I recently heard a certain local priest, we’ll call him Fr. Joe, state that the Church’s teaching on contraception is not infallible, and that in fact he personally thought it was okay between married couples.
Fr. Joe recalled how Christians used to think that ejaculate contained life and to spill it was murder. Right or not, he recalled how the Church used to believe that any use of the procreative faculty, even in a marriage, was inherently sinful, and he explained how the Church’s understanding and theological conclusions have evolved over time. In addition, he cited the now-common example of AIDS in Africa as a possible justification for condom use.
As best as I could understand Fr. Joe, he explained that in the 60s at a Church council on the matter, prior to Humani Vitae being published, 80% of the theologians at this council recommended that the Church backtrack on its condemnation of contraception, despite Paul VI’s decision to stick by it.
Fr. Joe went on to outline the difference between infallible teaching and official teaching, and how one could reject official teaching as long as one “had a good reason” and understood that one would be accountable to God for doing so.
This whole lecture seemed scandalous to me, and Fr. Joe’s explanation of when one could reject official teaching seemed anti-Catholic and just as arbitrary as he seemed to think an official Church teaching was.
If you have any thoughts on the Church’s teaching against contraception or Fr. Joe’s seemingly scandalous remarks that might help clarify the situation, please share. I am trying to think of what I should say, if anything, to the priest or to the people, mostly candidates and catechumens like myself, who were present.