Being an avid reader of Aquinas and one who is of the anti-contraceptive mentality I put together the following piece.
Before I share it I would like to share that I was raised in the new order church by new order parents so I grew up as a lukewarm "Catholic". I converted from a lukewarm "Catholic" to an "orthodox" or "conservative" "Catholic" by means of the Church's teaching on artificial birth control.
I was assured that the Church always taught against "Onanism" or "the spilling of the seed" as a mortal sin. I was very glad to learn that Paul VI very clearly taught in his "excellent" Encyclical Humanae Vitae that contraception was a grave moral evil in every circumstance. I also learned that the "traditional" "conservative" "orthodox" John Paul two reiterated the Church's constant teaching most clearly in Evangelium Vitae and Familiarous Consortio. I remember reading these documents as a naïve new churcher and thinking the reason why I did not understand them was because I was not bright enough. I understand now that I did not understand what jpii was saying because for the most part he was not saying anything distinctively Catholic – just a lot of stuff that gave you a Charlie-horse between the ears. You have to read his stuff several times to get an idea of what he is saying let alone whether what he says conforms or at least does not contradict Traditional Catholic Teaching.
As an informed new churcher you always had to make sure these strange teachings did not contradict Catholic teaching outright and then you were satisfied and figured the “pope” was doing a good job. Evangelium Vitae is an incredibly long-winded, verbose document that says practically nothing at all in several portions throughout the document. Or perhaps it is all over my head because his writings are so lofty that they soar above that of the preconciliar popes. I would go his documents looking for clear statements on particular issues and read and read and read and finally see something that reiterated the Catholic Church’s teaching and say, “Oh, there it is.” And I was satisfied with that.
As a newly devoted new churcher I was very pleased to hear that there was in fact a place one could go to find the truth on seemingly controversial questions. A priest went over Evangelium Vitae with a group of us and told us how great it was (he was a comparatively conservative priest so I figured he was right). This is when I fell in love with the true Church because of Her uncompromisingly strong stand on moral truths while becoming a devoted member of what I thought was that same Church but which turned out to be a mere façade for the real thing.
Later I read Paul VI's Humanae Vitae very closely and noticed that the whole document was filled with fluff and drivel with the repeated use of terms such as "responsible parenthood" and "spacing of children" with ONE AND ONLY ONE solid Catholic statement in the middle of the document.
I compared this document with Pope Pius XI document Casti Connubii from December 31, 1930 (and later Pope Pius XII's Allocution "Address to Midwives on their Profession" issued on October 29, 1951) and was struck by the difference in the way the documents were written and what in fact each of the documents stated.
In fact let's compare a small portion of the two documents shall we?
Paul 6 starts in the second paragraph of the Encyclical:
At all times the fulfillment of this duty has posed grave problems to the conscience of married persons, but, with the recent evolution of society, changes have taken place that give rise to new questions which the Church could not ignore, having to do with a matter which so closely touches upon the life and happiness of men.
3. This new state of things gives rise to new questions. Granted the conditions of life today, and granted the meaning which conjugal relations have with respect to the harmony between husband and wife and to their mutual fidelity, would not a revision of the ethical norms, in force up to now, seem to be advisable, especially when it is considered that they cannot be observed without sacrifices, sometimes heroic sacrifices?
And again: by extending to this field the application of the so-called "principle of totality," could it not be admitted that the intention of a less abundant but more rationalized fecundity might transform a materially sterilizing intervention into a licit and wise control of birth? Could it not be admitted, that is, that the finality of procreation pertains to the ensemble of conjugal life, rather than to its single acts? It is also asked whether, in view of the increased sense of responsibility of modern man, the moment has not come for him to entrust to his reason and his will, rather than to the biological rhythms of his organism, the task of regulating birth.
4. Such questions required from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection upon the principles of the moral teaching on marriage: a teaching founded on the natural law, illuminated and enriched by divine revelation.
5. The consciousness of that same mission induced us to confirm and enlarge the study commission which our predecessor Pope John XXIII of happy memory had instituted in March, 1963. That commission which included, besides several experts in the various pertinent disciplines also married couples, had as its scope the gathering of opinions on the new questions regarding conjugal life, and in particular on the regulation of births, and of furnishing opportune elements of information so that the magisterium could give an adequate reply to the expectation not only of the faithful, but also of world opinion.
Didn't Pius XII just speak on it in his "Allocution to Midwives" in 1951? Did not Pius XI ask and answer all the pertinent questions in a clear and concise way in 1930? But, no, Montini drones on:
7. The problem of birth, like every other problem regarding human life, is to be considered, beyond partial perspectives- whether of the biological or psychological, demographic or sociological orders-in the light of an integral vision of man and of his vocation, not only his natural and earthly, but also his supernatural and eternal vocation.
And since, in the attempt to justify artificial methods of birth control, many have appealed to the demands both of conjugal love and of "responsible parenthood," it is good to state very precisely the true concept of these two great realities of married life, referring principally to what was recently set forth in this regard, and in a highly authoritative form, by the Second Vatican Council in its pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes."
9. Under this light, there clearly appear the characteristic marks and demands of conjugal love, and it is of supreme importance to have an exact idea of these.
This love is first of all fully human, that is to say, of the senses and of the spirit at the same time. It is not, then, a simple transport of instinct and sentiment, but also, and principally, an act of the free will, intended to endure and to grow by means of the joys and sorrows of daily life, in such a way that husband and wife become one only heart and one only soul, and together attain their human perfection.
Then, this love is total, that is to say, it is a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations. Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself.
And finally this love is fecund for it is not exhausted by the communion between husband and wife, but is destined to continue, raising up new lives.
I thought PROCREATION was the primary end of marriage - not in the conciliar Church. But please, read on and see what Paul VI is really conveying:
10. Hence conjugal love requires in husband and wife an awareness of their mission of "responsible parenthood," which today is rightly much insisted upon, and which also must be exactly understood. Consequently it is to be considered under different aspects which are legitimate and connected with one another.
In relation to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means the knowledge and respect of their functions; human intellect discovers in the power of giving life biological laws which are part of the human person.
In relation to the tendencies of instinct or passion, responsible parenthood means that necessary dominion which reason and will must exercise over them.
In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.
Responsible parenthood also and above all implies a more profound relationship to the objective moral order established by God, of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter. The responsible exercise of parenthood implies, therefore, that husband and wife recognize fully their own duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society, in a correct hierarchy of values.
12. That teaching, often set forth by the magisterium, is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.
With slight of hand and a twist of fate we have slipped from procreation being the primary end of marriage to the comfortable shoe of it being listed second in a list of two "meanings" or primary ends of the conjugal act. Two thousand years of Tradition? Forget about it. But he is so clever in his skimble-skamble:
By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination towards man's most high calling to parenthood. We believe that the men of our day are particularly capable of seeing the deeply reasonable and human character of this fundamental principle.
Now for his Catholic statement in the center of this encyclical:
14. In conformity with these landmarks in the human and Christian vision of marriage, we must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth.
Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.
To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom; that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life.
Compare the above rationalization with Pius XI's solid, no nonsense words in Casti Connubii and, please note, we are not comparing novel statements because Pius XI did not make any novel statements. Here is what he said:
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.
57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: "They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.
Now back to Paul 6 funny stuff (I'm sorry, be patient for a few more paragraphs and then we'll sort it out):
Now, some may ask: in the present case, is it not reasonable in many circumstances to have recourse to artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of the family, and better conditions for the education of the children already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity: the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational creature with his Creator; but she affirms that this must be done with respect for the order established by God.
I highlight the following because in previous Encyclicals as seen with the term "responsible parenthood" we have not frequently seen reference made to the "spacing" of births. What follows is not erroneous teaching but rather a misguided empathetic teaching that increases the possibility of people abusing the exceptions.
These exceptions becoming the rule are plain for all to see when we consider all the “Catholic” families with a 2 to 3 child limit. If you have not noticed, take a look, every single Catholic marriage, almost without exception, in the new Church results in no more than three children (the boy and the girl and if they have two boys or two girls they might try for a third). Are we to assume that all these poor couples either lack the mental, physical or financial capabilities to provide food, clothes and shelter for their offspring? And if this is the case can we be sure they were called to marriage in the first place?
And has this not come true? In the New Church all couples seeking to get married MUST take a course on Natural Family Planning or sin free birth control. I am speaking apart from legitimate grave reasons for doing so. It is as if the wisdom of these modernist see that there is no way these people will have children as God sees fit so they give them a way to get out of it. I liken it to a grandfather who knows his infant should not be eating chocolate so he takes the bar away from the baby but quickly replaces it with a candy cane saying, "There, there, it is alright."
If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier.
Noticing the stark differences between the pre and post-conciliar documents led me to look at the Vatican II documents themselves again, but this time more closely and what I found did not really surprise me as can be noted in my previous article "Trick or Treat or Threat".
John XXIII was a different kind of "pope" that started a different kind of council which invented a different kind of liturgy in a different kind of church and these different kind of "popes", council, liturgy and church are not Catholic but a new world religion which accepts everything and denies nothing except Traditional or Authentic Catholicism. It has become in fact, a "White Washed Tomb".
Looking back I can see now why it is the "conservative" "catholics" and not the liberal ones that have such a problem with the true Catholics.
You see, the conservative catholics take their faith very seriously. What is a given (in their mind) is that they are in fact in the true Church. The "fact" that the new mass is not only valid but good is beyond question. The idea that a council erred is preposterous. And any notions of the pope not being a good pope let alone "no pope" are simply what should I say "absurd" with a patented certainty.
So in essence your "good" "conservative" "catholic" will think of the authentic Catholic as being a knee-jerk reactionary or exceptionally erroneous due to a substantial amount of ignorance. These "good" "catholics" (which I will here-on-out call "new churchers") cannot see why the authentic Catholics are so blind to the fact that a "pope" can do no wrong and that anything that is authorized by the "pope" is beyond dispute and to dispute anything authorized by a "pope" is simply un-Catholic.
The new churchers comfortably fit themselves into a system where they can blindly follow a man that can do or say no wrong. This is a rather easy thing to do intellectually speaking. This is what I did. I just took it for granted that anything Wojtyla wrote was orthodox. So I read his documents from the perspective of what he says is right, we know that, so if I have problems with what he writes I must confirm to it for he is pope and he must be right. I took it as a given that he would not contradict other Popes because that would be readily noticed and exploited.
The new churchers comfortably fit themselves into a system where they can blindly follow a man that can do or say no wrong. This is a rather easy thing to do intellectually speaking.
I speak as a man that read all of Karol W.'s encyclicals and thought of him at the epitome of Catholicism. I tried to mold myself after him thinking that would lead me to be the best Catholic I could possibly be.
What I later found out was that I was never a true Catholic intellectually speaking but merely in desire. I knew nothing of Trent (other than the name) or the Baltimore Catechism. I knew nothing of the writings of the pre-conciliar Popes and little of what the Early Church Fathers wrote. I knew nothing of the true Mass or Catholic Priests, Bishops or Popes. I, as a very devout, sincere, orthodox, conservative new churcher was the one that was incredibly ignorant.
With that as a background, along with an answer to a question I read by an NFP "expert" at the EWTN website that stated something to the effect that it is better to have a couple of college educated children than several who are not, I have written the following:
WHETHER CHILDREN IN THE MARRIAGE BOND SHOULD BE PREVENTED FROM EXISTENCE FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS
Objection 1. Better to have 2 children with college degrees than several with none.
Reply to objection 1. The knowledge we gain on earth is one of the few things we can take with us to Heaven but one must first exist before the possibility of enjoying the Beatific Vision can happen. Depriving several of existence in order for two to grow more in knowledge is to eliminate the best (existence of immortal souls) for the sake of a good (increased knowledge and better chance of attaining material success).
Objection 2. Two well educated children contribute to the betterment of society more than several souls deprived of a full education.
Reply to objection 2. One must not do evil so that a (perceived) good may come. Society is composed of people whose existence is unique and unrepeatable and whose value in the eyes of their Maker cannot be measured and the primary good of their existence contributes to the betterment of God's family which is the composite of society. There are also secondary goods that result when the existence of human life is not purposely thwarted such as more children to support one another and their parents in old age (pensions, social security stability) and the lessening of the necessity for the importation of peoples to fulfill roles that cannot be fulfilled by those whose existence has been prevented.
Objection 3. It is more expedient to supply 2 children with the best things in life than to deprive several children many of their wants.
Reply to objection 3. It does not follow that two immortal souls existing with many material goods that rust and moth consume is preferable to the point of preventing other souls from existence within the family of God in the marital bond. Expedience relates to the promotion of self-interest rather than the common good.
On the contrary I say to all the objections:
"And He (God) said: 'Let Us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. And God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good'." (Genesis 1: 26-31).
Finally, I answer that one immortal soul is worth infinitely more than any other good.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH"
St. Athanasius, AD 373