Friday 25 July 2008

The Tablet: the anti-Humanae Vitae megaphone drowing out the voice of reason

Catherine Pepinster uses The Tablet, of which she’s the editor, like a megaphone to bellow her opposition to Humanae Vitae and to drown out the voice of reason. Like the bigot at a public meeting who has no intention of listening to those on the public platform, she declares in The Times today:

“The Church has much to teach society about the needs of the developing world and the nature of justice. Yet dialogue between secular society and the Catholic Church over climate change has been painfully limited and stymied until very recently. With the impact of a rapidly escalating world population playing its part in climate change, birth control has been the elephant in the room in discussions.”

Maybe she didn’t hear or read Pope Benedict’s address on 10th May, when he said:

“What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change; on the contrary, precisely in the light of the new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more timely and elicits reflection on the intrinsic value it possesses.”

Pope Benedict was addressing the participants of the international congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. I wonder if Catherine Pepinster sent any of her editorial staff to hear what the speakers had to say at that conference.

And I wonder if The Tablet sent anyone to the conference in Rome the following month when over 200 FertilityCare Practitioners and NaProTechnology physicians and gynaecologists gathered for the annual meeting of the American Academy of FertilityCare Practitioners, inspired by the teaching of Humanae Vitae. I can send Catherine Pepinster a full report if she likes!

Evidence presented there shows that the medical applications of NaPro have grown to become a comprehensive branch of women’s health medicine, which respects both the natural fertility cycle and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Working cooperatively with the woman’s body, NaPro has been shown to treat many gynaecological conditions including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, miscarriage and other causes of infertility. Is The Tablet interested by any chance?

Other evidence presented at the conference by Dr. Phil Boyle showing that NaPro has between a 40-60% success rate in achieving pregnancy. This compares to a maximum success rate of 30% for IVF (UK average raw data “take-home-baby” rate).

As I blogged yesterday, IVF – which gave birth to the first IVF child thirty years ago – has led to over two million embryos discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments. (2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469.)

Pope Benedict’s address (above) continues:

“As I wrote in my first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: "Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united.... Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves" (n. 5). If this unity is removed, the value of the person is lost and there is a serious risk of considering the body a commodity that can be bought or sold (cf. ibid). In a culture subjected to the prevalence of "having" over "being", human life risks losing its value.”

Would Catherine Pepinster be interested in exploring in The Tablet the connection between the Pope’s words and what’s happened during the past 30 years with the IVF industry?

Catherine Pepinster reminds The Times readers that “The Church has much to teach society about the needs of the developing world and the nature of justice”

If she could put down her anti-Humanae Vitae megaphone for a moment and reflect on Pope Benedict’s words in the opening address of his visit to Australia for World Youth Day:

"The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable."

One starting-point for this “profound reflection” might be the abortifacient nature of virtually all contraceptive drugs and devices – with the exception of course of prophylactics like condoms – as freely acknowledged by their manufacturers. And what about about the fulfilment in England and Wales of Pope Paul VI’s prophecy in Humanae Vitae, that governments will impose on countries birth control measures which are considered lawful by couples in pursuit of a solution to particular family difficulties? And how the Catholic authorities in England and Wales are co-operating with the British government in imposing birth control, including abortion, on families through children’s access to secret abortion in schools, including in Catholic schools?

Are these aspects of Humanae Vitae in which Catherine Pepinster is interested? Or is she actually on the other side of the abortion debate? After all, a recent edition of the Tablet (which describes itself as "the international Catholic weekly") contains a glossy full-colour insert advertising Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sometimes known by its English name Doctors Without Borders (DWB). The insert's front page has a modern paraphrase of the Hippocratic Oath, "I will tread with care in matters of life and death". Yet inside, an MSF nurse working in the Democratic Republic of Congo recounts how her team "trained local nurses to provide emergency contraception", i.e. the morning-after pill, which may cause an early abortion. See my recent blog on this here.

Finally, if Ms Pepinster must continue to use the Tablet as an anti-Humanae Vitae megaphone, spare us the percentages of Catholics who ignore or don’t know or don’t understand the Church’s teaching. It will be less grating to hear such observations when journals like The Tablet put down their megaphones and begin to follow what’s happening in the world and to count the human cost of Humanae Vitae’s message being ignored.