Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 22, 2006
Contraception debate rises again
Birth control stirred decline in morality
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age - and one of the most ominous."
- Albert Mohler, Jr.
Smith said Paul VI predicted that artificial contraception would result in a general lowering of morality, a decline in respect for women, more coercive control by governments over sexuality and rise in the perceptions that human bodies are merely machines.
Demographic decline is another factor spurring renewed interest in the debate.
Fears of a population explosion propped up arguments in favour of contraception but Smith said demographers now predict rapid population declines not only in the developed world but in the developing world as well.
In fact demographic decline led to the theme of this year's National March of Life: Abortion is Killing Canada's Future.
Pacheco looked like Don Quixote when he booked a venue with 1,800 seats, the best audiovisual equipment, including two big screens, and invited top notch speakers, including Smith, who teaches at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
His attempt to bring the issue back to the fore didn't look so "out of touch" though when the New York Times magazine did a take-out entitled "Contra-Contraception" May 7, the Sunday preceding the conference.
"As with other efforts - against gay marriage, stem cell research, cloning, assisted suicide - the anti-birth control campaign isn't centralized," wrote Russell Shorto for the magazine. "It seems rather to be part of the evolution of the conservative movement."
The article quotes Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, Jr. who wrote in a December 2005 column: "The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age - and one of the most ominous."
Teachings on contraception also lurk behind the ongoing debate about whether condoms should be used to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs or whether the Church should permit condom use when one married partner is infected.
That led CBC's Sunday Edition host Michael Enright to interview Moira McQueen, the director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute May 14. In that interview, McQueen laid out in detail the Church's teaching on contraception.
The New York Times Magazine and the CBC Radio interview bookending the conference made Pacheco's conference on this highly controversial subject look almost prophetic.
Only about 300 people attended, far fewer than Pacheco had hoped for, but he had the conference professionally videoed. DVDs and CDs of the conference will be available through the website www.therosarium.ca.
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