Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said that the meaning of human sexuality and relationships are “misunderstood and misused” because contraception has become the “unquestioned default mode of marriage.”
Writing in the Catholic Herald, the diocese’s new bimonthly magazine, Bishop Soto said that building a culture of life is “more than a political agenda.” The gospel of life has the power to “transform hearts and habits as well as laws.”
“One habit that has taken hold of many marriages is the use of artificial means of contraception,” Bishop Soto wrote. “The prevalence of the practice in and outside of the Catholic community has made contraception the unquestioned default mode of marriage. As a consequence, sexuality and relationships are misunderstood and misused; and their true purpose is misplaced.”
“The habit has shaped the hearts and minds of many, especially the young,” he continued. “Marriage is no longer understood as the covenant of love between a man and a woman that creates life, because procreation is no longer associated with sexual intercourse,” Bishop Soto continued.
He said that in this situation, many people cannot understand why a sexual relationship between any two people who care for each other cannot be called a marriage.
Bishop Soto explained that Catholic teaching against artificial contraceptives is rooted in a “reverential awe” for the marriage covenant, in which the family finds “life, grace and goodness” in the ordinary rituals of the home. “The sexual ritual should not be discounted or dismissed from this sacramental view,” he added.
He noted that the technique of Natural Family Planning, which connects married couples to the “natural bodily rhythms that create life,” is an important moral alternative to the “contraceptive culture” prevalent in society.
He encouraged married couples and young people eager to be married to embrace this alternative “as a gift, not a burden.”