Monthly Archives: June 2015

When Lambeth Still Supported Contraception-Free Marriage

Just Ten Years Before 1930, the 1920 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church Upheld Christendom’s Universal, Ancient Teaching of the Inviolability of the Transmission of Human Life in Each Marital Embrace — Allowing Children to be Born.

From Lambeth to the Land of Nod by John S. Hamlon

May 22, 2015 | Catholic teaching on contraception will always be a “sign of contradiction” and it will always point to an inconvenient, counter-cultural truth: more contraception means more divorce and more abortion.

“Cain flying before Jehovah’s Curse” by Fernand-Anne Piestre Cormon, c. 1880, Musée d’Orsay, Paris (Wikipedia)


In his preface to A Man for All Seasons, playwright Robert Bolt describes protagonist Thomas More as

a man with an adamantine sense of his own self. He knew where he began and left off… but at length he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located his self. And there this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person… was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more be budged than a cliff.

“Adamantine”—unyielding, impervious, diamond-like—befits the real Thomas More who, as councilor to King Henry VIII, was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1535. He would not sign the First Succession Act, which was anti-papal authority, anti-Catherine of Aragon (including daughter Mary—fathered by Henry VIII), and pro-Princess Elizabeth (still in Anne Boleyn’s womb).

At the formal Catholic level, More is the patron of statesmen and politicians; in the pews, he is a defender of marriage and family.

The Beauty of Marriage and Family—Anglican Style

The Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 1920 were also diamond-like. Compared to the grimy, banal, all-purpose language used today, they spoke of marriage with an eloquence and directness that is, in a word, lustrous:

The fellowship between man and woman in marriage was the earliest which God gave to the human race…. What our Lord adds about marriage is not given as new legislation, but as a declaration of God’s original purpose. The man and his wife are no longer twain, but one flesh: and those whom God has joined together, man is not to put asunder…. [God] will work, as those who wait for Him well know, the miracle by which the two lives become one, yet so that each life becomes greater and better than it could have been alone. (Lambeth Conferences—1867-1930; [SPCK, 1948], 29)

By contrast, the Catholic world—up until the watershed-year 1968—saw few lines about the unifying woof in the warp and woof of marriage. In Pius XI’s Casti Connubii (1930), for example, love’s primary purpose is to help husband and wife form and perfect their interior life so “they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love toward God and their neighbor” (23). In order of emphasis, Pius XI puts procreation first, conjugal honor (based on mutual fidelity) second, and spousal love third. Continue reading

Little Lost Lambeth

What do a 2000 year old Christian Tradition, the Anglican Lambeth Conference and English author Aldous Huxley have in common?…

Twenty-Five Years Before the Pill was Invented, It was Parodied as the Anti-eucharist

by Stephen Kellmeyer | Sept/Oct 1998 Envoy Magazine

This Article in a PDF.

In 1930, the Anglican Church made a decision that proved tragic for the entire world. About the only two voices that realized the problem were, of course, the Catholic Church, and surprisingly, an agnostic.

The year is 1932. On the Continent, Adolf Hitler is still 11 months away from gaining control of the German government. Though he continues to search for a way to gain the electoral majority necessary to rule Germany, he has already won a major victory in England, a victory that will continue to grow and metastasize long after he lies dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a burning bunker in Berlin 13 years in the future.


Yet, even as English Churchmen nurture the seed of Hitler’s philosophy on their isle, another voice has risen from among the inhabitants of that gallant land. This voice has spent the last two years forming one of the most insightful and strident attacks on Nazi philosophy ever concocted, and it is now, in February, 1932, that the author releases his work into the stream of history. The battle between the philosophies continues to be fought down to this very day: the battle between the eugenics, advocated in seminal form by the Church of England, and the natural law, upheld by an agnostic who saw the preposterous conclusions to which the contraceptive philosophy must inevitably lead.

The agnostic was Aldous Huxley; his book, Brave New World, would constitute not only an incredibly prophetic description of the contracepting society, but also a deft parody of the Christian church which first legalized the idea. Prior to 1930, contraception had been uniformly condemned by every Christian denomination in the world since the death of Christ.

“The President made another sign of the T and sat down. The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the center of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream soma was passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, ‘I drink to my annihilation,’ twelve times quaffed. Then to the accompaniment of the synthetic orchestra the First Solidarity Hymn was sung….”
Unfortunately, Darwin’s work between 1854 and 1872 had a profound influence on European and American society. His “survival of the fittest” argument soon produced the idea that some human beings were less fit, less worthy to procreate than others. Both sides of the Atlantic forged ahead with applications of this “breakthrough” in scientific understanding. Scientific journals devoted to eugenics, the breeding of a better human animal, soon became common throughout Europe. Francis Galton, the man who coined the word “eugenics,” established a research fellowship in University College, London in 1908, and his Eugenics Society began work in the same year.

By the early 1920s, Margaret Sanger and several of her English lovers were touting contraception and involuntary sterilization as a way to limit the breeding of the “human weeds,” as Sanger called them: the insane, the mentally-retarded, criminals, and people with Slavic, Southern Mediterranean, Jewish, black or Catholic backgrounds (ironically, Sanger was herself raised by a Catholic mother).

Though most supporters of atheistic rationalist scientific progress don’t advertise it, Hitler’s racial purity schemes were nothing more than the application of 1920s “cutting-edge” biology. When this attitude encountered Christianity, the results were uniformly explosive. Ever since 1867, Anglican bishops had been meeting roughly every ten years at Lambeth Palace, London, in order to discern how best to govern their Church. Mounting eugenics pressures had required the bishops in both the 1908 and the 1920 conferences to fiercely condemn contraception. But the constant eugenics drumbeat would not let up.

The 1930 conference brought even greater internal challenges; many of the people advising the bishops were eugenicists, indeed, at least one attendee, the Reverend Doctor D.S. Bailey, would be both a member of the International Eugenics Society and an active participant in the conference.

Between the general mood of society and the insistence of advisers, the Anglican bishops were placed under extreme pressure to allow some form of artificial contraception. On August 14,1930, after heated debate, they voted 193 to 67, with 14 abstentions, to permit the use of contraceptives at the discretion of married couples. The decision rocked the Christian world — it was the first time any Christian Church had dared to attack the underlying foundations of the sacred marital act, the act in which another image of God was brought into creation through the parents’ participation in co-creation with God. Pope Pius XI, deeply saddened, issued Casti Connubii, just four short months later on December 31, 1930, reiterating the constant Christian teaching that artificial contraception was forbidden as an intrinsically evil act.

Continue reading

Reactions to the Pope’s Encyclical on Contraception

(RNS1-feb26) (!978) Pope Paul VI, died at 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the age of 80, after suffering a heart attack in his summer residence at Castel-gandolfo, Italy. For use with RNS-POPE-PAULVI, transmitted on February 26, 2014, Religion News Service file photo

It is interesting now to look back at the various reactions when the pope issued his encyclical on contraception. I dug up the following, and I think they pretty much speak for themselves. It is hardly necessary to add any comments at all except to say how little things have changed.

A leader from an association of Protestant mainline denominations called it “the most important encyclical ever promulgated in the entire history of the papal succession.” He said, “I am glad that this pronouncement is so thoroughly clear-cut and uncompromising.” He was glad that everyone had to be either for it or against it. There was no middle ground.

And why did that make him glad?

“It will mark a new era in wide and deep-going revolt against ecclesiastical control. It will bring … nearer a revolt within the Roman Catholic Church.” He said this attempt by the Church, with its “autocratic domination” to interfere with the private and intimate matters will push it closer to its own inevitable collapse. This exercise of “hierarchical power” would certainly be met with “indignant repudiation” by Catholics themselves.

In other words, he was glad that the Catholic Church made its position clear, so that Protestants and everyone else could clearly reject it. No middle ground. And he predicted Catholics would reject it, too.

A leading feminist said the Church had set itself “squarely against progress.” She said the message of the encyclical was: “Go ahead and have a child every year, never mind if you are too poor to give them a decent home; never mind if they will be born sick or feeble-minded; never mind if they will be born deformed. Birth control under any and all circumstances is a horrible crime.” She said the pope’s denunciation of contraception would lead to more poverty and more disease. She praised the Protestant and Jewish congregations that had already officially endorsed contraception.

The pope’s interpretation of marriage is pure mythology … his denunciation of birth control is bigotry.A doctor said the document was “confusing,” especially when it came to the issue of the health and welfare of the mother. He disagreed with the encyclical that claimed contraception violates nature. And he observed that the declining birth-rate among Catholics indicated that the rule was “being more observed in the breach.”

A pastor of a non-denominational church in New York said the encyclical was an example of “a tenth-century mind at work on twentieth-century problems. We are never going to get anywhere with marriage or anything else by going back to St. Augustine. The pope’s interpretation of marriage is pure mythology … his denunciation of birth control is bigotry.” Continue reading

The real Pope Francis and his real enemies
By Andrea Gagliarducci
25 May 2015

Pope Francis’ opening address to the Italian Bishops Conference’s general assembly showed the spirit of the real Pope Francis. The Pope condensed his views about the Church into two pages of text that he personally wrote. His view is of a non-clerical Church, capable of educating lay people, with priests and bishops who act as shepherds, not managers. He always says the same things, but it is significant that he stated this in front of the Italian Bishops, thought to be a particular target of his. And the way the assembly carried on afterwards perhaps reveals who Pope Francis’ real enemies are. In the end it is but one enemy: ecclesiastical careerism.

Pope Francis’ real spirit may be summarized in one sentence he loves to repeat: “hacer lío, [make noise].…what is missing is the habit of verifying the reception of programs and the way that projects are put into effect. For example, conventions and events are organized with the usual voices heard on stage, voices that anaesthetize the community, thereby homogenizing choices, opinions and people, instead of carrying us toward the horizons where the Spirit asks us to reach out”.To be clear, careerism is not a problem exclusive to Pope Francis’ pontificate. Benedict XVI addressed the issue in one of his first his first ordination of priests as Pope  and returned to it many times. In 2009 he spoke about careerism in the homily for a Mass of consecration of five new bishops, among them the current Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Even John Paul II had to cope with careerist trends, as did Paul VI, and as John Paul I would have done had he lived long enough.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable that careerism from two different groups flourishes right under the gaze of Pope Francis, who from the start claimed he wanted to move the Church beyond it – as his two consistories for the creation of cardinals may show. One group consists in those prelates who had influence prior to the pontificate of Benedict XVI, but who then felt marginalized by him. The second is found in those who are directly linked to Pope Francis’ new course, but who are unable to see that his course has changed somewhat over the past couple of years.

Remarkably, these two groups of careerists are somewhat connected. The Pope who came “from the end of the world” was not particularly confident in the Roman Curia, and was informed about it by some of his closest collaborators – men like Msgr. Fabian Pedacchio, who serves both in the Congregation for Bishops and as the Pope’s private secretary – and from newspapers. He also trusted some of the old curial hands, many of whom, as Vatican diplomats, were marginalized under Benedict XVI because his pontificate was founded on the notions of truth and communion. This is the reason that at the beginning of Francis’ pontificate diplomats had huge influence. The old Curia of John Paul II, led by the powerful Cardinal Angelo Sodano, became influential once again, a fact signaled by the appointment of Beniamino Stella, a former nuncio, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; the very quick rise of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, another former nuncio, who was supposed to end his career as Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops, but who suddenly was named General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops; and the old-school diplomat Pietro Parolin, who was picked as Secretary of State.

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