Rorate Caeli

More problems with YouCat?

Fr. Finigan explains:

OK so the Italian translation of YouCat 420 is to be corrected to make it clear that the Church does not teach that a Catholic couple can and should use contraception. That is a relief, I suppose. Ignatius Press, for whom I have the highest respect, have posted a loyal and serious defence of YouCat in this area.

Unfortunately, the quotation given from YouCat 421 gives further cause for concern. It reads:

421 Why are all methods of preventing the conception of a child not equally good?

The Church recommends the refined methods of self-observation and natural family planning (NFP) as methods of deliberately regulating conception. These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love. [2370–2372, 2399]

Both the question and the answer fly in the face of everything that loyal Catholics have done to promote the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

The Church does not say that contraception and natural family planning are "not equally good." It teaches that contraception is a sin (not a lesser good), while NFP may be a morally acceptable means of limiting the size of a family if there are serious reasons for doing so.

The Church does not "recommend" NFP as though artificial contraception were a less perfect option. Nor, in fact does it consider NFP and contraception to be the same kind of moral action. This is one of the basic elements of apologetics in support of the moral teaching of the Church: contraception is definitively closed to the gift of new life, while NFP recognises that new life may be less likely at certain times.

The composers of YouCat have made a classic mistake in their attempt to appeal to young people. A question and answer such as 421 above, looks like an attempt to put things diplomatically: to water down the teaching of the Church in case it is too difficult.

In fact, the young people who are still willing to listen to the Church want clear, unambiguous answers. On sexual ethics, they may fail to live the natural law as clarified by the Catholic Church but they will be willing to repent and come back to Christ in humility. As a priest working in perhaps the most secular corner of the planet, I am only too well aware of the import of the modern translation of Psalm 118 "How shall the young remain sinless?" The answer is "by obeying your law", not by waffling around in timid appeasement. (As I highlighted the other day, Waffle should only be served with syrup.) The last thing young people need is for priests to fudge what are crucial questions for their everyday lives.

YouCat has already earned the nickname LolCat. If the stuff on contraception is so muddled, what will it be like in other areas of theology? I await the published edition (released today) with some trepidation.

19 comments:

David Werling said...

YouCat seems to be teaching that regulating the size of one's family is a responsibility, even an obligation. In other words, contraception, as long as it is NFP, is an obligation. I think this is the most concerning thing.

Prof. Basto said...

I have a more general problem with YOUCAT. The problem is with the concept of a "Youth Catechism" itself.

The young, when they want to learn something, they want "the real thing". Nowadays, they have access to the raw materials via the internet.

So, while many (the alienated ones) will not be interested at all in learning Catholic doctrine (and for the issue of a Youth Catechism specific to their age will make no difference), the others who are interested in deepening their Catholic roots will not use YOUCAT as their vademecum.

They will either read the Catechism of the Catholic Church directly, or, if they find it too big and complex a book, they will start by reading the Compendium to the Catechism (that has a simple Q&A format), and then, after doing that, they will progress by looking up in the Catechism the references to it found in the Compendium, and in so doing will read the Catechism bit by bit.

Other young Catholics, if they are of a traditional persuasion, will also want to explore the riches of earlier Catechisms, that of course still today retain their full force as acts of the magisterium, such as the 20th century Catechism of St. Pius X, or the earliear Roman Catechism, issued to parish priests by St. Pius V, in execution of a decree of the Council of Trent.

Those documents, the Roman Catechism of St. Pius V, the one of St. Pius X, the Catechism of the Catholic Church issued by John Paul II, and the Compendium published by virtue of an Apostolic Letter of Benedict XVI, are the "real thing": magisterial documents.

Those will be the documents that the young will want to read. Not a non-magisterial "Youth Catechism" prepared by the Cardinal of Vienna and not published as a magisterial document but as a mere book, albeit one with a preface singed by the Pope. The young do not need "watered down" or even merely "adapted" versions of Catholic docrine.

Mr. Ortiz said...

Prof. Basto is correct--in my experience, anything with a Youth Label on it should be tossed overboard.

I teach freshmen Religion, and it's always the real deal, ie, scripture, Magisterial documents, the lives, prayers, and writings of the Saints, that proves effective.

Anonymous said...

David:

The evil of true contraception is that it stops God from doing something He may wish to do: bring a new soul into the world. NFP does nothing of the sort, because God controls all natural cycles, and a couple practicing NFP know that they are leaving Him free to do as He wills (which is what being a Catholic is about).

As to family size (I am the oldest surviving child of five): I have never heard a priest insist that "Be fruitful and multiply" meant "have all the kids you can". I know that nobody I read here is going to use those exact words, but that's an impression I frequently get. Every family has limits and the parents will answer to God for their choices regarding those limits, even if they use legitimate means such as NFP. What they don't need is pharisaical sniping from those who declare "unclean" what the Church has declared "clean". A Catholic home is not supposed to be a barren field; it doesn't have to be a puppy-mill either.

Tom

Long-Skirts said...

David Werling said:

"In other words, contraception, as long as it is NFP, is an obligation. I think this is the most concerning thing."


THE
DESERTS
OF
ONAN
(Genesis 38:8-10)

If you plant
God's seed
It grows.

With holy
Intent
An openness glows.

Then to man
God
Provides

Wisdom to
Know
Grace which guides.

So abundance
Will spread
Propagate,

Feed the early
Feed the
Late.

And you
Fruitful souls
A cornucopia fills -

While the deserts
Of Onan
Remain wastelands of spills.

Long-Skirts said...

Tom said:

"A Catholic home is not supposed to be a barren field; it doesn't have to be a puppy-mill either."

If a Catholic couple is not given children they do NOT have a barren field as long as they are OPEN to God. Grace abounds. It is about "intent". But a "puppy-mill"??? These are SOULS you are talking about.
Once I was at one of my husband's Univ. parties when he was a professor and a female prof. (a Jesuit Univ. btw) came up to me and said, "Are you Dr. so-and-so's wife? Is it true you have NINE children?" I said, "Yes." She asked, "Aren't you being irresponsible?"
Being the good Catholic mother I am, I said, (after I took a swig of wine) " Oh, no, dear, I'm not irresponsible (with all them puppies) I'm irresistible!"

POOR
SOULS

The "Field of Dreams"
Is the poors,
Who else takes chances
At weak-linked lures?

The lure to bite
Reel in what's true,
The rich can't see
The whole lake view.

The poor have nothing
They can lose,
Don't worry 'bout
Financial news.

The poor don't have
Such luxury -
Where they can rest
From misery.

They must take hold
And seize the field
"For the good of the whole"
While rich yaw-yield.

Fed rich are slowed,
By money's weight,
The hungry poor
Knows the hour's late.

So the hungry soul,
Sweats hard at work,
Fed rich sit back
In the coolness lurk.

And when all's built,
By the poor souls dumb,
And all seems safe
Smart rich will come.

With much fanfare,
Give thanks in speeches,
Though regarding the poor
And their babes as leeches

Forgetting the hungry
Poor fit through,
The eye of the needle
Two by two.

And unless fed rich
Lose some of their weight...
The eye of the needle
Will seal their fate.

Ogard said...

What worries me it that we are diverting attention from the scandal of promulgation of contraception by what is supposed to be a catechism for young people. The Italian text is probably a sample text for other translations, and we are now wasting time debating relatively unimportant matters instead of organizing a public action while the process of printing is still preparation.

If a massive protest is sent to Rome to the right place in time, the printing might be suspended until the corrections have been made in all languages. In view of this, it seems to me that the debate whether we should have the catechism for youth, or not; or whether we should have the Tridentine again, is just useless and, if I may say, subversive.

We can’t stop the Youth Catechism, bit it might be possible to use the current electronic facilities to stop the publication of the contraceptive one. Can we do something to stop the current flaw of events ?

Anonymous said...

Can't they throw it away and give them a reprint of the Baltimore catechism? The first two are designed for youths and are certainly easily understandable today.

Anonymous said...

Long Skirts:

I am one of TEN children, but my parents lost five in infancy to juvenile ALS. I remember the last two very well, for I was 10 and 12 at the time, and it was very hard letting little Mary Frances and Cathy go. They're the reason I do a slow boil when the child-hating Vulgarians babble about the burdens of "defective infants". God blessed my parents' fidelity with two healthy daughters thereafter.

My point was not criticize people like yourself and your husband, but the Tradi wag-fingers who would presume to tell you that nine was not "enough" and that you needed to have more, and that if you used NFP that was the same as contraception, when the Church declares that it is not.

Good Bless you and your nine!

Tom

Anonymous said...

Youcat seems to be a new Dutch "catechism" under a guise. Even the FrenChurh officials had to send the whole French edition into the trash bin !
It was teaching the exact opposite of the Catholic faith : that all religions are equal ... supposedly a mistake of the translators.

Curiously all these mistakes are concerning the most touchy topics where liberals are pushing for the Church to abandon her faith. Curious coincidences.

Alsaticus

dcs said...

@Tom,

As to family size (I am the oldest surviving child of five): I have never heard a priest insist that "Be fruitful and multiply" meant "have all the kids you can".

I think this is a straw man. Mr. Werling did not say that one ought always to have all the children that one can, only that regulating family size is not an obligation. In other words Catholics do not have a responsibility to regulate the size of their families. They may do so when they have serious reasons but they are never obligated to do so.

Anonymous said...

@Tom

'The evil of true contraception is that it stops God from doing something He may wish to do: bring a new soul into the world.'

Nonsense. God is omnipotent; His holy will cannot be frustrated by the actions of His creations. The evil of contraception is simply that it is an unnatural sex act: the sex act no longer has procreation as one of its objects. Nature (not God) is being inhibited by man's disordered act.

'NFP does nothing of the sort, because God controls all natural cycles, and a couple practicing NFP know that they are leaving Him free to do as He wills (which is what being a Catholic is about).'

God is always free to do as He wills, regardless of us. NFP is permissible simply because natural infertility does not render the sex act inherently unnatural, unlike the use of contraception: the act still includes procreation as an object, even if that end is not naturally attainable. Here it is nature itself which inhibits, rather than being inhibited, and so the proper order of things is preserved. However, deliberately avoiding fertile periods via periodic continence is still not normative bevhaviour for man and wife: recourse to it is only justifiable under sufficiently grave circumstances, and the decision to resort to it should be made only after consultation with the couple's pastor or spiritual director (deferring to a good priest in weighty moral decisions, rather than to ourselves like the Protestants, is what being Catholic is about).

What is especially concerning here is the fact that what has always been a pastoral permission for special cases seems to be morphing into a general precept. The attitude that couples who make no attempt to regulate the size of their families are somehow being irresponsible and shirking their obligations is sadly already widespread among "conservative" Catholics. This is a wordly attitude, and diametrically opposed to the traditional position of the Church. In this way, the contraceptive mentality is finding acceptance even among those who still recognize that artificial contraception istelf is immoral.

In truth, couples who do not regulate births demonstrate great virtue - sometimes even to an heroic degree. Far from being irresponsible in having many children despite the hardships it creates, they are living as saints in their steadfast trust that God will provide for them.

What they don't need is pharisaical sniping from those who declare "unclean" what the Church has declared "clean". A Catholic home is not supposed to be a barren field; it doesn't have to be a puppy-mill either.

If anyone is being Pharisaical, it is those who demean large families. Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with resorting to NFP if the circumstances truly justify it. That said, what has only ever been merely allowed should never be considered as a mandate, and couples who still place their trust entirely in Divine Providence despite difficult circumstances should be held up for praise, not ridicule.

Anonymous said...

NFP is like missing Mass on Sunday: It is a mortal sin unless there is a serious reason. Yet today, NFP is promoted as a positive good in and of itself. They have Seminars where the speaker explains how wonderful their life has become since they began to practice NFP. Through these Seminars, they stimulate the desire, in those who attend the Seminary, to practice NFP for it's own sake, even when a serious reason does not exist. They present, what is likely a mortal sin in most cases, as a positive good and a means of sanctification and happiness.

Long-Skirts said...

Tom said:

"I am one of TEN children, but my parents lost five in infancy to juvenile ALS. I remember the last two very well, for I was 10 and 12 at the time, and it was very hard letting little Mary Frances and Cathy go."

Well, Tom you are fortunate indeed as you have 2 siblings, Mary Frances and Cathy, as Saints in Heaven. Now THAT'S a blessing!!! You can actually ask them to intercede for you and WOW, what parents you had...unbelievably virtuous as that was such a heavy cross!! I bet even through such hardship they were cheerful with such insecurity...amazing!!


"My point was not criticize people like yourself and your husband, but the Tradi wag-fingers who would presume to tell you that nine was not "enough" and that you needed to have more""

Oh, sure, I have met Catholics like that too and that is horribly uncharitable of them. It doesn't mean you are "saved" so-to-speak just because you have a large family...why the Muslims have large families and so do the Mormons...I must work out my salvation in fear and trembling EVERYday but in the modern world most of the time I am ridiculed for endangering the planet, etc.

"and that if you used NFP that was the same as contraception, when the Church declares that it is not."

Well, unfortunately NFP can be a conraceptive mind-set if one is using it to space their children unless under the guidance of a good priest for GRAVE reasons.

I will keep you in my prayers and BTW, we have ten children, termites and a large bottle of wine always in the fridge!

Long-Skirts said...

Tom said:

", but that's an impression I frequently get"

Yes, as I said in another post I have seen many a traditional Catholic open up a can of whoop-*ss on another because they don't have a large family and good Catholics know that is so wrong...and btw, if truth be known I really only wanted one child ;-)


PURGATORY'S
PRIDE
Oh, look at me,
I'm Farrah - "Si"!
I am the talk
Of modesty.
Many children
I've born down,
Many jewels
For my gold crown.
The world it stinks
Of fleshy sin,
My nose is up
Above my grin.
For I thank God
I'm not like them.
My long full skirt
With 12 inch hem.
Oh, look at me
I'm Farrah - "Si"!
I am the talk
Of modesty.
Sometimes they stop
And at me stare
But I just shoot a look
And glare.
And if at Mass
Without a veil.
I'll talk at them
Till they are pale,
And send them running
All tucked tail
Then shout my humble
Prayer and wail...
Oh, look at me
I'm Farrah - "Si"!
I am the talk
Of modesty.
And now I stand
Before the Lord
Waiting for
My crowned reward.
But all He says is
"Look at Me...
And see your
Lack of Charity."
Now I am sitting,
Not so pretty,
In Purgatory's
Love-lost city.
Don't look at me,
I'm Farrah - "Si"!
Please pray for me
Love's poverty

Anonymous said...

"We have ten children, termites and a large bottle of wine always in the fridge!"

Must be a walk-in!

God Bless

Tom

Pilgrim said...

My biggest concern, as I said in forums when this story first broke, was not the mistranslation of contraception but rather that it establishes NFP as something *good*, something we *should* practice. NFP is licit *if* there are grave conditions (such as a high probability of death or homelessness or living under the Chinese one-child policy where they will forcibly murder your child). NFP is sinful if these conditions are not present. We had a whole sermon about it, but how many in the NO have even heard a sermon about contraception? It's so sad.

Unsuprisingly, Cardinal Schoenborn is behind this "Catechism".

MCITL said...

Let us use the language of the Church which, in Humanae Vitae teaches that "every use of artificial contraception is a moral evil".

dcs said...

@Pilgrim,

I don't believe that one necessarily needs grave conditions to use periodic continence to avoid conception. Paul VI speaks of "serious" and even "just" conditions. So yes, there must be a reason, but "a high probability of death or homelessness" is too high a standard.

I agree that NFP should not be taught as something that is a good in and of itself.

The other thing that is never (or seldom) taught about NFP is that both husband and wife must consent. If there is not mutual consent then it is a sin, the same as any other denial of the marriage debt.