Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 

In the previous issue of Catholic Times, I wrote about a talk I attended recently on “How to Effectively Defend the Church’s Controversial Moral Teachings,” presented by Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, Ph.D., president of the Magis Center for Reason and Faith. I summarized some of his key points in which he used secular statistics that illustrate the negative consequences to emotional health, relational health, and spiritual health resulting from a homosexual lifestyle and transgenderism. Father Spitzer also provides statistics for the negative consequences of premarital sex and cohabitation, pornography, artificial birth control, and abortion, which I will summarize here. 

The popular notion is that premarital sex and cohabitation help prepare couples for marriage. However, the fact is that the greater the number of premarital partners a person has, the greater the likelihood of divorce (0 sexual partners = 5 percent divorce rate within five years; 2-9 sexual partners = 30 percent likelihood of divorce within five years). Also, the longer the time of cohabitation, the higher the divorce rate and the lower the level of marital satisfaction. Why is that?  

Cohabitating couples slide into marriage bringing the problems of cohabitation with them, such as significantly higher levels of stress, fighting, and substance abuse. Also, men and women cohabitate for opposite reasons: women cohabitate to promote marriage; men cohabitate to delay marriage, so when marriage seems to be expected, many men secretly resent it. The longer the time of cohabitation, there is less mutual respect and less concerted effort toward marriage. Cohabitation decreases religious commitment, which is one of the strongest bonding forces for long-satisfying marriages. 

Pornography is the fastest growing addiction in the U.S. (10 percent of the population compared to 5 percent each for alcohol and drugs). The negative effects of pornography include a significant increase in job loss, financial loss, divorce rate, and legal problems. Those who are habitual pornography users (five times per week) experience the following:  

  • Double the divorce rate because of the loss of emotional intimacy, respect of and for one’s spouse, and a lack of engagement with children. 
  • A steep decline in religious practice (prayer, Bible, church).  
  • Increased rates of depression as pornography use increases.  
  • Severely constrained emotional maturation of children and adolescents. 
  • More sexually aggressive and increased rapes, less respect for women, double the rate of teen pregnancy, inability to deepen emotional intimacy in adulthood, trajectory toward addiction, and risky sexual behaviors. 

With regard to artificial birth control, again that facts are contrary to popular opinion. Statistics show that Natural Family Planning (NFP) is just as effective as artificial birth control. NFP supports satisfaction and longevity of marriage: Those who resorted to abortion, sterilization, or artificial birth control had double the rate of divorce. 

There are also some false myths about overpopulation. The world population today is 7.8 billion people and will reach a peak of 9.7 billion in 2064. After that, a population decline will occur, resulting in a population implosion in all developed nations in 2076. This population implosion will have severe economic effects on developed nations, requiring much higher taxes of a smaller young population and huge influxes of immigration. The only solution is more children. Between today and 2064, the per capita resources for food, housing, energy and human services will increase (not decrease), because of technology and greater access to economic opportunity. 

In terms of abortion, the scientific case for the personhood of a single-celled human zygote can be made on the basis of biological evidence alone: 

A full, unique, specifically human genome is present at fertilization. The human zygote will produce every cell in a human body throughout its lifetime. Most embryological textbooks today identify the presence of a new unique human being at fertilization. 

A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry and a 2018 study conducted by Cambridge University with 750,000 women in their sample found that abortion produces an 81 percent higher risk of mental health problems in women:  

  • There is a 4.1 times or 311 percent increase in the likelihood of suicides in women who had an abortion compared with those who did not.  
  • There is a 2.5 times or 150 percent increased occurrence of suicidal behaviors in women having abortions than those who did not.  
  • There is a 2.1 times or 110 percent greater chance of alcohol abuse in women having an abortion than those who did not.  
  • There is a 1.4 times or 37 percent increase in the occurrence of depression in women having an abortion than those who did not. 
  • There is a 1.3 times or 34 percent increase in the occurrence of anxiety in women having an abortion than those who did not. 

These statistics demonstrate that the Church’s teachings on these moral issues are supported by sound scientific data.  

Those who want to read more about this and review the scientific research in greater detail should look for Father Spitzer’s new book, The Moral Wisdom of the Catholic Church: A Defense of Her Controversial Moral Teachings, scheduled for publication by Ignatius Press in mid-December of 2021. I pray that this research and the information provided by Father Spitzer will help people to a greater understanding and acceptance of the Church’s moral teachings for their own betterment and well-being. 


May God give us this grace.