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"As the story goes, nuns in the Belgian Congo during the 1960s were given permission by the Vatican to take contraceptives in situations were it was clear that guerilla soldiers might sack their convents and force themselves upon the sisters."

I believe that was an Urban Catholic Myth about the Vatican! I believe some liberal theologians thought that this was a case where contraception could be used. It was like abortion in that everyone was always coming up with the worst case scenarios to gain acceptance for contraception in the Church.

You had to live in the Church in the 60's and 70's to know what ...was flying around as the 'new teaching' that the Church brought in with Vatican II. Lot's of confusion but when I heard that story back then - no one mentioned the Vatican.

About USCCB guidelines - a very good priest once told me that a Bishop in his own diocese has more authority than a conference of Bishops. This is not to put the Conference of Bishops down - they do many good things. And, of course, even when a Bishop in his own diocese teaches he needs to be in union with the Magisterial teaching of the Church.


I'm not proposing an answer to the question, but only a couple of distinctions to keep in mind while thinking about it.

First, as far as I know, the Church has only addressed contraception in the context of married love. It doesn't follow that contraception in the case of rape is therefore permissible--only that if it wrong, it's wrong for other reasons than those enumerated in Humanae Vitae and other places.

Second, there are two questions here, and they need to be addressed separately. The first is whether the proposed treatments are actually (at least sometimes) abortifacient. And the second is whether they are permissible even if they are not abortifacient.

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    • From Benedict XVI
      “People have realized that the complete removal of the feminine element from the Christian message is a shortcoming from an anthropological viewpoint. It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity."
    • Anger and Patrimony (from Donna)
      This is just another of the unintended consequences of the cultural acceptance of contraception and abortion! Men's sexuality has been robbed of its creative essence. It is now viewed as something that imposes a burden on women (when conception happens to occur), something used to control women or something that is purely recreational. Why would men bother?? In taking away their responsibility, we've also robbed them of their significance! In the big picture of humanity, men have been made into nothing more than a nuisance women have to figure out how to control in order to bring about the next generation. Men don't see it as their task to protect the vulnerable because they see themselves as the vulnerable ones. A few well preserved vials of sperm would make men entirely obsolete in the world's ethos today!!
    • Excellent, Dom! (from Teresa)
      That is astounding Robin, and good for you for standing up. At the heart of that matter, I think, is even worse than a gender mixing message. There is an increased sharper and sharper focus on the "self." Solid Catholic teaching returns our focus away from ourselves to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The original sin, Eve denied her womanhood when she desired to be like "gods." Since the only god she knew was the Father. Where was Adam? He stood impotent... in other words, they were divorced. There's a young girl at Robin's son's high school who was just told that she is the center of the universe and it's a tragic disservice to her.
    • Find the logic (from "me")
      Ditto what Mary said! A lot of high schools have very poor math and science depts, for boys and girls. I also am educated as a chemical engineer, but chose to teach the two years before we had children because its hours were more suited to spending time with children. (I was looking ahead). When it came time and I was pregnant with our first, I realized that I did not want to leave him with someone else, and was able to stay home full time. I am not sure it would have been that easy if we were used to another engineering income and not just a private school teacher income. Also some of my first job offers were out on oil rigs - I had no interest in that at all even though I enjoyed my engineering classes and did well in them. No one discouraged me from an engineering job, on the contrary I got a lot of flack for my decision not to pursue an engineering career.
    • Find the logic (from Mary)
      I've been lurking, but this is one that irritates me. Beats the heck out of me what these "barriers" are. I was educated as a chemical engineer, where 1/3 of our class was women. However, in electrical engineering, only 1 or 2 out of 30 were women. Is it possible that women are Just Not Interested in some areas? Nah, it must be The Man keeping us down so we must legislate (and, I agree -- when they say "legistlate", I hear "quota"). And actually, I have a friend that was also a chemical engineer. When she lost her job, she decided not to go back into engineering and started working from home so she could spend more time with her 3 kids. Also, if nothing else, there are all kinds of incentives for women to enter science and engineering -- scholarships not available to men, guaranteed housing on campuses that do not guarantee housing to the general population, etc. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that schools in general are not preparing students for the hard sciences. It is truly a sad state of affairs, the lack of science education these days.

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