Over the past few weeks, many public commentators, in their zeal to make their case, have grossly mis-characterized the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding contraception, and inadvertantly, pointed to some of the basic problems facing pastors in communicating the teachings of the Church.
Last night, Sean Hannity ranted that the Obama administration was asking Catholic institutions to violate a “core tenet” of their faith. Certainly, the Church’s teaching on contraception is one of the most widely known of its teachings, but is it properly understood as a “core” teaching? We all stand and recite the Creed each Sunday, but I do not see contraception – or any other moral claim – mentioned therein. There is nothing in the Creed about sexual morality and also nothing about social justice. We skip over the life of Jesus in silence, except to note He was born and he died. The “core” teachings of the Catholic Church are doctrinal, then anthropological, and finally ethical and I encourage anyone who attends a lecture of ethics to ask the presenter to start at the beginning, and if they don’t start with the Trinity, ask them what is distinctively Catholic about their views.