Tuesday, May 10, 2005

For this they send him to Brazil?

Nick Kristof has an op-ed today in the New York Times on the plight of the Church in Brazil. It's nothing we haven't seen ten thousand times before in the press. It features my favorite journalistic technique: the selective man-on-the-street/believer-in-the-pew interview, in this case for the supposed purpose of getting us in touch with what the Church is really like at the grass-roots level. Read more . . .

He quotes a São Paulo gynecologist who has never had a patient who objected to contraception. He could have stayed in New York and found a similar gynecologist. If he had been looking, he also could have found a gynecologist who not only has patients who don't use contraception, but also refuses to prescribe contraception for patients. Here's a clue: often Catholics who are faithful will seek out health practitioners who conform to their beliefs, rather than ob-gyn's who ask them at every visit whether they would consider aborting their child.

If Mr. Kristof is seriously interested, I can put him in touch with Catholic families, doctors, and clergy, right here in the U.S., who find that life is both possible and good without contraception. It wouldn't be hard for someone to find it in Brazil as well, and I would gladly do some investigative work there if the Times would be so kind as to send me on a junket, er, assignment in São Paulo.

Mr. Kristof begins and ends by suggesting that the Church's refusal to accommodate contraception might lead to a "second Reformation." That's just plain silly: the first Reformation already suffices for anyone who finds the teaching to difficult or contrary to conscience (that he or she has a positive duty to use contraception?). He never mentions the Anglican confession, which since the 1930 Lambeth conference has given its approval to the use of contraception, and has made great strides toward the legitimization of homosexual relations among the laity and clergy. It would have been instructive for him to try to find and report on those crowded Anglican churches in Brazil from the same "believer-in-the-pew" perspective. Or Episcopalian churches in America. Or Anglican churches in England.
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