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On Catholic teaching and birth control

Pope Paul VI with members of the commission

Pope Paul VI with members of the commission he created to study the issue of contraception on March 27, 1965. Credit: AP

Consistent with standard journalistic practice, the opposing point of view in your report on Bishop John Barres’ pastoral letter on the 50th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” comes from a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter [“Restating doctrine,” News, Aug. 8]. However, no Catholic in good conscience can use artificial contraception, including hormonal contraceptives, for, as natural law and revelation show, artificial contraception is an intrinsic evil. In other words, artificial contraception is evil in all circumstances, even where there is “poverty, illness and violence,” which National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson cites as justification.

However, married couples can, in good conscience, when there are serious reasons for doing so, regulate the spacing of children through the use of natural family planning, which looks for signs in a woman’s body to determine her fertile days. The method is a morally licit way to practice responsible parenthood and was taught by St. Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity to poor women in Calcutta.

As a resident of the Diocese of Rockville Centre until recent years, I support Bishop Barres’ reaffirmation of “Humanae Vitae.”

Michael Scarinci, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Bishop John Barres’ pastoral letter on “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on birth control, brought us right back to 1968. The pope was misguided then, and the bishop is misguided now. Bishop Barres’ litany of problems caused by birth control, calling Pope Paul “prophetic,” says it all. When you misdiagnose a problem, you cannot solve it. Your efforts become irrelevant. Therein explains the current condition of the Catholic Church.

Bob Detor, Port Washington

Along with a majority of U.S. Catholics, I consider birth control a nonissue. In the language of the Roman Catholic Church, this is a (non-definitive) teaching that has “not been received.”

I take pause when a celibate cleric pronounces that “contraception introduces a lie into the marriage.” It is tiresome that the church continues to dictate to members without seeking consultation from those very constituencies. While there is is beauty in the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” the historic document itself acknowledges the importance of the unity of the couple and the need for sane spacing of children.

Cristina O’Keefe, Setauket

Bishop John Barres’ 14-page pastoral letter, “The Supreme Gift,” will be lost on Catholics already set in their ways, living in a 280-character tweet world. Suggesting that couples have as many children as God provides is simply not practical.

In addition, I am insulted by the diocese’s continued exclusion of same-sex couples. A gay Catholic author recently told me, “The Catholic faith was a breath of life to my mom, but that same faith almost killed me.” How sad!

As a 60-year-old divorced Catholic, I weekly witness dwindling attendance at Mass. A self-inflicted cleric scandal, priest shortage, and an inability to relate to modern-day Catholics have weakened the church’s grip. Why not recognize women as equals? Why not be inclusive? With divisiveness in politics, our church should unify rather than divide.

Jim Hickey, Westbury