Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.
By this author
Intervening on the Douthat controversy, Bishop Robert Barron has urged his fellow Catholics to recognize that the Church has always been a place of great controversy--and pleads with us all for more engagement with and tolerance of each other's ideas. In an essay entitled, "Ross Douthat and the Catholic Academy," he writes: "The letter to the Times is indicative indeed of a much wider problem in our intellectual culture, namely, the tendency to avoid real argument and to censor wha
The distinguished Australian Jesuit Frank Brennan, SJ (whom Boston College had the pleasure of hosting during the academic year 2014-2015 as its Gasson Professor) has written a very insightful piece on the pope, the synod, and the letter from the twelve bishops. What I found particularly useful was his situating that letter in the context of past synods.
There are many acomplished and faith-filled Catholic women writing about how adherence to Church teaching against contraception enhances their faith and family lives. But we didn't hear as much from practicing Catholics who use contraception about how their choices affects their faith and family lives. In my view, the lack of such voices leads to an unbalanced conversation, since the vast majority of married Catholics do in fact choose to use artificial birth control.
Holly Wiegman's essay, which you will find below, helps remedy the lack of conversational balance. She is a freelance writer who lives with her husband in New York. Active in her local parish, she cherishes the rich traditions and diverse community of the Catholic Church.
A Lay Woman Reads Humanae Vitae
The issue of birth control no longer affects my husband and me: at 52 years old I have officially entered my menopausal years. Yet I still remember with frustration the discussion I had with a priest a number of years ago. He stated that under certain circumstances abortion could be condoned, but that birth control never could be. He gave the example of a mother who has four children and becomes pregnant for the fifth time. If the pregnancy puts her life at risk, her death would have a great toll on the children already born as well as her husband. In such a case, the mother could choose to abort and be at peace with her decision. Having carried two children to term at that point, I realized how traumatic such a decision would be: how could any woman be at peace when choosing between her life and the life of her unborn child? So I asked the obvious question of why the woman could not use contraception to prevent pregnancy and thus never have to make such a devastating choice. The priest insisted that contraception was not okay under any circumstances. You mean, I pressed, that a woman in those circumstances should keep having abortions each time she conceives, rather than just prevent pregnancies? Yes, indeed. That is the formal response I received from this priest, who held an official post regarding ethics in my diocese at the time.
Last spring, I got a puppy, whom I named Ziva. At the beginning, like any baby, she was tiny and slept most of the time. I took her to a couple of seminars and she dozed at my feet. During the last seminar of the year, she hit the doggie version of the terrible twos. Ziva pulled my shoes off each of my feet in turn, took them to the middle of the space created by four sqared off tables, and proceeded to shake them to kill them, and after they were well and truly dead, to chew on them with great enthusasiasm.
I finished three big projects recently, and my brain is, well, fried. So, since I can't go on a nature vacation just now (and, anyway, my idea of a nature vacation includes a nice lodge with a spa) I am turning to television to let my brain rest. Sorry, Joseph Pieper.
In his comment on Michael Peppard's post "Transcending Polarization" below, Peter Steinfels writes; "The Catholic Common Ground Initiative was the first major effort to address the issue of polarization in the U.S. Catholic church. I think that its charter statement bears rereading." Joe Komonchak made the same point in the thread.
The boys of summer are back in Boston, although it still looks and feels like winter. However, Ziva, my new puppy, is hopeful about the new season, although she is quite mystified about the disappearance of all the white stuff she has known as ground cover ince her birth.
She already knows she needs to root for the Red Sox.
The immensely learned Rita Ferrone has called attention to a recruitment video (in Spanish with English subtitles) that is very different in tone than that of Father Barron. I think a compare and contrast is in order.
What struck me most was the invitational quality of this video. The candidates are being invited into a mystery, not a clearly defined web of doctrinal propositions or a certain command and control structure. It inivtes to a kind of camaraderie of service, I think.
I have no doubt Father Robert Barron is having a tough time with the change in papacy, as well as the change in the Archbishop of Chicago. His sensibilities seem far more attuned to the JPII and Benedict eras than the poor church of the poor called for by Francis. That's fine- we all don't need the same sensibilities.
The best commercial during Sunday's game was the "Brady Bunch" Sinickers ad. For those of us of a certain age, that is. The making of the commercial is astonishing. Look at the physics behind this; it must be extraodrdinarily complicated.
I just love Steve Buscemi in everything he does--whether it's Fargo or Boardwalk Empire or The Brady Bunch.
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