World Gets Pope Wrong

Marvin Olasky’s evangelical Protestant news magazine, World, has a great reputation. It gets a lot of things right. Catholicism, however, is not one of them.

The new issue of World takes a shot at Pope Benedict XVI for holding the line on contraception.

A “Buzz” item begins: “Two months after an open letter from 60 Catholic groups called the Church’s stance on contraception ‘catastrophic’ for the world’s poor, Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed the Church’s 40-year-old injunction against members using artificial birth control. He said the position is meant to protect ‘the beauty of conjugal love’ but allowed that Catholic couples in “dire circumstances” could still employ the natural rhythm method to prevent pregnancy. “

What’s wrong with that statement (aside from the O.J.esque photo choice)? Nearly everything.

— The 60 groups from July aren’t “Catholic” groups like the Knights of Columbus or the Legion of Mary. They are dissident groups; essentially anti-Catholic groups. A tip-off: The stories about them rarely name them. If they had cachet, they would.

— World sums up Benedict’s argument against contraception as “protecting the beauty of conjugal love.”

Not exactly. A better way to sum up the Pope’s October remarks?

A) The Pope said that once you separate the marriage vocation from procreation, marriage loses its meaning. (Leading directly to the same-sex marriage argument “What’s the big difference?”, we might add.)

B) The Pope pointed out how the warnings of Humanae Vitae have proven true. Contraception fueled promiscuity (and all of its tragic physical and emotional consequences), the divorce boom (by enabling infidelity and making especially wives feel sexually used), and abortion (because contraceptive pills are often abortifacient, and couples who conceive when they thought contraception would prevent it are far more likely to abort.)

C) The Pope said Christians should use self-control, not technology; love, not self-service.

— World said the Pope allowed that Catholic couples in “dire circumstances” can delay conception. World is wrong. He didn’t say “dire,” which means “desperate,” he said “serious,” which means “not frivolous.”

— World says the Pope advocated the “natural rhythm method to prevent pregnancy.” That’s misleading. He advocated “methods of observation that enable a couple to determine periods of fertility.” Natural Family Planning (as even Wikipedia knows) involves a woman observing herself, not a couple looking at a calendar.

Then World jumped on board the condom bandwagon. “More recently, human-rights groups have argued that the Church’s stance contributes to the spread of AIDS in undeveloped countries.”

Why don’t we make campaigns telling young people: “Wear rubber gloves whenever you play on electrical wires!”? Because it’s obvious we would be removing a taboo and encouraging risky behavior. It would be irresponsible. People would die because of our campaign.

So why, when we’re dealing with AIDS, do we encourage the risk, in precisely the age groups least likely to be sexually responsible?

World, study Uganda, where behavior changes made the difference.

— Tom Hoopes