Church and Contraception History

Many mainstream Protestant churches changed their official stance on issues such as abortion and contraception in the 1970’s shortly after Roe v Wade. There was EXTREME pressure on the Church to change her position on contraception at this time as well. The pill was well on its way to being common place and there was an unprecedented amount of pressure on the Church to say Catholics could use it. A multi-disciplinary commission that had been setup by the Pope to review this issue came to him with an overwhelming majority saying that contraception was morally acceptable. They did not know at this time that the pill had abortive capabilities that would have completely undermined the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception. If the Pope had followed the advice of the commission the Church would have later been found to have given its support to something that so blatantly went against her teachings that life begins at conception. The Church could have said it was misled by scientific evidence, be we all know how much this would have hurt the Church’s credibility and infallibility teaching.

So my point is this: divine protection or blind luck?

I vote inspiration, but only after the historical errors in your post are corrected!

Roe followed AFTER the conversion of the Western world to the contraception mentality. I think the Anglicans caved first some time in the 1930’s and the rest of protestantism quickly followed. You’d have been hard pressed to find a protestant opposed to contraception by the time Roe happened in the early 1970’s.

Similarly, Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae after rejecting the recommendations of a panel of ‘experts’ to liberalize Church teaching on contraception. HV came out in the late 60’s (68?), so the panel was working much sooner than that. Hard to say Roe had any influence there either since it was decided in 1972 (?).

Catholic opposition to contraception isn’t primarily about the pill’s potentially abortive effect (though that’s certainly a damning detail!). Contraception is morally wrong because it fundamentally divorces sex from procreation as if God had only accidentally mixed them up. It allows, indeed, encourages couples to see their sexual relations as recreational rather than as sacred giving of themselves to one another. When that change occurs, not just the procreative aspect of sex is abolished, but the unitive function is badly diminished as well.

It is self evidently prophetic. One need only look at the divorce rates of catholics faithful to church sexual teaching (almost nil) versus that of catholics who disregard this teaching (about the same divorce rate as America as a whole). Precisely as predicted.

haha yeah should have looked them up just to be sure, but I wrapped abortion and contraception into one. Most Protestant churches were definitely allowing contraception use before 1970, starting in 1930 as you mentioned with the Anglicans, but 1970 is when many were beginning to loosen up on abortion as well. I believe one of them even beat Roe v Wade to the punch and started allowing it in certain circumstances before Roe v Wade.

Divine Protection buddy, you better believe it. 24/7. :thumbsup:

Here an interesting article on the Pope’s commission which reflects newly released documents. I don’t think it’s quite accurate to say that the “overwhelming majority” of the commission advocated a reversal on the teaching of contraception. The commission, for one thing, was stack in favor of the pro-contraception position since they had the hardest “sell”. In the end, the pro-contraceptive side took a pragmatic position and the anti-contraception side took the more theological and consistent position.

“The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity, it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life” [Vademecum for Confessors 2:4,]. Vatican City, February 12, 1997. Alfonso Card. López Trujillo

I’ll go with Divine Intervention. But yes, as Corki points out, the Pope wanted to hear the absolute best argument in favor of change to see if there was indeed any credibility to their stance. Obviously there was none.

I’m not trying to promote Michael Voris (I promise) but he did a good “CIA” report on this exact subject about a month or two ago on RealCatholicTV. It’s a 40 or so minute video if anyone is interested…called “Contraception Deception”.

As I recall…the commission was basically looking into if the Pill…was contraception or if it was something that could be accepted…and other questions that had arisen…

The Pope reviewed things…and wrote his splendid work Humanae Vitae

Interesting. The conventional wisdom was that Paul VI assembled a panel of the most qualified experts to advise him and was surprised when they recommended approving contraception.

This article says that explanation is deceptive (at best) and that the reality was that the commission was specifically assigned to debate if the new hormonal pill might be compatible with church teaching. In other words, the pope decided to act as judge and listen to the best arguments on both sides, but only the “in favor” side illicitly leaked its position to the press. If true, that is some serious difference in spin!

Yes, Pope Paul VI’s Commission had to advise re the question of the Pill. Unfortunately the majority failed to heed the infallible definition against contraception in Casti Connubii, Pius XI, 1930, which was issued because of the Anglican capitulation to contraception in 1930 at the Lambeth Conference, and they recommended that contraception be accepted. The Holy Father is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error when as Supreme Pastor he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.

Here is the infallible definition:
“56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”


First, an accurate historical understanding of any changes in attitudes regarding artificial contraception must be given:

The Pill was approved for use by the FDA in in 1960. Since most people in the United States still lived on farms and rural areas, it did not see widespread use until 1967, when it began to receive widespread media attention.

Read the Time magazine cover story:,16641,19670407,00.html

Pope Paul VI was aware of this and warned of the consequences:

I suggest everyone read his 1968 encyclical carefully.


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