An analysis of why US President Barack Obama chose to challenge the power of the Catholic Church during this election year

Rob Schenck Peter West Gary G. Dull

The Rev. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council, Father Peter West, vice president for missions of Human Life International, and Gary G. Dull, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Altoona, Pennsylvania, pray as they protest against the US administration’s health care reform law in front of the US Supreme Court Building in Washington June 28. The nation’s high court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional but placed some limits on the federal government’s ability to terminate states’ Medicaid funding
(CNS photo)

In a series of maneuvers in recent months, President Obama has trampled on our conscience rights, threatened the existence of our healthcare and social service institutions, and slapped us in the face with his and his “Catholic” vice president’s craven support of homosexual marriage. And why has he done this?

Basically, because he feels he can get away with it.

Someone whispered in his ear that most “Catholic hospitals” are already doing what he is demanding: providing artificial birth control (abortifacients), performing sterilizations and (a few) even abortions, not to mention conducting organ transplantation procedures where vital organs are excised from living donors while their hearts are still beating. This is all done, at best, with clerical ignorance about what is really going on in these places or, at worst, with just a wink-and-a-nod attitude.

Why shouldn’t Mr. Obama want to force his agenda on our Church? Flaccid Catholicism is fertile ground for it.

The open question is how deeply this will be a wake-up call for Catholics in getting us back to basics.

Such an affront against the Church and the Vicar of Christ really began in July of 1968 when Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae was opposed, ignored and/or challenged by a high percentage of the Western leadership of the Catholic Church. After decades of this teaching being back-shelved, with very few exceptions, by the majority of our shepherds, faithful Catholics now almost welcome Obama’s arrogant bluster. Why? Because it has brought into the open what should have been publicly opposed by the clergy all these years. Whether we like it or not, we are all being forced to have conversations about what we believe and why we believe it.

What Birth Control Pills Are Doing to Women

Let me begin by saying that the Family of the Americas Foundation has worked with women in more than 100 countries of the world, and I can assure you that both the female body and feminine nature are the same on every continent! Women have been subjected to a ferocious chemical warfare everywhere in the world because of modern contraceptive imperialism such as we see advocated by the likes of our own secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who has actually bragged that she has dispensed more money for contraceptives than anyone else in history.

A banner against abortion by the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).

The chemical warfare statistics are tragic. To begin with, all birth control methods made from synthetic estrogens and/or progestins cause an estimated 150 chemical changes in the woman’s body. Additionally, experiments have shown that these hormones cause women’s breast cells to divide more rapidly.1 Cells that divide more rapidly are more prone to develop into cancer cells. Astoundingly, in 2005, the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a Group 1 carcinogen — the most dangerous classification known — in the exact same category as tobacco and steroids.2 But when have you ever heard this news in the mainstream media?

Also, a comprehensive meta-analysis published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in October 20063 found that 21 out of 23 retrospective studies done since 1980 showed that women who took oral contraceptives prior to the birth of their first child sustained a 44% average increased risk of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer. This risk rose to 52% for women who took the Pill for at least four years prior to the birth of their first child.

And did you know that breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States in women ages 20-59? In the U.S, about 211,000 women are diagnosed annually and over 40,000 die from this disease.4 About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life and one in four of such women will die from this disease.

A prayer vigil in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington which precedes the annual January 22 March for Life (CNS photo)

Using the birth control pill, especially at a young age, markedly increases a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer. This risk is even higher when combined with other breast cancer risk factors such as induced abortion, hormone treatment (such as estrogen supplementation), family history of breast cancer, and other factors. Research studies show that breast cancer risk is almost tripled for those women who used Depo-Provera for 2 years or more before age 25.5

Well-known side effects of the Pill include an increased frequency of blood clots, high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as migraines, depression, loss of libido and a variety of other disorders. Less well known is that oral contraceptives and injectable progestins (such as Depo-Provera) significantly increase the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV (the AIDS virus).6,7 In addition, medical studies strongly suggest that oral contraceptives work at times by causing early abortions.8

And if all this was not enough, artificial birth control carries with it a substantial negative impact on the intimate dimensions of the conjugal act between the spouses. Those who have not been given knowledge of the benefits of Natural Family Planning have considerably higher divorce, separation, and cohabitation rates. Marriages in violation of the Natural Law seem to be in a state of instability, due to the lack of chastity within their marriage, resulting in poor communication and cooperation and the denial of mutual responsibility in the area of responsible parenthood. Those couples seem to move from marriage to separation and divorce without ever experiencing permanence in their marital vocation.

In Contrast, Babies Actually Protect Women

Women should have been informed by the now degraded medical profession that the single most important person protecting a woman from breast cancer is her baby! There is a significant reduction of risk with each child a woman bears. Furthermore, every month of breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk, as does bearing a child at a younger age.9

If the faithful Catholics in the front lines had been supported by both the clergy and Catholic doctors in the teaching of Natural Family Planning, we could have conquered the world, preventing not only cancer and other diseases caused by artificial birth control methods, but also keeping the divorce rate down to nearly zero, as our own independent study confirmed.10 Couples are happier and consider themselves more successful in their family life, share a more profound intimacy and a deeper level of communication with their spouses, attend church more often, and preserve the family unit more responsibly when using NFP. It is predictable that those who respect and follow God’s Natural Law attain a closer relationship with God as they are totally dependent on His will. Drawing closer to our Creator, in turn, inspires us all the more to observe His Laws as we receive graces for our physical well-being, moral strength, and spirituality.11

History Is Our Greatest Teacher

Today, humanity is paying a heavy price for its half-century fling with birth control. Even the inventor of the birth control pill, Austrian Carl Djerassi, admitted in 2009 that birth control has been a “demographic catastrophe” which has brought “devastating ecological effects” and led to a huge population imbalance.12 The so-called “population bomb” never exploded but led instead to huge and unnecessary expenditures of public funds for the reduction of poor populations, but did not enrich them with human values or material goods. The invasion of condoms, pills, and devices into all societies has produced an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, not the least of which is HIV-AIDS, and a net decrease in public health in virtually every country in the world. Haven’t we learned from our own failed experiments? Isn’t it time to try the Church’s wisdom for a change?

US President Barack Obama speaks at a pro-abortion Planned Parenthood gathering

Blessed Pope John Paul II never tired of praising Natural Family Planning in every discourse to the masses. So did his greatest friend and supporter, Mother Teresa, whether it was in the slums of Calcutta or in great galas such as the Congress for the Family at the Palais des Congress in Paris. She even negotiated with the Indian government that couples who carried a little card saying that they practiced Natural Family Planning would be protected from being sterilized. Natural Family Planning is the only morally-acceptable alternative to artificial birth control that has proven to bring back couples to mutual responsibility.

On a related and positive note, in June we returned to The People’s Republic of China for the 14th time to give training to parents in NFP as well as training to young people for chastity to help them avoid promiscuous behavior. The Chinese, traditionally so family-oriented, are already experiencing what the West is lamenting: increased divorce, venereal diseases, and rampant promiscuity. Incredibly though, the Chinese government already offers the Ovulation Method of NFP as an option nationwide. This is something we have not been able to achieve as obligatory in every diocese of the United States!


The Leadership We Need

While we appreciate the recent legal actions taken against the HHS Mandate as a sign of proactive concern for the well-being of our institutions, it is clear that we need leadership for us, the rank-and-file, if we are to return to fidelity to the Truth. Our own house needs to be put in order, otherwise the likes of Mr. Obama and his minions will continue to kick our Church to the curb of irrelevance in the public square. If we could respectfully advise the bishops of the United States, we would recommend the following corrective measures to the dissent that the teachings of the Magisterium receive on a regular basis:

Bishops and Catholic healthcare administrators must immediately stop the procurement of artificial methods of birth control, sterilization, abortion and any involvement in the transplanting of unpaired vital organs, such as heart, liver, or pancreas from living donors whose hearts are still beating, in Catholic hospitals.

Bishops should address an open letter to the laity to be read at all Masses in their dioceses, reminding them that they cannot receive Communion if they are using artificial methods of birth control, abortifacients, have been sterilized or have had an induced abortion, without first receiving forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession.

Our bishops should direct parish priests to offer the Sacrament of Confession for at least one hour before every Holy Mass as well as a minimum of two hours on Saturdays. This will enable families to receive the Sacrament of Confession at more convenient times to save their souls.

Priests and clergy councils should develop serious policies based on the numerous published studies to deal coherently with the epidemic of cohabitation and pre-marital sex in those presenting themselves for Catholic marriage; they need to be aware of the catastrophic damage that is done to the concept of marriage by these behaviors as more than half end up divorcing; pre-Cana programs, which should include instruction in Natural Family Planning, should also seriously challenge the couples in areas of faith and family values as prerequisites to Church weddings.

Dioceses should take a serious attitude toward making Natural Family Planning available to all its parishioners, not only in Pre-Cana classes, but also to the whole diocese, with the goal of having a teacher in every parish of the United States.

And finally, pastors of souls should provide the faithful with adequate and orthodox information regarding many of the serious moral and bioethical issues that will confront their flocks literally on a daily basis: brain death and organ transplantation, living wills, embryonic stem cell research and in vitro fertilization, end-of-life issues, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, etc. The flock is being ravaged by wolves in professional garb and is unprepared to meet the demands of the sophisticated arguments that the culture presents to them.

If we are serious about confronting President Obama for violating our rights to “freedom of religion” we must make sure that we have our own house in order first; all Catholics and Catholic institutions must understand the damage that has been done to men and women in their physical, moral, and spiritual life by disobeying the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.


Fighting Modern Persecution

What are we, faithful Catholics, supposed to do to support our Church? First, let us be clear about the primary message and conflict. We hear that the present administration is violating our “freedom of religion” and it is becoming the main focus of our ire. As crucial as that issue is, I believe it should not obscure our most important message to the general public which should be that the Catholic Church has literally been the main defender of the human race because, by preserving her teaching with respect to the Natural, Moral and Divine Laws, she has remained immovable in the face of the powerful immoral forces of the day. We expect that of a Church founded by Christ.

Today, the Church is being forced into action on the political, social, moral, and spiritual fronts all at once. We are holding the line against sexual immorality of every type, including militant homosexuality, massive moral relativism, conscienceless capitalism, and science that arrogates to itself the power over life and death. All the clamor from the feminists is purposely distorting the truth as well, but in reality the teachings of the Catholic Church have defended and protected women since time immemorial. In the meantime, so many lives have been lost, so many souls have been condemned. The pharmaceutical industry and entities like International Planned Parenthood abound and they continue their massive attacks on the family’s physical, moral and spiritual health with the help of our own governments.

Thousands of Filipinos rally against a proposed national reproductive health bill in metro Manila March 25, 2011. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he is willing to risk excommunication from the Catholic Church rather than scrap the so-called Responsible Parenthood Bill (CNS photo)

Second, let us turn to the power of prayer to stop the present government from continuing to violate our rights and destroying our immortal souls. As Blessed John Paul II said to me as we were heading to one of the infamous UN congresses in Asia, “This is war, and it is going to get worse!” Then as he saw my face drooping, he quickly reassured me, “But we will win!” I was tempted to ask him, “Do you mean now, Holy Father, or eventually?” But I didn’t, we were going to battle regardless of the outcome.

Signs of Real Hope

Nevertheless, we Roman Catholics should be proud of our Church because in spite of all this gloom and doom, I think that there is good evidence that we really are winning the battle for minds and souls.

“Deep down,” as Mother Teresa used to say, “people will always recognize the truth. They may not always follow it, but they will recognize it,” and that seems to be happening as the Catholic Church continues to announce the Truth to the world in the face of so much confusion and evil of the modern age.

Many are coming back, attracted by the sincerity and protection that Church teachings offer; others are coming back because no other religion offers the Truth.

In short, it is time for us to replace the vain “audacity of hope” with a return to the Hope of the ages, Jesus Christ, and confidence in His Church which has been set firmly upon the Rock of Peter for all time. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)


1 Anderson T. Battersby S. et al. “Oral contraceptive use influences resting breast proliferation.” Hum. Pathol. 1989; 20:1139-1144.
2 World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC Monographs, July 29, 2005.
3 Kahlenborn C., Mondugno FM et al. “Oral contraceptive use as a risk factor for premenopausal breast cancer; a meta-analysis.”  Mayo Clin Proc. 2006:81 (10); 1290-1302.
4 Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2003-2004. American Cancer Society. (
5 Skegg DCG, Noonan EA, et al. “Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and breast cancer” [A pooled analysis of the World Health Organization and New Zealand studies].  JAMA.  1995: 799-804.
6 Ungchusak et al. “Determinants of HIV infection among female commercial sex workers in northern Thailand; results from a longitudinal study.”  J Ac. Immune Defic. Syn. Hum. Retro. 1996.  12: 500-597.
7 Mostad SB et al. “Hormonal contraception, vitamin A deficiency and other risk factors for shedding HIV-1 infected cells from the cervix and the vagina.” The Lancet 1997. 350: 922-927.
8 Larimore WL, Standofrd J. “Postfertilization effects of oral contraceptives and their relationship to informed consent.”  Arch. Fam. Med. 9:2000p; 126-133.
9 National Cancer Institute. “Study of tamoxifen and raloxifene (STAR) trail,” April 26, 2006. (
10 Mercedes Arzú Wilson, Love & Fertility (5th Edition), “Summary of the Study of the Practice of Natural Family Planning versus the use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual and Moral Issues,” pages 122-133.
11 Mercedes Arzú Wilson, Love & Fertility, 5th edition, pages 132-133.
12 Catholic News Service, “Pill inventor slams … pill,” January 8, 2009.


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