Mori, Kazuhiro
(Auxiliary Bishop, Tokyo)

Chuo Shuppansha Publishers, 1991


After seeing this survey, what do you think?

Are you asking about my ideas as an individual theologian? I believe that this is correct! But before we touch on moral problems like contraception and abortion, let's think about some of the words that were spoken here, like... " feeling guilty about that...it can't be helped." Just what kind of understanding of the teaching of the Church does this reveal? There are many people who believe that all of the declarations of the Church (the Pope, bishops, priests) are infallible. They must know, however, that all are not infallible. There are changeable teachings too. Moreover, the basic thrust of the Gospel is joy, and for that reason, " it can't be helped" is not in accordance with the Gospel.

In reference to the problem of how to conduct marital life (while having consideration for each other), whether doing contraception, or whether doing an abortion, that is not the first problem. Before that there is a much more basic problem.

It appears that there are people who think that contraception is a sin but..........

Contraception by itself is not a sin. I was once asked, " Is contraception a sin?" I responded: " What kind of contraception?" The answer was that her method was use of a device. Briefly, she seemed to be thinking that using a device is sinful because it is artificial, it is not natural. Whereas if natural then it is not sinful. But that is not all there is to it. Even if it is called a natural method, it can be sinful, depending upon the circumstances. Suppose a husband does not respect his wife properly, and demands that she do what he wants. In that case the husband does what is natural, but he totally disregards the feelings of the wife. But when he treats his wife with respect, when to avoid an abortion they mutually respect each other, then consciensciously using a contraceptive is not a sin.

I believe that we must think about sin and forgiveness in a fundamental manner.

When Pope Paul VIth wrote Humanae Vitae, many of the bishops of the whole world recognized the basic directive, but they added a " nevertheless" attachment to it, an explanation with a wider interpretation. The public declaration of the Church beyond doubt teaches that using a device is forbidden, but theologians hold doubts about that. The important thing in this matter is that they have mutual respect for each other. It is not possible to decide whether it is right or whether it is wrong just by asking whether it is artificial, and only because it is artificial. In this survey, it may be possible that using a device is really wrong. But when abortion came into the picture, it would have been better to pay attention to that issue before hand, I believe. In the survey some one said, " rather than bury a precious life into the dark, rather than to bring about this sad situation, I think it is better to use a device." I agree with that. Moreover, in regard to the question of abortion, there is a difference in the problem with regard to a time limit.

Moreover, they used the one word device, but also with regard to the ring (IUD) there are two concerns. One is the medical concern, the other is a psychological concern, and there is no moral problem. The ring is not an abortifacient but a contraceptive.

In the survey someone said: " I believe that the husband's way of thinking is common sense, namely if one can avoid an extremely grave sorrow (abortion), by using a device, then I believe that there is no sense of sin in it at all." To that reply I say, as a theologian, that is exactly the way it is.

As for natural methods, besides the Ogino method there are various other methods too, but to absolutize them is not correct. Certainly the natural method is valued, but that is not the only method which the Church approves. I am not at all making light of what the Church is saying, but my intention in reference to what the Church teaches is to receive it and act on it only in an adult manner. I am absolutely not opposing it. I put both the artificial method and the natural method into one category. And sometimes, depending upon circumstances, they are natural.

Artificial devices, birth control chemicals, also rings, are natural depending upon the way they are used, I believe. In other words, I believe that when marriage partners consult with each other and come to an understanding with mind and body about what is good for each other, then whether they choose a device, or a birth control chemical, or a ring, that is natural, and that way is good.

(Jochi University, Professor in the Theological Faculty, priest of the Society of Jesus.)


Yoshiyama, Noboru

It appears that the number of Christians is large who, like you, are uncertain about what the proper way to decide should be in view of the actual situation, and so they have given up resignedly.

In addition, the number of those is also large, who do not follow the Church's teaching only in regard to the problem of contraception; who nevertheless are sincerely trying to keep up the faith, and to deepen their love.

However, I believe that the gift of God is without measure. For example, even if now immediately they cannot follow the teaching of the Church, I believe that God may be giving them the grace to they keep on making some kind of effort while the present conditions continue.

If someone thinks that right at present, there is no other way than to rely on an artificial method of contraception, if she keeps thinking that this not right, if she feels uneasy about that, that by itself may already be the grace of God.

Among those who are using an artificial method of contraception at present, as well as among those who, fortunately, can use a natural method, if the act of intercourse is not a genuine act of love between the partners, this does not respond to the Christian vocation of marriage.

The ultimate reason why the Church promotes the natural method of birth control, is not simply that people do what is physically natural. The purpose is rather that, through this way the couple expresses in a genuine manner, in a human manner, a love for each other through mind and body.

To understand this fully, please read well the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, (Family Life and Love) of Pope John Paul II.

There it is written that, even when people decide that it is absolutely necessary to use an artificial contraceptive, and they do so, without following the teaching of the Church, they ought to make efforts to reflect whether by doing intercourse in this manner a couple is giving genuine witness conjugal love.

I suppose it is possible tobelieve that an artificial method is reasonable, that it is ideal, that it is natural for man who is a reasoning animal. But let's think about that. The husband is thinking about the wife's body into into which a contraceptive has been inserted. What he is bent upon is gratification of his own sexual drive. The wife is not thinking of the husband's body as a biological entity to whom she is united. Is she thinking about anything else than sexual gratification?

When a couple decides that it is necessary to use an artificial contraceptive, they do not think so much about each other's body. They can hardly prevent themselves from thinking first of all to satisfy each other's sexual appetite by one means or another. So how can they deepen their love for each other?

There is the husband who follows the idea that he must send his children through the university. But he ought to reflect that it is also possible for the children to live their lives in a manner other than the present society with its academic demands. Should he not rather reflect that a child can be born into a world which is far wider in scope than an academic minded society. Should he not look to having children who are born into a much wider society, whom he ought to educate in freedom?

In order to make true love a reality in present day society couples must undergo various hardships. However, the love of God gives us the grace to live in those circumstances in which we have to exist. We must not forget that both sex and love are gifts of God.

It is not likely that the conditions making it necessary to use artificial contraceptives will change suddenly. However, because it is possible to not forget the ideal, it is important that we be very patient. For this reason, for example, even though one assumes that it is not possible in one's own case, would it not be of some use to study the natural method which the Church promotes?

(Redemptorist priest, moral theologian.)


We held this consultation of family planning, so what should we think about it?

I think that you might never before have had the chance to speak with each openly about this problem in the Church.

I also think that the frank expression of feelings by these fifty women reveals the reality of the present situation.

In response to this, Father Masia, who stated repeatedly that this is his private interpretation, gave his view from the standpoint of one moral theologian of the present day Church.

Father Yoshiyama, while recognizing the difference between the ideal and the actual situation, stressed that Christians should not lose their proper stance as believers.

As editor, I find it very important to insert here what is in the background, the teaching of the present day Church in regard to this problem.

When couples by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as " arbiters" of the divine plan and they " manipulate" and degrade human sexuality - and with it themselves and their married partner - by altering its value of " total" self-giving. Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving onself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.

When, instead, by means of recourse to periods of infertility the couple respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of human sexuality, they are acting as " ministers" of God's plan and they " benefit from" their sexuality according to the original dynamism of " total" self-giving, without manipulation or alteration (Quotation of John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, page 68 of the Japanese translation translation published in 1987 by National Catholic Secretariate).

Among the statements made by the women, one can interpret it to indicate that the actual circumstances of life can cast a dense shadow which can sway people; to put it in other words, one can understand it to mean that it brings into the light the nature of the value concept that this or that person holds to be important to live by.

And in another manner, if one makes the public teaching of the present day Church to be the basic foundation of the value system fixed by God for His relationship with man, then it is against this background that one selects a method of family planning. What is being asked here is what one sees and regards as having priority in one's value system. (Editor). ***