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Theologian at Academy for Life claims one may dissent from Church teaching on contraception

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

(Image: Simone van der Koelen/

Rome Newsroom, Aug 22, 2022 / 11:25 am (CNA).

The Pontifical Academy for Life has published an interview with a theologian who says Catholic teaching on contraception is open for “theological discussion, within the Church, and even the possibility of dissent.”

The interview with Father Maurizio Chiodi, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life since 2017, was published in Italian and English and shared on the pontifical academy’s Twitter page. It was conducted by Fabrizio Mastrofini, the communications and social media manager of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

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

A Vatican-published book synthesizing 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.

Father Chiodi in 2017 publicly argued that some circumstances in marriage could “require contraception” as a matter of responsibility.

In the Aug. 19 article, 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.

“This,” Chiodi added, “does not legitimize hastily substituting one’s own idea with the teaching of the magisterium, claiming for oneself an infallibility denied to the magisterium, but it does open up theological discussion, within the Church, and even the possibility of dissent, both for the individual believer and the theologian.”

In his 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.”

Since 2019, Chiodi has been a professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Family and Matrimonial Sciences. One of his courses is “Theological Ethics of Life.”

In December 2017, the moral theologian gave a lecture on Humanae vitae, in which he used chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, to argue that artificial contraception could be used in some circumstances.

Chiodi said he believed contraception “could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”

In Humanae vitae, his 1968 encyclical on the regulation of birth, St. Paul VI wrote that “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation — whether as an end or as a means” is “excluded,” as an unlawful means of birth control.

Father Thomas Petri, O.P., president of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. 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.

“There can’t be any sort of rollback of the teaching, because it’s what’s always been taught, and that’s how Catholic theology, and Catholic doctrine, works.”

​​Petri added that “It’s not helpful to simply focus on infallibility and what is named infallible in an extraordinary way. The First Vatican Council, when it spoke about papal infallibility, was very clear that it was supposed to be an extraordinary act.”

Petri compared an infallible statement to an ecumenical council. He described it as “a very extraordinary act, and which usually only happens when the matter at issue, whether it’s a doctrinal matter or a moral matter, has become so entirely embroiled in conflict … that it requires such an extraordinary act as a pope or a council declaring something infallibly.”

“That’s not normally how Church teaching works — that’s why the ordinary magisterium is important.”

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  1. At a time when most Catholics practice contraception, the ‘possible dissent’ raised by Academy for Life Fr Chiodi [known for liberal views] has actual relevance if the intent were a canard, or ruse for eventual ‘possible dissent’ from larger moral doctrinal axioms [anticipated within the Synod on Synodality] homosexual relations between consenting adults [among other radical agenda of Synod relator Hollerich], homosexual marriage, a relaxed abortion policy, communion for apostates [already given the signal for acceptance by Francis’ criticism of Cordileone’s sanction against Nancy Pelosi as not pastoral].
    As repeated we’re in for a severe test of our faith. And with Christ we can do all things.

    • Thank you, Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for your courageous act that exposed the counterfeit magisterium attempting to subsist within The One Body Of Christ, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

      “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. ”

      Why can’t a validly elected Pope, who still retains the Gift Of Infallibility from The Holy Ghost, declare that the election of a schismatic to the Papacy is invalid?

  2. Very disturbing. It should be no shock that so many Catholics have gone so far astray. This especially when those close to the Vatican come out with nonsense and then are not publicly corrected. It appears to me that back a few decades such clerics would be called on the carpet, made to retract, and then often disappear from public spokesmanship. Those so disciplined would neither contest the discipline in public nor fight it by self-righteous efforts to “explain” why the Vatican position was wrong. Since our hierarchy now refuses to do this, why is it a shock when ordinary catholics think its ok to “do your own thing” in the moral arena. Vote for the infanticide presidential candidate, live with a “significant other” while using contraception ( a double sin there) , etc. Because if no one reprimands, it must be ok, right? One could think of a whole host of things NEVER discussed at church which should be: spousal abuse, bullying (for children),stealing, adultery,abusing one’s health (drinking and tobacco), sin in general, on and on. The cult of “nice” has control of the train and it is going full throttle toward the cliff. The price to be paid will be the destruction of the church, assisted by those especially charged to protect her by making clear the rules. Very sad.

    • I remember in the 70s a visiting priest gave a fire and brimstone homily, complete with a shaking finger and very loud, “sins of the flesh.”

  3. Ralph M. McInerny’s book, What Went Wrong With Vatican II, is not exhaustive history. It deals mainly with the ecclesial sockwave, including reactions to Humanae Vitae in the post VII era, with numerous quotes from the celebrity dissenters of those times.

    I found it to be the funniest book I ever read in my life. There is nothing funnier than listening to those with a mind with no awareness that the definition of stupidity is believing yourself to be very intelligent and prophetic, especially when they repeat cliches that have been repeated several million times with the confidence that they are saying something daring and original.

  4. I can’t get over how many do not realize or even acknowledge the main reason Protestants and mere Christians aren’t Catholic.

    Don’t let any mainstream Protestant theologian fool you on why they fight so much against Catholicism and fight tooth and nail to uphold their Protestantism or mere Christianity.


    They’re playing you like a violin with all their theological hurdles and arguments when their main motive is preserving their use of contraception.

    Catholics have a regiment. We dedicate ourselves with weekly fasting every Friday and many on Wednesdays as well. We routinely discipline ourselves and our bodies every week in ordinary time and consistently during the Lenten season.

    Non Catholic Christians have no regiment. They fast when they feel like it.

    Catholics hit the spiritual gym routinely.

    Physical pain hurts. The death of a loved one hurts. Refraining from sex and abandoning contraception doesn’t hurt, especially compared to real pain.

    Words, disagreements, discussions, and refraining from sex are a walk in the park compared to real pain.

    All these Protestant theologians and experts say how much they trust, obey, and are willing to sacrifice for Jesus until it comes to sacrificing their contraception and embracing chastity.

    Talk with the most prominent Protestants and anti-Catholics out there and ask them if they use contraception in their marriage.

    Contraception is why the vast majority of them want to be Protestant.

    • And why so many members of the counterfeit magisterium misrepresented the teaching of Christ’s Church in regards to contraception leading many Faithful Catholics astray, to the point of some becoming unfaithful, and contributing to the anti Christian belief that regards children to be a burden and not a Blessing, that very foundation upon which the atheist materialist over population alarmist globalist have built their great “reset”, which is, in reality, the reason why they continue to promote and mandate an experimental vaccine that does not provide immunity from disease nor does it stop the disease from spreading.

      “It is now becoming clear that the very notion of being—of what being human really means—is being called into question.

      “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.” – Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address 2012

  5. From my perspective, dissent has become the norm in the Church. Those obedient to the Church are punished (e.g. Tridentine Mass is shut down) while the disobedient are rewarded. So, let’s jump on the band-wagon. Let’s all dissent. I could be fun.

  6. “Chiodi said he believed contraception “could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”
    It’s a theological version of a corporate-speak word salad.
    Can you imagine the early Christian martyrs hearing a message like that & being convicted to die for it? It’s ridiculous.
    Jimmy Cliff got this right:

    “You keep telling me yes
    But you don’t mean it
    You keep telling me no
    And try to lean it

    You’re giving me buts and maybe
    You know this will drive me crazy
    Why can’t you tell it like it is?

    And let your yeah be yeah
    And your no be no, now
    Let your yeah be yeah
    And your no be no, now

    Because I’m on my guard
    And I’m watching you from head to toe
    So that let your yeah be yeah
    And your no be no

    You wear a plastic smile
    I know by your eyes
    You speak with indefinite style
    You’re telling me lies

    You’ve got to face reality
    What is wrong with you and me?
    Why can’t you free your honesty?”

    • Your comment reminded me of some theologian 30 years ago, whose name escapes me, but he took it furthur to justify abortion using the same language. He actually claimed abortion can be another, “special” form of “welcoming lives that we choose to care for.”

  7. I can always dissent from a Church teaching, and I can always commit a sin. I can also tell myself any lie, but that doesn’t make it true. It’s still a sin.

  8. I know more and more Catholics – and with a lot more education in these matters and greater status than I have – who now openly question whether Bergoglio remains truly the pope. Even if validly elected, can he continue to hold the office when he not merely tolerates, but actively promotes heresy and every vile practice? After all, these perverted men are all Bergoglio’s friends, protégés and appointments.

  9. The Pope of ‘Situational Ethics’ continues on his merry way undermining at every possible opportunity the 2000 year teachings of the Catholic Faith. Remember that he personally sacked the entire staff of the John Paul Academy for Life in order to install his Liberal Modernists. When the “Synod on Synodality” meets, the Bishops will more than likely cave to some further confusing and misleading statements that will provide further opportunity for people to think whatever they like according to their consciences, no matter what Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium have said so far. Welcome to the ultimate end of the church of “lets just be nice”….we will all be able to have our cake and eat it too.
    That way orthodox Catholics will be fooled for the most part into believing that the content of the faith hasn’t changed. Meanwhile the Globalist, Homosexualist, Leftist, Revisionist majority will remain were they are as of right now…in complete control of the Roman Catholic Church but even more so. In another 10 years or 15 years at the most there will hardly be a single Orthodox Catholic bishop left in the entire world. Francis is seeing to that right now and its better than an odds on bet that his successor will do exactly the same.

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  1. Theologian at Academy for Life claims one may dissent from Church teaching on contraception | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
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