Question 26



"These issues are contentious. They will produce strife and discord."

But this means that the priest, as a moral guide, cannot provide moral guidance where it is most needed. If people already understand an issue, like slavery for example, and do not dispute it, then there is no need to address it from the pulpit. But if many people are violating the 5th and 6th Commandments, do not know it, and can’t understand why these acts are sinful, then we priests must address the issue. Not to address them is reprehensible negligence on our part. We must inform conscience by proposing moral truth. The approach we use is that of Jesus: we speak the truth in charity, and with conviction and forthrightness. If we allow the Gospel to be silenced because we refuse to accept criticism from those who reject Gospel values, then we fail in our priesthood. It is not our Gospel. We are not at liberty to decide what parts of the Gospel are “too hard to accept,” and can be ignored. Contraception and sterilization are serious matters, and they are causing much harm to our marriages, our families and to our young people.

"Collections will go down."

This is factually untrue. But beyond that, we members of the clergy must anticipate the criteria our Lord will use to evaluate our pastoral care of the flock entrusted to our care. The main criterion will not be "Did you get all the bills paid and have a smooth running operation?" Rather, it will be "Did you guide my people into a knowledge of my ways, my Gospel, and into a love for the splendor of the truth?" Paying bills is not high on the list of pastoral success criteria. The qualities of a CEO are not those of being a priest. Bringing people to the person, heart and mind of the Lord is what is essential. God does not demand success from us in terms of our people’s response to good moral teaching. He does demand that we faithfully propose and teach the values that comport well with our dignity as bodied persons. God’s plan for human sexuality, marriage and family are an essential part of the Gospel of Life in these times.

Priests who have consistently proposed the values of Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio and Evangelium Vitaewill tell you that their collections have not collapsed. Instead, the parish has learned the meaning of a spirit of generosity, and that is reflected in parish contributions as well as volunteer service to various parish organizations. Couples who practice NFP are very often the most generous volunteers in the parish. Couples open to life are also open to giving their children to the priesthood and religious life. If they are caught up in the contraceptive culture, then they will very likely not be generous with God by accepting His invitation to their sons and daughters. 

Cordially yours, 
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB