Press Releases 2008

Catholic Organizations to Pope: End Ban on Contraception

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Open Letter to Pope Signed by more than 50 Organizations Published in Corriere della Sera Friday

Washington, DC-Marking the 40th anniversary of the Catholic hierarchy’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, Catholics for Choice, in partnership with over 50 organizations from across the world, published an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI calling on him to lift the Vatican’s dangerous ban on contraception. Humanae Vitae, the foundation stone for the Catholic hierarchy’s anti-contraception policy, has had a catastrophic impact on the poor and powerless around the world, endangering women’s lives and leaving millions at risk of contracting HIV.

The open letter to the pope, published in Italy’s Corriere della Sera, noted, “When Pope Paul VI cemented the Catholic hierarchy’s ban on contraception in 1968, he overrode the findings of a group of experts he had himself chosen.” Today, experts and Catholics around the world oppose the ban.

Humanae Vitae continues to be a source of great conflict and division in the church. Catholics and non-Catholics alike continue to feel the impact of the Catholic hierarchy’s devastating policy,” the letter states, noting, “The impact of the ban has been particularly disastrous in the global south, and because the Catholic hierarchy holds significant sway over many national family planning policies, it obstructs the implementation of good public health policies on family planning and HIV prevention.”

“It is not surprising that Catholic organizations, representing the reality of millions of Catholics worldwide, joined us in this effort calling on Pope Benedict to heal the rift that the Vatican created by banning something as widely used and as widely accepted as contraception,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “We invite Catholics across the world to join this effort by calling and e-mailing their bishop and asking them to call the Vatican and demand that the devastating ban on contraception end,” continued O’Brien.

Organizations joining this effort include those representing Catholics in Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. They write, “It is clear to us that the Catholic church cannot move forward until it honestly confronts the paradox of Humanae Vitae: Most Catholics use modern contraceptives, believe it is a moral choice to do so and consider themselves Catholics in good standing, yet the Catholic hierarchy completely denies this reality.”

The signatories call on Pope Benedict to “use this anniversary as an opportunity to start the process of healing by being true to the positive aspects of Catholic teaching on sexuality and lifting the ban on contraception.” Lifting the ban will “allow Catholics to plan their families safely and in good conscience,” concludes the letter.

For more information, please contact Jen Heitel Yakush at +1 (202) 986- 6093. To view the full Open Letter to the Pope, including a list of signatories, please click here.  To view the full Lettera aperta al Papa, click here. [PDF] To view the Carta Abierta al Papa, click here. [PDF]

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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.