Margaret Nutting Ralph's book, Why the Catholic Church Must Change: A Necessary Conversation, was recently given top billing and an effusive endorsement by the Herald-Leader. My assessment is a bit less enraptured.
Let's start with what you won't find in her book. In the chapter on contraception, there is not a single scientific fact or reference. Consequently, there is nothing about oral contraceptives being Class 1 carcinogens according to the World Health Organization. Even the Susan G. Komen group now recognizes the pill-breast cancer link.
Also missing is the pill-enabled, 11-fold explosion in cohabitation, and the devastating sociological, psychological, economic and behavioral outfall. There is nothing about the hook-up culture or the reduced chance of successful marriage after co-habitation. There is no mention of the abortifacient action of the pill or the risk of blood clots.
In the chapter on abortion there is no mention of breast cancer. There is likewise no mention of post-abortion emotional consequences including a higher rate of depression, anxiety and a 300 percent increased risk of suicide.
What science that is present in this chapter is minimal and corrupted. Human life begins at conception, not implantation, as Ralph claims. Textbooks of human embryology have the science right. There is nothing about the butchery of late-term abortions or the black market in baby parts. Don't look for any mention of the Kermit Gossnell atrocities.
Nonetheless, and with no small measure of irony, Ralph concludes that the reason that she thinks that the Catholic Church has lost credibility is its "slowness to reimage truths in the light" of "new scientific knowledge." Not only is she a scientific "no-show," but also her other absences are instructive.
Have you ever seen Ralph praying before the local EMW abortion "clinic" or present at any pro-life or pro-marriage rally, or in Eucharistic adoration?
She, not surprisingly, endorses women's ordination and sodomite "marriage." She also thinks the church is too restrictive on annulments and divorce, etc., etc. I am still searching for one positive comment in her book about Blessed John Paul II or Benedict XVI, or their superlative writings. Do I agree with Ralph about anything? Yes, on two points.
Remarkably, Ralph says in her concluding chapter on Catholic Church teaching, "It is true that core teachings will never change..." The great Augustine himself said, "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty." But, how does one define the essentials? Ralph doesn't show her hand here.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has, however, written in Sacramentum Caritatis that the four "fundamental values" of the church that are "not-negotiable" are: "respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good." I find these to be nuclear catechesis with so much truth packed into so few words.
Thirty-five years ago, I was delivering babies and gleefully prescribing the pill. I now wish I had been wiser and less liberal. I am sure that the patience and prayers of holy patients changed me. Patients continue to educate me and medicine is a daily lesson in wisdom, of which I remain woefully deficient.
Recently a wise Protestant mother said to me, "We need to raise the people, not lower the bar." Exactly right.
America has been on a down-bound train for a half-century, and the people are not happier or healthier. A once good and godly country has become godless, soft, obese and broken. Evening network television is simply degenerate and perverted.
Ralph wants to lower the bar even further. That's not the right medicine for this ailing nation. What is really needed is a rebirth of heroic virtue in this (hopefully still) one nation under God. We need to open our Bibles, quit compromising ourselves and our morals, proclaim a fast, pray for this nation and its leaders.
Yes, I do agree with Ralph about one more thing. She ends her book, "Come Holy Spirit, Come." Amen.
At issue: April 6 Herald-Leader article, "Catholic concepts in a secular world; Theologian's new book studies how church could change"