Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23)
Often the Church is criticized for distinctions she makes in moral theology. For example, many eschew the difference the Church sees between taking contraceptives, which she condemns, to avoid conception when a couple cannot afford to have a child and, as she recommends, using natural family planning. A similar objection is made to the Church’s condoning the possibility of removing a cancerous uterus even when it contains a fetus to save a woman’s life and her forbidding the direct killing of the fetus for the same purpose. We, however, should understand these distinctions as the Church’s putting into practice Jesus’ admonition in the gospel today to be “shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves.”
As doves, the Church holds that her members must not directly do evil. Rather, we must endeavor to act righteously at all costs. Yet this does not mean that we cannot make shrewd determinations to navigate through an often murky moral world. Natural family planning requires sacrifice to forego sexual intercourse during the considerable time when the wife may conceive; but, more importantly morally, it does not frustrate nature by constructing barriers to conception. Similarly, removing a defective uterus to save the life of a pregnant woman may result in her baby’s death, but it does not directly destroy the nascent life as abortion ruthlessly does.