Newspaper pulls article [incorrectly] claiming Malta archbishop approved contraception in marriage

Newspaper pulls article [incorrectly] claiming Malta archbishop approved contraception in marriage

Claire Chretien

MALTA, April 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Malta Today has deleted an article that incorrectly claimed Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna said non-abortifacient contraception is acceptable within marriage. One of the country’s pro-life activists has provided LifeSiteNews with a translation of Scicluna’s remarks proving he didn’t say that.

Scicluna made the remarks at issue on an interview with Xtra on TVM. But Dr. Miriam Sciberras of Life Network Foundation Malta, who also participated in the interview, said Malta Today’s description of Scicluna’s remarks was completely inaccurate.

“He is completely misquoted,” Sciberras told LifeSiteNews. “He explained that the Church teaching about contraception is a teaching specifically to be presented within marriage.”

Malta Today’s report last week claimed Scicluna said the Church’s teaching against contraception had “softened in the past few years.” Their article began:

The Church’s teachings on contraception, though always tied to the tenet of sex belonging within the marriage, had softened in the past few years, as long as no life was lost in the process, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna said on Thursday.
According to the now-deleted article, Scicluna said, “What we are saying is that if you have to use a contraceptive, make sure it is not one that kills life.”

Sciberras clarified that the archbishop “explained that the Church teaching about contraception is a teaching specifically to be presented within marriage.”

The segment was discussing contraception and the morning-after pill. Scicluna explained that certain forms of contraception can act as abortifacients, preventing an already-existing tiny human from being able to implant in his or her mother’s womb.

“First of all, we insist that people who request or buy these medicines should be informed on the mode of action of these products,” said Sciculuna. “We are also saying that the faithful should listen to us, that people of good will listen to our advice. That if any of these tablets – because there are various, just as there are various active ingredients – instead of preventing fertilisation, actually act after fertilisation – then they are not acting as contraceptives but stifle a new life that has begun. In this case the consumer has a right to know and to avoid killing a newly conceived human life.”

Whether a drug is a contraceptive or a potential abortifacient is a “legitimate question,” Scicluna said.

“I feel that the role of the Archbishop is not to decide on brand names – because it is simply not within my role to substitute science,” he continued. “Science must be presented, the consumer should be informed – he is then free not to accept my suggestion. What I am saying is – do not take pills that kill a new life.”

“You are clearly stating that a couple who have sexual relations can use some form of contraception,” journalist Saviour Balzan suggested.

“I do not judge people who use contraception in sexual relationships,” the archbishop said. He didn’t say that contraception is morally permissible.

Balzan asked him, if you “were speaking on the Church position on contraception in this room 10 years ago, your position would have been crystal clear – today you are more cautious?”

“Quite often we avoid mentioning the Church teaching but I think in this case, it needs to be made clear, that the anti-contraceptive stance is first of all related to marriage – and in these discussions we are not speaking about marriage,” said Scicluna. “The second point is that the Church teaches that one should not have sexual relations outside of marriage, thereby avoiding the problem. However, should anyone still insist or persist in using a contraceptive, we are saying, do not kill a newly conceived human being in the process.”

The Church teaches that all sexual relations outside of marriage, whether involving contraception or not, are gravely sinful.

Scicluna, along with fellow Maltese Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, issued guidelines implementing Amoris Laetitia earlier this year indicating that divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics may receive Holy Communion if they feel “at peace with God.”

Scicluna defended the guidelines, saying he and Grech were just following the pope. In February, Scicluna confirmed that he told seminarians “the seminary gate is open” for them to leave if they disagree with the Maltese bishops’ allowance of Communion for people engaged in unions the Church labels adultery.

Translation of the relevant portion of Scicluna’s Xtra on TVM interview

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