Page 5, 29th May 1964

29th May 1964
Page 5
Page 5, 29th May 1964 — Birth control: Some mothers hit back

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Locations: Brussels, Newcastle


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Birth control: Some mothers hit back

SIR,—Every time this boring subject comes up I feel like screaming. It seems to me that people who want to use contraceptives are not content to do so themselves hut feel obliged to force their outdated ideas down everyone else's throats.

There are just as many good reasons why you should not limit your family in this way as there are why "they say" you should.

It doesn't take much real thinking to see why all this rejection of the Church's teaching must be fundamentally wrong. If those who advocate birth prevention cannot see these reasons for themselves then they are obviously in no position to pontificate about Faith, morals, or beliefs held by the whole Church.

As for me, I am content with the ruling of Archbishop Heenan who, by the way, is by reason of his attaining the fullness of the Priesthood appointed by Jesus Christ to lead and teach his people. So be it.

I would send you seven good reasons to back up my arguments but they are too busy enjoying life in the shape of bacon and eggs right now.

Catholic Mother

Sir,—The correspondence about birth oontrol and the pill could go on ad infinitum. Archbishop Heenan has made it abundantly clear that the Church will always forbid contraception but not birth control by legitimate methods.

However, in the name of charity let the Church in this country do as much as possible to persuade married couples to use the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council. In this way the pill may be advised to regulate the menstrual cycle and make the "safe period" really safe.

I am 31 years of age and have six children under the age of ten. Thank God that, with the advice of a wonderful understanding priest in Newcastle, we now have the necessary information to limit our family without offending Almighty God.

Those mothers of large families who write and seem to despise the methods allowed by our Holy Mother the Church never fail to astonish me.

Wc have fallen a few times in

our marriage not by using contraceptives but by coitus interrupters which We knew was a sin. I am sure other Catholics have in desperation done the same.

If this shocks some 'people let them try having four babies in four years — and if they cry out about self control let me tell them that we did exercise it — both our second and third child were conceived in both cases four months after the birth of the previous baby — and after intercourse had taken place only once.

So please, couples who have not the heroism to abstain completely and are, as we were ignorant of the correct application of the use of the safe period — do seek advice from those good people who are anxious and willing to help you.

The relief of an easy conscience and the well being that comes of being able to respond to your partner completely without the terrible strain of the fear of having more children than you can cope with is truly wonderful.

Mary Teresa

Sir,—While I agree with Er. O'Mahoney I think his final words may give the impression that we had to wait for a statement from the Hierarchy. Most Catholics were aware that contraception was morally wrong even when it was procured by the use of a pill. The Bishops were merely stating the teaching of the Church lest we be confused by the controversy which is not really over the morality of a contraceptive pill hut over the various purposes for which the pill(s) can be used.

Since Fr. Haering must surrender to the mighty pen of Fr. O'Mahoney I think it is only fair that your correspondent Atiberon Waugh should face trial. in your issue of May Rth he wrote: "It seems extraordinarily tough that such a large proportion of Catholics must, if they understand the Church's teaching correctly. he living a life of grave sin while Protestants are living a blameless life in identical circumstances".

know of no school of theology that teaches that Protestants arc not bound by the Ten Commandments. If contraception is alright for them, why not fornication and adultery!


Sir,—In this present controversy several learned theologians have referred to the principle of double effect as though they meant the contraceptive OR therapeutic result of taking the oral progesterone pill. May I point out to them that this principle refers to two effects from one cause and not to alternatives, which is a very different set of circumstances.

Fr. Henry Davis, S.J. in "Moral and Pastoral Theology" states this principle as follows:

"It is permissible to set a cause in motion, in spite of its foreseen evil effect, provided that the act which produces the evil effect is not itself a morally wrong act; secondly, provided that a good effect also issues from the act, at least as immediately and directly as the evil effect, that is to say, provided that the evil effect does not first arise, and from it, the good effect; thirdly. provided that the agent has a justifying and sufficient reason for acting, one that is commensurate with the evil effect, foreseen and permitted."

I fail to see how this applies to the taking of a pill which EITHER causes infertility OR promotes the opposite, but not both from the same dose. It applies, for example, to the surgical removal of a cancerous uterus with resultant sterility in order to save a woman's life.

In the case of the pill, Mrs. X takes it for a bad reason or intention and Mrs. (or Miss) Y takes it for a good one. Here we have two actions with two effects.

The principle of double effect refers to a single action only. It permits a bad secondary effect. It is only within the therapeutic use of the pill that this principle applies.

Finally, may I also remind all your contributors and readers of that very sound old legal tag that "Hard cases make bad Law"?

(Rev.) Denis G. Murphy Burton-on-Trent.


S1.11,—It would be an understatement to say that a note of asperity has tended to appear in the recent controversies on the Liturgy that have appeared in your columns. It is a pleasant change, therefore, to see the grac

ious manner

in which Canon Drinkwater expresses his disagreement with Fr. Howell on the subject of the Commentator. (CATHOLIC HERALD, May 15).

I would like, however, to take issue with the Canon, with, I hope, something of the same grace. For the Canon, the Commentator is "out". But for the Council, the Commentator is surely "in"—further "in" than he has ever been before, for, according to the Constitution (No 29), along with ministers, lectors, and choir, they "exercise a genuine liturgical function" (vero ministerio liturgic° funguntur). Dots this not settle the question?

No doubt many Commentators talk too much, or talk too often, or do the job badly one way or the other. But does not shoot a pianist who is doing his best, still less liquidate the species.

The Commentator may even be an ephemeral character who will eventually be moved off the liturgical scene when all our congregations are trained to participate actively and the rites speak for themselves. But I think he is going to be needed for some time.

My own experience with some age-groups at school-Masses was that the Commentator was useful, if only to prevent the boys firing pellets. I am sure the same dispositions could be paralleled among adults.

Aloysius Church, Si. 24, Boulevard St. Michel, Brussels, 4.

Clergy and laity

Sir,—Mr. C. J. Cunningham's suggestion of lay consultative councils exposes the anachronistic lack of appropriate forms of lay representation. Despite the British pioneering of representative institutions, the Church here lags behind other lands as though clerics were still the only clerks, thus overburdening hard pressed priests with financial and administrative cares.

The "I say, you pay" attitude may be one reason For the current malaise and imperfect communication between clergy and laity. Without consultation liturgical and other reform will be uphill.

One ecumenical work might be the study of Anglican and other experience of lay assemblies.

John Biggs-Davison House of Commons.

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