Vatican Raises Alarm on Declining Birth Rates and Reaffirms Opposition to IVF and Contraception

Vatican, Pope Francis, IVF
Unsplash/Arnold Straub

The Vatican released a new document on Tuesday that expresses serious worry about the world's declining birthrates and promotes alternatives to artificial reproductive techniques that it views as immoral. The Global Family Compact also reiterated the Catholic Church's long-standing opposition to contraception, despite rumors that Pope Francis could soften St. Paul VI's position on artificial birth control in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

The Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life collaborated to create this new project, which specifies four key action goals and features a message from Pope Francis in support.

Vatican's Stance on Birth Control, IVF Emphasizes 'No' in New Family Compact

According to the story in CruxNow, The Compact encourages Catholic colleges and research centers to look into the difficulties that families face in an effort to encourage more young people to get married and have families. This is in response to the present society trend wherein couples frequently put off getting married and having children because of social and financial considerations. Due to elevated infertility risks and the contentious use of assisted reproductive technologies, such delays provide difficulties.

The Compact explores the difficulties of reproduction and the challenges faced while trying to add a new life to a family while also addressing themes like poverty, single-parent households, and the effects of war.

Infertile couples and those wishing to grow their families are encouraged to consider adoption as a viable option. It calls on Catholic research institutions and universities to promote this choice and denounces artificial reproduction methods. The Compact recommends setting up institutions to investigate cases of infertility and put forward different remedies, including NaPro-Technologies. 

It laments the widespread use of sterilization, contraception, and abortion, claiming that these procedures have altered what it means to reproduce. The text also criticizes the assisted reproduction sector, pointing out how it encourages a selective mindset and exaggerated hopes. The Vatican promotes a humane approach to fertility management and seeks to refocus attention on ethically and culturally appropriate methods of family growth.

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences president, Sister Helen Alford, acknowledged the difficulties that families confront around the world but emphasized their resiliency and ability to assist and heal one another. According to USCCB, she underlined the significance of investing in families and looking into practical solutions to problems because she recognized the need for enhanced resilience in the face of upcoming disasters, such as climate change. 

The academy recommended that the Vatican start a compact and asked the church to support family well-being in the next sustainable development objectives of the UN. Additionally, they suggested the creation of working groups to enhance family-business ties through family-friendly employment contracts and national action plans to address fundamental family requirements.

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The Roman Catholic Church and Birth Control

The Roman Catholic Church forbade the use of all "artificial" birth control methods in 1930. According to the website PBS, condoms, diaphragms, douches, and spermicides were among those listed because they were thought to interfere with conception naturally and were therefore considered fatal sins. 

The church made it clear that procreation was the main goal of sexual activity, with the two permissible options being abstinence or the rhythm method, which was sanctioned by the church. But there was optimism for a shift in the church's position with the invention of the birth control pill in 1960. Despite a panel looking into the matter, the Pill became more and more popular among American women of all faiths.

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