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Posts Tagged ‘catechism’

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

With the Hobby Lobby suit going on in the Supreme Court, there is a great deal of “The Pill” in the news. It is certainly a hot topic, with statistics, medical information and lots of personal opinions coming at us left and right. Environmentalists and scientists have been warning us for years that women’s use of artificial hormonal birth control is not a private matter. In fact, it has worldwide effects. Not only are there moral implications regarding the use of artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy, but what about the moral implications of using a drug that can cause cancer in others, or change the ecosystem?

Studies show that birth control pills have a negative effect on the environment, and primarily the water system. Scientists report that “many decades of research have shown that when released into the environment, a group of hormones known as estrogens, both synthetic and naturally occurring, can have a serious influence on wildlife. This includes the development of intersex characteristics in male fish, which diminishes fertility and fecundity.”[1] Water treatment plants are not able to break down the hormones excreted by women who are using the Pill: High estrogen levels have been found in rivers in Paris, and studies seem to show that in some places the levels of estrogen found in waterways are high enough to affect human health.[2]

Prescription NeededHere’s a fascinating study that questions the link between prostate cancer in men and the Pill. David Margel and Neil Fleshner, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, looked at contraceptive pill usage and incidence of prostate cancer in 88 countries around the world. In every case, they found a significant correlation between the two.[3] Although studies continue to look at various possibilities, and findings are inconclusive, the scientists consider this a valid and strong component in the mystery of the increase in prostate cancer; the fact is that estrogen-like chemicals pass into the urine and ultimately make their way into the water supply.

There are consistent reports that show that the environment and human health are being detrimentally affected by women’s use of chemical contraceptives, which has environmentalists around the world searching for solutions. If findings continue to reveal these links, govern­ments will need to step in to enact laws and regulations to protect innocent citizens and future generations.

The Catholic Church has spoken consistently on the need to protect and care for creation, as it is God’s gift. Pope John Paul II stated: “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.”[4] There is a moral responsibility to care for God’s creation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”[5]


[1] Susan Jobling and Richard Owen, “Ethinyl Oestradiol in the Aquatic Environment,” in Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation (Copenhagen, Denmark: Europa Environment Agency, 2013), 279.

[2] Wynne Parry, “Water Pollution Caused by Birth Control Poses Dilemma,” Live Science, May 23, 2012; and “7 Surprising Facts about the Pill,” Live Science, June 21, 2011.

[3] David Margel and Neil E. Fleshner, “Oral Contraceptive Use Is Associated with Prostate Cancer: An Ecological Study,” BJM Open 1.2 (2011), http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/1/2/e000311.full.

[4] John Paul II, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (January 1, 1990), n. 15.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2415.

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I don’t know if you’ve signed up to read the entire Catechism in a year (a daily dose delivered by email), but I am woefully behind. I should be setting time aside daily, but it hasn’t really happened, so I often find myself catching up and reading four or five sections at a time. This morning, in one of these catch-up sessions, I read a section on faith (articles 153-159), which perfectly corresponded to a conversation I was engaged in over the weekend.

In a nutshell, I was discussing with a friend whether any faith traditions were valid; if they all were; or if they were all fake. From her (agnostic) perspective, religions are merely methods people used to make themselves happy on earth, but aren’t actually based in reality. I argued that my faith was real (not just an excuse to give structure to my life), and that reason could show that the universe was created. What she said that I couldn’t prove with reason alone – and she was right – is that God (a Catholic God) was real and present in my life.

I can’t prove God’s presence to her by reason alone because it is faith that allows me to know, love and serve God. Yet somehow to unbelievers, to say “I believe” is not enough. Sadly, too many people think that faith is neither credible nor reasonable.

The Catechism section I read this morning, however, reminded me of several very helpful things about how faith is real, how it builds on reason and how it is, in fact, reasonable. It says:

 

  1. Faith is a Gift: I cannot just argue someone into believing in God. The Catechism says, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.”
  2. Trusting in God is a free, human act: People who have faith have not given up their freedom. Rather, they have chosen to accept this gift from God and believe in Christ. The Catechism says, “Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason”
  3. While one cannot reach Faith by reason alone, we have proofs that Faith is reasonable: Revelation that we have seen in our own lives and throughout Church history allows us to even more reasonably claim our faith. The Catechism says, “The miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility’ (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind’.”
  4. Faith is a certainty: There can be no doubt in the tenets of faith once we have faith because, as the Catechism says, God cannot lie.
  5. Faith seeks understanding: Faith implies a love of God. When we love someone, we naturally seek to know him or her more. The Catechism explains that this is a cycle of growth: out of faith, we seek to know more about God, and as we learn more about Him, we grow even more in our faith.
  6. Faith and Science will never contradict each other: God created the world and therefore created science. True scientific discoveries will not contradict the faith, and faith will not contradict science. The Catechism says that science “can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.”

 

Too often, I am swayed by our agnostic culture into somehow forgetting that faith is the most reasonable position we can possibly hold: believing in God Who created me, Who sent His Son to save me and Who demonstrates His love for me time and time again.

 

During this Year of Faith: Lord, increase my faith.

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