You know the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion. They oppose it wholeheartedly. They fight against any policy moves that would put women’s best interests ahead of their fetuses. Catholic hospitals famously won’t perform the procedure even in dire circumstances (like ectopic pregnancies).
And yet 56% of all U.S. Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
And yet nearly 73% of practicing Catholics say they support same-sex marriage.
At this point, none of that should surprise anyone. You may be shocked, however, to learn just how many Catholics don’t give a damn what the Church teaches about contraception. According to new data from the National Survey on Family Growth (which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), 92% of Catholics have used a condom during sex, 68% of Catholics have used a birth control pill, 62% of Catholics have used the “pull-out” method, and 23% of Catholics have used Plan B.
The Church forbids all of that. (Back in the day, Mother Teresa was rightly condemned for telling women not to use condoms even when they could have protected them from contracting HIV.)
Writing for Religion News Service, sociologist Ryan P. Burge notes how easily Catholics disregard what the Church teaches when it comes to sex.
For instance, 92% of Catholics indicated that they had used condoms as a form of birth control — nearly the same rate as the other Christian traditions, as well as the religiously unaffiliated, who reported condom usage at a rate of 95% and higher. Catholics were only slightly less likely to say that they used the birth control pill (68%) compared with evangelicals (74%) and mainline Protestants (81%).
While more frequent churchgoers are a little more likely to fall in line with Catholic policies regarding contraception, it’s not by that much. The only real shifts among Catholics occur with birth control pills, where the use drops from 78% among occasional churchgoers to 55% among weekly Mass attendees.
The overall trend, however, is clear: The Vatican doesn’t even control the sex lives of Catholics.
Taken together, it’s clear from this data that there is a tremendous disconnect between the Vatican’s teaching on contraception and the behavior of the more than 60 million Catholics in the United States. One may indeed wonder if that tension is driving some Catholics away from the pews or the faith entirely…
We don’t know if these policies specifically are driving people away from the Church, but it sure doesn’t keep them in the pews. If people are willing to leave Catholicism over the anti-LGBTQ bigotry—and plenty have—it stands to reason that many of those who still remained may leave for the religion’s anti-contraception policies. Especially in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the obvious harm being perpetuated by the Catholic Church can’t be dismissed.
And while plenty of people remain in religious institutions even when they disagree with certain beliefs, it’s telling that the Catholic Church doesn’t seem to care about this issue at all. They’ll kick teachers in same-sex marriages out of their schools, but it’s not like they’re investigating which staffers use condoms. You have to wonder how many people in the Vatican hierarchy are fully aware that most practicing Catholics in the U.S. simply ignore their contraception rules… but also realize that taking action on it (by kicking condom users out of the Church) would backfire on them spectacularly. They’ve obviously decided this isn’t worth the fight.
At the same time, those Catholic hypocrites who claim to be devout but use methods of non-rhythm birth control should explain why those particular rules are optional when the Church’s positions on abortion or transgender rights are supposedly sacrosanct.