- Pope takes the classic Vatican approach to birth control and Zika, by John Allen Jr. 02/20/16:
Speaking about birth control in the context of the Zika pandemic, Francis cited his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Here’s what he said, translated from Italian:
Paul VI — the great! — in a difficult situation, in Africa, permitted sisters to use birth control for cases of violence. It’s necessary not to confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy, by itself, with abortion … avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in that I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.The reference is to Congo in the late 1950s and early 60s, where Catholic nuns faced widespread sexual violence and the question was whether birth control could be used to avoid pregnancy after rape.
Francis said Paul VI “permitted” birth control in that context, which, to Anglo-Saxon ears, implies a formal juridical act. The line sparked a frenzy of fruitless Internet searches, as people went looking for a Vatican edict or decree that just doesn’t exist.
Here’s what happened: In December 1961, the influential Italian journal Studi Cattolici (“Catholic Studies”) published an issue in which three Catholic moral theologians agreed that in the Congo case, contraception could be justified.
The future Paul VI, at that stage, was still the Archbishop of Milan, and close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici. It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.
Paul became pope in 1963, and never issued any edict writing that position into law. Thus, when pressed about it some years later, a Vatican spokesman could accurately say, “I am not aware of official documents from the Holy See in this regard.”
- Francis Says Contraception Can Be Used to Slow Zika, by Simon Romero and Jim Yardley. New York Times 02/18/16.
- The damage done—again—by the Pope's interview, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture. 02/18/16:
Tomorrow, no doubt, the Vatican press office will go into its now-familiar “clarification” mode. Loyal Catholic defenders of Pope Francis will argue that the Holy Father’s words were taken out of context. But this time, the problem cannot be attributed to sensationalistic reporting; the Pontiff definitely conveyed the impression that he was ready to discuss the morality of contraception in the context of the Zika epidemic. The Pope’s own words are—at best—confusing.
- Misunderstanding the (alleged) ‘Congo contraception’ case, by Edward Peters. In the Light of the Law 02/16/16:
A discussion could be had, I think, on whether non-marital sexual intercourse is subject to the same moral requirements as that to which marital intercourse is held. Humanae vitae does not, as far as I can see, address that question. But, as to whether a permission allegedly given to nuns to take contraceptive measures in the face of rape establishes a precedent for spouses wanting to contracept their sexual relations out of fear of possible birth defects, the conclusion seems inescapable: there is no parallel between the two cases, and so there is no precedent set.
- Contraception, Congo Nuns, Choosing the Lesser Evil, and Conflict of Commandments, by Janet Smith. Catholic World Report "The Church has never taught that if the harms are serious enough, it is permissible to use contraception."
- Stakes on a Plane, by Dale Price. Dyspeptic Mutterings 02/19/16:
HE'S ONLY SAYING CONTRACEPTION IS ACCEPTABLE IN SITUATIONS OF SERIOUS DANG....
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Did Pope Francis just endorse the use of contraception?
at 6:42 PM