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Paul VI and marital reality

December 14, 2017
Larry Z. Burdoin
San Francisco

Re: “Paul VI, prophet,” Bishop Robert Barron, Dec. 7:

It may be helpful to consider the following points for a more comprehensive discussion. First, the church does a disservice to Catholic husbands when it asserts that the use of artificial contraception will lead to the objectification of wives. How can this happen within a loving marriage? And, how would this be prevented by the use of NBR (natural birth regulation)?

Second, in the encyclical (in English translation), one finds no mention of the wife having a sex drive. It appears that over the centuries the church has become far removed from the realities of marital lovemaking. Many wives are naturally desirous of making love with their husband, and this is natural and it is good.

Third, there is much good in Catholic married couples using NBR instead of artificial contraception (especially with several such regimens, and devices not being contraceptive but actually being abortifacient in how these work). But, what does the church do for the small percentage of couples who use NBR? It offers them guilt or at least anxiety when it admonishes that the method it purports to allow cannot, must not be used for “selfish” reasons. Positive reinforcement would be a better choice for the church.

Lastly, the church may be trying hard to put a positive spin on its long-held view of sex, but the old, pagan, sexual pessimism that entered the church’s thinking with Augustine is still plain to see.

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