The other day, Daphne McLeod forwarded me a letter a couple recently wrote to the Cardinal. I am happy to publish it here (with permission) because I believe that it reflects the concerns of many parents - especially those who have "more children than is usual in England and Wales today."
Dear Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor,
We are a Catholic married couple who feel concerned that in recent weeks the letters page of the Tablet has been running a campaign in favour of artificial contraception following a letter from Terry Prendagast of Marriage Care. Examples include:
Contraception and Marriage
Elizabeth Price (2 Dec 2006)
Laity's Instinct for Doctrinal Truth
Brendan Farrow (9 Dec 2006)
Laity's Instinct for Truth
Fr Sean Fagan (16/23 Dec 2006)
Where the Truth Leads
Shane Reese (6/1/07)
Instincts for Truth
Kevin Deane (13/1/07)
The authors are from an organisation called Catholics for a Changing Church but the titles are provided by the editor of the Tablet who is clearly suggesting that the Church is in error in its current teaching. We are greatly disappointed that not a single Bishop, priest or pastoral leader concerned with Catholic family life has replied in support of the teachings of the Church. Unless the Tablet is refusing to publish such replies.
Some of these letters have referred to the fact that many married Catholics ignore the teaching of the Church on contraception. This is only true because the teaching of the Church is rarely promoted at parish level and many Catholics believe that the use of contraception is subject to personal circumstances and therefore optional. This situation can only be rectified by strong leadership.
The belief by Catholics that use of contraception is an acceptable option has an immediate impact on Catholic couples who are following the teachings of the Church; these couples are often ridiculed by other Catholics for having more children than is usual in England and Wales today. Furthermore, since contraception is not seen to be seriously sinful, there is no urgency to provide pastoral care in the form of aid and advice on the practice of natural methods of family planning.
It may well be that the teaching is not promoted because few priests have sufficient grasp of the rich theology of Catholic marriage which justifies the teaching on contraception and clearly demonstrates its use to be seriously sinful. Furthermore, for many priests and pastoral leaders the Tablet is their main source of information. Its bias in favour of artificial contraception inclines many priests to disregard their calling to inspire married Catholics to embrace the teachings of the Church and lead holy lives.
The situation for Faithful Catholics is made worse by the fact that very few parents of children attending Catholic schools are Catholic or even Christian and they openly mock parents who unexpectedly conceive. We are currently expecting our 7th child and following the experience of carrying the 6th, less than two years ago, were filled with dread at the prospect of having to face the derision shown in our local Catholic community again.
We ask you and all Bishops and priest to voice your opposition to the views of the Tablet and withdraw it from circulation until it shows less biased reporting.
With our family prayers for your ministry,
Steve and Catriona