Sunday, February 24, 2013

Divine Loopholes: 1. IVF and Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning (NFP)

The family planning method that Catholics are permitted to use by the Roman Catholic Church is the so called 'Natural Family Planning' (NFP) method. No birth control pills. No condoms. No intrauterine devices (IUD). No vasectomy or tubectomy. Only the natural way!

NFP is quite simple. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. [1]

The encyclical letter Humanae vitae issued by Pope Paul VI in 1968 clarified it for the catholics.
Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. [2]
In plain English, it means, contraceptives like condoms, pills, IUDs etc are all morally wrong. Every sexual act should be open to procreation. By using contraception, you are not open to making babies and that is a sin.

So, what should catholics who want to space out their babies do?
If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. [2]
In plain English, married people can have sex during infertile days and still avoid pregnancy.

But if you let a piece of rubber contain your ejaculation, you are engaging in morally evil sex. If you consume a birth control pill which stops your ovary from releasing a mature ovum, then that would be morally wrong.

But, if you knowingly have sex only on your infertile days, you are somehow still "open" to procreation and you have the Church's blessings!

Pope Paul VI should have taken in a high school level course in logic, perhaps!

Invitro fertilization (IVF)

For some parents who have trouble conceiving, invitro fertilization is an option. The ovum is removed from a woman's body, and the fertilization happens on a petridish/test tube. The fertilized embryo is then reintroduced into the woman's body where it continues its nine month journey.

But since this process separate "procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance", the catholic church has pronounced the IVF as morally wrong.

The problems are multi-faceted. In IVF, the semen is often produced by masturbation which is of course evil in the eyes of god. Then the fertilization happens outside the body of the woman which is just not natural and hence is evil. Finally, the 'marriage act' is being replaced by an artificial process. Procedures which add a "third party" into the act of conception, or which substitute a laboratory procedure for intercourse, are not acceptable, the USCCB clarifies for us. [3] [4] [5]

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in its document 'Donum Vitae' issued in 1987 teaches that if a given medical intervention helps or assists the 'marriage act' to achieve pregnancy, it may be considered moral; if the intervention replaces the 'marriage act' in order to engender life, it is not moral.

The USCCB has this to say about IVF:
... the procedure does violence to human dignity and to the marriage act and should be avoided. [5]
In place of IVF, GIFT or LTOT are possibilities that are not as morally wrong. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) is actually under consideration by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Until the CDF makes up its mind, it is left to you. Low Tubal Ovum Transfer (LTOT) a.k.a Normal Egg Sonographic Transfer NEST (NEST) is the other option.

They both involve the couple having sexual intercourse. So, no masturbation is involved. Whew! Then the egg and the semen are retrieved, and reintroduced back into the woman's body so that fertilization happens inside the body and not outside in a test tube, which would of course be evil.

In cases like IVF or GIFT, multiple pregnancies are very common. Pregnancy reduction or aborting some of the fetuses is absolutely not an option even though it gives the remaining embryos a better chance of survival. Any eggs that have not been used should absolutely be not fertilized invitro.

Well, in short, this is an elaborate tap dance around what IVF does. And why the church thinks this procedure does not involve a "third party" into the act of conception is any body's guess. They must also be working on a definition of 'natural' that the rest of us are unaware of.

They make up 'divinely inspired' rules and then find loop holes and skirt around the rules.

Here is what I think is the real moral evil here - trying to play god and throwing a monkey wrench into the lives of over a billion people.

We can blame the CDF or the Pope for all of this. But Catholics who silently stand by, use contraceptives[6] and let the church get away with all of these terrible and not to mention, stupid rules must take a significant portion of the blame as well. Without their silent help, the church would not get away with all of this nonsense.

More Divine Loopholes: Abortion.


[1] Natural Family Planning


known as 'Donum Vitae') 1987.


[5] Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology.

[6] Contraceptive Methods Women Have Ever Used: United States, 1982–2010

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do atheists feel love?

Libby Anne from the Atheist channel over at Patheos has a guest post entitled "An atheist guide to love" on Washington Post’s online religion section.

She writes:

Without instructions flowing from religious dogma, atheists are free to simply focus on finding ways to build healthy relationships and on setting a healthy balance between self and others. Given the lack of atheist dogma, this is a very individual thing. Many atheists marry and raise children together, others get divorced, and still others choose not to marry, or form alternative families or engage in polyamory. As an atheist, there’s no set rule for what a family or a relationship is supposed to look like. Instead, it’s up to you.
It is an interesting read. Go over and give it a try!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ratzinger resigns

Pope Benedict XVI (formerly, Joseph Ratzinger) has announced that he will resign at the end of the month. Advanced age is the reason.

While not being able to meet his obligations due to advancing age is a good reason to resign, taking responsibility for the lapses, his own included, for the child abuse crisis would have been nothing short of awesome. Richard Sipe (and others) had called for his resignation back when the crisis was breaking in Europe. But that would be admitting guilt. Not something, the Vicar of Christ is capable of, right?

In the past, ten other popes (mostly real, some possibly fictional) have resigned. Here is the list (courtesy NCROnline).

  1. Clement I (92?-101): Epiphanius asserted that Clement gave up the pontificate to Linus for the sake of peace and became pope again after the death of Cletus.
  2. Pontian (230-235): Allegedly resigned after being exiled to the mines of Sardinia during persecution of Maximinus Thrax.
  3. Cyriacus: A fictional character created in the Middle Ages who supposedly received a heavenly command to resign.
  4. Marcellinus (296-304): Abdicated or was deposed after complying with Diocletian's order to offer sacrifice to pagan gods.
  5. Martin I (649-655): Exiled by Emperor Constans II to Crimea. Before he died, clergy of Rome elected a successor whom he appears to have approved.
  6. Benedict V (964): After one month in office, he accepted deposition by Emperor Otto I.
  7. Benedict IX (1032-45): Benedict resigned after selling the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI.
  8. Gregory VI (1045-46): Deposed for simony by Henry III.
  9. Celestine V (1294): A hermit, elected at age of 80 and overwhelmed by the office, resigned. He was imprisoned by his successor.
  10. Gregory XII (1406-15): Resigned at request of Council of Constance to help end the Great Western Schism.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where was the Holy Ghost?

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles has been barred from public ministry by the current Archbishop of LA, Jose Gomez for his role in covering up the priestly abuse of minors.

In the Church hierarchy, the bishop consider themselves peers and equals; some more equal than others, like the Cardinals and the Pope. For one to censure another is unprecedented and in this case a welcome development indeed!

So, what does being barred from public ministry mean for the now retired Cardinal? Apparently very little.
Mahony's day-to-day life would be largely unchanged, Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese, told the Los Angles Times. Mahony lives as a retired priest at a North Hollywood parish, Tamberg said, and he remains a "priest in good standing" and will continue to celebrate Mass at the parish. He will no longer conduct confirmation ceremonies, Tamberg told the Times.
Wow, no more confirmation ceremonies to officiate! Ouch! That really must hurt. Mahony's day-to-day life however would be largely unchanged. He continues to be a Cardinal, a "Prince of the Church", is still eligible vote to select the next Pontiff but confirmation ceremonies are strictly off limits.

Mahony has defended his record on his blog. Here is what he says:
Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem.  In two years [1962—1964] spent in graduate school earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, no textbook and no lecture ever referred to the sexual abuse of children.  While there was some information dealing with child neglect, sexual abuse was never discussed.
Where was the Holy Ghost when Mahony needed his advice? Does the Holy Ghost get involved only when it comes to figuring out deep things like whether the Father and the Son are of the same substance or if the Virgin Mary was truly born without the original sin?

Where the hell where you, Holy Ghost? Where was your guiding hand, the hand that the Catholic Church claims guides it and keeps it true? Why did you let Mahony look the other way when his priests were raping little children?


Many progressive churches have been scrambling to stay in touch with the changing times by ordaining women and gay priests and bishops. But, the Roman Catholic Church will have none of it. With the Holy Spirit guiding it and the Vicar of Christ as its head, the 'changing times' argument can go take a hike.

Fr. Wojciech Giertych, Pope Benedict XVI's personal theologian (serving in the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household) has weighed in on why women can not be priests. It is an interesting read, the LMAO variety. One laughs until the realization dawns that these nuts command a very very large audience and these rules have consequences.

Enough ranting. Let the laughter begin. Here are some choice quotes from Fr. Giertych.
Giertych rejects the idea that the all-male priesthood is a relic of obsolete social norms, as if such norms could have been binding on Jesus.
"The son of God became flesh, but became flesh not as sexless humanity but as a male," Giertych said; and since a priest is supposed to serve as an image of Christ, his maleness is essential to that role. 
Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, he said, a quality valuable for fulfilling a priest's duty to transmit church teaching. 
"The mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power," he said. "What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity."
"So women don't need the priesthood," he said, "because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway." 
"I remember once a contemplative nun told me, 'Oh, wouldn't it be horrible if Jesus were a woman?' And it dawned on me that, for a woman, the access to Jesus in prayer is easier than for us men, because he's male," Giertych said. "The relationship of love, of attachment, the spousal relationship to Christ is easier for the woman."
[My formatting]

Yes, it is easier for women to access Jesus but men with their maleness and their philosophical bend of mind are the only ones who fit the bill. Because Jesus was male, for Christ's sake!!

It is only logical!

What is funniest is that Catholics still buy this nonsense.