Monday, April 24, 2006

A Can of Worms?

Amy posted on this story a few days ago and the comments spelled out the dire consequences if such a relaxation of the rule were to be allowed. Now the story is starting to get a wider reporting, although still nothing official. I would point out that at least what moral theologians (usually liberal ones) have always pointed out was that the Vatican allowed certian religious sisters to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy by rape in warring countries where that was likely to happen--now I'm just reporting that I was taught that in a Catholic seminary some twenty years ago and that I've never seen any documentation to back it, but I'll bet someone online knows where to point us if such was the case.

From the BBC Online:

Cardinal Barragan told the newspaper: "Soon the Vatican will issue a document about the use of condoms by persons who have grave diseases, starting with Aids."

He said his department was studying the document, along with the scientists and theologians who wrote it.

"It is Benedict XVI who asked us for a study on this particular aspect of using a condom by those afflicted with Aids, and by those with infectious diseases," he added.

Asked whether he agreed with Cardinal Martini's views, Cardinal Barragan said: "It is a very difficult and delicate subject which warrants prudence."

He said he preferred not to comment on Cardinal Martini's remarks, so as "to not anticipate the study".

It is not clear when the document will be published.

The Vatican has made no official comment.


Further info on the "nuns in the Congo" referred to in my comments above:

Father Gonzalo Miranda, who lectures at the Pontifical Academy of the Regina Apostolorum, and is Secretary of the Institute of Bioethics at Rome's Catholic University, said that the use of the Pill is sanctioned in such cases if the women ran "a serious and imminent risk of rape".

In an interview published by the Italian Bishops' Conference official news agency, SIR, which lends his views extra weight, the theologian said: "Contraception is morally illicit when it accompanies a desired sexual act, but when a sexual act is imposed, and not wanted, then contraception represents the only form of protection."

He added: "In such cases the act of taking the Pill . . . is not a true act of contraception from the moral point of view, but only an act of defence."

The question of nuns taking the Pill as a defence in trouble spots around the world was openly authorised long ago in the case of the Congo by Cardinal Pietro Palazzini - even if the Pope's authorisation of the prelate himself was never publicised.

4 comments:

  1. "I would point out that at least what moral theologians (usually liberal ones) have always pointed out was that the Vatican allowed certian religious sisters to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy by rape in warring countries ..."

    Yes. This has been stated in the orthodox Catholic press too-- going back to the 1970s or 1980s. However, the practice was later discontinued -- not because it was considered immoral to contracept in that case, but because it was learned that the hormonal contraceptives being used by the Sisters could act as abortifacients. The potential death of the babies was not acceptable.

    There is no comparison, though, between "women religious" being raped and an infected husband and his wife having intercourse. No one has a right to the first, while both spouses have a right/duty to the second.

    When the Sisters used contraceptives (not knowing that they could be abortifacients), they were doing the moral equivalent of what ANY woman is permitted to do in case of rape, even not in a war zone -- namely, to use any means, at home or in hospital, to prevent the sperm from getting into the Fallopian tubes, where they could result in pregnancy.

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  2. The comparison with the religous and the current case rests on whether an intrinsically evil act should ever be permitted.

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  3. I'm sorry, but I don't grasp your meaning. Can you please re-phrase it? I cannot tell whether or not you are saying that what the sisters did was an intrinsically evil act. (It was not.)

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  4. I would point out that at least what moral theologians (usually liberal ones) have always pointed out was that the Vatican allowed certian religious sisters to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy by rape in warring countries ..."

    What proof do we have that this ever happened?

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