An Introduction to Stephen Patton’s remarkable talk
One More Soul, which is probably the largest distributor
of pro-NFP literature, has just released a remarkable new
talk entitled, "Why Contraception Matters," by Stephen
Patton, Family Life Director for the Diocese of St.
Augustine. With compassion, insight and humor, Patton speaks
to the majority of Catholics, priests and laity alike, who
see abortion and divorce as huge problems of the modern age,
but who don't see how contraception is any big deal. He
shows how indeed the three are intimately interconnected.
Here is how he begins his talk, which very well captures the
confusion that dominates the modern Church.
To get your copy of this remarkable CD, go to www.OMSoul.com.
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to tell you about three people: a priest and a
married couple. They’re fictional characters, but in a sense
they’re quite real. Each represents a composite of the views
of many actual priests and married couples in the United
First, let me introduce you to Fr. Friendly. Fr. Friendly is
loved and respected by his parishioners, and he loves and
respects them. He knows all about the many temptations and
tensions they face every day, and so he makes it a point to
teach them often about God’s compassion and mercy. But of
all the many issues that weigh down upon his flock, and so
weigh down upon him, two stand out: abortion and divorce.
While he’s not what you might call an activist pro-life
priest, he knows that abortion is a grave crime against the
unborn. He has even occasionally preached about it, although
always with compassion. He knows that most women make that
awful decision not so much as a free choice, but because
they didn’t think they really had a choice. He wants to
reach out to them, and he wants to keep anyone else from
making that same terrible decision. He wishes he could
pinpoint why it is that so many people, including so many
seemingly good Catholics, still fall prey to this sin by the
hundreds of thousands.
He likewise grieves the epidemic of divorce. He has
personally ministered to dozens of broken marriages and
families. It saddens him deeply that this could happen to so
many good couples, especially those who seemed to have it
all together: regular church-goers, kind people, parents who
love their children. He has preached about the sanctity of
marriage, he has encouraged distressed couples to go to
counseling, he promotes marriage enrichment programs. And
yet the divorces continue to multiply.
One topic Fr. Friendly has never preached about, though, is
contraception. He knows use of it is against the official
teaching of the Catholic Church, and he also knows that most
Catholics don’t comply with that teaching. He doesn’t preach
about this or bring it up in confession, though. He figures,
with all the other burdens his flock is already carrying, he
shouldn’t lay that one on them too. He suspects there is
something wrong with contraception, but he’s always figured
that it’s not really that big a deal, and that there are
more important things to talk about.
Now let me introduce you to Mr. & Mrs. Goodpeople. The
Goodpeople’s are active, contributing members of Fr.
Friendly’s parish, and in each of the areas I just mentioned
their views are virtually identical to his. They know that
abortion is wrong and they don’t think anyone should ever
have one. They’re also saddened at the epidemic of divorce
all around them, in their own family and among their closest
friends. They just can’t understand what’s going on. They
take their own marriage seriously and they wish every couple
would do the same.
But if they’re in tune with the teachings of the Church when
it comes to abortion and divorce, they’re not when it comes
to contraception. Mrs. Goodpeople has been on the Pill since
she became sexually active as a teenager. No one ever told
her there was anything wrong with this – not her parents,
not her peers, not her teachers, not her doctors, not her
priests. They’ve either said contraception was the good and
responsible thing to do, or they’ve said nothing at all. For
Mr. Goodpeople it was much the same. So, the two of them
took this way of thinking into their marriage. Except for
when they wanted to conceive, they’ve always used
Every now and then they’ve heard something about the
Catholic Church “frowning upon” contraception, or that it
“disapproves of” it. But they’ve never heard that it’s a
serious sin. It’s never been explained to them how it
offends God and harms us. Somewhere along the line they’ve
also heard rumors about something called NFP, but they’ve
never looked into it. They don’t know anyone who takes it
seriously, apparently including Fr. Friendly. The
Goodpeople’s want to do the right thing, and they’d probably
be open to learning about the church’s teaching if it was
ever presented to them. But unless that happens they’re
going to just keep on using contraception and eventually
will probably also choose to get sterilized.
It’s to all of you Fr. Friendly’s and Mr. and Mrs.
Goodpeople’s out there that I offer these thoughts. I want
to show you two things. First, I want to show you why
contraception really is a big deal. I want to show you that
no matter how passionate you or any of us might be about
stopping abortion and divorce, until we start changing our
own contraceptive views and practices, we’re never going to
see an end to either of those two evils.
Second, I want to bring all this home to us as a Church.
What kind of effect, on us, does our complicity with the
contraceptive mentality have? And what can we do about it?
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