The Dominican priest and theologian of the Papal Household, Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P., recently gave an interview to LifeSiteNews which addressed a number of moral and social issues, including the use of artificial contraception.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The Dominican priest and theologian of the Papal Household, Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P., recently gave an interview to LifeSiteNews which addressed a number of moral and social issues, including the use of artificial contraception.
The interview can be seen by accessing this link at LifeSiteNews.
Fr. Giertych was ordained to the priesthood in Kraków in 1981, earned his licentiate in spiritual theology in 1983, and a doctorate in 1989. Fr. Giertych has been a professor of moral theology at the Angelicum in Rome since 1994. He also serves on the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the International Theological Commission, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
It is a horrible mistake to see artificial contraception as a minor moral issue. As Fr. Giertych explains in his interview, the use of artificial contraception by married couples is deeply disruptive of the conjugal act as God has intended it to be, and has serious familial, social, economic, demographic, and political effects over the long haul.
We are beginning to see the consequences of the Western nations' vast rejection of Pope Paul VI's teaching in Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical which reiterated the perennial teaching of the Church on artificial contraception.
The immediate effect of artificial contraception is to rend asunder that which nature and nature's God has made intrinsic to the human sexual act. If not interfered with, the proper use of the sexual act within marriage naturally joins three things: sexual pleasure, the expression of love in a sort of body language, and the transmission of life through the openness to conception.
In such a conjugal act, sexual pleasure is not the end because the act continues to its ultimate finality which is a possible conception. A properly ordered conjugal act continues long after sexual pleasure is over and done with. It does not end with sexual pleasure.
However, the contraceptive act serves to cut the ultimate finality, and so it terminates the act at sexual pleasure. It is a form of coitus interruptus.
As Fr. Giertych expresses it, artificial contraception "elevates the moment of sexual pleasure," and demotes, no, even "denies the fundamental finality of sexuality, which is the transmission of life."
It is as if these three things--sexual pleasure, expression of love, and transmission of life--have to be coupled together in the conjugal act for it to enjoy integrity. Otherwise, the act itself becomes imbalanced and corrupt. When sexual pleasure, spousal love, and openness to the transmission of life are de-coupled, artificially severed, invariably sexual pleasure wins out.
As a result of the division injected into the conjugal act by artificial contraception, sexual pleasure becomes the primary purpose of the conjugal act. The virtue of chastity is waylaid. Invariably, hedonism becomes the driving philosophy, and the sexual act becomes a training in egoism.
"When sexuality is not tied to the virtue of chastity, which trains the person how to integrate the sexual desire within charity, then everything is rotten."
What should be, then, an act which truly expresses spousal love and whose "fundamental finality" is to be open to the transmission of life and therefore open to unselfishness, turns out to be an act that teaches the couple to become selfish. Such an act, therefore, apes or mimics an authentic conjugal act.
In fact, what should be the body language of love becomes, in a strange sort of way, the language of hate. Contraceptive sex "destroys the quality of love."
In words that resonate true to any man who has really thought about artificial contraception or who has listened to the voice of conscience, engaging in sexual intercourse while using artificial contraception is really communicating this: "There is something in you that I love, and but there's something in you that I hate. And I hate the fact that you can be a mother."
Unfortunately, the selfishness or egoism of the couple goes far beyond just themselves. When such a fundamental position is adopted by a large proportion of married couples, the familial and social effects can be seriously unsettling.
It is the injection of egoism and the body language of hate that results in the distortion of human sexuality and human, conjugal love. Marriages therefore tend to break down, women, who correctly feel themselves wronged, respond with the violent aggressiveness of feminism in a rage against man.
Finally, the anti-life attitude that is intrinsic to artificial contraception leads to abortion because the child is seen as a "potential enemy" by the contraceptive mindset.
Obviously, a marriage that is built upon artificial contraception can hardly be the appropriate matter for the Sacrament of Marriage. Contraceptive sex destroys the "matter of love," which is the natural marriage and its meaning. How can matter which is marred by selfishness, egoism, and hate, and which is anti-life, be the subject of life-giving grace?
The use of artificial contraception extends far beyond the couple and their family life. The distortion of human love shows itself in society at large. Millions of contracepting couples--who are essentially self-indoctrinated in selfishness, egoism, and hedonism--shows itself in political, economic, and demographic ways.
The egoism shows itself in political expression, through a "sense of entitlement," Fr. Giertych explains. Here, the population demands benefits and social services from governments, and, in their selfishness, cares not whether future generations are saddled with the cost.
The problem of imposing costs on future generations is exacerbated by the fact that, as a direct consequence of artificial contraception, less children are born. Accordingly, the burdens placed upon upcoming generations by selfish parents demanding goods and services from governments becomes amplified.
This raises serious issues regarding the "morality of extending the public debt and throwing the responsibility on future generations."
It results in a sort of demographic Ponzi scheme, and, necessarily must result in what Fr. Giertych calls a "demographic crash." "I think clearly we can see that the economic crisis which we are observing in the western world is a direct consequence of 1968, of the rejection of Humanae Vitae, of the rejection of the Church's teaching, and the approval of the sexual revolution, which has caused a demographic crash" which stems from a "grave disproportion" between preceding and succeeding generations.
As Fr. Giertych says, the Church's teaching is not new. It has been teaching the same thing "for millennia." It was the traditional teaching of all Christian Churches and ecclesial communions until recently. Even Martin Luther and Jean Calvin opposed it.
Contraception is "fundamentally against life, against the human person, against human dignity," and this is what underlies Church teaching. To use artificial contraception is not only being "in synch with the Church's teaching, it is being in synch with reality, with the nature of the human person, and the nature of love which we receive from love."
The Church's teaching is only the pointing out of reality, not the making it. It is the couples who are living in unreality, though that living in unreality has very real familial, economic, and political consequences.
Obviously a day of reckoning must come. A country cannot print money and borrow money for ever to keep a hedonistic population trained on contraceptive sex satisfied. The pressure will begin to mount for euthanasia, an option that is already being entertained by some Western nations as a means to cut social expenses that an older generation demands.
More, there is the real risk of violence as it becomes clear that the egoism of the prior generation has saddled the future generation with debts that will seriously impede their flourishing.
Fr. Giertych thinks, however, that because of the social problems they confront from the hedonism of the prior generation, tomorrow's youth may be open to the wisdom of the Church's teaching on artificial contraception.
They will then be open to recognizing the "egoism of the hedonist generation that has distorted society" at the "beginning at a very important focal point, which is sexuality."
They will realize that the Church was right, and that among all the voices among mankind, only one spoke with a clear, consistent voice for reality, for life, for love, and set itself determinedly against unreality, death, and hate.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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