Catholic Church And Contraception
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Catholic Church And Contraception
The issue of contraception has been an extremely controversial and debated one
in the Catholic Church. The Catholic religion declares that the three
requirements for healthy sexual expression include a mutual physical drive for
pleasure, intimacy and committed love between the couple, and the openness to
procreation and parenting children. This last aspect is the subject of much
disagreement between people both inside and outside the church community. The
authoritative voice of the church, the Magisterium, holds that artificial
contraception is a sin and only accepts the form of contraception called Natural
Family Planning. This method involves avoiding sexual intercourse during certain
times of the month and will be explained in more detail shortly. There are
situations which are argued should be exceptions, such as rape, a family who
already has children and can afford no more, and the overall health of the
couple involved in the sexual relationship. The viewpoint of the Church is an
old one, but the Magisterium claims that it will not change anytime soon. There
are many different types of contraception available. Type one classified
contraception includes barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, the cervical
cap, and spermicides. Type two classified contraception is hormonal methods,
such as birth control pills, emergency contraception or the "morning after
pill," IUDís and Norplant. Type three contraception is Natural Family
Planning, the only type approved by the Church. Natural Family Planning is
sometimes confused with the rhythm method, but it actually more effective than
rhythm. NFP is a method that involves careful regulation of a womanís
menstrual cycle to determine when her fertile period falls begins. The day of
ovulation and a few days before is considered a womanís "fertile period"
and by either avoiding or participating in intercourse during these days, a
woman can decrease or increase her chances of pregnancy respectively. The signs
that a woman is close to ovulation are an increase in basal temperature, changes
in vaginal secretions, an opening of the cervical os, physical symptoms such as
cramps or moodiness, and an increase in sexual desire. It is important to
carefully monitor all these aspects to ensure proper prevention of pregnancy.
This practice is accepted by the Catholic Church because they defend that the
integration of intimacy between partners and the receptivity to procreation are
not obstructed. It is important to observe how we ended up at the teaching the
church now holds dealing with contraception and sexuality. Throughout the
centuries, many different decisions from the church have influenced the view
that is now held. In 306, the Council of Elvira found that a priest who was
sexually intimate with their wife the night before a mass would lose his job. At
the Council of Nicea in 325, the rule that priests could not marry after being
ordained was created, and in 385, they could no longer sleep with their wives.
The first chastity rules were then being formed for religious people. St.
Augustine had a profound impact on sexual teachings. He lived from 354-430 as a
philosopher and theologian, recently converted from a sinful life. It is
believed that St. Augustine developed the first codified teachings of sexuality.
He deeply believed the philosophy of Manichaeism, which states that "matter is
evil opposed to spirit." His teachings were very specific and strict. Stoic
philosophy influenced St. Augustine to require that procreation be the primary
focus of sexual intercourse and marriage. This teaching was held in the church
all the way until Vatican II. St. Augustine was the first to condemn abstinence
during the fertile period and "coitus interruptus." He did not believe that
the pleasure involved with sex should in any way be the motivation, but was
acceptable as a necessary "side effect." St. Augustine did not view sex in
terms of love or expression, but simply as a procreative act necessary for life.
The Second Council of Tours in 567 excommunicated any religious person found in
bed with their wife. In 580, the church leader was Pope Pelagius II who had a
rather casual outlook on sexual matters. He did not want to bother the clergy
and rather looked the other way from the corruption going on. Pope Gregory the
Great served from 590-604 and stated that all sexual desire in any form was
wrong. Throughout the world, sexuality was a key issue. Seventh century France
found most priests to be married. Germany, in the eighth century, reported
through St. Boniface that hardly any bishops were following their call to
celibacy. The Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 836 found that abortions and killing
of infants were being practiced in convents and monasteries to conceal
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Catholic theology of the body, Religious views on birth control, Papal encyclicals, Catholic Church and abortion, Humanae vitae, Catholic Church, Homosexuality and Catholicism, Natural family planning, Christian views on contraception, Pope Paul VI, Combined oral contraceptive pill, Pope John Paul I
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