Dissent of the Faithful: Roman Catholic Disobedience to Vatican Policy on Contraception

Dissent of the Faithful: Roman Catholic Disobedience to Vatican Policy on Contraception


In 2010, despite a longstanding ban on contraceptives of all kinds within the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI made a statement that seemed to suggest that the Vatican had changed its stance on the use of condoms as a means of combating HIV/ AIDS. In the weeks that followed, an immense amount of speculation swirled around the Pope’s statements, leading many to wonder if the Church was experiencing a reformation of sorts. One online publication went to far as to say that “Pope Benedict XVI has now reversed the Catholic Church’s long-standing position with regard to the use of condoms to combat the spread of the HIV virus”(Deutsche Welle, 2006).

The importance of this subject is self-evident; a significant number of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics live in places that are subject to the worst instances of the AIDS pandemic, such as Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (BBC News, “How Many Roman Catholics”, 2013). Furthermore, many of these 1.2 billion Catholics live their lives according to the teachings of the pope and their local bishops and priests. In light of such controversial uncertainty, it is therefore necessary to explore the possibility of dissent from the traditional Roman Catholic condom policy. Have elements of the Church deviated from the longstanding policies of the Vatican on the issue of condom use? If so, what is the logic and reasoning behind this dissent? How does the Catholic laity actually live: according to doctrine or as they see fit?

Link to the full article: Full Article

Galen Ostermann is a fourth and final year student enrolled in honours history at McGill University with a minor in international relations. While his past research has focused on such topics as the German resistance movements of the Second World War and the role of sexual violence in the dissolution of Yugoslavia, his honours thesis centres of the development of the Japanese welfare state in the early 20th century. Galen intends to pursue a career in international security and humanitarian law.

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