Do Catholics in China have to obey Church teaching on contraception?

I know there are not many Catholics in China, but are the ones who live there still obligated to follow Church teaching on contraception, seeing as how there is a one-child policy and the government often forcibly aborts additional children? If NFP didn’t work well for a couple, following Church teaching on contraception could actually lead to abortion. Has any Pope ever addressed this?

Personally, if I lived in China, I would be a spinster cat lady. :thumbsup:


Yes they would still have to follow the teaching on contraception. Location or politics do not give a free pass against moral teaching. If someone is forcibly sterilized against their will they would not be culpable for sin.

On a side note the Chinese did a study back in the late 90s between IUDs and the Billings Ovulation Method of NFP. Right around 0.5% of Billings patients got pregnant compared to 2% of IUD patients. This study involved around 1900 patients if I remember correctly. In other words disregarding Church teaching on contraception could lead to more not less forced abortions.

I am flabbergasted that any Chinese Catholic gets married …

While I don’t support the one child policy it’s important to remember that not all Chinese are covered by the policy. If I remember correctly its only urban populations that are covered and that is around 30-35% of the population. I have several acquaintances who are Chinese citizens that have 2 or 3 siblings. Since they are from more rural areas the one child policy doesn’t seem to apply to their parents.

As artificial contraception is against the natural moral law, everyone has to obey the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Now whether an individual’s circumstances might mitigate their personal culpability for using contraception is something we really cannot say. But it remains a violation of the moral law for everyone, not just for Catholics for whom not using it is easy.

No, they have a dispensation to commit mortal sin.

Seriously? :o

exactly, the question should have been, do any Catholics in China ever oppose Chinese laws that conflict or are flat out against the Catholic faith,

if one breaks a state law, there a penalties be it fines, taxes, or imprisonment.

But for some reason people tend to have this idea that they have no other option but to comply with a law because the state is bigger than they are, even if means going against their faith.

Can anyone imagine how our Christian history would look if early Christians had this mind set to obey the law to preserve their freedom here on earth, or to obey the law because they didn’t want to be killed in some arena .

No, they have a dispensation to commit mortal sin.


I don’t appreciate the sarcasm. So married Catholics in China either have to risk their immortal souls or risk having their babies forcibly aborted?! I am actually surprised that anyone in China has sex, period, even with birth control, since birth control can fail. However, I feel like this is especially true for Chinese Catholics who have to rely on NFP. Certain forms of birth control, especially sterilization, are very effective. While NFP is theoretically just as effective, NFP is the hardest form of birth control to use effectively. So many factors influence its effectiveness and make fertility signs hard to read. In my case, I used it for ten years and was not able to make it work (I had four pregnancies, all surprises). If I lived in China, I would have to choose between a) near-total abstinence, b) going to hell, or c) having my child forcibly aborted. What a horrifying choice.

Like I said, if I lived in China, I would just stay single and celibate my whole life. Sex would be too risky, with or without birth control. I know some of you will say that that doesn’t make sense, since if I was married and using NFP I would be able to have sex at least some of the time, even if it was very infrequently. But I can tell you from personal experience (virgin on my wedding night, used NFP for ten years) that being single and celibate is a MILLION times easier than being married and using NFP. When you’re single, you’re not sleeping next to someone you’re attracted to every night. The temptation is much less. You don’t have to deal with your spouse snapping at you because they haven’t had sex in ages, or with them committing adultery, or with the fallout that a near-sexless marriage and the resulting tension will have on the kids. Being celibate while single is simple and straightforward. And if you add the possibility that your unborn child could be forcibly aborted, being single and celibate is a TRILLION times easier than being married and using NFP.

It’s very easy for us comfortable westerners who do not live under a one-child policy to condemn people in that situation.

Can anyone imagine how our Christian history would look if early Christians had this mind set to obey the law to preserve their freedom here on earth, or to obey the law because they didn’t want to be killed in some arena .

So you would be willing to be a martyr for your faith? You’re certain of this? The teaching of the Church is that objectively gravely evil acts are not mortal sins if the person is under extreme pressure.

Would it be a sin for a Chinese Catholic to remain single just to avoid this situation altogether? That’s what I would do.

Have there been any statements from the Vatican on Catholics in China and contraception?

We’re not condemning people in that situation. God is their Judge, not us.

Yes, I’m sure it’s difficult. But difficult circumstances do not change the moral law. Here is what John Paul II says in Veritatis Splendor:

  1. In order to justify these positions, some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called “pastoral” solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a “creative” hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept.

No one can fail to realize that these approaches pose a challenge to the *very identity of the moral conscience *in relation to human freedom and God’s law. Only the clarification made earlier with regard to the relationship, based on truth, between freedom and law makes possible a discernment concerning this “creative” understanding of conscience.

Using difficult circumstances to paint a universal moral precept as optional for a certain group of people effectively undermines the precept as having any force whatsoever even in circumstances where following it is easy.

And, again, we do not condemn these people. God is their Judge. His forgiveness is always extended to us. I’m sure He’ll factor in those circumstances on Judgment Day. But that doesn’t negate the responsibility to follow the precept.

Everyone is obligated to do so, it is a revealed truth, a doctrine. It is not merely disciplinary, in which case they could be dispensed.

One may never do evil, even with a good intention.

Then they may be called to more abstinence than other couples.

Also a lot of urban dwellers simply pay the fine (which is a large part of your salary, but it’s a one time payment). Additional penalties, however, mean that the states does not pay for education beyond its basic responsibilities, and you have to pay for your healthcare instead of being on the single-payer system.

Basically, you have to pay the state not to abort your child.


*So you would be willing to be a martyr for your faith? You’re certain of this? The teaching of the Church is that objectively gravely evil acts are not mortal sins if the person is under extreme pressure. *

Since you are asking me personally, yes I am certain, I have put my money where my mouth is plenty of times in my life, I would do the exact same for my faith, an in turn plan on doing so for example here in the west in regards to Obama care.

I seriously doubt that it is a sin for any Catholic in any part of the world to concede to a state law that directs a Christian to go against his or own her faith, with the threat of being put into prison , fined, or worse.

All I am pointing out when I was referring to the early Christians who stood for their beliefs in Christ and were prepared to die with out second guessing anything is that they made a choice, those early Christians stood very strong in their faith in Christ. An in turn exercised their own free will. Instead of subjecting to something that directed them against Christ and or the Church.How can anyone blame the Chinese or the North Koreans even for not standing up for their faith against a tyrannical government, it just is not logical to do so nor am I myself suggesting that an I doubt anyone else would either. I just find it very interesting how times have changed.

For a hypothetical argument that has probably actually happened on occasion in real life,
we have laws all across the world against committing murder, and robbery … so thusly the same concept applies… If a criminal were to hold someone at gun point, and threaten to kill the person if they did not comply with their demands to thus help them in committing a crime, is that person who is forced to commit a crime thus also guilty and deserving to be put to prison or death according to the state law ?

As debatable as that hypothetical is, one still has to take into consideration free will and the individual, perhaps in that hypothetical the victim would rather be murdered than help a criminal commit a serious crime that if the criminal took action on their own with out the help of said victim, would in turn be put to prison and eventual executed under the law.

The idea of marriage in China with a one-child limit is really a difficult situation to imagine. Freely allowing abortion is out of the question. But the other options are truly difficult to come to grips with.

If a couple already has one child, and if the law requires abortion of any additional child, is that couple morally free to have sex even using NFP? NFP is not 100%, so do we have the right to take that .5% chance, or whatever the correct percentage is, in a matter of life or death? Someone mentioned the ability to buy one’s way free from forced abortion. That at least would allow the Providence of God to play a role, in face of the fact that the economic effect of paying the fine might put the family in serious financial straits.

As one person commented, they would rather remain single. I can understand that. Marriage is not a calling in the same sense as priesthood, at least IMO, or else Paul could not have said that his advice was that it is better not to marry. Of course, he felt the end was near, but still, he did advocate for the single life over the married life.

Another alternative to just remaining single is marrying, and after having one child, living as brother and sister.

Or, alternatively, use NFP until a pregnancy occurs, then practice complete abstinence. At some point, if a pregnancy never occurs, it would be time to open the marriage to conception.

Even in America, it is difficult to live Catholic, but we can count our blessings compared to Chinese Catholics.

This is exactly how the Protestant Church handed their faithful the koolaid. In 1930 at the Anglican Conference, the Bishops passed into the Protestant code, an exception to the prohibition against contraception.

Resolutions from 1930
Resolution 15

The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex

Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.

Voting: For 193; Against 67.

Almost immediately the exception, handed to the individuals own judgement, became the rule and right of passage for married couples and consequently all couples.

For your information, a sense of humor is essential when dealing with the works of the Evil One.

I already sense a fallacy in your argument, namely that there is hardly ever an either/or answer, but quite often there are 3, 4 or more options available.

I am surprised at your distress, because it is not the inhuman system that disturbs you, but the doctrine of life and love of Holy Mother Church. You do not seek for the monstrous system to change, but for Holy Mother Church to change her teachings, as if she had somehow “invented” them, as if she had some authority on the matter, not realizing that the Church cannot teach contrary to that which is the expressed, clear teaching of Christ.

It is not the first time that we experience persecution in the world out of faith for Christ. In the past, the risk was between our immortal souls and having our head cut off or being fed to wild beasts with our spouse and kids. In this specific circumstance, there are other risks involved in being a faithful disciple of Christ, but still.

However we all know well that there are other ways to avoid offending the Lord, namely chastity and continence, as well as (if possible, given the availability of knowledge on the matter) of the natural cycles of the body as in Natural Family Planning.

It is not up to you and me to weigh on the supernatural scale which sin is heavier, contraception or abortion. Both gravely offend the Lord, and that’s all we should care about.

Neither should we judge the actions of those who, out of some degree of ignorance, or out of great psychological pressure, may commit a sin in order to avoid persecution.

But yes, our calling is to holiness, and holiness includes the willingness to bear suffering and to accept persecution to the greatest extent. That is what Christ did, and that is the least we can do to be worthy of His name.

One thing to remember is that China is communist, though they have become less strict, to me the question would be how Catholics in China practice catholicism. I know most of them have been persecuted and put in jail and the church there struggles, so to me it is not only abortion but the entire religion.

It makes me think of Nazi Germany, about which I have often wondered how I would have acted had I been a Catholic there. Would I have stood up for my faith in a very public way and likely been sent to a death camp. or would I have played it close to the vest, keeping silent and going along with the program? It was once a Catholic/Lutheran country. How did those who kept silent rationalize their silence? Isn’t silence cowardly? Do we have a moral obligation to speak out against the actions of an immoral government? I suppose it is not always black and white the way it comes upon the people, but sooner or later, doesn’t everyone recognize what their country is doing? What should we do here in this country if it becomes Federal law that to say homosexual sex is sinful becomes a crime of hate speech. Should we keep out mouths shut? Or should we speak out and say the government is wrong in its law? Would you say something if it meant a year in jail? If they can muzzle us in one area, can’t they muzzle us in other areas as well? Where would it end?

Well, the question is who are the Catholics.

We are told there are some 12 million Catholics, but how are they divided?

In 1957, the Chinese government established the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which rejects the authority of the Vatican and appoints its own bishops - counting about 70 “bishops” and approximately 6,000 churches.

Catholics who recognize the authority of the Holy See choose to worship clandestinely due to the risk of harassment. Several underground Catholic bishops have been reported disappeared or imprisoned, and harassment of unregistered bishops and priests is common.

In 2011, a Chinese bishop ordained without papal approval was excommunicated.

In a 2007 letter, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

In the most difficult periods of the recent history of the Catholic Church in China, the lay faithful, both as individuals and families and as members of spiritual and apostolic movements, have shown total fidelity to the Gospel, even paying a personal price for their faithfulness to Christ. …] You who in recent times have been courageous witnesses of the faith, must remain the hope of the Church for the future!

…] Since the future of humanity passes by way of the family, I consider it indispensable and urgent that lay people should promote family values and safeguard the needs of the family. …] The above-mentioned values form part of the relevant Chinese cultural context, but also in your land there is no lack of forces that influence the family negatively in various ways. Therefore the Church which is in China … must have a keener and more urgent sense of her mission to proclaim to all people God’s plan for marriage and the family, ensuring the full vitality of each.

This article presents the reality of which every nation of the world is to some degree an accomplice, and for which the peoples of the centuries to come will look at us all in disgust, wondering how could we close our eyes before such monstrosities simply because the one enforcing them had more gold than everyone else.

In the light of this tragic reality, the Church once more fulfills her sorrowful role of a body accustomed to suffering, standing for a dignity that has been forgotten, for rights that have been deprived, for truths that have been distorted. She will be the only light in the history books of the future.

And before this, some are wishing that she change her doctrine and teachings to side with the beast. God forbid!

Technically it’s not a “one-child” policy; it depends on circumstances. Urban dwellers are allowed to have one child. For those in the countryside that depend on agriculture, they are allowed to attempt to have a second child if the first is female, since male labor is valued. For those families that have more? Well, their not supposed to, but I don’t doubt that it is either missed our ignored way out in the countryside.

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