Monday, January 09, 2006

Eye-roll please ...

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has become the third U.S. bishop to require courses in Natural Family Planning--the only method of fertility regulation (how's that for a euphemism?!) approved by the Catholic church--for anyone seeking a Catholic wedding in the archdiocese. The bishops of Fargo, North Dakota and Denver are the other two. He also encouraged couples using birth control or banned fertility treatments like in vitro to "seek forgiveness."

There's no point in going into the whole issue of birth control; Catholic laypeople in practice have flat out rejected Humanae Vitae's ban on artificial birth control, which Paul VI included over the objection of his hand-picked birth control commission. Whatever wisdom to be found there--yes, I've read it multiple times--has long been lost because of the Vatican's insistence on the absolute immorality of any chemical or barrier method of conception. (I still would think that even the most conservative of Catholics should prefer birth control to abortion, but it seems most positions are pretty hardened.) Elvis has left the building on this one.

But birth control isn't the issue; the issue is requiring yet another hoop for Catholic couples who want to marry in the church. Already most dioceses "require" at least counseling and/or a premarital retreat, which of course is a good idea in a culture with a 50% divorce rate. At the same time, at least one of the parties to a Catholic wedding is baptized and so, according to canon law, has a right--yes, a right--to be married in their own parish as long as there is no impediment to marriage (like already being married, etc.). I'm not sure that any "requirement" would stand up to canonical scrutiny, much less this unwarranted intrusion into the couple's (future, of course) sex life.

Don't get me wrong; I think Catholic parishes and dioceses should offer and encourage couples to take advantage of all the tools that can make a marriage successful. But why not invite rather than demand? Others will argue that "they" (the couple) want "something" from "the church," forgetting that "they" are the "church," and the "something"--the sacraments--belong to "us," the baptized.

Besides, as my mother always says, you attract more flies with honey than with ... well, you know.


At 12:04 PM, Anonymous UKnowBoudreau said...

Hey Bryan, here's another hoop for Catholics seeking to be married: Many parishes/dioceses require couples living together to separate before they can be married. Have you checked what apartments are going for these days in, say, Chicago? Or maybe crashing on a friendly couch for a year is the answer. My question is: What about Catholics married in a "civil union" who come looking to have their marriage "blessed"? Since the Church doesn't recognize their marriage, how come they're not required to move apart first, huh? Is it possible the Church is maintaining a (gasp) double standard?


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