" I affirm and believe the Church's teaching about the sinfulness of contraception." It asks the oath taker to assert that contraception is always intrinsically evil.
The oath goes on: " I accept the church's teaching that any extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include pre-marital relations, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations." A further paragraph insists that homosexual acts are " intrinsically disordered.".
Other sections of the oath affirm the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the virginity of Mary, a belief in hell and purgatory and that the oath taker acknowledges that church teachings "pronounced in a definitive manner, even though not as an infallible definition, are binding on the conscience of the faithful and are to be adhered to with religious assent." Note the ambiguity in the term, "binding on the conscience". Does this mean I must first take seriously the teaching and enter as best I can into it before my conscience may dictate a different path from it ? Does it allow ever any conscientious objection to fallible church teaching ? Theologians also dispute what the meaning of "adhering with religious assent' really entails. In a masterful book, A Church that Can and Cannot Change ( University of Notre Dame Press, 2005) John Noonan documents a series of changes ( even radical ones) on Catholic moral issues: the morality of slavery, usury, church discipline on divorce. Noonan, of course, earlier argued that he thought elements of the church's teaching on contraception as always and everywhere and in every form it takes intrinsically evil could change.