Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Contraception and Abortion (post #3)


This is the third of three posts in response to Aus Blog who commented on my post on pro-life resources. (Though, I also would like to post a summary of Hummanae Vitae a bit later).

Aus Blog has a blog entitled simply "Abortion." On this blog, Aus Blog has one post entitled "An Atheist's View on Abortion":

Aus Blog is an avowed atheist, but he/she believes abortion is immoral in 98% of the cases (when it is used only as a form of contraception vs. the 2% of times that it is used in the case of rape, incest, or for health condition of the mother).

I read the post and would like to make some comments.

Aus Blog (comments in green) states: "I am a 98% pro-lifer, 2% Pro-choicer, who has no religious convictions at all. I didn't need the fear of god or anything else to come to my decision, just good sense of what is right and wrong."

This statement is interesting on a couple of levels. I also do not believe that one needs to be a Christian or even a believer in God to see the immorality of abortion. However, it is always curious to me what atheists cite as their source of "right and wrong." My source of morality is natural law (known through my conscience) which is aided by divine revelation (which reached its highpoint in Jesus Christ and His Church). I am not sure what atheists hang their hat on (if there is no God... where does such abstract concepts of "right and wrong" come from?). Still, I am glad that Aus Blog is an atheist who believes in ethics and morality. Atheists who forego ethics and morality can be far more dangerous than "religious extremists" (I refer to the bloody reign of the communists).

Aus Blog displays some sound logic as to why all people (be they religious or not) should be against abortion: because it destroys a defenseless human life who has no choice in the matter.
Aus Blog says "What is she [your mother] had decided to terminate? Would that have been OK?" ... Lucky you had a mother that made the choice of life for you."

Aus Blog also states the correct understanding of when life begins: "At the point of conception is when life began for you" ... and later... "egg + sperm = human being"

But then there are errors: "Though it pains me to say it, there may always be a need for the 2% medical reasons and such, but that's all."

To this, I would ask 'why?' Are the 2% of humans conceived through rape, incest, or with associated medical risks to the mother any less human than the 98% of humans who were conceived by the consent of two healthy non-relatives? Do they have any less inherent human dignity just because of the situation surrounding their conception? Should the child of a rapist suffer the death penalty for his father's sin? Does a mother's attitude (whether she desires the child or not) make a child human... or is human dignity inherent in the person?

At any rate, Aus Blog then zeroes in on the 98% who abort as contraception: "How do we get the other 98% to be responsible...."
Ah, there is the key word--responsible. Many atheists would probably cringe at this reality, but the fact is that the Christian view of human sexuality is the only one that teaches true responsibility. In fact, Karol Wojtyla (before he was elected Pope John Paul II) wrote a famous theological/philosophical treatise entitled "Love and Responsibility" that deals with this issue. His "theology of the body" is the most beautiful expression of the truly responsible and liberating exercise of human sexuality is.

Aus Blog continues: "Sadly many prefer an occasional abortion, over using birth control, they have all kinds of reasons, each of them selfish."

This presumes that the use of abortion and contraception are not intimately related (see the article by Janet Smith in post #1 "Is 'more contraception' the answer to limiting the number of abortions?"). It also presumes that the use of contraception is not selfish. The use of contraception is selfish in that it says that I want the benefits of sexual union without the natural consequences of human life... it objectifies men and women and makes them means towards sexual gratification without the committment and responsibility inherent in monogamous parenthood.

"Then there's the christian impossition, (all a bit talibanish), and their men in high places (church and state should never entwine) their stance against birth control has only added to the numbers."

This is bad logic now. The Church must oppose birth control because it is intrinsically evil and violates the entire point of sexual union (the union of a married man and woman, and procreation... in other words, "bonding and babies"). What else should the Church do, lie about contraception and pretend that it is good for women and society just because that may be the popular opinion? Should they pretend that contraception would lead to a responsible use of human sexuality when it does just the opposite? I am not sure how much power the Church has in New Zealand, but there is no "talibanish" regime in the U.S. where abortion on demand is available up to "partial-birth" and contraception, divorce, fornication, homosexuality, etc. are all legal practices. (In fact, in some countries, religious rights are being tramped upon by countries that make preaching of homosexual acts as immoral as a "hate crime" [Canada], or by forcing Catholic institutions that have been providing adoption services for centuries to have to give children to same-sex couples, etc [U.S.A.].). People should have the legal right to be free to sin, but I do think that abortion should be illegal because it is an infringement of another's human right to life. People often blame the Church for the plague of abortion and AIDS because the Church opposes the false idea that contraception leads to sexual responsibility. I, on the other hand, would stop blaming the Church and look more towards what sexual practices lead to abortion and AIDS (adultery, prostitution, fornication, etc.). If people obeyed Church teaching there would be far less AIDS and abortions. Of course, we must help to treat those with AIDS... just like we must work with out of wedlock pregnancies (encourage keeping the child or adoption)... but let's not pretend that the fault lies with the Church for the recklessness some people choose.

Aus Blog: "People should be able to choose the use of birth control, to avoid having to make another choice."
I think that these people who choose birth control also choose irresponsible sex, and then choose abortion when their contraception fails (see Janet Smith's article). Ask Planned Parenthood how many abortions they perform on women who have been using contraception the month before they come in.

Aus Blog: "Sanity must provale [sic], abortions should remain available and safe for the 2% and such and the rest need to have a good look at themselves and get their act together."

Yes, I agree... sanity must prevail! However, contraception and irresponsible sex that is divorced from love, committment, and oppenness to human life is neither sane nor responsible... and will not help people "get their act together."

In short: I thank you for your thoughts, Aus Blog. I would say that you are 98% right and only 2% wrong... but your underlying assumptions about contraception miss the mark.

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Contraception and Abortion (post #2)


This is my second of three posts in response to Aus Blog's comments to my post on Pro-Life resources.

I believe, contrary to Aus Blog, that:
1. contraception and abortion are related abuses of human sexuality
2. increased use of contraception would not necessarily result in a a decrease in abortion
3. contraception is actually harmful to women physically and spiritually.

Premise #2 is dealt with in the post below entitled "Is 'more contraception' the answer to limiting the number of abortions?."
Premise #3 is dealt with by referring to some links that I list below:

When does human life begin? [Aus Blog, you are right on this... at conception!]

The link between abortion and breast cancer:

“If a woman takes the oral contraceptive pill before her first full-term pregnancy, she suffers a 40% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who do not take oral contraception pills. If she takes oral contraception pills for 4 years or more prior to her first full-term pregnancy, she may have an even higher risk.” [The Polycarp Research Institute]:

How about a link between oral contraception and cervical cancer?

How does “the pill” work… can it fail… and can it cause an early abortion?

What are the medical side effects of the pill?

Medical side effects: The birth control pill increases the risk of breast cancer by over 40% if it is taken before a woman delivers her first baby.
4 This risk increases by 70% if the Pill is used for four or more years before the woman’s first child is born.5 Other side effects that women have experienced include the development of high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, depression, weight gain, migraine, dark spots on the skin and difficulty with breast-feeding. Diabetics who take oral contraceptives may note increased sugar levels. Some women who stop taking the Pill do not have a return of their fertility (menstrual cycles) for a year or longer. Although the Pill decreases ovarian and some uterine cancers, it increases breast, liver, and cervical cancer.4 At least three studies have noted that the AIDS virus is transmitted more easily to women who are taking the Pill and whose partner(s) has the HIV virus. 6, 7, 8 The cost of using the Pill for five years is over $1,000.

See the full article at:

Will giving people more birth control solve the problem of abortion? [this pertains also to premise #2]

The following excerpt is from the book Why Can’t We Love them Both by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Wilke (available on-line at:
: )

“A major thrust of pro-abortion rhetoric has been the assumption that if only young people were given adequate education in how to use contraceptives, and then adequate access to them, the problem would be solved.
A portion of the pro-life side has serious moral reservations about contraception per-se. Many other pro-lifers do not share this. Almost universally, however, pro-lifers feel that pushing contraceptives onto teenagers encourages fornication and at younger ages. Most pro-lifers oppose contraceptives for premarital sex, for adultery, and for homosexual liaisons.
Title X, the U.S. federal family planning program which has expended billions of dollars giving contraceptives to teenagers over the last three decades, has proven to be a colossal failure. Wherever its clinics have been established, an intense campaign has been launched to teach contraceptive use to unmarried teens. The result? The pregnancy rate has gone up. The sexually transmitted disease has gone up. The abortion rate has gone up. The age of first sexual encounter is younger. Planned Parenthood has reported that 60% of women getting abortions had used contraceptives the month they became pregnant (Chapter 35). This evidence, along with other studies, has convinced many that the siren song of "give them contraceptives and the problem will be solved," is not part of the solution, but rather part of the problem.”

How effective is contraception in preventing pregnancy?

An article on the declining population rate [another by-product of the contraceptive mentality]:

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Is "more contraception" the answer to limiting the number of abortions?


This post is in response to a comment Aus Blog made to my post about pro-life resources.
Briefly, Aus Blog wrote:
"World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million (likely 55 to 60). Over 3,500 per day / Over 1.3 million per year in America alone. 50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame. A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all. And 2% had medical reasons. That means a staggering 98% of unwanted pregnancies may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used. People have to stop using abortion as birth control. People should be able to choose to use birth control, to avoid having to make another choice. I'd like to see effective birth control made available to all who can't afford it." "People should be able to choose to use birth control, to avoid having to make another choice. " [emphasis mine]

I respect Aus Blog's right to his/her opinion... but I must disagree. Well, people ARE able to choose to use birth control, but I disagree that birth control really limits the amount of abortions that would otherwise occur. Also, I believe contraception to be harmful to women biologically and spiritually.

Aus Blog draws a sharp distinction between abortion and contraception, as if the two are not intimately related abuses of human sexuality. I am going to paste in its entirety an article by Janet Smith, PhD (Philosophy Dept. of University of Dallas). In addition, I will also post some links to scientific studies showing the damaging effects of contraception (link to breast cancer, cervical cancer, etc.). I know that such ideas go against the almost universally held dogma that contraception is the greatest invention since sliced bread... but if the Catholic Church has a prophetic voice on this matter... a voice that demands to be heard. Later (perhaps in another post) I will also give a summary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae (on the regulation of birth). This article is long... but worth the read [all lines in bold are my emphasis]:

The Connection between Contraception and Abortion

Janet E. Smith, Ph.D. Philosophy Department,University of Dallas
Reproduced with permission [via

Many in the pro–life movement are reluctant to make a connection between contraception and abortion. They insist that these are two very different acts — that there is all the difference in the world between contraception, which prevents a life from coming to be and abortion, which takes a life that has already begun.

With some contraceptives there is not only a link with abortion there is an identity. Some contraceptives are abortifacients; they work by causing early term abortions. The IUD seems to prevent a fertilized egg — a new little human being — from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill does not always stop ovulation but sometimes prevents implantation of the growing embryo. And, of course, the new RU 486 pill works altogether by aborting a new fetus, a new baby. Although some in the pro–life movement occasional speak out against the contraceptives that are abortifacients most generally steer clear of the issue of contraception.

This seems to me to be a mistake. I think that we will not make good progress in creating a society where all new life can be safe, where we truly display a respect for life, where abortion is a terrible memory rather than a terrible reality until we see that there are many significant links between contraception and abortion and that we bravely speak this truth. We need to realize that a society in which contraceptives are widely used is going to have a very difficult time keeping free of abortions since the lifestyles and attitudes that contraception fosters create an alleged "need" for abortion.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the recent Supreme Court decision that confirmed Roe v. Wade, stated, “in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception . . . . for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”

The Supreme Court decision has made completely unnecessary any efforts to “expose” what is really behind the attachment of the modern age to abortion. As the Supreme Court candidly states, we need abortion so that we can continue our contraceptive lifestyles. It is not because contraceptives are ineffective that a million and half women a year seek abortions as back–ups to failed contraceptives. The “intimate relationships” facilitated by contraceptives are what make abortions “necessary”. “Intimate” here is a euphemism and a misleading one at that. Here the word “intimate” means “sexual”; it does not mean “loving and close.” Abortion is most often the result of sexual relationships in which there is little true intimacy and love, in which there is no room for a baby, the natural consequence of sexual intercourse. Contraception enables those who are not prepared to care for babies, to engage in sexual intercourse; when they become pregnant, they resent the unborn child for intruding itself upon their lives and they turn to the solution of abortion.

Contraception currently is hailed as the solution to the problems conosequent on the sexual revolution; many believe that better contraceptives and more responsible use of contraceptives will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions and will prevent to some extent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

To support the argument that more responsible use of contraceptives would reduce the number of abortions, some note that most abortions are performed for “contraceptive purposes”. That is, few abortions are had because a woman has been a victim of rape or incest or because a pregnancy would endanger her life, or because she expects to have a handicapped or deformed newborn. Rather, most abortions are had because men and women who do not want a baby are having sexual intercourse and facing pregnancies they did not plan for and do not want. Because their contraceptive failed, or because they failed to use a contraceptive, they then resort to abortion as a back–up. Many believe that if we could convince men and women to use contraceptives responsibly we would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions. Thirty years ago this position might have had some plausibility, but not now. We have lived for about thirty years with a culture permeated with contraceptive use and abortion; no longer can we think that greater access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. Rather, wherever contraception is more readily available the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions increases greatly.

The connection between contraception and abortion is primarily this: contraception facilitates the kind of relationships and even the kind of attitudes and moral characters that are likely to lead to abortion. The contraceptive mentality treats sexual intercourse as though it had little natural connection with babies; it thinks of babies as an “accident” of pregnancy, as an unwelcome intrusion into a sexual relationship, as a burden. The sexual revolution has no fondness — no room for — the connection between sexual intercourse and babies. The sexual revolution simply was not possible until fairly reliable contraceptives were available.

Far from being a check to the sexual revolution, contraception is the fuel that facilitated the beginning of the sexual revolution and enables it to continue to rage. In the past, many men and women refrained from illicit sexual unions simply because they were not prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood. But once a fairly reliable contraceptive appeared on the scene, this barrier to sex outside the confines of marriage fell. The connection between sex and love also fell quickly; ever since contraception became widely used, there has been much talk of, acceptance of, and practice of casual sex and recreational sex. The deep meaning that is inherent in sexual intercourse has been lost sight of; the willingness to engage in sexual intercourse with another is no longer a result of a deep commitment to another. It no longer bespeaks a willingness to have a child with another and to have all the consequent entanglements with another that babies bring. Contraception helps reduce one's sexual partner to just a sexual object since it renders sexual intercourse to be without any real commitments. Certainly one can easily imagine how attractive abortion would be in the face of a contraceptive failure — one has made not commmitment to one's sexual partner or exacted one, so how can one expect one's self or one's sexual partner to take on the responsiblity of raising a child. Some clinics report that up to 50% of the abortions are of pregnancies that resulted from contraceptive failure.

Futhermore, the casualness with which sexual unions are now entered is accompanied by a casualness and carelessness in the use of contraceptives. Studies show that the women having abortions are very knowledgeable about birth control methods; the great majority — eighty per cent — are experienced contraceptors but they display carelessness and indifference in their use of contraception for a variety of reasons. Contraception has enabled them to enter a sexual relationship or a life style, but while the relationship or life style continues the contraceptive practise does not continue..

One researcher reports the reasons why sexually active, contraceptively experienced women stop contracepting: she observes that some have broken up with their sexual partners and believe they will no longer need a contraceptive but they find themselves sexually active anyway. Others dislike the physical exam required for the pill, or dislike the side–effects of the pill and some are deterred by what inconvenience or difficulty there is in getting contraceptives. Many unmarried women do not like to think of themselves as sexually active; using contraceptives conflicts with their preferred self–image. The failure to use birth control is a sign that many women are not comfortable with being sexually active. That is, many of the women are engaged in an activity that, for some reason, they do not wish to admit to themselves.

One researcher, Kristin Luker, a pro-abortion social scientist, in a book entitled Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision not to Contracept attempted to discover why, with contraceptives so widely available, so many women, virtually all knowledgeable about contraception, had unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The conclusions of her studies suggest that it is not simple “carelessness” or “irresponsibility” that lead women to have abortions, but that frequently the pregnancies that are aborted are planned or the result of a calculated risk. She begins by dismissing some of the commonly held views about why women get abortions; she denies that they are usually had by panic–stricken youngsters or that they are had by unmarried women who would otherwise have had illegitimate births. She also maintains that statistics do not show that abortion is an act of final desperation used by poor women and “welfare mothers” or that abortion is often sought by women who have more children than they can handle. What she attempts to discern is what reason women had for not using contraception although they were contraceptively experienced and knew the risks involved in not using contraception. Luker seeks to substantiate in her study that “unwanted pregnancy is the end result of an informed decision–making process. That pregnancy occurred anyway, for the women in this study, is because most of them were attempting to achieve more diffuse goals than simply preventing pregnancy.”

Luker argues that for these women (women who are having non–contracepted sex, but who are not intending to have babies), using contraceptives has certain “costs” and getting pregnant has certain “benefits”. The women make a calculation that the benefits of not using contraception and the benefits of a pregnancy outweigh the risks of getting pregnant and the need to have an abortion. She concurs that many women prefer “spontaneous sex” and do not like thinking of themselves as “sexually active”. She notes that some wondered whether or not they were fertile and thus did not take contraceptives. The “benefits” of a pregnancy for many women were many; pregnancy proves “that one is a woman”, or that one is fertile; it provides an excuse for “forcing a definition in the relationship”; it forces a woman's or girl's parents to deal with her; it is used as a “psychological organizing technique.”

In the end, almost all of the unmarried women Luker interviewed had the option to marry (and supposedly to complete the pregnancy) but none chose this option. Luker attributes this to unwillingness of women to get married under such conditions, to the disparity between this kind of marriage and their fantasy marriage, and to their belief that they were responsible for the pregnancy, and thus they had no claim on the male's support. One of her examples is of an unmarried woman who did not like using the pill because it made her gain weight. Coupled with this was her wish to force her boyfriend to openly admit his relationship with her to his parents who rejected her, and possibly to force marriage and thus she decided not to use contraception. Upon becoming pregnant, this woman had an abortion.

Much of this data suggests that there is something deep in our natures that finds the severing of sexual intercourse from love and commitment and babies to be unsatisfactory. As we have seen, women are careless in their use of contraceptives for a variety of reasons, but one reason for their careless use of contraceptives is precisely their desire to engage in meaningful sexual activity rather than in meaningless sexual activity. They want their sexual acts to be more meaningful than a handshake or a meal shared. They are profoundly uncomfortable with using contraceptives for what they do to their bodies and for what they do to their relationships. Often, they desire to have a more committed relationship with the male with whom they are involved; they get pregnant to test his love and commitment. But since the relationship has not been made permanent, since no vows have been taken, they are profoundly ambivalent about any pregnancy that might occur. They are very likely to abort a pregnancy they may even have desired. It may sound far–fetched to claim that some women may in some sense “plan” or “desire” the very pregnancies that they abort but this analysis is borne out by studies done by pro–abortion sociologists.

Contraception clearly leads to many abortions by those who have sex outside of marriage. Even within marriage, those who contracept are more likely to abort than those who do not, especially those who use NFP. It is easy to understand why contraceptors would be more likely to abort. Those using contraception who get pregnant unexpectedly, are generally very angry, since they did everything they could to prevent a pregnancy. The pregnancy is seen as a crisis. The married have often planned a life that is not receptive to children and are tempted to abort to sustain the child–free life they have designed. I am not, of course, saying that all those who contracept are likely to abort; I am saying that many more of those who contracept do abort than those who practice natural family planning.

It should be no surprise that unlike contraceptors, those using methods of natural family planning are highly unlikely to resort to abortion should an unplanned pregnancy occur. Some argue that couples using natural family planning are as closed to having babies as are those that use contraceptives; that they too wish to engage in “baby–free” sexual intercourse. But the crucial difference is that those using NFP are not engaging in an act whose nature they wish to thwart; they are keeping to the principles of sexual responsibility. Their sexual acts remain as open to procreation as nature permits. They are refraining from sexual intercourse when they know they may conceive and engaging in sexual intercourse when they are unable to conceive — precisely because of their desire to be responsible about their child–bearing.

It should be no surprise that countries that are permeated by contraceptive sex, fight harder for access to abortion than they do to ensure that all babies can survive both in the womb and out. It is foolish for pro–lifers to think that they can avoid the issues of contraception and sexual irresponsibility and be successful in the fight against abortion. For, as the Supreme Court stated, abortion is “necessary” for those whose intimate relationships are based upon contraceptive sex.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Pro-Life resources for catechists


January 22nd marked the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Since 1973 an estimated 40 million children have lost their lives to abortion. It is important to ask ourselves how much the culture of death has pervaded our world. How do our children view the dignity of human life? We need to incorporate the Church's teachings about the universal dignity of all human life from conception to natural death into our teaching of the Catholic faith. Whenver we teach about mankind being made in God's image and likeness, about the commandment prohibiting murder, about the need to work for social justice... the great scandal of abortion should not be far from our minds... nor the minds of our young Catholic children.

Here are some links--and I am trying to post more as I find them...

Resources for the classroom

The Catholic diocese of Richmond, Virginia has an excellent site on education materials for social justice issues: From this site, check out the link on
abortion... and you will find resources and links for middle school, high school, and adult.

Catholic Teaching and the Bible concerning Conception and Abortion:

What does the Bible teach about abortion:

What did the early Christians teach about abortion:

A Catholic Respect Life Curriculum (Knights for Life). This is a lengthy intensive curriculum for HS, college, adults, etc. available on-line via PDF. Also available is the Huntsville Respect Life Curriculum for Pre-K to grade 12. One could wade through and pick out parts that seem useful. [ via Christian Patriots for Life’s Pro-Life Education Program ]

Athletes for Life founder, Chris Godfrey, has a whole course "That's Where I Live" on chastity and pro-life for school use that may be able to be adapted in some way for a catechism class. [The book can be ordered if you go into the "locker room" page] Life Principles: some more good things, some geared to college-age, but also some nice articles that can be used with high school age kids.

The Legionaries of Christ have a new site ("connecting faith to current events") that has some archived articles that could be useful: on embryonic stem cell research: ; Abortion survivor shocks Colorado legislators:

Websites and organizations-ABORTION and general life issues

News on the life issues:

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life activities page: “Abortion unfiltered”: The case against abortion, facts about abortion, finding help, etc.

More facts regarding abortion:

Pro-Life Action League and

Students for Life of America

Feminists for Life

Priests for Life

Swallowed Scroll post on abortion:

Websites and organizations—STEM CELL RESEARCH

Do no harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics

Stem Cell Research Facts

Documents and addresses on stem cell research:

Pontifical Academy for Life: Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells:

Pope Benedict XVI: Stem Cells-What Future for Therapy? Address to the Pontifical for Life symposium:

Swallowed Scroll posts on Embryonic stem cell research:

Websites and organizations—DEATH PENALTY (Catholic encyclopedia) (Catholics Against Capital Punnishment – I don’t know much about this group, just found it via a google search)

Marriage, Family, Openness to children, Contraception, etc.

Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

Couple to Couple League: Better marriages through Natural Family Planning

One More Soul: Fostering God’s Plan for love, chastity, marriage, sex, and children:

Natural Family Planning Outreach

New Jersey Natural Family Planning

Fr. Peffley's website on marriage and family issues

Humanae Vitae (1968) – Pope Paul VI on the regulation of birth:

Familiaris Consortio – Pope John Paul II on the role of the Christian Family in the Modern World

Evangelium Vitae – Pope John Paul II encyclical on the Gospel of Life


Pope John Paul II speaks out on end of life issues:

Political involvement

Activate your political voice in defense of life and the family:

National Committee for a Human Life Amendment:


A blogger’s March for Life coverage

Critique of Washington D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl on pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion (LifeSite news)
(Amy Welborn)

“Roe v. Wade Week” at Yale features do it yourself abortion demonstrations

CBS Poll says most Americans want abortion illegal/restricted:

Catholic bio-ethics priest cuts through spin on stem-cell research debate:

Priest with disability opposes stem-cell initiative:

A fascinating letter by Bishop Morlino (Madison, WI) to his priests regarding the need to speak out in defense of Church teaching on marriage, the death penalty, and embryonic stem cell research:

Pregnancy Support

(Crisis Pregnancy Centers):

Do you know someone who has been affected by abortion? There is help and hope after abortion (Project Rachel retreats):

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Vocation Spotlight: more vocation links


Here is a brief list of some links for information regarding vocation in the Church:

Vocations website for Archdiocese of Dubuque:
Vocations website for Archdiocese of Philadelphia:
Vocations website for Diocese of Rockford, IL (includes profiles and vocation
stories of seminarians--see "meet our seminarians" link):

Institute on Religious Life:

Research different religious orders, find a personal match for your interests:

Learn the lingo! Vocations glossaries (what is a "postulant"... a "friary"... a "charism," etc.?)

A blog on vocations by a Dominican priest:


“Priests Need to Ask Men to Consider the Priesthood”, Edward J. Burns

Contemplative Nuns See Boom in Vocations

Six Habits of Highly Effective Diocese

Faith Facts: On priest shortage, parish clustering, etc. (CUF)

Vocations and Visibility: Practical Ideas for Priests (CUF)

Pope John Paul II: Biblical catechesis on vocations

Pope John Paul II: Eucharist: Source of all vocations


Dominican nuns in Michigan reaping vocation harvest

What has my Church done--what have I done to promote vocations?

Will the Church ever ordain women priests?

Is priestly celibacy biblical?

Where have all the monks and nuns gone?


LifeWork Press


Prayers for vocations in English (US Bishops)

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Poetry Break (O God of Earth and Altar)

A Hymn: O God of Earth and Altar
O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.
Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.
- G.K. Chesterton
Taken from the website of the American Chesterton Society (


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

St. Francis De Sales, pray for us!

Today, January 24th, is the feast day of St. Francis De Sales (+1622), a bishop and doctor of the Church. He is noted especially for his spiritual classic Introduction to the Devout Life. [see bottom of post for an on-line link to this classic work]. This would be an excellent book for anyone who would like to begin the practice of spiritual reading... and exploring the incredible treasure of the Catholic mystical/spritual tradition.

The following is a meditation from St. Francis published in the daily devotional/missal Magnificat (

Cultivating the Hundredfold

It is a good thing to aim in a general way at the greatest perfection of Christian life but we should not philosophize about it in detail, unless to consider how we may amend ourselves and advance in the course of the ordinary, everyday happenings of our life; and from one day to the next we should entrust our general wish for perfection to God's providence; and as we look to him for this, we should cast ourselves into God's arms like a little child who in order to grow, simply eats what its father provides day by day, hoping that he will provide according to its appetite and need...

What more can one say to a soul which God has for so long drawn to complete repose in him and in his providence except just this: stay where you are, giving yourself up completely to the will of him who deigns to take care of you. Your only care should be to please him by depending utterly on his love and trusting him... Do this generously, cheerfully, and sweetly and you will find God's graces abounding in you... Ever be joyful with that peaceful and devout joy which is grounded in love of your own abjection, and cultivate a calm and peaceful humility of heart, accepting all sorts of suffering and abjection, not deeming yourself worthy of anything else.

More information on the life of St. Francis De Sales:

Read Introduction to the Devout Life on-line [of course, it is easily found at Amazon or most Christian bookstores]:

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Bite-Size Wisdom (How much have you withdrawn?)

I found this little nugget via one Eric Scheske's amusing blog The Daily Eudemon: . This is from a homily that he heard last weekend at his local parish.

“The Church, with its sacraments and Bible and lives of the saints and devotions and church buildings, is like a huge bank of grace, where each person has a deposit of a billion dollars. Unfortunately, most of us only withdraw about 75 cents.”
-Deacon Larry Kasuboski (rough quote)


Friday, January 19, 2007

Vocation Spotlight: Dominican nuns in Michigan reaping the harvest of vocations

Clink the link below for a story that aired on NPR radio regarding the successful vocation "recruitment" of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI.

[The community's web site: ]

A recent Detroit newspaper article on the community:

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Study the Bible on-line in just minutes a day

I just thought that I would draw your attention to a couple on-line Bible study resources. Some of these would not take too much time to read each day, and they would be an excellent way to grow in your biblical knowledge.

From Catholic author Amy Welbourne's blog ( I see a link to a Priest's blog ("Pontifications") who is going through a gradual reading and discussion of St. Paul's theological opus the Letter to the Romans. I will try to follow that a bit myself. Link is here: [Ruminating Romans part I] [Ruminating Romans part II]

I also like Patrick Henry Reardon's reflections via the Touchstone ecumenical journal website. Reardon is an Orthodox priest. He has an excellent book entitled Christ in the Psalms. He is currently covering chapters in Genesis. I will probably provide a permanent link in my links section.

Of course, the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology also has nice on-line Bible study courses for free (courses in salvation history, biblical apologetics-the Mass in Scripture, Mary in Scripture, etc. :

I will continue to keep an eye out for other interesting Bible studies on-line.

UPDATE: Here is another one... study the upcoming readings for Mass:

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Shakers: an American take on an ancient tradition

Last week Iowa Public Television aired Ken Burns' documentary on the Shakers. I liked Ken Burns' series on the history of baseball so I was eager to see this short documentary.
From Wikipedia:

The Shakers, a Protestant religious denomination, originated in Manchester, England in 1772 under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee, who moved the 9-person group to the United States in 1774. They built 19 communal settlements that attracted over the next century some 200,000 converts. Strict believers in celibacy, Shakers maintained their numbers through conversion and adoption of orphans. Turnover was very high; the group reached maximum size of about 6,000 full members in 1850, and now has four members left. [1]

The Shakers (or, "shaking Quakers") were so named because of their peculiar rite of trembling, dancing, shaking, shouting, and speaking in tongues. I grew in my admiration for this group when I heard their testimony. Their founder and later members all had a great sincerity and desire to live out the Gospel in a radical way. They lived a life of simplicity. Their buildings and clothing were simple and austere. They considered their daily routine of work and craftsmanship as acts of prayer... and as such, they strove for beauty and perfection. They considered their vow of celibacy to be an attempt to live a life more perfectly configured to Jesus Christ (who was celibate). I wondered whether or not they had sound theological motives for their practice of celibacy (of course, some Christian sects in history have made celibacy mandatory for false reasons--such as the heresy that creation, the body and sexual intercourse were evil). One current day Shaker remarked that the Shaker way of celibacy was not for everyone... that some were called to motherhood and fatherhood... otherwise "there would be no more new Shakers!" It interested me to know that the Shaker view of celibacy seemed to match the Catholic understanding.

I was also impressed by what one Shaker woman said was the defining characteristic of the Shakers: the familial love that was expressed and felt. The Shakers took in orphans and adult seekers who felt called to the community. They even hinted at the fact that their celibate lives contributed to this ability to see every member as one's brother or sister.

People flocked to see and hear the strange "liturgy" of movement and the heavenly singing of the Shakers at worship. Once again, what struck me was how all of the Shakers and all of the historians spoke of this religious phenomenon as if it was the first such movement in the history of Christianity since the dawning of the apostolic age. Had they never heard of the long and rich history or men and women relgious movements in the Catholic Church? For centuries, Catholics had been living out the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity in a myriad of beautiful ways. Think of the austere life of the Cistercian monks... the Trappists. St. Benedict himself spoke of ora et labora (prayer and work)... and certainly, he considered daily work to be part of the "prayer without ceasing" which St. Paul called us to. Of course, we also see the call to sanctify the world through the holiness of ordinary work in St. Josemaria Escriva's Opus Dei movement. St. Therese of Lisieux--the little Flower--spoke of finding holiness in ordinary daily activities in her "little way." The list goes on and on.

One historian remarked that the genius of American Protestantism was that no one could tell someone else how to experience God (once again, the idolatry of anti-authoritarianism and individual freedom). There was a freedom to venture on such religious experiements such as the Shakers did. Of course, what few people apparently realize is that the road that the Shakers tread was blazed by the innumerable religious orders of the Catholic Church before them.

More on the Shakers:

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Friday, January 12, 2007

House Passes Destructive Stem Cell Research Bill

From the USCCB (US Bishops Conference):



WASHINGTON—Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 253 to 174 to pass H.R. 3 and remove current limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Richard Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made the following statement in response:

"Today the House voted to force all taxpayers to fund stem cell research requiring the destruction of human embryos. As in the past, President Bush has pledged to veto this misguided and unethical legislation, and there are not enough votes to override that veto.

"Congress should now turn its attention to stem cell research that poses no moral problem – constructive research that is already beginning to help patients with dozens of conditions in clinical trials. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, research using stem cells from adult tissue, umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and other sources is showing enormous promise and is likely to produce new treatments for patients now living.

"Most Americans support stem cell research, and most greatly prefer that this research advance without harming or destroying human life at any stage. The truly statesmanlike approach to this issue would be to take up this challenge, supporting medical progress that all Americans can live with."
-USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat

Coverage from Catholic World News:

From First Things journal:

The hope of adult stem cells as a moral alternative:

More articles on the issue of embryonic stem cell research:

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bite-size Wisdom (prayer in mundane action)

Persevere in the exact fulfillment of the obligations of the moment.
That work--humble, monotonous, small--is prayer expresssed in action,
which prepares you to receive the grace of the other work--
great and broad and deep--of which you dream.
St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way #825

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Vocation Spotlight: A Review of Conscience

Everyone is acutely aware of the current vocation crisis. The priest shortage is more pronounced in some dioceses (such as my own Archdiocese of Dubuque)... and less so in others (the Diocese of Rockford, IL. has had recent ordination classes of 8, 10, and even 12 priests in some years). What distresses me is the lack of initiative that I see among the average lay person. I do not think that joe average lay perons in the pew sees the promotion of vocations as "their job". If we will ever have more priests again, we must review our consciences. We must ask ourselves some questions. In the following questions I write "local church"... and this can stand for the Church in the U.S., the Church in your local diocese, and your local parish. I have broken down the questions into 5 categories: Orthodox Teaching?, Eucharistic Consciousness?, Liturgical Beauty?, A Domestic Church That is Alive?, and Personal Responsibility? Note, I include question marks... we have to ask if these things are present where we are. [personal note: I am very happy to see many of these components in my own cluster of parishes here in Iowa]

  • Is my local church orthodox? Does it teach and defend the doctrines of our Catholic faith? Young people are not interested in giving their life to a counterfeit and watered down form of Christianity that is not challenging. Young people are not attracted to people who are bitter and constantly complaining about the Pope and bishops, or asking why teachings and disciplines do not change. Look at the major dissent groups in the Church... they most have aging people. Where do you see young catholics on fire for their faith?... at World Youth Day with the Pope, or at the new solid orthodox Catholic Universities such as Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ave Maria University, Christendom College, etc. It is mostly the religious orders and diocesan bishops with reputations for othodoxy that are also receiving the most new vocations of young men and women. [see my article "Where Have All the Monks and Nuns Gone?"
  • Is my local church not focusing its energy and resources on promoting vocations to the priesthood because of some heterodox agenda? Or worse, is my local church actively DISCOURAGING men from discerning a vocation to the priesthood because of such an agenda. I have heard some people almost seem glad that their is a priest shortage. They continue to wring their hands and complain that it is all the fault of "the Vatican"--those mean old men should just allow married men and women to be priests. The former could happen (it is a Church discpline)--but why not just trust and follow the lead of the Church in her wisdom. Would it really increase vocations if we made celibacy optional? I am not at all convinced that stripping the priesthood of more sacrifice will give us more priests. For the biblical basis of priestly celibacy of the priesthood, see my article at:
    ] Women priests? Never going to happen! (This is an issue of doctrine--it cannot change). Why do some people persist in hoping for it? See my article "Will the Church Ever Ordain Women Priests?":
  • Does my local church celebrate the teachings and traditions of the Church? Do we focus on the positive beauty of what the Church teaches regarding the reverence for life (abortion, stem cell research as immoral, valid use of death penalty, war), marriage (indissoluble vs. divorce, oriented to life vs. contraception, uniting a man and woman vs. same sex), social teachings (defense of poor, etc.), etc. Or... does my local church tend to mimic the popular false teachings of the world?


Obviously, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the source and summit of Christian worship. However, the Eucharist transcends the time spent attending Mass for an hour on Sunday. Do we center our spiritual lives around the Eucharist? ... Do we anticipate receiving Holy Communion throughtout the week by frequent prayer and making spiritual acts of communion? Do we prepare ourselves to receive our Lord worthily by sacramental confession (especially when we are in a state of grave sin).

  • Does my local church promote a devotion to the most Holy Eucharist? Does my church offer times for Eucharistic adoration and forcefully promote silent prayer to the average parishoner? How will we ever have priests if our people only pray for 1 hour a week at Mass?
  • Does my local church have a thriving Eucharistic consciousness? Do the people in the pews realize or care that our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in tabernacle at all times... waiting always for us to draw near to Him in prayer? Are parishoners reverent before the Blessed Sacrament, do they genuflect before the tabernacle?
  • Does my local church have a sense of silence before and after Mass? How can young men and women hear the voice of God and discern without some sanctuary of silence in an otherwise noisy world?
  • Does my local church offer times for regular confession? Without the regular practice of reviewing one's conscience, it becomes very difficult to hear God's call for your personal vocation (discernment of vocation always requires a process of personal purification). People will not treasure the Eucharist if they do not think that it is something that we must prepare to receive by penance.
  • Is the preaching in my local church challenging? Does the preaching focus on God's grace and the good news of the Gospel, while also constantly calling God's people to repent from sin and be renewed? Young men and women desire a challenge and adventure. If the Gospel is presented as feel-good fluff, they will look for excitement and challenge in some place other than Holy Mother Church.


  • Does my local church celebrate the liturgy in a way that is reverent and beautiful? The Mass is the center of the life of the priest. If the Mass is not seen as something important, beautiful, and reverent,... why would a young man decide to dedicate his life to it?
  • Does my local church seem to emphasize the "horizontal" dimmension of the liturgy (the community) to the exclusion of the "vertical" element (the sacrficial worship to God)? Is our worship at Mass more "community-centered" self-worship or is it truly the worship of God? Are we caught up too much in being entertained by the music and other externals (sometimes this can be seen in how often we hear things like applause in our churches)? Is the emphasis on what I give to God in worship... or is the emphasis on "what I get out of Mass" (that is a subjective emotional question)?
  • Does the liturgy in my local church seem to be overly casual and not taken seriously? Does the liturgy seem like the meeting of heaven and earth?... A young man is not going to consider devoting his life as a priest if the Mass (and the priest) is not taken seriously, or just seen as another community event.
  • Does my local church encourage males to serve as altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion? Many people do not realize this, but if young men see only women doing things in church they will conclude that church is "for girls".
  • Does my local church make decisions about the celebration of the liturgy based on emotions or based on the Church's documents and norms? If my local church consistently violates the rubrics and norms for the Mass, the nature of the Mass and the role of the priest will be unclear to young men discerning a vocation. When planning the liturgy, does my church avoid certain elements of the Mass (some use of Latin, bells, chant, incense, etc.) because it makes some people feel like they are "going back" to a "pre-Vatican II" form of the Mass (even when such ideas are explicitly promoted in the Vatican II documents--see Sacrosanctum Concilium #36 regarding use of Latin)?

A DOMESTIC CHURCH THAT IS ALIVE (The health of the family)?:

  • Do I tell God how many children that my spouse and I will have? Or, do we as a married couple see children as gifts from God... are we open to having as many children as God desires for us? There is a simple issue of demographics at work here. When Catholic families had more children, there were more young men and women to discern vocations to the religious life or the priesthood. When a family is open to life, children learn generosity, sacrifice, and trust of God. When we view children as demands upon our economic resources (because we feel that we must give them every material thing!) that compete with parents' careers, the size of our house or the quality of our vacations... children do not learn what generosity is.
  • Does the local domestic church (the family!) encourage in their children the idea of serving the church in a vocation? This means not presuming that all of your children will marry and have children (though most probably would). This means teaching your children that holy matrimony is a beautiful, demanding, and holy vocation. It is a way a to live out the gospel and not just the degraded social institution that secular marriage has become. This means teaching your children about chastity and true love (vs. false hollywood romance). Ask youself: How would I react if my son told me he wanted to be a priest... if my daughter wanted to become a nun? Would I be happy for them? Would I be selfishly focussing on MY plans for my child... my desire to live vicariously through them... my desire for them to marry well and give me grandchildren?
  • Does my family pray together? Do we attend Mass regularly on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation? Do we skip Mass sometimes in favor of sporting events, vacations, recitals, etc.? [What does this teach our kids about the central importance of worshipping God?] Does my family pray the rosary or study Holy Scripture together? Children can attend Catholic school or parish religious education classes for years and if their catechism if not reinforced in the family, it will likely not result in the transmission of a mature faith in the next generation.


  • Have I done anything to promote a culture of vocations in the Church? Have I ever asked anyone to consider a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life? How often do I pray for vocations? Do I just complain that getting priests is the job of "the Church" (in this case, meaning everyone in the Church except for me)--the bishop, the Diocese, Diocesan vocation directors, the U.S. Bishops Conference, Vatican, individual religious orders, etc.). NO... the buck stops with YOU. If you want priests for the future, ask yourself... what have you done to foster vocations.


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Thoughts on Racism

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the day that we celebrate the fact that God became man, lived, taught, suffered, died, and rose for the salvation of ALL mankind. This is as good a day as any to reflect upon the problem of racism. See the link below to an article from my good friend Fr. Patrick Nwokoye's blog:

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Vocation Spotlight: Will the Church Ever Ordain Women Priests?

by Chris DiTomo

Objection: Women’s roles in society have changed a lot. Women used to have few roles. Now women are successful lawyers, doctors, and politicians. Women have a lot of skills that would make them good priests.

Response: Unfortunately, many people misunderstand many aspects of the mystery of the Church by viewing the Church as they would any other social institution. The holy priesthood is not a profession like a medical or legal practice. The priesthood is not primarily a job that involves certain tasks and skills. It is true that the priesthood does involve certain tasks, skills and training. However, Holy Orders is a sacrament first and foremost. The sacrament of holy orders configures a man in a special way to act in the person (Latin: in persona Christi) of Jesus Christ as he dispenses the sacraments to the faithful. As the priest utters the words of consecration (“…This is my body, given up for you…”) it is truly our Lord who is saying those words. He is simply speaking through the priest. The same is true when our Lord speaks to us the words of absolution in the sacrament of penance, etc. The priest must be a man so that he can image Jesus Christ (who is—of course—a man). Scripture often refers to Jesus as the bride groom who espouses his bride the Church (Ephesians 5:23-33; John 1:28-30). All sacraments involve form and matter—formal words and prayers and specific material that is to be used (oil, water, unleavened bread). In order to have a valid reception of holy orders, a bishop must ordain a man with the laying on of hands and specific prayers. Would the compassion of a woman make her a merciful confessor? Perhaps,… but the priesthood is not primarily about skills, tasks, and temperment. The priesthood is centered on a unique sacramental configuration to Jesus Christ so that Christ can be made present in the sacramental ministry of the Church. The priest is, above all else, an icon of Christ.

Objection: But gender differences of male and female have no relevance for the Christian. Even St. Paul says: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).

Response: That passage refers to the promise of justification. It does not mean that there is no longer any meaning attached to being male or female. God created men and women as different though of equal dignity. Men and women have unique gifts that complement one another in order to fully together image the mystery of the God who is love. It is modern society and radical feminism that tries to erase the distinction between men and women (to the detriment of both).

Another point to consider: in God’s wisdom, it was granted to women—not men—to have the awesome and unique role of carrying a newly created human life in the womb. Men could complain that it is not fair to be excluded from that, but to what avail? That is a physical reality. The man’s ability to image Christ as a sacramental priest is a spiritual reality—but it is no less real.

Objection: Where in the Bible does it say that only men can be priests?

Response: The Church has historically pointed to the Last Supper as the institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the priesthood (he told the apostles to “do this in memory of me”). Scripture clearly shows that Jesus chose only men to be his apostles. In turn, his apostles passed on their ministry through the laying on of hands to other men. I am sure that Jesus could have chosen some women disciples who were holier than Judas, for example… or of a stronger faith that Thomas,… or more reliable than Peter. Jesus could have chose Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4), or even the Blessed Virgin herself. Jesus is God—and he was not bound by cultural norms that would have dictated his choosing only men. Jesus often turned cultural norms on their head. In deed, his very treatment and respect for women was revolutionary. Still, he chose men to be his most intimate co-workers in the ministry. Throughout the history of the Church we also have record of only men being ordained.

Objection: The Church has always oppressed women. By not ordaining women, the Church just continues to keep women down.

Response: Once again, the idea that women must hold positions as priests and bishops in the hierarchical leadership of the Church in order to have dignity is a by-product of the democratic modern secular culture which tells us that a person’s value comes from holding power. Jesus did not share this view of leadership roles. For our Lord, leadership was not about power. At James’ and John’s request to sit at his right and left in the kingdom, Jesus replied: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:25-28). To put it more succinctly: “The one who is least among you is the one who is the greatest” (Lk 9:48). To be a leader means to humble oneself.

We also must dispel the notion that authentic leadership can only be found in sacramental ministry or hierarchical leadership. Anyone who has conducted an even cursory study of Church history would see that women have always had tremendous impact in leadership roles. Look at all of the women saints and martyrs that have been celebrated throughout the history of the Church—the most venerated among them, of course, being the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Theresa of Avila are listed among the 33 doctors of the Church (those recognized for their outstanding theological contributions). Who could deny their legacy in the development of spiritual theology? Women religious have led spiritual revolutions through the creation and reformation of religious orders. For centuries lay and consecrated women have been leaders in the field of health care, care of the poor, education, and evangelization. St. Catherine of Sienna had the moral authority to command the pope himself to leave the temporary home of the papacy in Avignon, France to return to his rightful place in Rome. Think of the legacy of leadership that someone like Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta has left behind. This was a nun with little overt political power. Yet, her true power resided in her holiness and zeal. She was able to accomplish amazing things because she allowed the Holy Spirit to work through her and demand action from other people!

Certainly, the roles of women leaders in the Church might not be as publicly recognized or glamorous as that of a cardinal in Vatican City. But again, authentic Christian leadership is not supposed to be about political power and public accolades. Before anyone charges the Church with a misogynistic oppression of women, they should be force to read Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) [read on line at:

Objection: Some women say that they are called by God to be priests. The Church should not deny them something that they have a right to.

Response: No one individual has a “right” to the sacrament of holy orders. God’s call comes to individuals through prayer, but His call also always comes through
and is ratified through the Church
(including the laity and the hierarchical leadership, of course). This point is made clear in the liturgical rite for priestly ordination. Perhaps some of these women really do have an authentic call by God to serve Him and His Church in a special way. However, they may be missing their true calling because they are thinking with the mind of the dominant culture. The vocation to live out one’s baptismal priesthood in a life of service does not require ordination and ministry as a sacramental priest (even if the latter is considered more accomplished).

Objection: By I have heard on the news that women have already been ordained as deaconesses and priests.

Response: These ordinations are considered invalid. The Code of Canon Law (canon 1024) states that "A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly." In other words, these women are not real ordained deacons and priests. It is similar to a case where two men were to stage a “Catholic wedding.” No matter what ritual is performed, even if it were performed by a priest, the marriage would be invalid because 2 men cannot enter into holy matrimony.

Objection: Fine, women cannot be ordained now, but the Church might change its mind in the future.

Response: The Church (in the Latin rite) could change its discipline about reserving priestly ordination to celibate men and open up ordination to married men as a norm. This is a matter of discipline—which the Church can change. The reservation of ordination to men, however, has been interpreted by the Magisterium as a matter of doctrine—which cannot change. Sensing some lingering doubt, Pope John Paul II wrote the following in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

“Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

When there was still lingering questions after Pope John Paul II’s document was released, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote the following clarification in 1995:

“Dubium [Latin = doubt]: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.
Responsum [Response]: In the affirmative.
This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.”

Basically, Pope John Paul II seems to have been exercising papal infalibility in this pronouncement. Those who still desire women's ordination should really consider whether they are really within the bosom of the Church. My prayer would be that they would reconcile with the Church and surrender to her wisdom. Then, I suggest that they study what the Church teaches about the unique dignity and greatness of women.


Examples of dissenting groups that press for women’s ordination:

Another good example of flawed reasoning:

news article: 2 women participate in phony ordination:

Another news article (phony ordination on Danube river):


Faith Facts: Why not Women Priests?

Women and the Priesthood (Catholic Answers)

Women’s Ordination—No Chance, Joanne Boggle

Women Priests? (via EWTN)

The Male Priesthood: The Argument from Sacred Tradition, Mark Lowery, PhD.:

On Women’s Ordination (part I), Fr. William Saunders:

On Women’s Ordination (part II), Fr. William Saunders:

Being True to the Holy Spirit, Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Catholic Women—A Case of Oppression?, Joanna Bogle

"A Pro-Woman Pope", Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

“Whether Christ Changed the Role of Women”, an award-winning essay by a 16 year old!

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Apostolic Letter on Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone:

Concerning the Teaching Contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: Responsum Ad Dubium, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1995) (Cardinal Ratzinger)

Decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Attempted Priestly Ordination of Some Catholic Women:

Vatican Warning on Mock Ordination of Women:

Women for Faith and Family’s Statement on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:

New Perspectives on Paragraph 5 in the "Affirmation for Catholic Women"Ordination: Reviewing the "Fundamental Reasons"
by Sister Sara Butler, MSBT

40,000 Women Say “No” to women’s ordination in 1987:

Faith Facts: Addressing the Priest Shortage

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