An unprecedented symposium of thirty evangelical scholars the last four days of August decided birth control—“artificial” and otherwise—is neither forbidden nor sinful. Though scheduled long ago, the meeting came on the heels of Pope Paul’s decree against artificial methods and in the midst of continuing Catholic ferment on the issue (see story below).
The Symposium on the Control of Human Reproduction, co-sponsored by CHRISTIANITY TODAY and the Christian Medical Society, did not rule out sterilization on principle, but urged caution because this means of birth control “is usually irreversible.”
The scholars agreed that some therapeutic abortions are necessary, though some insisted nevertheless that all abortions are sinful. The group generally endorsed abortion guidelines approved in May by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But it said abortion is a last resort, should not be a general means of population control, and should be permitted in individual cases only after careful consideration. Indiana University sociologist John Scanzoni had argued in one of twenty-two papers presented at the symposium that abortion should be a means of general birth control.
Stomping Out Catholic Dissent
The running battle over Pope Paul’s birth-control encyclical raged about Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle, archbishop of Washington, D. C., this month as he tried to stomp out rampant dissent among his priests.
Acting on three fronts, O’Boyle emerged among the world’s Catholic bishops as one of the few to take an absolutist position against those who cannot accept Paul’s continued ban on artificial birth control.
The 71-year-old prelate:
• Called a board meeting at Catholic University to seek action against eighteen CU theologians ...1
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