Introduction: Pope Francis in the article sited below for the first time has signaled to Catholic women that individual discernment for the use of contraceptive methods is morally acceptable, an important pronouncement from the head of our Church for many American Catholic families.
Individual discernment for the use of contraceptive methods was and really should be an acceptable moral norm for practicing Catholics. Without the need for the dramatic situations mentioned in the article use of artificial methods of contraception was formerly taught in Catholic seminaries as “a probable opinion” and therefore could be followed in good conscience. The great majority of Catholic women in the U S intuitively refused to accept the national Episcopal decision to placed artificial contraception on the same level as abortion. In Catholic theology such refusal is referred to as the sensus fidei, the overwhelming belief on the part of the lay segment of the Church can determine moral practices of the faithful.
Excerpts from the article:
“Pope Francis’ remarks regarding the use of contraceptives to avoid pregnancy in the face of the deadly Zika virus indicate that in cases of such emergencies Catholics can in fact decide to prevent pregnancy, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi has said.
“Therefore, understanding well the nature of the problem, continuing to study it, reacting also with research to find more stable and sustainable solutions, avoiding however a recourse to abortion and, if there might be situations of grave emergency, then a well formed conscience can see if there are possibilities or necessities of recourse to non-abortives to prevent pregnancy,” said the spokesman.
“…the intent of the use cannot be to prevent procreation….The church’s position on the matter has been criticized by many U.S. Catholics.”