ROME (LifeSiteNews) — In an open letter, nine internationally recognized doctors and family professionals denounced recent positions proposed by the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL), calling on the Academy to acknowledge and follow the science on the physical and psychological harm suffered by women who use contraception.
The open letter, titled Pastoral ministry without experience is no longer pastoral ministry, was issued in response to polemics over the PAL’s recently published book, Theological Ethics of Life. Scripture, Tradition, Practical Challenges, which raises the issue of “unnatural methods of contraception in certain circumstances that would make it irresponsible to have children.”
The letter addresses the failures of the PAL’s proposals not only in regard to the Church’s definitive moral teaching on marriage and sexuality, but the decades of published medical and professional information on the consequences and harm suffered by those who practice contraception.
Signatories of the letter include physicians and medical experts from Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their backgrounds include specialization in obstetrics, gynecology, the CAMeN symptothermal method, internal medicine, cardiology, natural family planning, and infertility. Among the signatories were Jokin de Irala, MD, MPH, PhD, Ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Dr. Michèle Barbato, MD, National Director of the RNF training school, for the CAMeN symptothermal method; Jacques Aimé Bazeboso, MD, Président de la Fédération Africaine d’Action Familiale; Maria Boerci, MD, National President of the Italian Confederation of Natural Fertility Regulation Centers; Paolo Bordin, MD, National President of the “La Bottega dell’Orefice ODV,” and Isabelle Ecochard, MD, former President of EIFLE, the European Institute for Family Life Education.
The signatories affirm as Catholics that the teaching of the Church on the matter of contraception has not changed because it is rooted in revelation itself. “There has been some confusion,” the letter reads, “in some ecclesial circles and in the media because it has been interpreted as a change in the Holy See in these matters. But the position of the Catholic Church has not changed. Successive Popes, since at least Pius XI, have repeatedly affirmed the teaching of the Apostles, formulated by Paul: ‘And why not do evil that good may come? as some slanderously accuse us of saying. Their condemnation is just.’ What is essentially a violation of the moral order and therefore unworthy of human dignity should not be positively willed, even if the intention is to promote the welfare of the individual, the family or society.”
The signatories then took issue with the Academy’s egregious ignoring of the medical research and professional marriage and family counseling in which faithful Catholics have been engaged now for decades, which demonstrate the serious harm inflicted on women and marriages by the use and practice of contraception.
“Theological conclusions and their pastoral applications,” the signatories wrote, “should not be validated if they are outside the experience of medical studies. It is not possible to take good care, to give spiritual advice, to counsel and to accompany a married couple by applying a pastoral approach that is outside of medical science. To propose today, as the authors of the book cited above do, the use of ‘unnatural contraceptive methods in certain circumstances … ’ is, beyond a theoretical intellectual exercise, an affirmation that does not take into account either the reality of the studies on the accompaniment of marriages, or the experience of so many marriages. Moreover, it is not a ‘new source of thought.’”
Decrying the lies of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the decades following that were sold to young women — that “the Pill would solve the so-called overpopulation,” that it would “protect them from ‘unwanted’ pregnancies and prevent abortion,” that artificial insemination would “help couples achieve the ‘desired’ child,” and that “condoms would prevent infections as well as ‘unwanted’ pregnancies,” — the letter detailed the disastrous consequences of the widespread adoption of contraception.
“The result,” the letter stated, “the worsening of families and the coercion of governments, was predicted by the encyclical Humanae Vitae: besides the worsening of the situation of women who were supposed to be ‘liberated’ by these methods and the increase of marriage failures, we now suffer a ‘demographic winter,’ and the epidemics of sexually transmitted infections increase. Young people suffer, because they yearn and search for love and do not know how to find it. There are family breakdowns and children become ‘orphans of living parents.’ All this will negatively affect the well-being of the people we want to care for in pastoral ministry if we do not get it right.”
The signatories went on to detail some of the medical facts and published studies on the contraceptive pill and its effects, including the abortifacient prevention of embryo implantation, as well as the risk of breast cancer, myocardial infarction, stroke, and depression.
“The current contraceptive pill has as one of its mechanisms of action, the early elimination of embryos by preventing their implantation … Many women would not want to use it if they knew that destruction of an embryo was possible …
“The best study to date on the relationship between the Pill and breast cancer, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, prospectively assessed almost 1.8 million women in Denmark. Oral hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of breast cancer in an epidemic fashion. They reduce some types of cancer, but it is not comparable to the risk of breast, liver and cervical cancer. Oral contraceptives increase the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke by 60%…
Studies of scientific quality have been published in the scientific journals JAMA Psychiatry and American Journal of Psychiatry (nearly half a million women followed for eight years), which found an increased risk of depression and of suicides and suicide attempts in association with contraceptive use.”
Drawing on decades of experience in marriage and family counseling, the signatories stated that the young women whom they see today in their practice “want to be more than a sexual partner, they want to be wives who love and are loved, and also to live motherhood to the full. These young women feel like victims. They no longer want a pastor who assumes that the ‘ideal’ is not for them, who condones contraception, minimizes abortion, and considers divorce inevitable.”
Calling for a shift in pastoral care that does accept the false premises of the sexual revolution, the signatories stated, “Instead of continuing to live in the tow of false hopes of the 60’s that are old and have failed, the Church can embrace more strongly all the experience and the advances made by those who work in this field in order to have a renewed pastoral role and be a hopeful sign for a youth hungry for the Truth and who want to live to the fullest their projects as a couple.”
Finally, firmly denying the premise that the teaching of Humanae Vitae is not attainable by all couples, the signatories emphatically declared, “In the face of statements that suggest that ‘there are situations in which natural methods are impossible or impracticable’ and that therefore ‘it is necessary to find other ways, because a responsible generation cannot ignore the offers of technology,’ we must affirm without any doubt, with the knowledge of technology, medical science and experience in hand, that the teaching of HV is attainable for all couples, with the help of grace and the pastoral accompaniment of those who have more experience. These ‘situations’ can be and are being addressed with approaches that do not imply a departure from the HV approach. On a daily basis, we professionals who attend to married couples do this effective work and live HV with joy.”
“It is time,” the doctors concluded, “to abandon the failed paradigms of the sexual revolution.”
 Skovlund CW, Mørch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard Ø. “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression”. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016; 73:1154-62.
 Skovlund CW, Mørch LS, Kessing LV, Lange T, Lidegaard Ø. “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Suicide Attempts and Suicides”. Am J Psychiatry. 2018; 175(4):336- 342.