Did the Church change it's teaching on childbirth and painkillers?


#1

A Protestant friend brought up with me that the Catholic Church was (briefly) opposed to women using painkillers during childbirth because God had commanded that childbirth would be painful, but that it reversed its’ teaching because it was dangerous to women and nobody followed the teaching.

Is this true? Can anyone provide a reference?


#2

That is not true. The Catholic Church is not against medical science helping a woman have a less painful labor.

Illness and disease is a result of the Fall as well, but that does not mean we ignore medical treatment.


#3

Your friend needs to provide the evidence that his claim is based on.


#4

Actually, I had read something to that effect, that certain clergymen were opposed to anesthesia in childbirth because they believed it contradicted Genesis 3:16. This ended, however, when Queen Victoria used anesthetics for her own children’s births. This being the case, if this story is true it would seem probable that those clergymen were Anglican, not Catholic. (And even if so, their opinion may not have been the official teaching of the Anglican communion.)

I will post the source for this as soon as I find it.


#5

If there was such a teaching, it was never infallibly defined and therefore could be changed.

People often seem to have trouble distinguishing between infallible teaching (doctrine and dogmas) and regulations. Regulations can be changed (eg. fasting time before receiving Holy Communion).

Nita


#6

You are quite correct, I’m one of those people. Where can we distinguish between regulation and doctrine/dogma? Is everything in the Catechism dogma? I have a hard time telling that by reading it.


#7

I’ve read the same thing somewhere. Hope you find where its from; I have no idea at this point…but that was my immediate reaction when I saw this thread: “That wasn’t Catholics; that was CofE!”


#8

Hi sodak,

Doctrine/dogma is an unchangeable truth defined by the Church. Generally they deal with the nature of things - Trinity, Incarnation, angels, man, original sin, sacraments, etc. Some deal with morals (abortion), but there are comparatively few regarding morals, simply because Scripture is so clear about what is morally wrong, and of course, Scripture is inerrant - so there is no need for the Church to issue a definitive statement.
“Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Dr. Ludwig Ott is a good book which **lists the dogmas in bold print **with further info in smaller fine print. Great book for a Catholic to have as it gives the history around the dogma, Scriptural and early Church Father’s support.

Regulations have more to do with the way we practice our faith.
To give an example of the confusion. The Mass, it’s meaning, Jesus’ establishment of it and who can offer it, etc. are matters of dogma. The language, what readings, what type of music, vestments, incense …, all of that would fall under regulations and can be changed. They are external (to the truths about what the Mass is) and Our Lord did not mandate anything in regard to them (eg. altho external, the bread and wine were mandated by Jesus).
Code of Canon Law would be a source of Church’s regulation.

Not everything in the Catechism is dogma. A lot of it is “teaching” to present, illuminate, flesh out, etc a dogma. A dogma will generally be a single statement of truth - eg. "Jesus Christ is True God and True Son of God."
Now in the Catechism section on Jesus, you will find more than just that statement (and other dogmatic statements concerning Jesus). They will be explained; Scripture cited; thoughts or sayings from saints given.

It would be nice if the Catechism had incorporated statements of dogma in a very identifiable way - nice big bold red print. :slight_smile: But you can and should read the Catechism and accept everything in it - and thank God for giving it to us.

Nita

Would appreciate correction if anything I’ve stated here is questionable.


#9

<<People often seem to have trouble distinguishing between infallible teaching (doctrine and dogmas) and regulations.>>

Or mere cultural practices–or taboos!


#10

Wasn’t this one of the things Dan Brown spouted about in The DiVinci Code? That the Catholic Inquisition burnt midwives at the stake as witches if they were accused of easing the pain of childbirth.

I have not read the book myself, but think there was some discussion in the de-bunking of the book.

Personally, I’d be wanting more concrete evidence than this since DB is hardly regaded as a scholar. He seems to pull his “facts” out of thin air.


#11

<<Wasn’t this one of the things Dan Brown spouted about in The DiVinci Code? That the Catholic Inquisition burnt midwives at the stake as witches if they were accused of easing the pain of childbirth.

I have not read the book myself, but think there was some discussion in the de-bunking of the book. >>

Dan Brown made so many absurd statements that were presented as if they were welll known truths (my favorite is how Constantine collated the Bible) that it’s impossible to count them all.

This link shows many of his errors and corrects them:

usnews.com/usnews/news/features/davinci

Notice that it’s from a SECULAR magazine.


#12

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