Roman Penitentiary and Holy Office repeatedly respond that contraceptive intercourse is wrong, and that passive cooperation in contraceptive intercourse is impermissible, unless there is danger of serious harm to the spouse question was posed regarding the wife. Matrimonial Causes Act allows legal divorce in England in the case of adultery or in the case of aggravated adultery when the wife seeks divorce. Roman Penitentiary proposes that confessors suggest period abstinence to couples practicing contraception. Medical profession debates the desirability of contraceptives, with increasing approval.
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It includes a wide range of articles on theological, ecclesiastical, liturgical, pastoral and homiletic topics, plus homilies for Sunday Masses and feasts; book reviews; a question and answer section; and editorial by Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ. The time has come for action and for the open reaffirmation of that great encyclical and compendium on marriage, "Casti Connubii. The sixtieth anniversary of "Casti Connubii" came and went the same way as its 50th anniversary--without fanfare or great symposiums.
However, I suggest that the entire Church would benefit from a closer look at this landmark encyclical in the context of the historical circumstances that prompted it and the sexual revolution in which the Church struggles today. Let us start with the unhappy realities that face almost every Catholic pastor today. The vast majority of Catholics in their fertile years are using unnatural forms of birth control, the most common of which, the Pill, has the power to cause early abortions. Is it really probable that all those nice looking people who volunteer as lectors and distributors of Holy Communion come just from that minuscule three percent of Catholics who practice what the Church teaches?
On the contrary, I think it is safe to assume that typical parish volunteers are sterilized and using contraceptives and abortifacients pretty much in proportion with the above national statistics.
The parish problem can be summed up with the realization that any one of those fertile-years women distributors may be saying "The Body of Christ" at the same time that her Pill is destroying the life of a new human being within her uterus.
I think that's obscene, but that's the way it is in the Church in America today. Or you can look at the typical parish situation from a different angle. Both those who accept "Humanae Vitae" and the dissenters are agreed that the acceptance of marital contraception leads "logically" to the acceptance of sodomistic behavior, whether by married couples or homosexuals.
Anthony Kosnik and company have argued for the moral equivalency of married couples using unnatural methods of birth control and homosexuals committing sodomy. The pastoral problem is to lead the massively contracepting parish back to living the divine truth about human love.
Here is where the events leading up to "Casti Connubii" can be helpful. Most parishioners have utterly no idea that before August 14, , birth control was not a Catholic- Protestant issue. This isn't to say that before that time some theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, had not argued in favor of allowing marital contraception, but the formal teaching of all the Christian churches had held the line.
I have found that the simple exposition of the relevant facts can be helpful in leading couples to understand better and then to accept the teaching of "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae. What are the relevant facts? I think it is helpful to explain that the modern sexual revolution did not start in but rather has developed over a period of almost two centuries.
The first stage started with Malthus; the second with Margaret Sanger; the third with Lambeth of ; the fourth with the Pill, and the fifth with widespread dissent in the Catholic Church.
Stage 1: Malthus. I credit the Rev. Thomas Malthus with starting the modern sexual revolution because he provided the scare--the fear that would cast out true love. In his "Essay on the Principle of Population," Malthus created the modern "population explosion" scare, saying that unless it were checked, population would outgrow food supplies and result in mass starvation.
He recommended only moral means of family limitation, i. The discovery of vulcanization of rubber in led to the production of cheaper, more effective condoms, and armed with this technological breakthrough, the neo-Malthusians of the s substituted condoms for the self-control of Malthus and beat the drums of the population scare.
Fear of the future generally provides a good rationalization for sins of the present. I call this Stage I of the sexual revolution because at the time it was truly revolutionary to advocate separating the unitive and procreative aspects of marital relations. In the United States, this led to a reaction led by a Protestant reformer, Anthony Comstock, who persuaded Congress in to legislate against the distribution and sale of contraceptive devices in federal territories.
Many states followed suit, and the conglomerate of anti-contraceptive legislation became known as the Comstock laws. Here's what I find religiously interesting about these brief historical facts.
During the first years of the Reformation, birth control was not a Catholic-Protestant issue. Charles Provan has recently published a small book which contains the anti-contraceptive teachings of 66 Protestant theologians including Luther and Calvin. Stage 2: Margaret Sanger. In the years before World War I, Margaret Sanger and others began to wage war on the Comstock laws, and about she founded her National Birth Control League, the forerunner of today's Planned Parenthood which she founded in The contraceptionists frequently advocated a whole new concept of marriage.
They denied the divine origin and the permanence of marriage and made efficient contraception the technological cornerstone of "companionate" marriage--a serial polygamy consisting of legal marriage, efficient contraception, divorce when boredom set in, and then remarriage to start the process over. I call this Stage II of the sexual revolution because of the tremendous influence Margaret Sanger had on the practices and moral thinking of her day and even more so today.
The pressures she generated were highly influential in removing the legal, religious and social barriers to contraception and then abortion. In fact, I will go so far as to say that as far as American Catholic married couples are concerned, many give more honor to Margaret Sanger than to the Virgin Mary, for while they may give lip service to the latter, they have adopted the practices and frequently the philosophy of the former.
Stage 3: Lambeth of The key event is the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England in In , the Anglican bishops had reacted to the neo-Malthusian pressures by reaffirming the teaching that it was immoral to use unnatural methods of birth control.
So also at their Lambeth Conference of But the pressures of the s proved too much for them, so on August 14 at their Lambeth Conference of , the Anglican bishops reluctantly accepted marital contraception as morally licit. In doing so, they acknowledged that previously they had always taught the immorality of marital contraception. This marked the first time in history that a Christian Church had given its acceptance to using unnatural methods of birth control.
Furthermore, they were warned by one of their own, Bishop Charles Gore, that accepting contraception would open the door to accepting homosexual sodomy, but Gore voted in the minority. We do not know what would have happened if the Church of England had kept the faith regarding marital love and sexuality.
But we can certainly see in hindsight that this was an embrace of the sexual revolution, and today dissident Catholic theologians argue from the acceptance of marital contraception to the acceptance of sodomy. Anglican Bishop Gore was indeed a prophetic voice. In the United States, Lambeth of was quickly accepted by a committee of the Federal Council of Churches in March, , when it endorsed "the careful and restrained use of contraceptives by married people.
The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be 'careful and restrained' is preposterous. The promise of marital contraception in the eyes and mouths of religious-talking people has always been that with very limited family size and unlimited sex, couples would be happier and divorce would become almost unknown.
It was to the Anglican resolution at Lambeth that Pope Pius XI made reference in his famous and immortal reply in "Casti Connubii" on the last day of Stage 4: The Pill. The fourth stage of the sexual revolution was the Pill.
By , the practice of contraception was well accepted by all the mainline Protestant churches and was more or less universally practiced by all "family planners" except Roman and Orthodox Catholics, some very conservative or fundamentalist Protestants, and, I think, Orthodox Jews.
Certainly contraception was practiced by many Catholics in the fifties, but hard data is hard to come by. Large families were in vogue, and many couples were just letting the babies come as they might, and without the natural spacing of ecological breastfeeding which, if practiced correctly, spaces babies an average of two years apart many couples were having babies every year. There is data indicating that in rhythm was by far the most widely used form of conception regulation by Catholic "family planners"; trying to read that backwards is hazardous, but I would hazard a guess that before no more than half and perhaps only a third of Catholic couples in their fertile years were using contraception.
I call the arrival of the Pill in the fourth stage of the sexual revolution because it brought birth control to the front pages and made it seem all the more acceptable. Since it was totally different in approach from other methods, it was discussed in the papers and popular magazines just as a health matter, and every article conveyed the assumption that birth control was the modern thing to do, almost a social obligation.
The morality of birth control as such was not a subject for public debate, but within the Catholic community, the Pill occasioned fierce attacks upon the traditional teaching against all unnatural forms of birth control, and such attacks went largely unanswered in the popular Catholic press: there was little real debate.
The teaching of "Casti Connubii" was being seriously muted and undermined, and the result was that more and more Catholics accommodated themselves to the dominant contracepting culture.
Stage 5: Catholic dissent. The dissent of and ever since has effectively removed the Catholic Church as a block to the progress of the sexual revolution. Furthermore, his language in the magisterium is not "in a state of doubt at the present time, whereas it is rather in a moment of study of reflection" and his delay of two years after receiving the reports of the papal birth control commission had greatly prejudiced public and theological opinion within the Church against a reaffirmation of "Casti Connubii.
The effects of this dissent can be seen in the progressive NSFG reports. Predictions are rash, but I expect that unless dioceses start to get really serious about chastity instruction at all levels of education including marriage preparation, Catholic usage of NFP will fall another third or half and stabilize at two or even one percent of Catholic family planners.
As to what percentage of Catholic families are not engaged in family planning of some sort, all a parish priest has to do is to look at his flock. Without any form of family planning including ecological breastfeeding, the babies will be coming about every 12 months, and with just ecological breastfeeding, they will be arriving at an average of every 24 months.
Such families are indeed rare today. Along with the vast increase in marital unchastity has come a vast increase in the number of Catholic divorces. I do not have hard data, but it is a matter of common knowledge that before the dissent of , the Catholic divorce rate was well below that of the culture, while at the present time it is approaching the cultural average.
Furthermore, as more and more priests told themselves that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with marital contraception and told the couples they counseled that there was nothing immoral about marital contraception in their particular circumstances, they seduced themselves. By saying and coming to believe that unchaste behavior of one kind was not really unchaste behavior in some circumstances, too many priests gradually came to believe that various forms of unchastity were not really seriously unchaste if there was a proportionate reason to do them, and apparently they found no reason to exclude priestly unchastity from this logic.
I cannot offer any other explanation for the apparently vast increase in priestly unchastity at the present time. I suggest that the 60th anniversary of "Casti Connubii" offers both homiletic and pastoral opportunities to begin a revival of the Church's traditional role as the promoter and the safeguard of chastity.
The priest is free to criticize my suggestions as coming from one who has neither the privilege or the responsibility of the pulpit and pastorship, but regardless, here is what I think I would do if given the opportunity. First of all, I would give an instructive homily to commemorate the 60th anniversary of "Casti Connubii. Please raise your hands if you already knew what I just told you. I'm only asking a question about your knowledge about a much forgotten part of Christian history," and I would re-explain and then re-ask the question.
I would be prepared to see that almost no hands were raised the second time, and then I would go on to emphasize that before birth control was not a Catholic-Protestant issue. Then I'd probably read some of the half-dozen stimulating questions on the back of the Provan book. For example, "What theologian declared in the s that birth control was the murder of future persons? I would use that occasion to note that what Calvin, Wesley and Luther were saying in their own way was part of Catholic teaching for centuries that recourse to unnatural forms of birth control is the grave matter of mortal sin, and I would read the key passage from "Casti Connubii" par.
Pastorally, I would be well read in the encyclical itself. I would make attendance mandatory for all lectors, distributors, marriage ministers, and members of parish council, and I would certainly make a full course of NFP instruction four meetings a normal part of preparation for marriage. Then I would require a signed profession of faith and practice including the Church's teaching about love, sex, marriage and birth control from all those who wished to participate in the exemplary roles of sanctuary service, marriage ministry, and the governance of the parish.
Such measures may sound tough, but I contend that the times and the conditions of the Church require an approach quite different from that of the sixties through the eighties. Let me put it this way. For years I have watched well- intentioned priests try to increase the acceptance of "Casti Connubii" and "Humanae Vitae" through soft-spoken persuasion, largely in vain.
Persuasion is no longer persuasive. To those who say that practical action to reaffirm "Casti Connubii" will lead them to be consigned to the diocesan boondocks, I say "Rejoice! John Vianney did in the boondocks of Ars; look what Fr. In this case, he asked for a small rural parish, but the point still holds.
Casti Connubii (1930), by Pope Pius XI
It includes a wide range of articles on theological, ecclesiastical, liturgical, pastoral and homiletic topics, plus homilies for Sunday Masses and feasts; book reviews; a question and answer section; and editorial by Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ. The time has come for action and for the open reaffirmation of that great encyclical and compendium on marriage, "Casti Connubii. The sixtieth anniversary of "Casti Connubii" came and went the same way as its 50th anniversary--without fanfare or great symposiums. However, I suggest that the entire Church would benefit from a closer look at this landmark encyclical in the context of the historical circumstances that prompted it and the sexual revolution in which the Church struggles today.
Q. How do I cite the casti connubii?
Was this helpful? MLA does not have a citation style for Encyclicals or other official Church documents. This is a commonly used format:. Hard copy: Latin title if applicable , English translation. Online copy: Latin title if applicable , English translation. Retrieval Date. Hard copy:.
It stressed the sanctity of marriage , prohibited Catholics from using any form of artificial birth control , and reaffirmed the prohibition on abortion. It also explained the authority of church doctrine on moral matters, and advocated that civil governments follow the lead of the church in this area. Casti connubii was a response to the Lambeth Conference of in which the Anglican Communion approved the use of birth control in limited circumstances. It covered four major topics: the sanctity of marriage, opposition to eugenics, positions on birth control and the purpose of sexuality, and reaffirmation of the prohibition on abortion.
Casti Connubii: 60 Years Later
Skip navigation. Augustine : to produce offspring, to grow in conjugal faith, and to show benefit from the sacrament. It begins by exploring the nature of marriage, followed by a discussion of its advantages for individuals and societies, erroneous but common beliefs about marriage, threats to pure marriage, and finally how to address them. The stated primary function of this aspect of marriage is procreation for the generation and education of children. In addition to bringing a couple closer together, the exclusivity of this act is considered essential to marital happiness and adultery is strongly condemned. Finally, the sacrament of matrimony is reiterated as a bond that binds two people by the power God, and as such cannot be destroyed by the manmade division of divorce. Approximately halfway through the document, Pope Pius XI turns his attention to some of the modern obstacles that pose a threat to the Catholic perspective on holy matrimony.