A Misquote from Pius XII


Every once in a while, someone here links to one of several posts at EWTN Q&A which contains this claim:
Pope Pius XII put it in this way: “Marriage is a mutual commitment in which each side ceases to be autonomous, in various ways and also sexually: the sexual liberty in agreement together is great; here, so long as they are not immoderate so as to become slaves of sensuality, nothing is shameful, if the complete acts - the ones involving ejaculation of the man’s seed - that they engage in are true and real marriage acts.” Pope Pius XII addressed these matters in his "Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, "

That quote is actually from G.E.M. Anscombe; she’s a British analytic philosopher. The quote is from her article “Contraception and Chastity”

What Pope Pius XII actually taught at the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility is essentially the opposite to what the quote says. He limits the full use of the sexual faculty by the man or by the woman solely to the natural marital act itself. Here is the full Address:
paragraphs 22 - 25 are at issue


It’s a real shame some think it good to slander a man as great and holy as Pius XII to further their personal political agenda.


It’s not only political, people are twisting his words so they can indulge in sinful unnatural sex acts like oral sex, mutual masturbation, and sodomy.


Naturally. I meant to hint at the immoral, ethically degenerated society these people are seeking to build. Plus, ‘personal moral agenda’ doesn’t sound nearly as snappy. :grinning:


I’m sure the misquote was accidental. The Lawler, Boyle, and May book Catholic Sexual Ethics quoted Anscombe, block quote with attribution, in the first edition of the book. By the third edition, the quote was accidentally absorbed into the body of the text, with attribution lost. And the next section of the book talks about Pope Pius XII. That’s the path that the quote took.


@Ron_Conte , was the mistake on EWTN’s part ?


I think that one of the experts answering questions for the EWTN Q&A misunderstood the text from the Lawler, Boyle, and May book – Fr. Torraco, who passed away in 2010. I’ve asked EWTN to correct the misquote.


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