The Staff and Trustees of One More Soul pray that
the joy of this Christmas Season saturates you and your family!
Everybody seems to love Pope Francis, including Time Magazine, which declared him ”Person of the Year” for 2013. Our new Pope is full of surprises, including interviews and off-the-cuff remarks that are sometimes mystifying and a challenge to interpret. Pope Francis has called for an EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Synod of Bishops) on “PASTORAL CHALLENGES TO THE FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF EVANGELIZATION”. A “Preparatory Document” is available at the Vatican web site.1 This Preparatory Document includes a questionnaire on “the pastoral challenges facing the family today”. AMAZINGLY, Pope Francis has invited all the world’s Catholics to email him answers to these questions, which I (Steve Koob) did. I didn’t save my responses, but here are a few thoughts on those survey questions especially relevant to One More Soul’s mission—encouraging openness to life, discouraging birth control, and promoting Natural Family Planning. All of the questions are from Sec. 7, The Openness of the Married Couple to Life. Nothing could be closer to our mission.
Q. What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae Vitae on responsible parenthood?
A: The average American Catholic has never heard a homily that clearly explains the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexual morality, especially the teachings on marriage from Humanae Vitae. Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NYC, and at the time President of the USCCB, essentially confirmed this statement in a Wall Street Journal interview by James Taranto.2 Here is an excerpt.
Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie…” For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy…in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.”
Later in this same article, the discussion continues:
Without my [Taranto] having raised the subject, [Cardinal Dolan] adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do.’”
Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it….But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.’” [Emphasis added]
This “hunger” is confirmed by Mary Rice Hasson, JD, and Michele M Hill in “What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception”3. Here is an excerpt.
Fifty-three percent of weekly [Catholic women] Mass-goers who accept parts but not all of Church teaching indicate some openness to learning more about the Church teachings on contraception….While 72% of Catholic women say the weekly Mass homily is their primary source for learning about the faith, just 15% of those who rely on homilies to learn about their faith say they fully accept the Church’s teaching on contraception. [Emphasis added]
I conclude that couples must receive the TRUTH, or they will assume that the Church’s teaching is optional or unimportant.
Q. Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning?
A: I am confident that most diocesan marriage prep programs address “family planning” by cautioning against the use of unnatural methods and providing at least an introduction to modern methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP). A small but growing number of dioceses expect couples to take a complete course in NFP. The “serious reason” requirement for licit use of NFP might not be emphasized, thus fostering a “Catholic birth control” or “contraceptive mentality” that can poison a couple’s relationship.
Q. Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?
A: I think that couples should be encouraged to accept all the children God wants to send them. Who better than God for this task of eternal consequence? The Church teaches that children are the SUPREME GIFT of marriage. I suspect that these ideas are rarely presented.
Q. What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couples accepting this [Natural Family Planning] teaching?
A: Abstinence is difficult for many couples using NFP to prevent conception. God’s clever design of woman makes abstinence during her fertile time especially difficult because peak fertility and peak libido typically coincide. Couples do not marry to continue the abstinence of their courtship.
Q. What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education [government promoted]?
A: Our government requires that virtually all health care plans provide FREE access to contraception, abortion and sterilization, in stark contrast to Church teaching on the intrinsic evil (never permitted under any circumstances) of these practices.
Q. How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered?
A: In Called to Give Life,4 Jason Adams makes this profound statement: “Once I worried about what I would have to give up in having children; now I know that there is nothing I would not give up for my children.”5 Helping couples realize this common feeling would encourage additional children. Also, a quote from Hasson and Hill6 is illuminating:
Church-going Catholic women display greater openness to children than the average American. For Catholic women, the “ideal” number of children averages 3.5 (higher than the American ideal of two or fewer).
And if money were not a factor, the Catholic ideal would jump to 4.0.
Q. How can an increase in births be promoted?
A: Assuring that the majority of parish activities are family-friendly, including the Mass, would bring families together for mutual support and parish encouragement. The cost of Catholic education is a huge family financial burden, making homeschooling a necessity for many large families. Creative funding—such as the Diocese of Wichita’s extraordinary stewardship model7—would make a Catholic education available to all Catholic children.
One More Soul’s mission obviously supports the implied desire of Pope Francis to confront the Culture of Death with more life—the lives of children, especially from good Catholic families. The Church and society need strong functional families that can serve as “signs of contradiction” to the culturally approved realities of co-habitation, birth control, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and consequent abortion.
One More Soul needs your HELP! We’d love it if you…
- Go to Mass and pray for us as often as possible. The Mass is the “source and summit of our faith”.
- Purchase our great resources—like “First Comes Love”—and distribute them in your families, parishes, schools, and clubs of all kinds.
- Give “Called to Give Life” to priests and deacons.
- Make a tax-deductible donation to One More Soul, dated by December 31st. A generous anonymous donor has pledged $10,000 for matching. Your gift will be doubled!
Steve Koob and all the Staff, Trustees and those we serve for Jesus and His Church.
1. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/ rc_synod_doc_20131105_iii-assemblea-sinodo-vescovi_en.html
2. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527023 03816504577311800821270184.html
3. http://www.eppc.org/docLib/20120828_Catholicwomen and contraception.pdf
4. Jason Adams, Called to Give Life, A Primer on the Blessings of Children and the Harm of Contraception, Second Edition, One More Soul, 2013, p90.
5. Jason Adams, Faithful Fertility, Discerning Just and Serious Reasons for Postponing Pregnancy, One More Soul, 2013, p11.
6. See Ref 3.
7. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/catholic-education-stewardship-thriving-in-wichita o coming celebrations, in you serve.