Presumably, both Fathers considered that their personal judgement, however reliable and well founded they believed it to be, took precedence over the decision of the Pope whose divinely appointed task is to give direction to the Church in these matters under the special assistance of the Spirit of Christ.
But such prideful self-assurance does nothing to alter the veracity of Catholic teaching on contraception and, in the Catholic world, failure to uphold that teaching continues to be viewed as the benchmark of defection from the Church. It also indicates that proponents of experiential religion such as the Benalla Team are not really convinced of the truth of their cause because they reject the common “experience” of everyday life whenever it happens to conflict with newchurch ideology — in this case, the experience of a twenty-five year old contraceptive experiment which has seen human destruction and moral decay on a level unprecedented in history.
In 1968, the encyclical Humanae Vitae pointed to the probable consequences of widespread use of artificial birth-control, without making such consequences central to its teaching. Among other things, it prophesied that contraception would lead to an increase in adultery and to lower moral standards generally, especially among young people; that men would lose respect for women, using them as objects for selfish enjoyment rather than looking upon them as beloved companions; that public authorities might impose methods of contraception on citizens; and that it would so alter the moral eco-system in which family life and the welfare of the race survive that that system could no longer support humanity as we know it,
These consequences anticipated by Paul VI have come to pass with a vengeance and are now a matter of public record.6
So, in advising the aforementioned parishioners that contraception is licit (dependent on “circumstances”, of course), both Fathers failed to take account of several decades-worth of “experience.” The crude, self-evident verdict is that sins which start between the legs have a way of infecting the head — a cerebral infection which reached its nadir with abortion on demand and has now produced a condom-culture that assails our sensibilities at every turn. Newchurch functionaries like the Team fail to recognise these as real-life consequences of a philosophy permitting the separation of sex from the possibility of procreation. The same philosophy of contraceptive ‘freedom’ that marked the starting point of Fr. Charles Curran’s dissent over various Church teachings and finally led the Church to remove his permission to teach as a Catholic theologian.7
It is ironic that trendy priests should regularly dispense such advice at a time when even glossy secular magazines are beginning to understand the dangers of contraceptive sex. But it is positively perverse that they are unlikely to alter their anti-magisterial stance until this emerging secular experience finally confirms the age-old teaching of Holy Mother Church. This is because the contradictory disregard by the new church for the very “experience” which supposedly feeds their conscience and sustains their pastoral work and catechetical programmes, is reserved for Catholic testimony only — the experience of gays, greenies and feminists et al. being accepted with alacrity. In 1908, Pope St. Pius X had questioned this double-standard:
If experiences have so much force and value in their estimation, why do they not attach equal weight to the experiences that so many thousands of Catholics have that the Modernists are on the wrong path? Is it that the Catholic experiences are the only ones which are false and deceptive? The vast majority of mankind holds and always will hold firmly that sense and experience alone, when not enlightened and guided by reason, cannot reach to the knowledge of God. What, then, remains but atheism and the absence of religion.8
Eight decades later, having reached the same conclusion as the Pope, many parents abandoned ‘Catholic’ education.