ‘emergency contraception’ is intrinsically evil. He [Duane, according to Fr Peter,] holds that ‘contraception’ is intrinsically evil, only when it is used to impede conception. But this begs the question, for what else is contraception intended, but to impede conception? Hence, this strikes me as a flawed or confused statement.???

    Fr Peter has misread me. In my post of Oct. 13 I began by agreeing with Fr. Peter that the policy decision of the Connecticut Bishops is mistaken because of how Plan B works; it allows for the use of a contraceptive that is potentially abortive for a rape victim. Then without stating any personal view of my own I simply called attention to the fact that apparently Fr. Peter’s additional view that a rape victim would never be justified to use a contraceptive is opposed to what [contemporary] bishops and theologians in general seem to teach about this matter.

    Here I can further add that at
    Bishop Michael Sheridan, S.T.D. in an article states: “Under normal conditions, Catholic teaching views contraception as a distortion of the purpose of human sexuality, and therefore seriously wrong. In the case of rape, however, emergency contraception is morally acceptable for women as an act of self-defense. Catholic hospitals already provide emergency contraception to rape victims in a morally sound way as part of their medical care, and have done so for years.”

    Bishop Sheridan adds within brackets this:
    “[Number 36 of the Fourth Edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2001) states: ‘If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she (the rape victim) may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.’]???

    Then from there is this:
    “ ‘At the level of principle, the church’s teaching is that the only legitimate sexual activity is between a husband and wife, and must always be open to life,’ said Redemptorist Fr. Brian Johnstone. […] In the early 1960s, Johnstone said, the Vatican gave permission for religious women in the Belgian Congo to use contraceptives as a defense against rape.
    ‘It was seen as a protection against pregnancy arising from unwanted, unfree sexual intercourse,’ Johnstone said.???

    At any rate, I’m no theologian, and so I am not exactly qualified to argue with Fr Peter about his disagreement over the contemporary teaching of U.S. bishops or other theologians about the use of contraception in the case of rape. Therefore, I would suggest that Fr Peter contact the Pontifical Academy of Life or the Congregation for the Faith to see if they might help clear up his concerns over those who justify the use of some forms of contraception in the case of rape.

    Also, in Fr Peter’s second post he says that “One point not within the competence of these organizations [Episcopal Conferences] is binding statements on matters of faith and morals, unless they simply repeat what all bishops in union with the Roman Pontiff have always taught.???

    Fr Basil Cole, OP writes about the religious assent of the mind and heart that the Church teaches must be given to authoritative magisterial teaching: This assent “means accepting their teaching by agreeing with it, and holding fast to it. We are called to give this religious assent to the teaching of the bishop in his diocese and especially to the Holy Father, because each teacher has special graces to teach the people committed to their care. (New Catechism of the Catholic Faith, #2004). This presupposes, of course, that the teaching of the bishop is in harmony with that of the Sacred Magisterium. […]Theologians, whose task it is to apply the gospel message to the changing times in which we live, may at times come up with new concepts that seem to contradict or differ from the Church’s traditional teaching. Loyal theologians will make known their doubts or hesitations either in scientific journals (as distinct from the media), or communicate with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding their objections. They should never publish their objections as a counter truth, or worse, as the work of a para-magisterium. Sometimes a theologian’s perplexities humbly submitted to the Church may prompt a papal or episcopal letter which further clarifies some problem of faith or morals. Unfortunately, in recent years some radically dissenting theologians have persisted in opposing common Church teaching, going public with their opinions as if they were a parallel teaching authority to the utter confusion of the Catholic laity. The faithful should wait for further clarification, if some aspect of the traditional teaching of the Church seems to be called into question.???

  • Fr Angelo says:


    All the issues you raise in your comment have been dealt with in the various posts on the subject on this site and elsewhere, all of which are linked to in the body of this post.

    Father Peter has pointed out, several times, that his position is not a new one, but the accepted tradition up until the time of at least Humanae Vitae. His statements certainly do not articulate “new concepts that seem to contradict or differ from the Church’s traditional teaching.” Father Peter has been defending magisterial teaching, not contradicting it.

    I realize that this may raise more objections from you; however, as already said, the issues you have raised and the associated doctrinal sources have been dealt with at length already. There is no need for repetition. With that the comments for this string are closed.