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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NEWS ALERT: Critics of Catholic Ban on Contraceptives Get Pope's Attention

From: News from PLANetWIRE <>
Subject: NEWS ALERT: Critics of Catholic Ban on Contraceptives Get Pope's Attention
Date: Monday, July 28, 2008, 11:48 PM

ROME, July 26 – An unusual open letter to Pope Benedict asking him to lift the Church’s ban on contraception was so widely noticed yesterday that the Vatican felt compelled to respond.

The letter from more than 50 dissident Catholic groups was published July 25 as a half-page ad in Italy’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, on the 40th anniversary of the “Humanae Vitae” encyclical in which Pope Paul VI established the ban.

The 1968 ban, the groups said in the ad, is still “a source of great conflict and division in the church” and “has had a catastrophic impact on the poor and powerless around the world, endangering women’s lives and leaving millions at risk of HIV.” It noted that as most Catholics use contraception and feel they are not sinning, the policy has been “an utter failure.”

In a sharp response, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said the ad was “paid propaganda to promote the use of contraceptives.” Noting that the word “love” did not appear in the letter, he added, “It’s been 40 years, and the critics of Humanae Vitae still don’t get that it’s about love.”

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice and organizer of the open letter, said he was “delighted” at the response. “Within hours of the ad appearing, we achieved our central objective of letting those who have continued with this fatally flawed policy know that Catholics the world over oppose the ban on contraception,” he said. The response “demonstrates that the church hierarchy is acutely aware that the ban on contraception has seriously harmed its relationship with Catholics in the pews.”

In a related development, the Times of London reported in its online editions on a survey of 1,500 Catholics in parishes across England and Wales that found half use contraceptives and more than half thought the ban should be revised. It was conducted by The Tablet, a weekly Catholic magazine.


Contact: Nicole Tidwell at 202.326.8710 or for more information.