posted on 06 December 2004
Diocese of Westminster
In response to a number of articles and letters questioning the fidelity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to magisterial teaching following recent statements by the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, a letter has been sent today to one of those publications by Mgr Andrew Summersgill, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, on behalf of its President, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. The letter reads in part:
The [bishops'] conference's position [has] been made clear in its 2004 teaching document, Cherishing Life, Section 170, which deals specifically with the question of Aids, and concludes that 'the only assured way to prevent passing on [sexually-transmitted diseases] is to express love in ways other than through sexual intercourse.'
In order to clarify any possible misunderstanding, the Cardinal would like to make clear:
- The Bishops oppose artificial contraception and do not advocate the promotion of condoms as a means of combating Aids. The way to combat Aids is through the Catholic sexual ethic of monogamy, fidelity and abstinence.
- The magisterium of the church always maintains the objectivity of the moral law, whilst also recognising the particular circumstances in which individuals endeavour to live her teaching.
It is therefore quite misleading to seek to portray the position of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales as being at variance with magisterial teaching on this question.
Finally, with reference to CAFOD, it is the development agency of the Bishops' Conference and cares devotedly for the poorest people in the world and does so in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.