Almost 500 years ago (i.e., December 12, 1531), Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Juan Diego near Mexico City at a time of wide acceptance of infant sacrifice. When Juan Diego’s bishop doubted the reported encounter with the Mother of God, she instructed Juan Diego to gather wild roses on a certain hill top. When he later opened his tilma to show the gathered roses, a miraculous image of Mary, pregnant with Our Savior, was discovered. It led to an astonishing number of conversions and the cessation of human sacrifice. Our Lady is recognized as the patroness of the pro life movement.
Abortion and Contraceptives
Though both are absolutely forbidden by God, as conveyed in Church teaching, it is my experience that contraceptives and abortifacients are rarely – if ever - discussed from the pulpit.
As per the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
470. What is forbidden by the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment forbids as gravely contrary to the moral law:
· direct and intentional murder and cooperation in it;
· direct abortion, willed as an end or as means, as well as cooperation in it. Attached to this sin is the penalty of excommunication because, from the moment of his or her conception, the human being must be absolutely respected and protected in his integrity;
· direct euthanasia which consists in putting an end to the life of the handicapped, the sick, or those near death by an act or by the omission of a required action;
· suicide and voluntary cooperation in it, insofar as it is a grave offense against the just love of God, of self, and of neighbor. One’s responsibility may be aggravated by the scandal given; one who is psychologically disturbed or is experiencing grave fear may have diminished responsibility.
498. What are immoral means of birth control?
Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation.
As I wrote recently for Catholic Stand,
Catholic teaching upholds the right of each new human being to originate in the loving embrace of mom and dad, who are married to each other. Yet no matter how each tiny young person came to be, the sanctity of her (or his) life is owed absolute/ uncompromising respect from the very first moment till natural death…. Church teaching still equates conception with fertilization – both being the very first moment of new life when the sperm meets the egg. While others may acknowledge that human life starts at conception, a bait and switch claims conception does not take place till implantation – making some early abortions only contraceptive…. Such semantics allow for the erroneous claim that a drug acts only in a contraceptive manner when it might very well act in an abortifacient manner. Whether a so-called contraceptive ends a new life after implantation or possibly interferes with implantation after fertilization, both “fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral” (cf, The New Charter # 56, Dignitas Personae # 23). If human life were to do an end run around fertilization/conception and begin with the morally prohibited act of cloning, that new human life is still a magnificent gift from God and must be treated with absolute respect….absolute respect for the sanctity of human Life and the sanctity of the transmission of human life MUST be at the center of health care.
A genuine contraceptive interferes with the meeting of the sperm and egg, before fertilization, while an abortifacient interferes with the implantation of an already fertilized egg. Pharmacies, including those in supermarkets and department stores, invariably carry “contraceptives”, some of which can work as abortifacients.
What is meant by “cooperation”?
Seventeen years ago, the late Archbishop Elio Sgreccia of the Pontifical Academy for Life summarized our moral responsibility for cooperation in the immoral actions of others – especially grave attacks on human life. In the below chart, I have summarized his words:
(cf, Pontifical Academy for Life, 6/9/2005).
Our Moral Choice
Should parish bulletins include advertisements for providers of morally prohibited products? I believe that parishes would never consider carrying ads in their bulletins for Planned Parenthood or pornography. Similarly, I believe that parish bulletins should NOT include advertisements for providers of abortifacients or contraceptives. Short of that, no vendor that sells pharmaceuticals should only be considered for an ad, unless it has at least been vetted as a vendor that refuses involvement with abortifacients. (Note: Pharmacists for Life International lists eight vendors that refuses involvement with abortifacients.).