Can Good Catholics Use Condoms?

Good Catholics use condoms.

That is, according to the group Catholics for Choice, who blithely takes a strong stand on abortion and contraception-namely, in favor of them.

They even have a web site devoted exclusively to the use of the condom, appropriately named  This site states its mission as an “unprecedented worldwide public education effort to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms.”  This mission is carried out by press releases (with headlines like “The Pope Is Wrong on Condoms”), radio ads (explaining away “myths” about condoms), and full-size posters, one of them complete with an amorous gay couple.  The image is underscored with the words: “We believe in God.  We believe that sex is sacred.  We believe in caring for each other.  We believe in using condoms.”

Not far away in the land of cyberspace is another website; this time, for the supposedly Catholic group “Catholics United.”  This group has officially endorsed the Senate health care bill, abortion and all, calling it a “necessary step” toward “reform that truly meets the needs of the uninsured.”  Catholics United also has its sub-creation: Catholics for Health Care Reform.  This “Catholic” group touts ads like this one, which resort to sloppy proportionalism in trying to justify state-sponsored abortion coverage (health care reform is “pro-life” because more money is going to pregnant mothers and children than to abortions.  Right).

Add groups like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and others who adamantly support health care reform, and one gets an unfortunate cross-section of a disturbing number of America’s supposedly Catholic groups.  Based on what groups like these teach, one would almost think that the Catholic Church’s official position on abortion and artificial birth control was the same as that of the American pro-choice lobby.

The last time I checked, the Catholic Church didn’t promote the use of contraception-not even a little bit.  In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says specifically that “legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means [of birth regulation] (for example, direct sterilization or contraception)” (CCC 2399).

The Church also says, quite clearly, that abortion is always evil.  “Since the first century,” says the Catechism, “the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC 2271)

If American groups wish to endorse abortion, contraception, or any other issue that the Catholic Church holds as morally wrong, they are free to do so.  It is a free country.  However, they need to recognize that by doing so, they are no longer truthfully representing Church teaching and need to distance themselves from the label of “Catholic.”

In other words, these “Catholic” groups are not really Catholic at all.  Rather, they are groups that have appropriated the Catholic name, with the moral authority and prestige attached to it, and subverted it to a distinctly un-Catholic agenda.  Even the funding sources for these groups betray their real background:  Catholics for Choice, for example, has reportedly received money from such organizations as the Playboy Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, in addition to receiving its first office space as a donation from Planned Parenthood.  Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has known financial ties with left-wing radical George Soros.  These are organizations and people whose opposition to Church teaching is well-documented and obvious.

And yet, as obvious as this basic conclusion seems, pointing it out to these groups is treated like nothing short of a hate crime.  For instance, Deal Hudson, head of the website, straightforwardly told Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good that they were “fake Catholic groups.”  In December Hudson wrote that “the same fake Catholic groups that helped President Barack Obama get elected, have rallied to the cause of the health-care bill, abortion funding and all . . . Catholic teaching explicitly rejects such self-justifying tactics (see Veritatis Splendor 75), and the U.S. bishops have been unwavering on this point.”

For pointing out the obvious, Hudson was summarily crucified in the press and by Catholics United.  Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, shot back that “abortion is legal in the United States, and there’s not much either Catholics United or Deal Hudson can do to change that.” He promptly went on to demolish his own Catholic credibility by insisting that his organization was neither “pro-abortion rights or anti-abortion rights,” but “pro-common ground.”

Bryan Cones of U.S. Catholic Magazine wrote indignantly that “you don’t have to limit yourself to what is finally the clumsiest of moral arguments and say that abortion alone is the make-or-break issue for Catholics when it comes to health care reform,” and that even though abortion was evil, “there is plenty of evidence that making abortion illegal actually does little to prevent it.”

None of these precarious arguments touch on the main point at stake here: which is that Catholic groups need to hold to the rigorous ethics regarding life that the Church has held so dear for so many centuries.  Moral equivocations aside, the Catholic Church’s teachings on these matters are quite direct.  Groups that call themselves Catholic should square up, or stop the masquerade.  It doesn’t do anyone any good.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • goral

    If it please the court I will answer Mr. Mason’s Title question.
    Yes, the use of condoms can result in a “good catholic” .1% of the time.
    I support my defense by statistics submitted by the now living and breathing
    “failures” of the vinyl-clad protector.
    Your honor, I rest my case.

    “In a one year study 2% of every 100 couples using condoms consistently experienced unwanted pregnancy. That was just 2 pregnancies from an estimated 8,300 acts of sexual intercourse. Condoms are an easy, cost effective, and safe way to prevent against pregnancy. Condoms are 99.9% safe when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies and are also a great way to protect against any STI’s you might pick up from a partner.”

    Trojan also advertises that they are launching a campaign; get this, “to engage
    the public directly”.
    Let’s leave the rest to Jay Leno.

  • elkabrikir

    There is there a difference between a “good” Catholic and a “holy” Catholic.

    When St Bernard and two of his brothers entered the monastery, leaving their immense estate to the youngest brother, the youngest brother exclaimed, “What, would you take heaven and leave me with earth?” He entered as well, thus forsaking temporal pleasures and goods for
    the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I’ll let the secularists take “good”. Sadly, they wouldn’t understand why sex is not just “good” or why it isn’t even “great”. Conjugal love is holy.

    Therefore, let them be good Catholics, I’ll strive to be a holy Catholic.


    Also, Planned Parenthood et al, would love for fornicators and “good” Catholics to believe that condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. The abortion industry relies on lies. Actual use rates produce a 14% pregnancy rate. And, don’t forget that HIV is significantly smaller than a male gamete.

    Thanks CE for discussing these issues publicly among Catholics. Many people who are striving to be holy, especially those who have just begun the journey of the interior life, truly don’t know the truth and beauty of marital love. They are thankful to be taught that condoms literally place a barrier between one’s soul and the Author of Life. Let he who has ears hear. Let he who may transmit the matter of life, openly embrace. provides support for Holy Catholics. May God have mercy on us all.

  • Robert

    I enjoyed your article, thank you. Answer is simply, good Catholics can’t use condoms. Look to Rome and the answer is there.

    There are many smorgasbord Catholics who proudly profess they are Catholic, yet they are not. I once heard Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR say at a visit to our parish (to paraphrase) that he didn’t understand why so many Catholic politicians and Catholic organizations were determined to call themselves Catholic, yet while fully knowing the teaching of the Church refuse to accept it. He said “There is the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out”.

    There are 3 issues that concern me:
    1. Catholics are not well informed, many parishes have poor catechesis.
    2. Priests/Bishops refuse to be courageous, forthright and uncompromising.
    3. Dissident Catholics, Catholic organizations and universities distort and scandalize the faith.

    A new day is coming…keep up the good fight!

  • Terri Kimmel

    “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC 2271)

    Someone in my extended family had a tubal pregnancy. The doctor gave her a single dose of chemotherapy to kill the baby. I heard a priest say in the recent past that the licit way to handle this situation is for the mother to have surgery and the tube section containing the baby is removed, therefore preserving the mother and not “directly killing” the baby.

    It seems to me that both are killing the baby as a means to an end, right? I guess what I’m asking is if anybody can explain the moral difference between the two procedures. I’ve never faced this situation, but it seems to me that the chemo is a better option since it doesn’t compromise the mother as much.

    This might be better in the forums…

  • goral

    If actual statistics give a 14% failure or pregnency rate than it’s a more desirable result for life than the .1% falsely advertised.

  • elkabrikir

    A lot of us have a reason to be thankful for the 14% success rate!