A British minister has called on the Church to permit artificial contraception after a meeting with senior Vatican officials last week.
Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, said 800 girls and women lose their lives every day due to pregnancy and childbirth complications, and claimed that wider access to contraception would help alleviate the problem.
Faith leaders should help change “deeply held beliefs and attitudes” in order to allow women greater access to “reproductive healthcare”, she said.
Ms Mordaunt disclosed her words to the Daily Telegraph after meeting Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
She told the newspaper: “Child marriage, and a lack of control over their own bodies or access to reproductive healthcare including contraception means many girls have no hope of completing an education.
“It is crucial we engage with faith leaders to help us challenge deeply held beliefs and attitudes.
“The Catholic Church can help us in that and my appeal to them was to help us save lives, especially of young mothers.
“As we work with African leaders to help them build their nation’s it is vital that family planning is part of that plan. It will save lives and huge suffering.”
Her comments coincide with the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical that restated the Church’s teaching, saying artificial contraception is intrinsically wrong.
Last month, 500 British priests signed a letter endorsing the encyclical. “Many found the teaching that the use of contraception was in all cases ‘absolutely excluded’ and ‘intrinsically wrong’ difficult to accept and challenging to proclaim,” the letter said. “Fifty years later so much has unfolded in our society that has been to the detriment of human life and love. Many have come to appreciate again the wisdom of the Church’s teaching.”
Ms Mordaunt’s comments will raise fears of government interference in Church teaching. Last summer Justine Greening, then Education Secretary, said major faiths should “keep up with modern attitudes” on same-sex marriage.
“It is important that the church, in a way, keeps up and is part of a modern country,” she said.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund