It was the 1960s and many Americans had decided that they were quite comfortable and, in fact, pleased with the practice of contraception. It was alleged then, as it is now, that birth control chemicals freed women from pregnancy—though many believed these pills actually enslaved females to the wiles of the sexually active males in society.
At the time there were more than a few astute Catholics who wanted to follow Church teaching and who understood the wrongs contraception perpetrated on the body and soul of the individual who fell for the siren song of sex without consequences. At the same time, in 1965, the United States Supreme Court decided that there should be no restrictions on the availability of contraception for any reason. After all, the court viewed itself as being the arbiter of what was moral and what was not. The old adage that “if it’s legal it must be right” became a sort of mantra for the court, even though the decisions following Griswold v. Connecticut—at least in the area of sexual morality—have shown that the court is anything but an authority on that subject.
Following on the heels of this rush to control births came the decriminalization of abortion, viewed as the backup required for the times when contraception failed. Again the court intervened, establishing that expectant mothers were the only ones who should decide whether or not they were carrying a child they wanted to have or a burden they wanted to eliminate.
The intervening years have seen a slow decline in what my mother once called the “prestige of being a woman”—the idea that every woman should be “queen for a day” every day of her life. My, how times have changed.
Take, for example, the results of a recent Quinnipiac poll showing that 54 percent of Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in all or at least most cases, while 59 percent of born-again Christians oppose at least some abortion.
As Catholics have gone the way of contraception, so too have they followed the status quo on abortion. This might be shocking to some, but when we realize how little has been said about contraception and abortion from the pulpit in the past 50 years, we come to understand why Catholics are no different in their views on sexual morality than the average population of this nation.
We see the same trend regarding homosexual marriage. Thankfully, there are some in the hierarchy of the Church who stand up for Church teaching. Cardinal Francis George, of Chicago, eloquently defended the Catholic position on homosexuality and supported the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s cancellation of funding for a pro-same-sex-marriage group, saying, “The board of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights ‘broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so-called “same-sex marriage.”’ . . . For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted.”
Cardinal George affirms Catholic teaching in his remarks. Yet, at the same time, polls indicate that 54 percent of Catholics support same-sex marriage. Not unlike mainstream America, such Catholics have adapted to what society expects instead of what God demands of us. And again, the Supreme Court sets the tone with its politically-correct decision on same-sex marriage.
And so the trend continues: Contraception to abortion to homosexual marriage. Is euthanasia next? Only time will tell, but the trend does not bode well for human beings who are ill or otherwise dependent on others for their care and nurture. As Father Angelo warns in an insightful article, it is wise to avoid palliative or hospice care unless one can be absolutely certain that the care being given to a loved one is consonant with respect for the dignity of the human person.
Should America wait for the Supreme Court to tell us what is tolerable in this case as well, or should we citizens turn the tide by beginning to rely on what God has to say instead of what the state expects or imposes?
Americans must begin reassessing what it means to be a human being created in the image and likeness of our Creator—as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and, more importantly, the Bible. If we do not, oblivion is most assuredly the nation’s next destination.