Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" (4/29/10 letter to the Times of Trenton)

Diana Groden, Letters Editor
The Times of TrentonTrenton, New Jersey

Dear Ms. Groden,

In her April 28th letter, Eileen Senn rightly points out that Catholic Social Teaching champions labor unions. Yet, she appears to insinuate that labor unions are therefore beyond criticism. The Vatican's "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" (which Ms. Senn herself cites) offers several specific cautions:
“unions may not misuse the tools of contention….
"they must overcome the temptation of believing that all workers should be union-members,
"they must be capable of self-regulation and be able to evaluate the consequences that their decisions will have on the common good….
"they should not be forced to submit to the decisions of political parties nor be too closely linked to them”

With regard to the the priorities of Catholic Social Teaching, I believe that Pope John Paul II explained it best:
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination (Christifideles Laici, 1988)

Less Costly, More Ethical (B.C. Courier Times, 5/19/10)

(The original submission....)

Dear Mr. Petroziello,

As per "Over 40 and Still Seeking an Infant" (B.C. Courier Times, 5/9/10), Jo Ciavaglia describes a growing trend toward older couples seeking to conceive: "In the last five years, assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization have become more efficient, doctors say." Ms. Ciavaglia goes on to discuss so-called "egg donation," whereby a third party is actually the biological mother of the child in the first woman's womb. In addition to posing obvious and grave moral concerns, techniques such as in vitro fertilization and egg donation are astronomically expensive.

Unfortunately, Ms. Ciavaglia did not discuss "NaProTechnology" (i.e., Natural Procreative Technology) which doe NOT pose the ethical concerns of techniques such as in vitro fertilization and egg donation. In addition to also being more successful than IVF, NaPro Technology is absolutely affordable. In our own area, Friends of FertilityCare Philadelphia ( are experts in NaProTechnology.

Additional information is also available on the web site of the Philadelphia Natural Family Planning Network (

QUESTION: Who wrote the following?

"Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values....

"if I'd had a different attitude about sex, conception and responsibility, things would have been very different.

"One significant, and enduring, effect of The Pill on female sexual attitudes during the 60's, was: 'Now we can have sex anytime we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let's party!'

"It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to...honor a commitment!....

"I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy....

"As a result of the example set by their elders, by the 1990s teenage sexual promiscuity -- or hooking up -- with multiple partners had become a common occurrence....

"if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it's gotta be pretty bad."

ANSWER: Raquel Welch. The entire article, which can be very disturbing, can be found at (

re: "The Pill & the Pass" (B.C. Courier Times, 5/10/10)

Dear Mr. Gianficaro,

With availability of "The Pill" having an ominous 50th birthday, "The Pill & the Pass" was indeed timely ( Unfortunately, you dropped the ball.

Though called a “contraceptive,” the Pill can prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in a new mom’s uterus. With the possibility of early abortion, just referring to the Pill as a “contraceptive” constitutes mere balm for the conscience.

It's not only pre-born children, for whom the Pill can be lethal. For the woman, even Planned Parenthood acknowledges risks of
· heart attack,
· stroke,
· blood clots,
· high blood pressure,
· liver tumors,
· gallstones,
· jaundice, and
· death
( If Planned Parenthood were not earning $136 million each year on contraceptives (, perhaps they'd also acknowledge the impact of the Pill on breast cancer!

The Pill went hand in hand with the sexual revolution. As per syndicated columnist/sociologist Dr. Suzanne Fields, "When the Pill gave women the freedom to join men in their sexual rebellion, cultural attitudes shifted radically. Junk sex was no better than junk food, but millions of men and women greedily devoured the empty calories. 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar' was the title that told it all" (

You somehow describe the Pill as a “godsend.” For what? For health? For Family?
· There are now 56 times more new STD infections each year, than there were overall STD infections in the pre-Pill world (cf, ( and ( Yes, I said that correctly – 56 times more new infections each year, than there were overall infections a half century ago.
· Americans are less likely to marry now, than in the pre-Pill world. Of those fewer who do marry, they are more likely to divorce. Kids are the biggest victims of such changes in family stability. As per Princeton University, “if the same share of children lived with their biological parents today as did in 1980,
about 300,000 fewer children between the ages of twelve & eighteen would repeat a grade,
485,000 fewer would be suspended from school,
250,000 fewer would need psychotherapy,
210,000 fewer would be involved in violence, and
30,000 fewer would attempt suicide every year.
In addition, child poverty would be much lower.
The total savings to society from greater marital stability would be considerable”

There are medically safe and morally acceptable alternatives to contraceptives. As per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Natural Family Planning “methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy” (

Methods of Natural Family Planning involve fertility awareness and abstinence during fertile times (if looking to avoid pregnancy). These methods are as “effective” in avoiding pregnancy as the Pill. One big difference is that its users have a 0 to 4% divorce rate! Oh, and by the way, Planned Parenthood (and pharmacies hawking contraceptives) receive absolutely no remuneration from couples who utilize Natural Family Planning!

Mr. Gianficaro, your references to Humanae Vitae strike me as derisive. I encourage you to better familiarize yourself with the workings of hormonal contraceptives, as well as the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage and family.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The von Hildebrands: Awe, Reverence, and the Theology of the Body

In his efforts to share Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” Christopher West maintains that the late “Holy Father presents a vision of Marriage and sexuality never before articulated" Well, maybe not so fast….

In 1929, German philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand published "Marriage," which has been described as the "the earliest orthodox presentation of the personalistic approach to matrimony which would find its way into Vatican II's Guadium et Spes, Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae and the teaching of Pope John Paul II" As per Sophia Institute's 1997 paperback edition:
· "there is no greater mystery in the natural order of things than the fact that this closest of all unions procreates a human being with an immortal soul (although the soul, in each case, is a direct creation of God), and that this act brings a new being into existence destined to love God and to adore Him, a new being made after His image" (p. 26).
· "How terrible to think of man wanting to destroy this unity which God has established so mysteriously, deeming those united in the highest earthly union of love worthy to take part in His creative power" (p. 28).
· "He alone can understand the horror of the sin of promiscuity who has grasped the grandeur and sublimity of bodily union as the full realization of conjugal love, and who realizes that besides the primary end of procreation, the primary meaning of bodily union lies in the fulfillment of conjugal love" (pp. 30, 31).
· "Jesus has invested marriage with a dignity which represents something quite new....He raised it to the rank of a Sacrament. He made of this sacred bond a specific source of grace. He transformed marriage - already sacred in itself - into something sanctifying" (p. 53).
One year after "Marriage," Pope Pius XI's published “Casti Connubii,” his profound and beautiful encyclical on marriage.

As per Dr. Thomas Howard, “The name Dietrich von Hildebrand is not, perhaps, as well known as it should be among intelligent and literate Catholics -- or, for that matter, among Christians of any ilk. He is a man whom Pius XII referred to as ‘a 20th-century doctor of the Church.’ Those who remember this pontiff will recall that he was not a man who spoke lightly or extravagantly”

In 1966, Dietrich Von Hildebrand published “Man and Woman: Love & the Meaning of Intimacy” (My quotes are from Sophia Institute's 1992 edition.):
· "Although we hear that sex is overemphasized today, this is not correct. Rather, we live in a time in which sexuality is no longer understood in its true nature. People today are generally as blind to its true meaning as are persons who completely lack sensuality....Today's blatant sexuality conceals a pathetic sensual emptiness" (p. 3).
· "It was said that Christians are to be recognized by the fact that they love one another. I would add: Christians should also be recognized by the fact that they who have received the festival clothes in Baptism shun any superficial, mediocre approach to the great goods of creation, that they understand more profoundly than others `how admirable are they works, O God'" (p. 45).
· "As long as conception and birth are seen exclusively as mere physiological processes, we cannot understand the impact and seriousness of the making of a new human being" (p. 61).
· "Every active intervention on the part of the spouses, which eliminates the possibility of conception through the conjugal act, is incompatible with the holy mystery of the superabundant relation in the incredible gift offered by God....To make use of natural family planning is not to imply the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God's institution and the wonderful link between the love union and procreation" (pp. 68 - 69).
Two years after “Man and Woman: Love & the Meaning of Intimacy,” Pope Paul VI gave the world "Humanae Vitae," his beautiful encyclical on human life.

From 1979 to 1984, Pope John Paul II gave a series of catechetical addresses, known to us as his “Theology of the Body”:
· "The whole of the catecheses...can be grasped under the title, `Human Love in the Divine Plan," or with greater precision, `the Redemption of the body & the Sacramentality of Marriage'....The first part is devoted to the analysis of the words of Christ....The second part of the catechesis is devoted to the analysis of the sacrament based on Ephesians (Eph 5:22 - 23), which goes back to the biblical beginning of marriage expressed in the words of Genesis, `a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will be one flesh' (Gen 2:24)" (11/28/84).
As per Dr. Thomas Howard, “John Paul II forthrightly acknowledged his own intellectual debt to von Hildebrand, especially in the matter of marriage.”

The preface to Dr. Alice von Hildebrand’s 2000 biography of her late husband features a forward by then Cardinal Ratzinger (who went on to change jobs!):
· "Dietrich von Hildebrand was exceptional in many ways. His extensive writings on Christian philosophy, spiritual theology, and in defense of the Church's teaching, place him among the great thinkers of the twentieth century. His steadfast and determined opposition to totalitarianism, whether in the form of National Socialism or Marxist Leninism, a conviction that would cost him greatly during his life, illustrates the profound clarity of his moral vision and his willingness to suffer for what he knew was true."

It is abundantly clear that Dietrich von Hildebrand is not to be taken lightly! The same can be said of his wife! As per Dr. Alice von Hildebrand,
· “Reverence is the key virtue and yet a virtue which is hardly ever mentioned today….From the very cradle on, the child should be taught this virtue, a feeling of respect and awe for whatever is noble, good, true, beautiful….The deepest reverence is due to God’s greatness….How is one to teach reverence? First and foremost by being reverent oneself….
· “A teenager, trained in reverence, knows instinctively that the intimate sphere…is especially related to God. Human beings have been given the amazing privilege – not granted to the angels – of humbling collaborating with God in the creation of new persons made to His image and likeness. Husband and wife make the modest contribution of sharing precious seeds placed in their bodies. God alone creates the soul. Therefore God should always be present in the bedroom….
· “reverence – like a noble armor – is the greatest protection against the poisonous advertisements which proliferate in our society. If a child is properly taught that certain domains have a dignity and a beauty, any abuse will trigger in them a sense of disgust….
· “The task of parents today is overwhelming….out of love for souls, we should not hesitate to proclaim on the rooftops the words of Christ: ‘It would be better for those who scandalize the little ones, to have a millstone put on their necks’” (The Wanderer, March 4, 2010).

You can listen to Marcus Grodi’s wonderful interview with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand at

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

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