"Morning-After" Debate Goes Beyond the Pill

Church Itself Is Under Fire, Says Aide in Archdiocese of Mexico

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MEXICO CITY, FEB. 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A debate over the "morning-after pill" has become a debate over the Church's authority and its ability to manifest its doctrine publicly, says a figure in the Archdiocese of Mexico.



Legionary of Christ Father Cipriano Sánchez, director of family pastoral care for the archdiocese, made this point in the wake of a decision by the national Health Department to approve the listing of the drug as a contraceptive.

"The real question is that something is being approved as a contraceptive method that has been proved scientifically to have abortifacient effects," the priest told ZENIT.

"Independently of the opinion of the Church, this goes against the Mexican Constitution, which guarantees the defense of life from conception, and against the international agreements that the Mexican state has signed, by which it has committed itself not to promote abortion as a means of contraception," he said.

"This pill goes against these two principles, as according to scientific studies, it has a 15% possibility of having abortifacient consequences," Father Sánchez stressed.

"The Church has as its mission to defend life in all its circumstances. If the Church is silent before such a great attack on life, it would be silent before a very important duty that has been entrusted to it," he observed.

The priest continued: "This pill cannot be used indiscriminately, and this has been recognized by the Health Department itself. For two reasons: for the very health of those who use it, which could be affected, and, above all, because it doesn't address the problem in depth, the reasons that lead to this recourse -- the sexual irresponsibility that so harms young people."

"The fact that young people think that they can have relations without any repercussions leads them to be irresponsible, instead of assuming the responsibility that love and sexuality imply," he lamented.

Yet, the current debate is not so much centered on the health and scientific repercussions, but rather on "the authority of the Church and on the very image of the Church," Father Sánchez contended.

"For me, the most serious thing is that the possibility is questioned that the Church can defend morality and raise its voice in a pluralist, democratic and liberal society. It is very symptomatic that the Church is the only one not allowed to speak, and this is totally anti-democratic," he said.

"This debate has been used to knock the Church even more," the priest continued. "The Church has been knocked in the past by some sexual scandals, and by calumnies expressed by a former attorney of the republic against Cardinal Juan Sandoval, archbishop of Guadalajara, which were shown to be juridically false."

"Now the Church is being knocked, being presented as intransigent, intolerant, incapable of understanding people's problems, when in reality what the Church does is to defend unborn life and the real meaning of love and sexuality between young people," he continued.

Father Sánchez added: "The morning-after pill highlights two things: the tremendous loneliness of young people in the area of sexuality, which results in their not having the emotional formation necessary to address these issues. And it speaks to us of the need to form much more solid, more structured families in all senses … so that they can help young people to address this type of situations."