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The Confederate Lawyer
March 28, 2012

by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — Progressives held three closely related superstitions between the two world wars: eugenics, scientific racism, and contraception.

Eugenics was the theory that humanity could be improved by breeding more superior people (understood as northern Europeans) and fewer inferior people, especially by involuntary sterilization.

Scientific racism was the theory that the races of the world could be ranked from the best to the worst, with whites at the top.

Contraception was viewed as a means of accomplishing eugenics by limiting the births of those deemed to be racially inferior or unfit.

Although eugenics and scientific racism today provoke only shame and outrage, contraception flourishes.

The three progressive superstitions were and are opposed by sound (especially Catholic) moral teaching. Somehow, however, a contraceptive mentality survived. This is partly due to the fact that the view has evolved. It no longer only a selfish means for curbing the birth of the racially inferior and the unfit. It is now also a selfish means for families to afford a second luxury car instead of supporting another baby.

Above all, it is a means for 30-year-old female law students to plan their lives around frequent premeditated sexual relations without consequences or, apparently, without shame. It has reached the point that a student can enroll in a Catholic university for the express purpose of trying to force it to provide her with contraceptives.

While selfishness explains a lot, contraception has not joined eugenics and racism in the dustbin of history for two additional reasons: a failure of evangelization and a failure of catechetics.

Opposition to contraception has been considered to be an eccentricity of Catholics for well over a half century. This is in large part because the opponents of contraception have not evangelized effectively. They have not proclaimed in the public square that contraception is contrary to God’s plan for families. They have not told people that the old Episcopalian marriage ceremony was literally correct in explaining why God blessed the institution. They have not spoken about the multiple layers of harm that contraception engenders: harm to the spiritual and emotional lives of those who practice it, harm to the society of so many irresponsible single women and men, and harm to the country from a falling birth rate.

Catholics, in particular, should be telling everyone that contraception is wrong, just as they tell everyone that racism is wrong.

The failure of catechetics has been twofold. First is the failure to effectively articulate the dogmatic value of the Church’s teaching on the question. There is, in fact, a failure to proclaim that the teaching has any dogmatic value at all.

While the Church’s teaching on contraception has never been defined solemnly, several successive Popes approved this teaching, as has the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in documents approved by these Popes. All have made it clear that the prohibition of the use of artificial contraceptives is infallible and of Divine origin. Yet this recurrent teaching is not adequately understood by the faithful.

Many Catholics have never been taught the distinction between natural law and positive law, or between doctrine and discipline. They have never been taught that there is a fundamental difference between a command to attend Mass on a certain day or to abstain from meat on another day, and a command not to murder or commit adultery or bear false witness.

At best, too many think any distinction is merely a one of seriousness. They think the prohibition of contraception is something the Church invented, like Lent.

Second is the failure to communicate the immutability of the teaching. The First Vatican Council solemnly declared that the meaning of the doctrine of the faith never changes because of the progress of knowledge (scientia). Despite the changes that occurred, some quite rapidly, in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, none of them was at the level of dogma.

Proponents of contraception frequently bring up the Galileo case to prove that the Church changes its mind to keep up with science. It is important to remember, however, that Galileo was wrong on the specific point on which he was condemned, namely, his teaching that the sun is the center of the universe, .and the Inquisition tribunal was right on this specific point, even if the tribunal was ignorant in some of its comments. The Pope disagreed with the ignorant part of the tribunal’s findings. Finally, tribunals do not define dogma. (“Was Galileo Guilty?”). Catholics need to be taught that contraception will never be considered morally acceptable.

We have a lot of work to do before contraception joins racism and eugenics in the dustbin of discredited ideas.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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