Vatican theologian says contraception is open for “theological discussion, within the Church”

contraception open for theological discussion

A prominent Vatican theologian says Catholic teaching on contraception is open for “theological discussion, within the Church, and even the possibility of dissent”.

Father Maurizio Chiodi (pictured) made the comments in an interview conducted by Fabrizio Mastrofini, the communications and social media manager of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Chiodi, who has been a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life since 2017, has publicly argued that some circumstances in marriage could “require contraception” as a matter of responsibility.

The interview with Chiodi was presented as a clarification of the work of a 2021 seminar on ethics in which theologians debated a “basic text”.

A Vatican-published book synthesising the three-day conference recently came under fire for suggesting that the Catholic Church’s constant opposition to the use of contraception in marriage — clarified in the encyclical Humanae vitae — could change.

In the interview published on 19 August Chiodi said “Humanae vitae, like any encyclical, including Veritatis splendor, is an authoritative document, but with no claim to infallibility”.

“When it comes to Humanae vitae and the earlier stance contained in Casti connubii — which was even stronger — we are in the realm of doctrina reformabilis (‘reformable doctrine’),” he said.

In the interview, Father Chiodi affirms that “contraception is considered an intrinsically evil act.”

He goes on to say: “I believe that we should not deny the existence of intrinsically evil acts, but that we need to think together about what an act is at its source, overcoming an objectified interpretation of it, that is, one that is independent of any circumstance, effect and intention in the actions of those involved.”

Father Thomas Petri OP, president of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC and a moral theologian, told CNA this month that “even if it’s the case that any particular encyclical” such as Humanae vitae “is not infallible, the teaching that it presents is in fact irreformable, because it’s part of the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church”.

“In Veritatis splendor John Paul II does say that contraception is an intrinsically evil act, so there can be no reason or purpose for contraception. Benedict XVI gave several speeches in which he spoke about contraception, and it can’t be changed. What was true yesterday is true today,” Petri noted.

The full interview with Father Chiodi was published in Italian and English and shared on the pontifical academy’s Twitter page.


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