The Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research is attempting to change the Church’s view on contraceptives.
The institute, based in the United Kingdom, opposes the Church’s teaching on such matters as stated in the Church’s Vatican II document Humanae Vitae (of Human Life). The institute’s case against the Church’s current teachings was released in a document on Sept. 20 at the United Nations.
The institute launched its case at a symposium event of the U.N. General Assembly called “Keeping the Faith in Development: Gender, Religion and Health.”
The Wijingaards document was signed by 150 prominent Catholics from around the world. The Institute said that contraception “can be taken for a variety of morally worthy motives, and so it can be responsible and ethical.”
The dispute over contraception is pertinent here at Seton Hall. Health Services does not provide contraceptives or birth control and condoms are not available at the Book Store.
Megan Scime, a freshman marketing and political science major, said that “the absence of contraception just makes the students be less safe,” on college campuses.
In a CD-ROM titled “Contraception: Why Not,” Professor Janet Smith, an ethics professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, estimated that about 45 percent of women between the ages of 19-30 use some form of birth control.
In opposition to the Wijngaards Institute’s position, a document reaffirming the importance and truth of the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae was released the same day, Sept. 20, in a press conference at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.
The document was signed by 590 Catholics scholars from across the world and stated, “We, the undersigned Catholic scholars, hold that the Church’s teaching on contraception is true and defensible on the basis of Scripture and reason. We hold that Catholic teaching respects the true dignity of the human person and is conducive to happiness.”
Smith said the expected goals of contraception when it became widely available in the 1960s were as follows: to ensure sexual freedom, to lessen unwed pregnancies, to discourage abortions, for people to be able to test out multiple sexual partners before marriage, and to ensure only intended pregnancy.
It is a matter of debate as to whether these goals have been met and whether they are more easily met by means of contraception in comparison to self-observation or Natural Family Planning (NFP), which the Church encourages for married couples who, for serious reasons, wish to delay pregnancy.
In a book titled “Youcat,” the author, Christoph Schönborn, wrote, “These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love.”
While members of the Wijngaards Institute disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception, some students at SHU agree with the Church.
Kiersten Lynch, a senior English and theology major, said “that fertility isn’t a disease that needs to be treated and it’s a shame to diminish sacredness for the sake of convenience.”
Jacob Hoelting, a freshman business finance major, said “that contraception hurts the relationship between two people because they are withholding part of themselves from the other. In doing so, they are not living freely in their relationships.”
Julianna Kadian, a sophomore special education major, disagrees with the church’s teachings and is in support of contraception. She believes contraception can prevent not only pregnancy, but sins like abortion, as well.
“I think the big picture here preventing a pregnancy is not so bad,” Kadian said. “I’m not saying that all pregnancies end up horribly when the mother and father are young but more often than not it does not end up to be a nice life for the child.”
Benjamin Jaros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.