I’ve been reading a lot about Melinda Gates efforts to donate billions to provide contraceptives to those in poorer countries. In the articles, they usually mention that she is ‘defying the Catholic Church’ by doing so. Take, for example, this particular quote from an article in ‘The Independent’ out of the UK:
Melinda Gates, billionaire philanthropist and practising Catholic, yesterday laid down the gauntlet to the Vatican by vowing to dedicate her life to improving access to contraception for women in the developing world.
This was the FIRST sentence in the article. I know I titled this piece ‘One item’ but I would like to mention two points that jumped off the screen and hit me in the face – I will, however, focus on the first:
1) The article described Mrs. Gates as a ‘practising Catholic’.
2) The article indicated that Mrs. Gates ‘laid down the gauntlet to the Vatican’.
In the second point, the author implies that Mrs. Gates is throwing down a challenge to the Vatican as though they believe that the Church will somehow be swayed by Mrs. Gates and her billions of dollars. That’s right, 2000 years of teaching will be changed because Mrs. Gates has decided that it is better to provide contraception and abortifacients to the underprivileged in poor countries rather than continue their already broad efforts to provide expanded health coverage, or to spend the millions that the Church spends to help provide farms, clean water, shelter etc…
In the eyes of the Catholic Church, every life is sacred and has dignity. In Mrs. Gates world, the solution to the problem is that they simply not be born. Mrs. Gates feels that rather than attempt to instill and educate regarding reproduction and natural forms of preventing pregnancy, that we should instead encourage women to keep their bodies in artificial states of pregnancy and pump their bodies full of synthetic hormones.
Mrs. Gates said:
“I believe in not letting women die, I believe in not letting babies die, and to me that’s more important than arguing about what method of contraception [is right].”
What she really believes is that life be prevented entirely – in my humble opinion, this borders on eugenics.
What really bothers me, though, is that the author of the article professes that Melinda Gates is a ‘practising Catholic’, yet indicates that she has challenged the Vatican. Clearly the author understands that what Mrs. Gates is promoting is entirely against the most basic and fundamental beliefs of the Church. On the one hand – she is Catholic. On the other hand – she is challenging the Church. How, then, is one a ‘practising’ anything if they are seeking to change the most fundamental teachings.
Every time Catholics attend Mass, we recite the Nicene Creed which states that:
I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
This is key and critical. The Catholic Church depends on unity but welcomes diversification. The unity comes from our beliefs, the diversification comes from how we express those beliefs. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly defines the ‘Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage’ in which it states:
2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
Yes, yes, there are those will argue – ‘Oh, those men just want to control women… yada yada yada yada’, but one only needs to look back to Pope Paul VI’s predictions as the widespread use of the birth control pill took hold:
- widespread use of contraception would lead to “conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.”
- man would lose respect for woman, considering her “as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”
- contraception would mislead human beings into thinking they had unlimited control over their own bodies
- widespread acceptance of contraception would place a “dangerous weapon… in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.”
In the case of Mrs. Gates, she clearly doesn’t believe in this particular teaching of the Church and, therefore, is not in unity in with the Church. If one is not exercising unity with the Catholic Church, can one then describe themselves as a ‘practising Catholic’? The Church will not change – thank goodness! I’m not here to judge Mrs. Gates, per se, but look at the logic of statements like these. There are lots of things within other faiths that I really like and some which I believe – but I don’t believe ALL of them. Can I call myself a ‘practising Jew’ if I believe that Jesus is the son of God? Can I call myself a ‘practising Mormon’ if I believe in the Holy Trinity? If I don’t believe in the ‘core beliefs’ of a particular faith then should I try and change that faith or look for a faith in which I share the same core beliefs.
As for the effort of the Gates themselves, how nice of them and the folks at the UN to create an even larger environment for the objectification of women. And what about the spread of AIDS? The pill, IUDs etc… do nothing to stop the spread of AIDS. The most successful program in Africa to slow the spread of AIDS took place in Uganda where they promoted – egads – abstinence! Imagine telling people the truth and having it have a positive impact! Will wonders never cease?!
But, back to Mrs. Gates. I’m not sure I can even appreciate the motivation behind her desire to ‘help’ in this particular case because it does nothing to promote or encourage any kind of self-control. Why is it that we must have sex whenever we want it? We recognize the need for self control in other parts of our lives – why not our sexual lives?
The result of her efforts, I believe, will lead to a further breakdown of the family in other parts of the world as has happened in the US. Not everything that the US has provided to other countries has been good, and – in this case – I think we are doing more to harm these particular societies than we are to help them.
Think of the double-speak that exists in this particular situation. Here we are telling those in third world countries that your lives would be better if there were just fewer of you. To me this is insulting and degrading to those this program is professed to help. Nancy Pelosi once stated that:
“Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”
Mrs. Gates is right along there with her. Very sad.