The Catholic University of America

Melissa Moschella, assistant professor, philosophy, was interviewed by Catholic News Agency on the Pope's comments on contraception in relation to zika virus. That interview was also cited in a National Catholic Register story. John Grabowski, associate professor, theology, spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Crux about the comments. See below.

Pope takes the classic Vatican approach to birth control and Zika

From: Crux
Date: Feb. 20, 2016
Author: John Allen

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In both cases, the moral analysis shifts because birth control is being used not to block the transmission of life, but to prevent the infliction of a harm — either unwanted pregnancy as the result of violence, or infection by a deadly disease.

 

John Grabowski, a moral theologian at the Catholic University of America, points out that the reasoning behind the 1960s-era position has been translated into Church practice.

In the United States, Grabowski noted, Catholic hospitals are allowed to administer fast-acting oral contraceptives to rape victims if tests show ovulation has not yet occurred and the effect is not to induce an abortion. Germany’s bishops confirmed a similar stance in 2013.

Often, the Vatican prefers to leave such delicate questions open, not issuing sweeping declarations that could be wrongly viewed as a sea change in Church teaching, but also not denying flexibility to pastors who have to help people make hard choices.

Quite possibly, that’s what Francis was doing on the papal plane with regard to the Zika virus. Given Latin America’s large Catholic population, it could have important consequences.

That’s not quite the formal decree some may want, or fear, but it also may be the only thing we’re likely to get.

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Experts: On Trump and Zika, pope says what church teaches

From: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: Feb. 19, 2016
Author: David O'Reilly

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"This is not a pope going off on his own, making things up," said John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America. "There is precedent in terms of Catholic health care."

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Regarding Francis' remarks about birth control, Grabowski said it had long been the Catholic Church's position that a woman who has been raped can be administered contraceptive medicine if it is determined she has not yet conceived.

"So what Pope Francis was saying was, 'Don't confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy with abortion. Abortion is much more gravely wrong than contraception.' So he was making a moral discrimination that is not new."

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What did Pope Francis actually say about contraception?

From: Catholic News Agency
Date: Feb. 18, 2016
Author: Matt Hadro

... However, Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at The Catholic University of America, suggested that this may not be the case.

When talking about avoiding pregnancy in connection with the Zika virus, the Pope may not necessarily have been implying artificial contraceptive use, but may have been referencing Natural Family Planning, she said.

Normally, if a married couple faces a serious reason to avoid pregnancy, the Church teaches that they may do so through Natural Family Planning, a process that involves identifying a woman’s fertile periods and abstaining from sexual activity during those times.

Moschella also explained that in the Africa case referenced by Pope Francis, the dispensation for the nuns was “not really an exception if you understand the rule.” ...

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