Mary McAleese gives strong support to Scholar’s Statement challenging the Church’s ban on artificial contraception

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The Wijngaards Institute's Scholar's Statement challenging the Church's ban on contraception will be launched on September 20th at an event hosted by the UN. Former Irish President Mary McAleese has written a moving endorsement of our work which perfectly explains the urgency of the appeal:



This is personal. I am the oldest of nine children and one of the sixty live children my mother and her siblings produced. Ours is precisely the kind of large Catholic clan system so beloved of flattering papal documents on the family. Yet while our parents handed on to my generation the baton of a strong but docile Catholic faith they never encouraged us to have the big families they had. They had their reasons and they were too obvious to need to be stated. The baton like the proverbial penny was already dropping. My generation largely rejected Humanae Vitae‘s ban on artificial contraception and along with it magisterial control over family size. Our small families testify to that.
I still remember the evening our parish priest, in front of us children, lambasted my forty year old mother for having had a hysterectomy without his permission and while still of child-bearing age. She had by then had eleven pregnancies and a history of haemorrhages which had left her dangerously ill and chronically weak. He left her in a spiritual agony which lingers even today.
All over the world good, decent, faith-filled men and women are infantilised and robbed by Humanae Vitae of their God-given right and obligation to make sensible adult decisions in the best interests of their health, their relationships and their children. The damage inflicted particularly on the poor, on women, on children, on relationships, on health, on society and not least on the Church itself, is a millstone around our necks and we are drowning. It needs to be removed in conscience, in justice and in Christ for as this Scholars’ Statement explains compellingly it has no basis in divine law.
Prof Mary McAleese, Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London; previously Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Queen’s University, Belfast.