Eucharist and contraception


Ah. I shall clarify. We abstain until infertility period, but then use AC also for extra certainty. This is where my fear for my wife’s health and morality collide. I would prefer to not talk further about intimate details, as this issue is somewhat upsetting for me, as we do want to be parents one day.


The answer in short is absolutely not. Using contraception is regarded as a grave sin, and whether a religious or a lay person, even within the confines of a Catholic marriage, using it isn’t even simply venial – it’s a big deal. It’s very serious and requires confession before receiving, and in confessing for every sin, regardless of what it is, it must mean having a true intention of not committing it ever again.

Every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil (2370).


I would hazard a guess to say that you don’t know if that’s true or not. None of us knows what really goes on, even if we think we’re told. We have no idea what the ins and outs are, nor should we think we’re entitled to all the information. So at some point we should start respecting the privacy and the decisions of others.

I’d say this is getting a bit too close, based on this:

I personally can relate to that. Dug doesn’t have to say anything else should he choose not to.

I can raise my hand and say I have. :slight_smile: Great point.


Exactly. That’s my point–some things are intrinsically evil. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone who does this intrinsically evil act is, in fact, committing a sin. Only God knows.

And some people seem to be misunderstanding “conscience.” It’s not rationalization. It’s not saying to yourself “I know X is wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway.” It’s saying “I’ve thought about this for a long time, and I’ve considered the arguments, but I honestly believe the Church is mistaken in saying that X is wrong.”


It wouldn’t have been approved for use as birth control though.


I figured you would have!


Why not? What’s your certainty in that conviction? From what I’ve read it was a matter of conjecture from the start - and it was only squelched because an agreement couldn’t be reached.


I don’t see the difference between taking a “birth control pill” for the purpose of contraception and taking the same drug branded as “medication for X condition” for the purpose of contraception, or drug for that matter whose use is directed toward contraception. The act is still the same and is condemned.


That makes sense. Fair answer.


It is the difference between throwing myself on a grenade to shield others from the blast and committing suicide by pulling the pin on a hand grenade.


Hold on, I’m not talking about taking something to contracept vs. taking something for a medical purpose with an unintended contraceptive side effect.

Tbh I can’t really think of a good analogy… I just meant that something which is marketed for a specific (moral) primary use could still be used (immorally that is) for other immoral purposes.


In your example, it is the same. But it is not the act (“birth control”) that inevitably makes it a sin, it’s the intention.

But I think there is a lot of room here. Clearly Paul VI thought so too, otherwise he wouldn’t have waited several YEARS before issuing an encyclical.

Let’s take a less controversial example. Let’s say I want to take hormones to prevent osteoporosis. But the same hormones may increase my risk of breast cancer. There is a “clear” (I’m catering to the absolutist crowd) Church teaching that I may not harm myself. But in the one case I increase my risk of osteoporosis; in the other, I increase my risk of breast cancer. I’m not a doctor. But I consult doctors, read what I can, and I make a decision. This is my “conscience” if you will.

Back to birth control. Say several of my relatives have had breast cancer, and some have died of it. The birth control pill will decrease my risk of breast cancer. It will also stop me from getting pregnant. Let’s say I don’t want to get pregnant. So what % of my motivation is preventing breast cancer and what % is birth control? I probably don’t know myself, and there is no way to measure my motivation. Does my motivation have to be 100% vs. 0%? 51% vs. 49%? Does God even think this way? It seems to me this is a pretty insoluble problem.


[Sorry about the edit – formatting fixes]

Just to clarify, “intention” here is used in the sense of “I’m taking this ‘birth control’ pill for the purpose of treating whatever condition morally” and not “I’m deliberately using this medication as contraception in order to get some good result e.g. continued manageability in the family”? The latter is what I had meant by the “act” of contraception, apologies for any unclarity.

But in the one case I increase my risk of osteoporosis; in the other, I increase my risk of breast cancer. I’m not a doctor. But I consult doctors, read what I can, and I make a decision.

I agree that the decision does not always seem, especially in the moment, so obvious. One must evaluate the means, the end, and the circumstances (of course for an objectively moral act they’re all moral, and the evil effects will not outweigh the good); it’s going to of course be one’s responsibility to be properly informed by professionals as to the effects, but also to ensure as far as possible that the act chosen is in line with moral principles. Yeah there’s ultimately going to be an act on this person’s part, but they are still bound to make sure they’re getting fully informed and if needs be (I’d say in most cases yes) consult the right people (doctors, spiritual advisors, maybe an ethicist…etc.) as well as Church documents and teaching when making such a major decision.

Does my motivation have to be 100% vs. 0%? 51% vs. 49%?

In a case where the person would also benefit in some way from a consequence of the side effect, I think it is still important that it not be intended (i.e. to truly say “if I could do this without this effect I would”), even if its consequences are to some extent welcomed (it does seem in some cases this can’t be fully controlled…). So it doesn’t seem like there can really be any motivation from there, at least not such that is consciously willed. I do suppose this can be tough to determine with certainty in some cases.


Yes, it is a question and answer. The answer to the OP’s question is clear enough and therefore can be given to her. At least she get some quick feedback here. She can always confirm it to real life priest but we can always help those who ask questions.

Contraception is not allowed and therefore one cannot receive Communion when practicing it.


Well…seeing as the Church doesn’t teach the faithful to do the impossible, I’m guessing that it is possible. I can’t honestly think of a situation where following a Church teaching is completely impossible.


I never said it was a sin.

But the conscience that rejects church teaching in favour of it’s own conclusions or comes to a wrong conclusion still has an obligation to research further. There is also the matter of “assent of the will”. The faithful are required to submit to church in these matters.

From Lumen Gentium:

Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra.


What’s the point of recieving the Eucharist at all if your personal understanding is greater than the teaching of Christ’s Church?


Thank you Tatum and Joaquin.


If you can cite Lumen Gentium, I can cite Dignitatis Humanae:

  1. “On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.”

  2. “This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”

  3. “On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.”


If they think that the Church is wrong, they are becoming heretics, since a heretic is someone who does not accept all the Church’s teaching.

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