Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Pope and the Pill

Towards the end of July 1968 the then Pope Giovanni Montini issued an Encyclical titled Humanae Vitae. The September 1968 Socialist Standard considered it worthy of a short article titled The Pope and the Pill. But, first, it is worth remembering that where human life is concerned the Vatican is deserving of our utmost contempt. Consider, for example, what this group of lying, fascist dinosaurs said in relation to condoms: that their use either did not offer protection against or actually caused AIDS. Recall also Mother Theresa opining that even a child who breathed only for a few hours meant another soul for heaven. And, of course, it is the market system, so beloved of the Popes of the various religions, that is responsible worldwide for the unnecessary deaths of some 40,000 children under the age of five every single day.

"The unsurprising Papal edict on birth control brought the deepest anguish only to working class Catholics. The rich ones - like the Kennedys - can raise large families without any economic problems.

One thing the Encyclical has not done is to end the long dispute about Catholicism and contraceptives. Thus we have recently been entertained with some arguments whose sophistry makes the old one about the number of angels dancing on the needle point look positively clumsy.

For example: did not God give man the ability to make artificial contraceptives in the same way as he gave him the rhythm method which the Pope approves?

For example: if it is sinful to destroy life in human spermatozoa is it not also sinful to destroy it with pesticides, or with anti-biotics, or with the weapons of war?

Through all of this the Catholics did not pursue an undeviating course. The Encyclical kept open an escape route by implying an approval of contraception by means of an artificially induced menstrual regularity - which might be taken to include the Pill. And there was Cardinal Heenan's double act of approving the Pope's decision while saying that Catholics who practised birth control could also accept the sacrament.

These sophistries are typical of those needed to bolster religious dogma, especially when it is under pressure from the material facts of life.

Intellectual dishonesty and hair-splitting is an unsettling business, much as the Church must be accustomed to it. For the rest of us, the simple way out of the difficulty is to recognise the overwhelming evidence against religion and to look at life in terms not of human bigotry but of human interest."

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