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Francis Launches Confusion Regarding Contraception: Another Reckless On-Flight Interview

Francis Launches Confusion Regarding Contraception
Another Reckless On-Flight Interview

by John Vennari

In yet another off-the-cuff interview with reporters aboard the papal plane back to Rome, Pope Francis lobbed another hand grenade into Catholic moral teaching, the shrapnel of which
may ricochet throughout the Church for years to come.

As we read in the text below from the February 18 Catholic News Agency report, Francis opens the door for some sort of use of contraception in connection with the Zika virus scare, based on an alleged permission Paul VI given to nuns in Africa who were in danger of rape. The Paul VI reference seems odd, as it appears to give the green light for doing evil to achieve good.

As I've already had a number of requests asking for comment on this sad event, I will offer some preliminary remarks, which perhaps can be amplified later:

1) The subject of contraception is an explosive topic that should be dealt with in a formal Vatican document, thoroughly vetted by Thomistic theologians (if the Vatican has any left); and not be the subject of off-the-cuff response from a Pope such as Francis who is in no way a theologian, and is not exactly renowned for precision of speech.

2) Already there are those who accuse the press of distorting the Pope’s words but this is ludicrous. As we can see below from Catholic News Agency, the Pope’s statement is reckless and imprecise. And if he says something this volatile, directly to journalists, he cannot complain if they run the story in the most sensational manner possible.

3) Recalling my study of Catholic Moral theology, if a woman who takes a contraceptive pill for a non-contraceptive reasons (regarding some other health issue), she is not permitted to exercise her marriage rights for as long as takes the pill (particularly considering the modern birth control pill is effectively abortifacient). It appears Francis failed to make this necessary distinction. It is a distinction that makes all the difference, which Francis does not repeat.

4) The issue of Paul VI and the nuns in Africa requires a bit more attention. Truth to tell, I had not heard of this alleged ‘exception’ until today, and was surprised to learn of it. Even if Paul VI gave this permission, however, it may very well be he was mistaken to do so (he was, after all, the man who saddled us with the New Mass and the destructive Vatican II orientation). As I said earlier, at face value, it appears to give the green light of doing evil to achieve good. (I just learned that years ago, EWTN claimed this Paul VI/nun story was either not true, or could not be verified). Anyone who wants to contact me with information on this point is free to email at:

Text from
Catholic News Agency:

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain):
Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.

On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.

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