A series of profoundly hypocritical popes
by: John Tyrrell
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Shortly after publishing last week's update, I realized I had overlooked a major issue in my discussion of Pope Francis's comments on the acceptability of the use of birth control to prevent the zika virus from affecting a fetus. Quite simply, by referring to the little known special exception Pope Paul VI had provided for nuns, Francis showed that the position on birth control by every pope from Pope Paul VI on has been profoundly hypocritical. Entirely dishonest!
Contrary to the advice of his staff, Pope Paul VI used the papal encyclical, Humanae vitae to prohibit all forms of "artificial" birth control. All forms! No exceptions! Paul based his argument on the sanctity of life and the role of God, the Creator in bringing about new life.
And then having foisted this policy on the entire body of the Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI went and made an exception - for nuns in war zones in case they got raped.
Now, nuns in war zones in Africa were indeed getting raped at that time. And nuns still do get raped in war zones. So do tens of thousand of other women.*
So why did Pope Paul VI create an exception solely for nuns? Why not all women who felt they were at an increased risk of rape?
After all - nuns through their vocation are surely more understanding of unwanted blessings from God as an outcome of rape.
By providing this special exception for nuns, Pope Paul essentially stated that the sanctity of the potential life arising out of sexual intercourse is not the moral absolute he proclaimed it to be.
Paul VI was followed by John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and currently Francis. Each of these men has condemned artificial birth control, and done nothing about the special exception created by Paul VI. And that exception denies the very basis of the ban on artificial birth control. To stand by both policies is profoundly hypocritical.
You cannot insist on an absolute morality - and then provide exceptions - particularly little-publicized exceptions for insiders. That morality is no longer absolute.
If nuns in fear of rape are allowed to use birth control, then every woman in the world should be allowed to use birth control for any reason whatsoever. The current exception for nuns render the sanctity of life argument null and void.
In continuing to use this dead argument, the Catholic Church is dishonest. And the popes who have supported the argument are hypocrites.
* Men get raped too, - but the possibility of pregnancy is not there, and that's the focus of this discussion
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