Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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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.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.