Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor has given an interview to BBC Radio 4′s Today show that is being interpreted as saying that the next pope should not condemn contraception. The Daily Telegraph is running the headline, ‘New Pope should not condemn contraception, says Cardinal. The Daily Telegraph reports the following:
“I think that every Pope will face what needs to be faced and with regard to contraception I think the Pope won’t say the Church has been wrong the whole time. He’ll be saying there are ways…
“I think the Pope will be as every other Pope has, particularly Pope Benedict, understanding that the fundamental teaching on sexuality is concentrated on marriage, on family life.
“I think that the Church would be wise actually to focus on that in her teaching, rather than saying ‘we condemn this, we condemn that, or the other’. No – focus on what’s good and what’s true.”
Protect the Pope comment: Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s comment is typically oblique and gnomic so it’s necessary to read it a couple of time, ‘ I think that every Pope will face what needs to be faced and with regard to contraception I think the Pope won’t say the Church has been wrong the whole time. He’ll be saying there are ways…’
Maybe I’m reading this wrong but our cardinal appears to be saying that the Church has been wrong some of the time about contraception, and that there are ways….of what? There are ways of the new pope saying that it’s OK to use contraception in certain circumstances? I don’t want to put words in the cardinal’s mouth but what exactly is he saying here?
Here’s what Gaudium et Spes – surely Cardinal Cormac’s favourite document from Vatican II – about the use of contraception:
‘Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence. Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law. (GS 51)