It’s not an urban legend, it’s a LIE: Paul VI did NOT give permission to nuns to use contraceptives.

paul vi tiara bwThe other day Pope Francis, in the infamous post-Mexico airplane presser, said:

Paolo VI – il grande! – in una situazione difficile, in Africa, ha permesso alle suore di usare gli anticoncezionali per i casi di violenza. … Paul VI – the great one! – in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted sisters to use contraceptives for cases of violenze.

I’ve heard this before. I never believed it.

Years ago on the COL Forum (which I ran) we had a discussion about this.  One of the staffers tried to dig up the old files.  In the meantime he – The Great Roman™ – sent this information.  It was not originally written in English, so I touched it up here and there… but not very much.

This reads like a soap opera, the one hand.  It reads like a vicious campaign of lies and disinformation designed to confuse the faithful and undermine the Church, on the other.

The urban legend (lie) is now so common that even high-ranking churchmen cite it as if it happened.   They aren’t lying, per se.  They are passing on something that isn’t true but that they think is true… even if it really doesn’t pass the smell test.

This whopper doesn’t pass the smell test.  Paul VI told nuns they could use contraceptives… riiiiight.

You decide.

My emphases and comments.

So far, I was unable to retrieve the COL Forum thread on this urban legend about Bl. Paul VI and contraception for nuns in Africa, but I had some notes stored and then idiocies about our Holy Faith have the ability to switch on my memory neurons to combat mode like yelling Saracens would do to a Templar knight who had been fasting and praying for a good fight the whole Quattuor Tempora of Lent.

You can search any archive, google any keyword, ask any historian or moralist, all you will be served with is old articles of pro-contraception authors repeating this story either with no supporting references or with no other evidence than references to older articles saying that “Rome” had OK’d contraception for endangered nuns in Africa at some point.

Notice, the more you go back in time, the more “Paul VI” becomes, more vaguely, “Rome”. Dig deep enough and you will find that “Rome” turns out to be just an article published, you guessed it, in Rome, precisely by the magazine Studi Cattolici, n° 27, in the year of our Salvation 1961. Title: “Una donna domanda: come negarsi alla violenza? Morale esemplificata. Un dibattito” (A woman asks, how to subtract oneself from violence? Exemplified morals. A debate).

Yes, I can hear you yelling at the monitor. Paul VI ascended to the Throne of Peter only in 1963.

And now I want somebody to tell me, with a straight face, that St. John XXIII allowed contraception.  Above all, I want them to show me where and when he did it.

Back to the article. The authors were 1) Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, later a bishop and a Cardinal but back then a respected moral theologian and the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Council, 2) Professor Francis Xavier Hurth, S.J., of the Pontifical Gregorian University, and 3) Msgr. Ferdinando Lambruschini of the Pontifical Lateran University (later Archbishop of Perugia).

Long and verbose story short, in that article Palazzini and Lambruschini explore a possible application of the “principle of the double effect” to the case of rape, where a legitimate end is pursued and the probable evil consequence is unintended.  [NB: Double-effect!]

Fr. Hurth attempts an elaboration of Aquinas’ concept of genus moris and genus naturae where the moral status of an act can be different depending on its spiritual and physical characteristics. In fairness, I’ll note that, back then, chemical contraception was relatively new a subject. Tonsured moralists were unlikely to be all that familiar with the science and the physiology involved and it will take 1968 to hear an authoritative pronouncement on this specific subject, the reviled Humanae Vitae. And it came from that same Paul VI who is said to have allowed contraception, if only by way of exception.

That’s all.

No, really, there is nothing else.

The opinion of three moralists on a magazine, attempting to offer, I repeat, an opinion on a complex matter, gets quoted loosely and ad nauseam by other moralists and journalists and becomes “Rome” and later “Paul VI”.

They will tell you that that article legitimized the concept of “lesser evil”. Leaving aside the fact that we can never choose evil, no matter the scale of it, the fact is that in 1957 Palazzini had co-edited a widely used manual where the following is said (I quote a 1962 English edition of this manual):

“To choose the lesser of two evils is permissible [NB] if the lesser evil is not in itself a moral evil (sin), but a purely physical evil or the omission of something good or indifferent, from which in a specific case an accidental bad effect will follow, less serious, however, than that which another course would provoke” (Ludovico Bender OP, in Dictionary of Moral Theology, Ed. Roberti, Francesco, Palazzini Pietro. Transl. by H. Yannone. Westminster, MD: Newman, 1962).

Now, I am no moral theologian but contraception is in fact a moral evil in itself (see Humanae Vitae 16) and not a “purely physical evil”, much less “something good or indifferent”. Case closed.

Not many outside Italy know, however, that Cardinal Palazzini, was asked about this matter years later, and precisely in the ‘90s when another such myth was concocted, seen that the Paul VI-Congo nuns version was losing credibility.  I am talking about the John Paul II-Bosnia nuns myth.

Those of us old enough will remember, during the Balkan wars articles begun to be published about “the Pope” or “Rome” authorizing nuns in Bosnia to take the pill in war zones. Palazzini is quoted in an article on that paper sewer some call La Repubblica which seems to have taken the place once occupied by the Osservatore Romano lately (OTOH, natura abhorret vacuum). The article was published on March 5, 1993. Link HERE.

Translated title: “The pill? Forbidden also for missionary nuns at risk of rape”.

Palazzini explains that all they were trying to do was to explore the possibility of actions aimed at preventing a pregnancy after a rape and before conception, supposing that possibility existed, in ways that have nothing to do with taking the pill for weeks for fear of a potential rape. So “Rome” (read: the author of an old article) denies having ever said that contraceptives are OK in certain circumstances.

[QUAERITUR] But what was this new article about and why were they interviewing Palazzini after 30 years?

Bear with me.

There had been stories of women raped in Bosnia (nihil sub sole novi).  Fr. Bergamaschi, a Franciscan friar, had accused St. John Paul II of hypocrisy because the Great Pole had reaffirmed the constant teaching of the Church on contraception to the point of exhorting raped women to keep their babies but, according to Bergamaschi, had also authorized nuns to take the pill.  So journalists began to ask questions. [Agere sequitur esse.]

With the typically half-horrified and half-snarky tone, the reporterette of La Repubblica has to write that the Vatican is in fact unwavering in its position on contraceptives, even in the case of rape. The inhumanity! She quotes the then vice-director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Piero Pennacchini. His words:

“The Holy See never issued texts authorizing women religious to make use of contraceptives, even if they run the risk of being raped”. “I know of no official document by the Holy See on this”.

Disappointed, the journalist evokes Fr. Efrem Tresoldi, a missionary who says that he doesn’t know the extent of the phenomenon. “Surely” there is “talk” of contraceptives among missionaries. “Certainly” some nuns have been told to make use of contraceptives, says Tresoldi.  So, there are disloyal confessors or superiors of religious orders who tell nuns to act contrary to the doctrine of the Church.

OK Father, and what else is new?  [Not much.]

Above all, since when disloyal members of religious orders are “the Pope”, or “Rome”? [When it fits.]

Unsatisfied, the reporterette turns to a missionary nun (she couldn’t find one from Bosnia so she asks one who had been in Africa for 12 years. Says the missionary nun: “Personally I have never heard of contraceptive pills”, “but there has been certainly the risk of (sexual) violence for many of us who lived though the great African upheavals. I don’t know if other sisters have been advised to take precautions”.

Back to Tresoldi, we are told that, of course, there is no official pronouncement, but that’s because John Paul II and his merciless minions are hypocrites who tell nuns to take the pill in secret even while they tell lay women to accept their fate and keep the baby.

That’s when the Repubblica hack turns to Card. Palazzini hoping to save the day with the lies of 30 years ago.

[The soap continues… after this commercial break…]

Are you tire of journalists lying to you through inuendo and omission, exageration and obfuscation?  Are you sick of timid prelates who wheeze and wring their hands and try to be liked by all, to the damage of clear doctrine?   Then you need a piping Fr. Z Swag Mug of


Mystic Monk coffee, and teas, are produced by faithful Carmelites in the clear, unpolluted air of Wyoming.  They keep the beans and teabags away from lying journalists and feckless prelates lest they be sullied by their … lies and cowardice.

Mystic Monk Coffee is not craven and that’s no lie!

No no.  Enough with the prevarications!  Enough with the pusillanimity!

Get your Mystic Monk Coffee and Tea RIGHT NOW!

It’s swell!

[And now back to our regularly scheduled program.]

A few months after this article and others of the same kind, in July 1993 the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica (surprise!) [NOT] published what to this day remains the “doctrinal” foundation to the John Paul II- Bosnia nuns version of the myth: G. Perico, Stupro, Aborto e Anticoncezionali, volume III, Quaderno 3433, 3 luglio 1993.

Search all you want, this stream of the myth always goes back to this article.  [It sounds almost like the way all myths about Pius XII and the Jews go back to one source, a play in 1963, and that source was cobbled up by the KGB in a campaign of disinformation.]

No need to summarize it. Go read it if you want. I did.

He harkens back to the 1961 article and moves from there. [Surprise.] As happened with the Palazzini, Hurth and Lambruschini article, and even more given the firepower of the media of 30 years later, Perico’s piece sparkled lively discussions among moral theologians on the subject of contraception. Fine. But that’s not the point. That point is that they have nothing, not one thing they can come up with to support the notion that Paul VI or John Paul II ever allowed contraception, when the facts, the known and easily accessible, official, constant and binding pronouncements of the Church show the exact contrary.

Discussions are NOT the teaching of the Church.

Off-the cuff-remarks are NOT the teaching of the Church.

This is why on my bended knees I beg you all, Fathers, check your facts and, in John Wayne’s immortal words:

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much”.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Biased Media Coverage, Emanations from Penumbras, HONORED GUESTS, Liberals, The Drill and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to It’s not an urban legend, it’s a LIE: Paul VI did NOT give permission to nuns to use contraceptives.

  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Contraception, Congo Nuns, Choosing the Lesser Evil, and Conflict of Commandments, by Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., for The Catholic World Report.

  2. tz2026 says:

    Wachet Auf-ul cups of coffee?

    I was at a diaconate discernment meeting earlier today.
    AFAIK there is no room for the Permanent Diaconate in the 1962 anti-ballistic missals.

    But one thing I note is that is I find myself having to clean up after thoughtless Catholics who push heresy, sophistry, or just trash, and leave it on the internet and I have to expend effort to attempt to clean it up.

    I can forgive an ignorant rube quoting an urban legend. Has the Pope no advisers or no sense?

    I have enough trouble with some rabid SSPXer Fennyite in trying to defuse the fides bomb.

    Having to compose a subtle, detailed, and perhaps futile apologetic against the plain words the Pope himself uttered without qualification or verification is beyond my ability.

  3. sorengard says:

    At what point do you just start tuning out?

    [Anyone can start at any time!]

  4. Ivan says:

    Father, thank you very much for this!

  5. Pingback: Further to lying Jebbies… – What's Up With Francis-Church?

  6. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    This article (in German) also debunks the myth. It mentions the contraception story in the Congo, but says quite explicitly that it was done without the authorization of anyone in Rome. This article is from 2013, well before the current controversy.

    A Google translation of the relevant portion:

    Rome ( were as in the Congolese civil war in the early 1960s many nuns raped by rebels, the church allowed the preventive intake of contraceptives. There were a legitimate form of self-defense against criminal violence, the grounds. This permission for the “Congo-pill” was considered a precedent later in the Bosnian war, where rape has been used in particular by Catholic nuns as targeted means of warfare.

    The ecclesiastical placet certainly did not take place in the form of an official Vatican approval – through a formal permission of faith authority – but rather indirectly.

  7. Gratias says:

    It seems our Jesuit Pope Francis told a fib about Contraception for nuns and Pope Paul VI. [You may have just committed the sin of rash judgment, and about the person of the Roman Pontiff. That, in itself, is a scandal, because you help others to do the same. Also, it could be the sin of sacrilege, because the Roman Pontiff is a sacred person.] At the same time Pope Francis has sown confusion again because in Brazil, Venezuela, and Central America this license will be interpreted to mean that abortions are now cool with the New Liberation Church.

    What would I have answered had I been the Pope you might ask? In one word: DDT.

    [Yes, the Pope has indeed caused confusion. But you can’t just say that he “lied” (= “told a fib”), particularly in the situation wherein this false “urban legend” has take just firm root. Should Pope Francis have doubted the story about Paul VI to the point that he wouldn’t have cited it? Sure. But you can’t impute to him that he “lied”.]

  8. cwillia1 says:

    I have no interest in urban legends or lies and I am no moral theologian. It does seem to me that the sin of contraception lies in frustrating the natural consequences of a conjugal act. Is rape a conjugal act? Does a nun who fears being raped have an intention to engage in sexual intercourse? Would a raped nun sin by trying to prevent pregnancy after being raped, provided there was no risk to an embryo?

    It seems to me that Pope Paul in confining his discussion to married couples and conjugal acts is assuming two things, that these acts are moral acts and that there is consent to do them.

  9. Dspauldi says:

    “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much” is advice I should follow.

    Thanks, Father.

  10. Prayerful says:

    Thank you Father for stating this clearly. Related in part the distortion of what Pope said or didn’t say, is how people give too much standing to chance remarks to journalists. The priest in today’s Sermon noted tomorrow was the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in Antioch, and spoke a bit on St Peter and the Pope. Off-the-cuff remarks to journalists are as far from a definitive ex Cathedra pronouncement as possible. They have no standing. Journalistic laziness often drives this, but there are those (prompted by Satan) who create misunderstanding and confusion as a way of pushing the Faithful and the Church in dark directions.

  11. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Translated title: “The pill? Forbidden also for missionary nuns at risk of rape”.

    Palazzini explains that all they were trying to do was to explore the possibility of actions aimed at preventing a pregnancy after a rape and before conception, supposing that possibility existed, in ways that have nothing to do with taking the pill for weeks for fear of a potential rape. So “Rome” (read: the author of an old article) denies having ever said that contraceptives are OK in certain circumstances.

    “preventing a pregnancy after a rape and before conception” – The actual time interval between male ejaculation and conception can be as little as 30 minutes. Given that particular Palazzinni comment originated in the vicinity of 1993 , they weren’t, for the most part, talking about contraceptives – they would necessarily be referring primarily to abortifacients. . . “contraceptives” sounds more innocuous though – doesn’t it ?

    “With the typically half-horrified and half-snarky tone, the reporterette of La Repubblica has to write. . . “

    I wonder if the general public is even aware of how coercive and manipulative MM reporting has become? Impartial reporting is an endangered species in MM. Journalistic flair has become journalistic flare . . . and it all exists in the journalist’s nostrils.

    In 2010 Cardinal Marc Ouellet confirmed the Church’s teaching that abortion is not permissible – even in cases of rape which, no doubt drew the ire of political leaders , feminists, planned parenthood, and the like, and drew a reaction of unanimous support for abortion from Quebec’s National Assembly (representative of all elected parties). But what arguably might be considered the most venemous reaction of all did not come through a journalist – but from the Montreal La Presse columnist Patrick Lagace himself, who wrote:

    “We’re all going to die. Cardinal Ouellet will die someday. I hope he dies from a long and painful illness”

    Against anyone who is not Catholic , that comment would never be allowed to stand.

  12. Papabile says:

    Ironically, while Humanae Vitae 16 is cited, it has a footnote 20 attached. That footnote points to Plus XII’s 1953 Allocution to Midwives.

    In that Allocution, Plus XII I makes clear that there are only for legitimate reasons for the use of natural methods to avoid pregnancy. Those reasons are: medical, psychological, eugenic, and social indications. in these instances artificial contraception is also specifically excluded.

    I find it ironic that our Holy Father suggested and artificial contraception maybe the lesser evil in the case of Zika. of course, using it in the case of Zika , would be using it for eugenic reasons.

    I know the Holy Father is a bright man. I also believe he may not have studied this incredibly closely over the years, but just internalized what he thought was church teaching. I also know that magisterial teaching is not made on an airplane. But the damage seems to be done.

  13. Pingback: Clarification on Pope Francis’s comment on contraception – Jason Bermender

  14. marilenafromexsultet says:

    This false story of JPII allowing contraceptives to raped Bosnian nuns reminds me of this story: Bosnian nun writing a letter to her Mother Superior in 1993/4, accepting God’s will when she found out she was pregnant after a Serbian soldier raped her. The story is still being published as a true story although it was completely invented. See here:

  15. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Thank you, Father.

    I’ll be recommending people in my circle of friends (and family) visit this site for an explanation of the whole “Paul VI allowed” stuff.

    God bless,


  16. sperisho says:

    Well, speaking of the Bosnian situation, the lies get told on both sides:

  17. Joseph-Mary says:

    I did not believe that about nuns taking contraceptives because they ‘might’ get raped. Golly, then all the women in Europe (ie Cologne) could lawfully be on contraceptives…which have abortive properties by the way. AND the ‘lesser of two evils’ is still evil! Still a sin and still an offense against God. The statements that make it to the media are a disaster. Now not only will many believe a former pope gave permission for contraceptives, they will think the present one is as well.

  18. Andrew says:

    I have also noticed that the English translation of the Pope’s airplane interview added some words which the Italian original didn’t have, namely: “in certain cases, AS IN THIS ONE or in the one …”

    The Italian says: “in certain cases as in the one mentioned of Blessed Paul VI …”

    The “AS IN THIS ONE” (i.e. as in this Zika case) is added by the English translator.

    Here is the comparison of Italian to English:

    Italian: Invece, evitare la gravidanza non è un male assoluto, e in certi casi, come in quello che ho menzionato del Beato Paolo VI, era chiaro.

    English: On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, AS IN THIS ONE, OR IN the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.

  19. Benedict Joseph says:

    God reward you, Father Zuhlsdorf. God reward you for shinning the light on this decades long adventure in mendacity.
    A call to order of the clergy class and the wannabes who travel with them is long overdue.
    Individuals offer unsubstantiated tales and theories – and I am not citing any one – a legion of priests, “theologians,” and their pilot fish disperse self-serving lore and notion with a wink, a nod, a smirk and titanic hubris, vesting themselves in the light and glitter of the “gotcha” moment – but never receive fraternal correction. This mournful circumstance has its genesis in the practical abandonment of authentic conformity to the Magisterium, replaced with a preferable academic posture accompanying “Guess what knot I untied!”
    The next synod should be Chapter of Faults focused on our infidelity to dogma and doctrine.

  20. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    And here is John Allen’s attempt to explain it:

    Essentially he argues that after his election as Pope, Paul VI’s silence on the issue was tacit approval. It seems to me a bit of a stretch.

    [D’ya think?]

  21. Interesting analysis. I hope this all leads to an official statement clearing this up. The Press Conference, being a press conference, of course means that even if Pope Francis thought it happened, there is no teaching or doctrine here and no problem in admitting he was mistaken.

  22. jhayes says:

    Here’s John Allen’s analysis:

    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.”

    Still, the Vatican never repudiated the 1961 position, so the takeaway was that it remained a legitimate option. To Italians — and remember, Francis’ ancestry is Italian, and he’s very wired into the country’s ecclesiastical scene — that meant Paul VI approved….

    Often, the Vatican prefers to leave such delicate questions open, not issuing sweeping declarations that could be wrongly viewed as a sea change in Church teaching, but also not denying flexibility to pastors who have to help people make hard choices.


  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If “Humanae Vitae” constitutes silence on the issue of contraception, then the Declaration of Independence was just a rousing singsong of “God Save the King.”

    All kinds of people all the time are fooled by urban legends and untrue factoids. Once upon a time, the popes wrote diplomatic letters to Prester John. It didn’t affect their infallibility, their connection to Peter, or anything else of consequence. It was just based on bad information.

  24. Aquinas Gal says:

    Regardless of whether Pope Paul VI gave “permission” for this, the issue remains: would this be justified?
    Church teaching is quite clear–in Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, etc.–that it is always wrong to contracept a conjugal act.
    But rape is not a conjugal act; it is an act of violence. The logic of the Church’s teaching about contraception is that sexual intercourse is meant by God to be an act of the marriage covenant. As such it has two meanings, the procreative meaning and the unitive meaning, which may never be deliberately severed in marriage.
    Rape has no unitive meaning; so it makes no sense to talk about a procreative meaning that must be joined to it.
    In such a case the nuns in the Congo, if they did take contraception, were perfectly justified. They were not frustrating any conjugal act. The one proviso, of course, would be that any contraceptive would not be an abortifacient.
    Janet Smith takes the same view:

  25. Pingback: It’s not an urban legend, it’s a LIE: Paul VI did NOT give permission to nuns to use contraceptives. |

  26. MGL says:

    As we now know, Father Lombardi has confirmed that the pope was indeed speaking of “the possibility of a recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or in special situations, which does not involve the suppression of a human life, but avoiding a pregnancy.”

    Note that Father Lombardi has expanded the potential justification for the use of contraceptives from the Zika virus to unspecified “emergenc[ies] or special situations”.

    But if Fr Lombardi is accurately representing the pope’s mind on this matter, how is this not proportionalism?

  27. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Rape has no unitive meaning; so it makes no sense to talk about a procreative meaning that must be joined to it.”

    Why not abort to prevent the birth of a child conceived in rape? Why not contracept an unhappy marriage? Why not contracept because we don’t value the child? The problem is what is the purpose and the value of contraception? We don’t commit grave sins in order to protect ourselves from things that may or might happen. Yes, is it a tragedy? But the fault is not of the nun. We should do all we can to avoid putting ourselves in this position, or better yet, protecting our Nuns so that they are not raped in the first place. There are licit ways to accomplish this. The only reason contraception is being advocated here is because we believe it is worse to bear the child to term than the rape in the first place.

  28. Moro says:

    I remember years ago (2004/5 or thereabouts) the story of a rouge priest in Spain saying the Spanish bishops conference had approved birth control for rape or contraceptives for AIDS prevention, can’t remember which. But in fact it was someone from the office who leaked it to the media worldwide. The bishops had made no such approval and this was published in El Pais as being the act of one person. But did the rest of the media like CNN, New York Times, etc. bother to correct this error? Not one, thus leaving the impression that such actions were okay.

  29. Moro says:

    I stand corrected. At least WaPo acknowledged the issue. But still I remember a lot of buzz over this.

  30. Norah says:

    I’m so glad I was right. I wrote about this matter some years ago in Catholic Answers Forums ( not in the name Norah) . I had no proof but I wrote what common-sense told me and challenged anyone to provide the proof to prove me wrong – no one ever did. I have also posted on various blogs asking for proof before believing this story and of course no proof was ever provided.

  31. Margaret O says:

    As far as I know and was taught, a woman was allowed to have a douche (a washing out) after being raped, up to a certain time after the event, to actually stop fertilisation taking place.

  32. Back pew sitter says:

    It is good to get the clarification about whether or not (and it very much seems not) Paul VI taught that nuns or other women might rightly take some actions to prevent conception resulting from rape.

    However, whether or not Paul VI taught this there is every reason to believe that some actions that solely bear on preventing conception after rape would be legitimate. As Veritatis Splendor made clear the moral object of an action should not be confused with the physical object. Preventing conception after rape cannot be equated with preventing conception after freely choosing to engage in sex within marriage or fornication.

  33. MrsMacD says:

    Children are gifts from God and would a nun that was raped bear a child, that childbearing would help the nun to heal. The pill or as I like to call it the cancer pill is in fact a poison. It doesn’t just poison the person who takes it but it poisons the water supply. It really is evil on all levels, personal and national.

  34. Charles E Flynn says:

    Misunderstanding the (alleged) ‘Congo contraception’ case, by Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD, for The Catholic World Report.

  35. Pingback: Link Roundup: Feb. 22, 2016 | Semiduplex

  36. Pingback: The Zika virus and the contraceptive pill | Agenda Europe

  37. Pingback: Pavao VI. nikada nije odobrio ?asnim sestrama u Kongu upotrebu kontracepcije! - Quo Vadis Croatia

  38. Sue in soCal says:

    Is there a link to the letter Pope St. John Paul II sent to the archbishop of Serejevo regarding the use of contraceptives as a precaution against pregnancy in the case of rape?

  39. Pingback: Misunderstanding the (alleged) “Congo Contraception” Case | Defenders of the Catholic Faith | Hosted by Stephen K. Ray

  40. At first, my opinion was that doctrine was not changed, so this was indeed not a Big Deal.

    However, after Lombardi doubling down, and a review of many, many major press outlets, I fear that most Catholics will be left with the impression that contraception use should be decided on a “lesser of two evils” basis in the interior forum of the sacred, impartial conscience. I fear that the nuances will be lost when they read the headlines. In fact, The Guardian (yes I know) has already challenged the Pope on condoms for AIDS since they’re okay for Zika now. Pretty good question, actually. If it’s a “lesser of two evils” test, well, I can’t afford another child, so contraception is the Lo2E. I’m too old, so L02Ej. I’m too young = Lo2E. Any inconvenience or risk can be inflated to the Lo2E by self-interest.

    Between Pope Francis and Fr. Lombardi (just when IS he leaving, anyway?) the contraception toothpaste is out of the tube, and even were there a way to put it back, it is anyone’s guess whether anyone in the Vatican has the inclination to.

    So this poor Bear, granted with only a 450 gm. brain, has changed his mind and now thinks it is a Big Deal.

  41. The Masked Chicken says:

    I was going to remain silent about this issue, because I knew if I waited long enough, someone would say what I were going to say, but since this issue made the front page of my local newspaper, I suppose I have to wander into the fray, if only to make a few points.

    1. There are at least 5 viruses that can cause birth defects:
    a. chickenpox
    b. Cytomegalovirus
    c. Enteroviruses (Hepatitis A, B, Polio, etc.)
    d. Rubella (German measles)
    e. Fifth disease

    Notice that I did not put the Zika virus on the list. The reason is that we don’t actually know that Zika virus causes microencephalitis in infants. This is a case where correlation does not equal causation. There is no published, peer-reviewed, paper proving this connection. Thus, at this time, there is no defensible argument for even suggesting contraception in the face of a Zika infection.

    The point is that there are already viruses known that cause birth defects. Who cares if there is another one? If contraception were in any way permissible for the Zika virus, it would have already been deemed permissible for the other classes of viruses. It being the case that Rubella being known to cause birth defects for many decades without the Vatican making any comments about contraception, one is led to the inescapable conclusion that the constant teaching of the Church is that contraception doesn’t even enter into the picture in the face of viral infections, otherwise, any excuse would be good enough as long as there were even a microscopic risk of harming the baby.

    Did you catch the irony, there? According to these people who have no understanding of the power of God in the presence of evil, it is better not to bring a child into the world than to bring a defective child into the world. Okay, then. How much of a defect is enough to warrant not bring a child into the world? I suppose Einstein had dyslexia, so, out with him. Mozart may have had a delicate emotional condition. No music for us.

    A defective child is still a gift! It is only the Spirit of the World that has no hope that God can bring good out of evil. This is Eugenics run rampant. Babies must be born perfect, don’t you see, otherwise, they pose a burden to hedonism.

    Oh, did I mention that Cytolomegalovirus is asymptomatic, meaning that, unless you are tested for some reason (like before a wedding), you won’t even know that you have it. Since, you can never know that you have it (and married people can get it by contact with urine or other bodily fluids, say, in a healthcare setting) outside of specific testing, then heck, you might as well contracept all of the time because there could be a hidden virus just waiting to harm your baby. Now, if you contracept, you definitely harm your baby (!) because he doesn’t even get a chance to get born, much less die.

    Who cares if your baby is born defective? It has been happening for hundreds of reasons for thousands of years. If you are that much of a coward that you can’t allow a defective child into the world, if you really believe that God is only the God of the Perfect (determined according to your definition, of course), then, for goodness sakes, abstain from sex. The world will benefit by keeping your hopelessness out of the gene pool and you will not have to worry about the possibility of some disease, water pollution, air pollution, or radioactive source (including radioactive spiders) causing you to suffer with a loving, but defective baby.

    As Pope Pius XII said in his Allocution to Midwives, in 1951″

    Besides, every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life from God and not from his parents, not from any society or human authority. Therefore, there is no man, no human authority, no science, no “indication” at all—whether it be medical, eugenic, social, economic, or moral—that may offer or give a valid judicial title for a deliberate disposal of an innocent human life, that is, a disposal which aims at its destruction, whether as an end in itself or as a means to achieve the end, perhaps in no way at all illicit. Thus, for example, to save the life of the mother is a very noble act; but the direct killing of the child as a means to such an end is illicit. The direct destruction of so-called “useless lives,” already born or still in the womb, practiced extensively a few years ago, can in no wise be justified. Therefore, when this practice was initiated, the Church expressly declared that it was against the natural law and the divine positive law, and consequently that it was unlawful to kill, even by order of the public authorities, those who were innocent, even if on account of some physical or mental defect, they were useless to the State and a burden upon it. The life of an innocent person is sacrosanct, and any direct attempt or aggression against it is a violation of one of the fundamental laws without which secure human society is impossible. We have no need to teach you in detail the meaning and the gravity, in your profession, of this fundamental law. But never forget this: there rises above every human law and above every “indication” the faultless law of God.

    2. The Church has never ruled that contraception is permissible in rape cases, in general, so why would one think that they would make an exception for a group of nuns? The whole nun thing is a red herring and an exercise in special pleading. Either contraception is permissible in the general case of rape, or it isn’t. The issue of nuns is not a sufficient motivation, in itself, for a special scientific/moral investigation of the subject. I submit that since contraception has been known, in one form or another, for thousands of years, again, the Church has had ample time to suggest its use in rape cases (which were, certainly, more prevalent in certain centuries than ours), but has not. Thus, I conclude that the moral theologians who broached the subject of nuns taking contraceptives were acting in a manner that was overly bold.

    3. Nuns who are raped do not violate their vow of chastity and the baby can be placed for adoption. This is a situation faced by unfortunate rape victims thousands of times a month. Again, not only was the only paper on the subject suggesting the use of contraceptives written in 1961, that year is significant, as it happens to be the year that Searle finished its clinical trials and asked for FDA approval of one of the early forms of low dose Pills. I suggest that the reason the paper was written was because of the novelty of the Pill, not because the issue of contraception as a defense against unwanted sperm in rape cases was a high priority in moral theology. Contraception could have been suggested, at least theoretically, decades before this, but was not. Why 1961? That’s the important thing to consider. I suggest that the nuns might have been a foothold argument.

    4. There are far more pressing reproductive issues on the horizon than the Zika virus. We are at the early stages of the Star Trekian Eugenics War. UK scientists have been given the go-ahead to use CRISPR technology to modify the human genome of defective babies. If the Pope wanted to speak out about some pro-life issue, this, after abortion, is going to be the most important thing in a hundred years. This is not contraception. This is superception. It is coming. Make no mistake.

    5. Aren’t there any conservatives who fly on the papal airplane?

    In any case, in all of these issues, the first rule of moral theology is that one may not use an evil means to a good end. The ultimate irony comes when people forget which is which.

    The Chicken

  42. Mike says:

    How are the faithful to receive Fr. Lombardi’s interpretation?

    How long is a faithful Catholic obliged to remain silent while this papacy sows confusion?

  43. Charles says:

    I would love to get my hands on the 1961 article (and a translation thereof as I do not read Italian very well) Fr. Franz Hurth has popped up twice in my research: first, there was an article on in vitro fertilization that I thought was particularly good which I found a couple years ago. Then last month, as I was researching the issue of live organ donation, he popped up again. He was quite opposed to such self-mutilation on the basis of the finality of the body’s organs to serve the life of the individual. Hence it comes as a surprise that he would consider a chemical sterilization (a kind of mutilation) to be licit. Incidentally, he was also reputed to have been a ghost writer for Pius XI and XII – he is said to have written Casti Conubii, the address to midwives mentioned by the Chicken above, and various other addresses dealing with medical ethics.

  44. Pingback: Fr. Z’s rejection of Paul VI story defies common sense | AKA Catholic

  45. Pingback: The Vatican's Communications Strategy is No Accident - OnePeterFive

  46. Pingback: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis: Crisis Communication | MondayVatican

  47. Pingback: Parece ser que el Papa Francisco contradice palabra por palabra la doctrina de Pablo VI y JPII acerca de los anticonceptivos