Could the Catholic Church do an about-face on contraception?

It’s one of those facts of life: just like Jewish people aren’t allowed to east pork, Catholics aren’t supposed to practise
New Zealand

It’s one of those facts of life: just like Jewish people aren’t allowed to east pork, Catholics aren’t supposed to practise contraception.

But the latest word from one of the Catholic Church’s most senior prelates suggests a change could be coming, as the rhetoric shifts from “don’t kill any of God’s children” to “let’s try not to destroy the planet”.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s leading adviser on climate issues has told the BBC that birth control could “offer a solution” to the impacts of climate change.

The cardinal, who is believed to have played a leading role in drafting the Pope’s encyclical on climate change that was released earlier this year said climate change was an ecological disaster and that a strong agreement was needed to protect the most vulnerable.

He also said the Church had never been against natural family planning.

When asked if birth control could alleviate the problem of food shortages in warmer climates, Cardinal Turkson said, “The Holy Father on his trip back from the Philippines also invited people to some form of birth control, because the church has never been against birth control and people spacing out births and all of that. So yes, it can offer a solution.”

He added:  “The amount of population that is critical for the realisation of this is still something we need to discover, yet the Holy Father has also called for a certain amount of control of birth.”

The cardinal stressed that artificial forms of birth control such as the pill were still prohibited in the eyes of the Catholic Church but that natural methods could mean fewer mouths to feed.

While it’s comforting to know the Church has some wiggle-room when it comes to this controversial issue, one can’t help think about the millions of women around the world who produced far more children they could feed themselves thanks to the strict mandate of the church.

The global population of 7 billion people is expected to grow to 9.7bn by the middle of the century according to the UN. The Cardinal is in Paris at the climate talks, which come to a close today, and he hopes a strong agreement can be made.

“Our profession of love for God must necessarily lead to our love for the handiwork of God, for what God has made, so let’s have some love for creation and for the human beings.”

Are you surprised by the Church’s attitude to contraception in light of climate change? Do you think it could pave the way for further relaxing of the strictest Catholic rule?