Speaking about contraception, Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna has said last Friday on TV that "one must remember that the Church always placed the argument in the context of marriage". He added: "What we are saying is that if you have to use a contraceptive, make sure it is not one that kills life."
I have spent my medical career so far as a family doctor in England, refusing to prescribe contraception. This has brought me into conflict at times, and I have had to be so careful how I manage it.
I've been refused work because of my stance on not prescribing contraception. I know several Catholic medics who've been hauled before the general medical council of the UK, accused of abusing the doctor-patient relationship balance and enforcing the doctor's moral values based on religion, on the patient.
I know of a pharmacist in Ireland who was fired from his job, and spent months of mental anguish and near financial ruin because he refused to dispense contraception.
After what Scicluna said, it seems I have been silly all along. My colleagues too, who suffered sleepless nights awaiting the outcome of a disciplinary panel hearing for their fitness to practice medicine, suffered that in vain. And my pharmacist friend lost his job for nothing.
Because officially, an archbishop in the universal Catholic Church, has pronounced that the Church is basically ok with contraception. That is the bottom line here. Let's not hide behind verbiage: this is what Scicluna's statement means.
Apart from the spiritual element effecting the Church, the practical consequence of it for me, as a medic, is that it removes my protection for my reason for not prescribing contraception. Potentially, in a future issue arising from my stance of refusing to prescribe contraception, a crafty Human Resources person could accuse me of making up my own morality when even the Church doesn't subscribe to it.
It has been my experience that on several occasions, when I have made known at a job interview that I would not prescribe contraception, I have been asked by a practice manager or two, why I have taken such a position, when so and so, who is also a Catholic doctor does prescribe contraception. My standard response in those situations have been, that I am not able to comment on an individual doctor's stance, but that I follow the Church's teaching.
However, Scicluna has now undermined my position. He has handed a cudgel to the secularist to beat me with. Believe me there's plenty who would love to use that cudgel, and drive to get rid of Catholics from positions of influence in society.
Personally, I have more care for the dog turd on my shoe than for what Archbishop Scicluna has to say about contraception. But, for the outside world looking in, and for many others in the mercy and conscience clan within the church, this is 'big league' news, to borrow a Trumphism.
When will this horror end?
*The true name of the author is know to gloria.tv