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August 4, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. I was surprised to learn at our last Catholic Daughters of the Americas meeting that our parish Catholic school has a Girl Scouts of America troop. I understand that the values taught by the current Girl Scout leadership are not the values of the Catholic faith. Is there an alternative to the Girl Scouts for our young Catholic girls? — R.D., Pennsylvania.
A. While there are local Girl Scout troops that are headed by persons promoting the values traditionally associated with scouting, the national leadership of the GSA is involved in promoting contraception, abortion, and gender ideology through its ties with Planned Parenthood and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Girl Scouts USA belongs to WAGGGS and pays an annual membership fee of $1.8 million, while WAGGGS partners with International Planned Parenthood and advocates for contraception and abortion.
GSA also holds up as role models for young girls Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem, all of whom have crusaded for contraception and abortion, and in 2013 it shared a recommendation for “Woman of the Year” of pro-abortion activist Wendy Davis of Texas. It also promoted as a woman of “courage, confidence, and character” former pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
There are many outstanding female role models who are pro-life, but apparently they would be frowned upon by the GSA.
When he cut ties with the Girl Scouts in 2016, Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis said that “Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior, and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values.” Similar concerns have been voiced by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Mo.
Parents seeking alternatives for their daughters can turn to American Heritage Girls, which describes itself as “the premier national character development organization for girls ages 5 to 18 that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement.” You can contact American Heritage Girls at ahg@ahgonline.org or at 175 Tri-County Parkway, Suite 100, Cincinnati, OH 45246. The telephone number is 513-771-2025.

Q. Is Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical of Blessed Paul VI, infallible teaching? If not, could it be overturned by Pope Francis if a new papal commission concludes that contraception is permitted? If the Pope can err in one area, then what good is the Church? — J.C.M., Pennsylvania.
A. Within weeks of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae in July 1968, Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington, D.C., published a 40-page booklet entitled Sex in Marriage: Love-Giving and Life-Giving, which to this day provides some of the best answers to objections to Pope Paul VI’s controversial encyclical on human life. On the question of infallibility, the booklet said:
“You have to make a distinction between the form in which the teaching is presented and the teaching itself. It is clear that Humanae Vitae is not itself a formally infallible document. However, the opposition of the Catholic Church to contraception is an unbroken tradition going back to the very beginning of Christianity. Pope Paul refers to the Church’s teaching on contraception as firmissa doctrina ecclesiae — ‘the firmly solid teaching of the Church.’ Similarly strong expressions were used by Pius XI and Pius XII in their condemnation of contraception.
“All this — the unbroken tradition condemning contraception and the very strong language used by Popes in their statements on the subject — points to the conclusion that this point of Catholic teaching might eventually be infallibly defined. As a matter of fact, many of the theologians who discussed this question between 1930 and 1960 judged that the Catholic Church’s position on this moral question is part of her infallible teaching” (pp. 4-5).
On September 17, 1983, Pope St. John Paul II reinforced the unbroken tradition when he told a group of priests that “contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that, in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.”
In his 1995 encyclical on the Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), John Paul went so far as to link contraception with abortion, saying that they are “fruits of the same tree.” He said that “the close connection that exists in mentality between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices, and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being” (n. 13).
Two years later, the Pontifical Council for the Family issued a reference document (Vade Mecum) for priests hearing the Confessions of those engaged in contraceptive behavior. Among other things was this unequivocal statement:
“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony) and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of life” (n. 2.4).
In Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the council fathers said that “although individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly. This is so, even when they are dispersed around the world, provided that while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter’s successor, and while teaching authentically on a matter of faith or morals, they concur in a single viewpoint as the one which must be held conclusively” (n. 25).
In a lengthy analysis of this paragraph, moral theologians John C. Ford, SJ, and Germain Grisez concluded (cf. The Teaching of Humanae Vitae: A Defense, p. 171):
“We think the facts show as clearly as anyone could reasonably demand that the conditions articulated by Vatican II for infallibility in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium of the bishops dispersed throughout the world have been met in the case of the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception. At least until 1962, Catholic bishops in communion with one another and with the Pope agreed in and authoritatively proposed one judgment to be held definitively on the morality of contraception: Acts of this kind are objectively, intrinsically, and gravely evil.
“Since this teaching has been proposed infallibly, the controversy since 1963 takes nothing away from its objectively certain truth. It is not the received Catholic teaching on contraception which needs to be rethought. It is the assumption that this teaching could be abandoned as false which needs to be rethought.”
In summary, while one can dispute whether the encyclical Humanae Vitae is formally infallible in itself, there is no room for reasonably arguing that the Church’s teaching on the evil of contraception is not infallible. There is no chance that any Pope today or in the future will overturn the Church’s ancient and unbroken condemnation of contraception. What is good about the Church is that she will never reverse herself on a matter of faith or morals.

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Pro-life leaders pledge fidelity to Catholic faith, refuse to follow ‘erring pastors’

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Please Pray for Dr. Robert Hickson

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Archbishop Naumann: “If the Church is silent on the destruction of life, we’re being negligent”

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CDL. BURKE TO OFFER PONTIFICAL MASS AT WISCONSIN SHRINE

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Can Catholic schools resist the new gender confusion?

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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Rejoice Always

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Catholic Heroes… Pope St. Damasus I

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