Monday, February 22, 2016

Peters (Fr. Z commentary) on Misunderstanding the (alleged) 'Congo contraception' case

Canonist Dr. Ed Peters, "Misunderstanding the (alleged) 'Congo contraception' case" (In the Light of the Law, February 21, 2016), begins his post by saying:
Even by the standards of his reign, the presser Pope Francis conducted on his return flight from Mexico has provoked an unusual number of questions. I wish to address only one of those here.

Preliminarily, I note that the burden is not on the negative to prove that something did not occur, it is on the affirmative to prove that the alleged something did occur. That said, though, it now seems all but certain that the ‘permission’ or ‘approval’ which Francis has claimed his predecessor Pope Paul VI gave for Congo nuns facing rape to use contraception simply does not exist. See e.g. Fr. Zuhlsdorf or John Allen*.

Unfortunately this myth has been invoked by the pope as if it were a fact of Church history, and, more importantly, in a way that suggests it might be a precedent to be considered in deciding whether contraception may also be used to prevent pregnancy in some cases of possible birth defects. That claim would take Pope Francis’ contraception remarks into a very different area. No longer are we musing about a point of Church history (as interesting as that might be), now we are dealing with Church moral teaching. The stakes become dramatically higher.
Read the whole article. Excellent. Also read Fr. Z's comments on Peter's article in his post entitled: "Peters on reactions and claims about Francis’s off-the-cuff contraception remark" (Fr. Z's Blog, February 22, 2016).

See also Peters' important caveat concerning John Allen's piece at the bottom of his article. You have to beware of what Allen says sometimes; and this is one of those times.

1 comment:

JM said...

As Francis gradually allows/encourages questioning and loosening up of Catholic traditions, he undermines the entire project.

The protests and infighting end up leaving even supporters like myself lost in the verbal haze and wondering just what the point of everything ever was. We are now seen as splicing fine points of immigration policy, birth control in the most extreme of cases, and how much we should be ostracizing divorced and remarrieds, when the Pope's supposed mandate was supposed to be going back to the Gospel versus back to the Church as an NGO. Just as Republicans bash the dreaded "S" word (Socialism), assuming everyone knows it is bad when a generation has now been weened on it, traditionalists rightly protest the new rhetoric but don't go back to explaining just why the stuff is essential in the first place. Which gives the Pope the points as the nice guy versus the impossible to please crowd.

I saw this last weekend when a conservative Republican and lifetime nominal Catholic said how much he essentially admires the hard things the Pope is trying to do. Translation being bringing the Church into the American mainstream. It reminds of Mark Steyn's comment:

"The average person doesn't want to live an aggressively partisan life, and, if you're one of those persons raised in almost any American public school [substitutue parish here] in the last four decades, it's easier to be liberal: To be opposed to, say, climate alarmism [or any hard Catholic doctrine] is to choose a position that requires eternal defending [probably even from your priest, but obviously your pope], whereas to profess to be concerned about the future of the planet [or just love] is just the default setting of society, from kindergarten on. A liberal culture is good at making conservatism seem more trouble than it's worth."

Isn't that just what Francis is doing: making the defense of tradition seem more trouble than its worth?