Before joining the Marines in 1960, I was in the midst of a boiling controversy at the University of California in Berkeley. There was widespread frustration there and elsewhere with intransigence of a backward Catholic Church that refused to approve the marvelous and newly introduced birth control pill.
The harmless — or so we thought — manipulation of hormones with a pill to space one’s family seemed like such a good idea. The pill could help with the looming catastrophes of overpopulation and poverty. Superficially it looked like the Church cared only about a principle — not about family size or the poor. All she could offer was abstinence, the rhythm method, or more children — none of which appealed to lay people.
Understanding the Church’s reasoning was hard, as I tried to answer my hostile classmates. One of the priests at the Newman Center had to explain it to me several times. Even if the new contraception was truly evil, at least it should end abortions, right? That benefit surely would have pleased everyone.