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Apr 14, 2011
A recent study found that 98% of sexually active Catholic women in America have used barrier or hormonal methods of birth control at some point in their lives. Ninety eight percent – a vast majority – have defied the teachings of the Catholic church, which instructs its followers not to use "artificial" contraception.
It’s not really that surprising: The Catholic Church has over one billion followers, 68 million in America alone. They’re not sheep. They’re people with free will and a desire to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. It only makes sense that they would take steps not to have kids they don’t want to have. What’s at issue here is Catholic leadership’s ongoing war against something women regard as vital to their health and quality of life.
In the DVD version of the film Let’s Talk About Sex, we see members of various communities of faith discussing the church’s role in protecting its members from unintended pregnancy, HIV, and STDs. Many religious and spiritual people in the film agree that if the church wants to play and does play such a strong role in its followers’ lives, it must talk openly and realistically about sex and contraception. Some churches have tried to do this, even developing an entire program to help parishioners at any age clarify their values and stay safe. Yet for Catholic leaders, there is no need for discussion: birth control isn’t allowed, and the question is "settled," according to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Far from being satisfied with providing this spiritual "guidance" to their followers, Catholic Bishops in America lobby for every law and policy under the sun to align with their special interests.
Meanwhile, Americans aren’t the only Catholics in the world. Catholicism also has a strong presence in the Global South – where hundreds of millions of women do not have access to the birth control they desire and where complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among young women ages 15-19. And the church isn’t afraid to throw its weight around there either. In the Philippines, for example, the church has fought hard for years and fights to this day against laws that would make it easier to get information about and to access birth control. All while millions of Filipinos go hungry, and most say they’d like to limit their families to two children.
Who is the Church serving? Do the Bishops think God wants people to starve? Hey, I’m not Catholic or even Christian, but I went to Sunday School as a child, and it didn’t SEEM like that’s what God wanted.
Coincidentally, the Vatican recently discovered an error in a text it had produced for young people:The question "may a Christian married couple regulate the number of children they have?" is mistranslated from the German original as "may a Christian married couple use methods of birth control?"
The answer is given as "yes".
Perhaps this error was a message from God, Catholic leadership. Stop betraying and endangering your followers by telling them that they are sinning if they don’t follow silly, archaic rules that lead to poverty, misery, and injury. Stop supporting laws that will only serve to hurt people and opposing ones that will help them. Stop prioritizing threats to "potential life" over your people’s actual lives.