Contraception has led to violence against women, says Papal theologian

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Theologian to the Papal Houshold, Fr Wojciech Giertych OP. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The widespread use of contraception has led to increased violence and aggression against women, Papal theologian, Fr Wojciech Giertych OP said, during his recent visit to Sydney.

The Polish Dominican priest, who was appointed Theologian to the Papal Household by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, told The Catholic Weekly that the contraceptive mentality has distorted male sexuality, leading to violence towards women.

“Contraception is not for women, it’s for men,” Fr Giertych said during the 19 July interview at Sydney’s Notre Dame University. “It makes men egoists. It makes many of them degenerate and we’re seeing the consequences of that.”

Fr Giertych said that according to official government statistics in Italy, between 2009 and 2011, a woman was murdered every four days. He said over 80 per cent of the perpetrators were sexual partners of the victims, such as boyfriends and husbands, as well as former partners. In other countries it’s even worse he said, such as Mexico, where six women are murdered every day, as reported in L’Osservatore Romano in 2017.

“In the hearts and minds of these men there is the treating of the woman as an object to which he has a right. This deforms the male, freeing him from all responsibility.”

“When such a significance is attributed to sexuality this does not give ultimate happiness and so it functions like a drug constantly demanding more, and then this leads to violence.”

Given that the rate of women being murdered is so high, it can only be assumed that many more are abused by their male partners, Fr Giertych said.

Both Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later Pope St John Paul II (left), and Blessed Paul VI (right) predicted that the widespread use of contraception would lead to a deformation of human sexuality. They are pictured here together in 1967. PHOTO: CNS

“If every four days in Italy a woman is murdered, how many are beaten, how many abused by their sexual partners?”

The introduction of the birth control pill has led to a demographic winter in many countries, he said, and to a lack of interest in marriage and fatherhood among men.

Both Blessed Paul VI and Karol Wojtyla—later St John Paul II—had predicted in 1968 that contraception would cause this distortion of human sexuality, he said.

Karol Wojtyla had been part of a group of theologians from Krakow who put together a memorandum to assist Pope Paul VI in his preparation of Humanae Vitae.

In the memorandum, Karol Wojtyla had pointed out that contraception generates egoism.

“Self mastery, self-gift and disinterestedness are eliminated for the sake of pleasurable experience, satisfaction of the senses or emotion. Such acts not only do not constitute true love, but when repeated, necessarily lead to the destruction of love,” Wojtyla wrote in 1968.

Counter to this, a respect for procreation and the mutuality in the Christian vocation that ultimately leads to sanctity encourages a growth in love between couples, Fr Giertych said. “The important thing is to grow in mutual charity, and also in chastity which serves charity.”

Theologian to the Papal Household, Fr Wojciech Giertych OP, is interviewed by The Catholic Weekly journalist, Catherine Sheehan. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

He rejected outright the suggestion that Humanae Vitae could be recalled in view of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

“Basically this cannot be done,” he said. “We’re not to change the teaching of the Church. Furthermore, Amoris Laetitia doesn’t provide the grounds for reinterpreting Humanae Vitae.”

He also said Amoris Laetitia is primarily a pastoral document.

“We shouldn’t treat it as a major doctrinal statement… It’s a pastoral conversation rather than a precise clarification of doctrine.”

Fr Giertych was in Australia to attend the 1968 Conference held by the Dawson Society in Perth, where he presented a paper on Humanae Vitae. He delivered the same paper for staff and students of Notre Dame University during his brief stay in Sydney.

Read the rest of Catherine Sheehan’s interview with Fr Giertych here: The Polish Dominican priest whose watch is the Papacy