Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver, who a friend of mine and I call “The Bad-Ass Bishop” has a great article on artificial contraception and the false arguments in support of it.

A sampling:

1. Isn’t a couple’s method of family planning a matter of personal conscience?

Yes it is. Catholics, like all people, are always obligated to follow their consciences — on birth control and every other matter. But that’s not where the problem lies. The problem lies in the formation of one’s conscience. A conscientious person seeks to do good and avoid evil. Seeing the difference between good and evil, though, can sometimes be difficult….Too often, we use “conscience” as a synonym for private preference, a kind of pious alibi for doing what we want or taking the easy road. We only end up hurting others and ourselves.

3. I’m a priest. If I preach about what’s wrong with contraception, I’ll lose people.

Let me turn that around: If priests don’t preach the Church’s message about contraception, heaven loses people. Don’t be afraid. When Jesus preached the truth, He lost people. But, little by little, He gained even more people.

5. Why is the Church so obsessed with sex?

You know the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black — well, here’s a great example. Questions like this one may very well be honest, but they conceal where the real obsessions lie. American society is drowning in a sea of disordered sexuality. In such circumstances, it’s hardly an “obsession” for the Church to speak clearly and forcefully about how to swim. It’s her responsibility and mission.

God created our sexuality to be a sign in the world of His own life and love, and to reveal to us that we can only fulfill ourselves by loving as He loves. When sexuality becomes distorted, however, it’s no longer able to communicate God’s life and love. Empty of true love, life lacks meaning, and people soon seem disposable. Sex becomes a pursuit of selfish gratification at the expense of others.

Children are no longer welcomed as the natural fruit of married love, but are seen as a burden to be avoided. We don’t even shrink from killing (through abortion) thousands of innocent preborn lives a day in satisfying our convenience and appetites.

It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that disordered sexuality is the beginning of what Pope John Paul II calls “the culture of death.” In fact, we’ll never build a culture of life and love without first restoring the true meaning of human sexuality. If the Church is so concerned about sex, it’s because she seeks to defend the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the true meaning of life and love, which sexuality is meant to reveal.

The man’s on the short list of great bishops in the country, and most likely the world.