In his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (1968), Pope Paul VI forbade the use of any form of artificial birth control. Consequently, any Catholic who uses birth control commits a grave “mortal” sin. Conservative Catholics consider the encyclical to be an infallible declaration. The only method of birth control the Catholic church does allow is the unreliable rhythm method aka “natural family planning.”
The encyclical has been extremely controversial since the day it was published. Most U.S. Catholics ignore it. They rightfully question why artificial birth control is allegedly sinful but the rhythm method is not when both have the same aim. Research has found that 82% of Catholics believe artificial birth control is morally acceptable and 98% of Catholic women of child-bearing age have used contraceptives. The church’s ban on condoms, even if a married partner has a transmittable illness such as AIDS, is seen by those, both inside and outside the church, as incredibly inane. The laity’s militant disagreement with the hierarchy on this issue has understandably led to questions, disagreements, and loss of faith on other church teachings.
The church now faces another serious challenge to its birth control policy. With the startling spread of the Zika virus, South American health officials are advising women to avoid pregnancy until the crisis is resolved or controlled. Yet, the Vatican remains silent. Why? Because the church’s position on artificial birth control is completely untenable in the face of such a crisis. But the hierarchy can’t easily do an about face without compromising its claim to papal infallibility. Pope Francis is hailed as the “pope of mercy” but he’s unwilling to provide a merciful, reasonable, and humane path forward for the 425 million Catholics in South America.
Surely God in His Word forbids murder. Abortion and abortifacients are murder. But there is nothing in the Bible that forbids non-abortive forms of birth control.
Praise the Lord for freeing me from the chains of Catholic legalism and man-made rules and traditions. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and come out of false churches.
Zika tests Catholic position on birth control