To the Editor:
Peter Steinfels’s list of the American Catholic bishops’ moral “nonnegotiables” seems incomplete (Beliefs column, Oct. 27). The bishops’ list omits the church’s traditional opposition to artificial means of contraception, once a hot topic of American Catholic moral discussion, but now seldom mentioned (except in connection with foreign aid).
Pulpit oratory that once attacked artificial birth control as nonnegotiable now focuses on abortion, delivered with a certitude identical with what older American Catholics will recall was once used to denounce artificial contraception. I have heard no mention of the subject during any Sunday Mass homily in decades.
Catholic practices have apparently led the bishops to become more reticent in denouncing artificial birth control; perhaps a comparable prudence should now be exercised in the case of abortion.
In addition, before they make rigid categorical moral statements that once again help elect presidents who are all too willing to plunge the nation into war, the bishops might reflect on their past history regarding pronouncements on nonnegotiable moral issues.
Winter Park, Fla., Oct. 27, 2007
Note from KBJ: God forbid anyone should make a rigid categorical moral statement.
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