Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, is pictured at an organ at the institute in Rome Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)   VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- 'Tis t...

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Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Written by Jack Sheedy
Left, people gather to watch firefighters attack the blaze as it rages near the towers of the cathedral. The roof eventually collapsed after being completely involved in flames. At right, firefighters...

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Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Written by Mary Chalupsky
German Nativity scene by Egon Wolfsgruber is placed inside a barrel with polychrome wood figurines. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Museum)  NEW HAVEN – With its ancestral heritage, c...

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Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following a...

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Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
John Slattery and Nathan Lane in “The Front Page” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)NEW YORK – Because of Nathan Lane’s presence in the cast,  the revival of “The Front Page” has attracted attention an...

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Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Nicholas Renouf, director of music at St. Mary Church in New Haven or four decades, accompanies the Schola Cantorum during a noon Sunday Mass at St. Mary recently. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky) NEW HAVEN...

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Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Written by Administrator
Campaign photo for the 2016 Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which will take place Dec. 10-11 in most parishes. (Photo by Jim Judkis) WASHINGTON – The annual Retirement Fund for Religious ...

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Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t

Latest Commentary

ARCHBISHOP

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I wish all of you a holy Advent and a Christmas...

LOCAL

HARTFORD – Reverend Ivan Dario Ramirez and Reverend Israel Rivera have been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Hartford by Archbishop...

WORLD

Women religious gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, the day the high court heard oral arguments...

ARTS

Gabrielle Union and Colman Domingo star in a scene from the movie "The Birth of a Nation." (CNS photo/Fox) NEW...

FROM OUR READERS

ENFIELD – John Berube, president of the parish council of St. Bernard Parish, thanks Father John P. Melnick, pastor, for...

YOUTH

BRANFORD – More than 300 people attended the 10th annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast, held at the WoodWinds this year...

Q. Concerning this recent business attempting to "sell" the public on the prospect of "free" contraceptives and access to abortions, it seems to me that a new "Church" is being structured on political lines. Since when did the federal government acquire the authority to speak on ethical issues in behalf of Christianity? And since when did morality depend upon public opinion surveys; i.e., the morality of abortion or contraception?

A. What we are experiencing here in America is unquestionably a pseudosophisticated attempt to usurp the teaching authority of the Church in moral matters. The whole effort is obviously sophomoric. Anyone who gives it any credence is placing himself or herself in spiritual jeopardy. After life comes death, and following death, judgment. To stake one’s future on a moral code based on political pragmatism or sociological surveys is the worst kind of wager one can make; it begins and ends with the real possibility of losing everything. Remember Pascal’s famed "Wager"?

This whole issue is most grave; it pertains to eternal life, and the prospect of surrendering it forever. Meanwhile, as Sacred Scripture teaches us, our world today, fascinating as it may be, is passing away. (1 Cor. 7:31)

Any practising Catholic, deep within his or her heart, accepts all this; moreover, he or she understands it. In other words, the Church speaks for Christ. And Christ’s words leave no room for ambiguity. Abortion entails the direct taking of an innocent human being’s life. Sterilization for a directly contraceptive purpose is beyond the scope of a person’s stewardship over his or her own body, hence is morally wrong. And contraception, which refers to the deliberate, freely chosen separation of the procreative aspect of conjugal union from the unitive aspect, cannot be squared with the Church’s assessment of moral actions; hence must be repudiated.

All of the above – abortion, direct sterilization and contraception – have been assessed as immoral by the teaching Church. For a Catholic, there is no other magisterium – no sociological surveys, no alleged majority rule, no groups of nuns or orders of priests, or laypersons can alter these moral assessments. Least of all, no political power or self-proclaimed expert has any competence to determine morality in this area. Would anyone take seriously a senator’s or president’s opinion about the Higgs Boson (e.g., whether it is the "God-particle"), or whether Shakespeare wrote all the dramas attributed to him?

Not at all. It is the Church to which practising Catholics defer in matters of morality, unless, of course, morality doesn’t really mean anything to them.

How sophomoric can one become?

Besides assessing the ethics of issues like abortion, sterilization and contraception, there is always the problem of cooperating with their use or dissemination. This opens up another complex subject; namely, the principles pertaining to active cooperation. Surely a practising Catholic does not want to assist others in doing what he or she knows is immoral – for example, in insuring himself or herself for the drugs that could cause abortion or a contraceptive act.

Incidentally, use of the phrase "birth control" in Administration documents or press accounts is meaningless. Responsible parenthood is a Christian virtue. The phrase "birth control" is not, per se, a synonym for contraception.