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Catholic Scholars’ Statement on the Ethics of Using Contraceptives

Foreword: In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Humanae Vitae: On the Regulation of Birth,” the Wijngaards Institute gathered an interdisciplinary task force of experts to reassess the ethics of using contraception from within the Catholic tradition. The resulting collaborative research report was made available online on the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research website in October 2016. The report has been created using the Wikipedia model, and so it will remain open to amendments and expansions from qualified contributors registered to the website.

The Statement below presents a summary of the findings. It can be found online at http://www.wijngaardsinstitute.com/statement-ethics-using-contraceptives/ in Dutch, English, German, Italian and Spanish.

Its conclusions are based on interdisciplinary scholarship which can be verified independently. For that reason, we now submit the Statement for wider world endorsement, having formally launched it in New York on 20th September 2016 at a UN-hosted meeting entitled “Keeping the Faith in Development: Gender, Religion & Health.”

Our goal is to encourage the Catholic hierarchy to reverse their stance against so called “artificial” contraceptives. To this end, we will be making the Statement’s findings widely known to Catholic church officials and opinion leaders (e.g. bishops, priests, religious sisters, management and medical staff of Catholic health care facilities, Catholic social workers, journalists, etc.), as well as ordinary Catholics.

Our findings and theological materials are available to all UN departments and development agencies who are trying to navigate the fraught relationship between religious belief and women’s health in working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, August 2016

Dr Luca Badini Confalonieri, General Director of the Wijngaards Institute, presenting the Statement at the UN launch.
Dr Luca Badini Confalonieri, General Director of the Wijngaards Institute, presenting the Statement at the UN launch.

THE STATEMENT

Summary: The official papal teaching banning the use of “artificial” contraceptives for family planning is based on the belief that the biological “laws of conception” show that each and every act of sexual intercourse has procreation as their natural “finality” and “significance.” From such a belief, the moral requirement is inferred that couples engaging in sexual intercourse must always be open to procreation. However, the vast majority of acts of sexual intercourse do not have the biological “capacity” for procreation, and therefore they cannot have procreation as their “finality” or “significance.” As for the intention of the agents, the Bible identifies a variety of morally worthy non-conceptive motives for engaging in sexual intercourse. This is confirmed by the evolutionary biology of human reproduction, and sociology, among other disciplines.

The use of modern contraceptives can facilitate one or more of sexual intercourse’s non-conceptive meanings, as well as have additional morally worthy purposes – e.g. family planning, following the requirements of responsible parenthood (HV §10). Therefore, the decision to use modern contraceptives can be taken for a variety of morally worthy motives, and so it can be responsible and ethical.

Background

The Catholic Church’s ban on using “artificial” contraceptives for the purpose of family planning is based on the arguments advanced in the 1968 encyclical letter Humanae Vitae – On the Regulation of Birth (HV) by Pope Paul VI. Such arguments have been repeated often, and never substantially modified, in later magisterial pronouncements over the last 50 years. This statement evaluates their correctness.

Humanae Vitae’s Argument from Natural Law

§1. The main argument of HV comes can be summarized as follows:

§1.1. The biological “laws of conception” regulating human reproduction show that sexual intercourse has a “capacity to transmit life” (HV §13).

§1.2. For that reason, each and every act of sexual intercourse has a procreative “significance” (HV §12), “meaning and purpose” (HV §13), “finality” (HV §3), and an “intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” (HV §11).

§1.3. The above mentioned “laws of conception” have been established by God. Therefore, intentionally thwarting the procreative capacity, significance and finality that said laws have endowed each and every act of sexual intercourse with “frustrates His design […] and contradicts the will of the Author of life” (HV §13).

§1.4. Consequently, “sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive [is] intrinsically wrong” (Lat. “intrinsece inhonestum”) and so is “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means” (HV §14).

§2. From the above, HV draws additional moral norms:

§2.1. Using “artificial” contraceptives to avoid conception is absolutely banned. The reason is that they “obstruct the natural development of the generative process” (HV §16).

§2.2. Using Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods with the same intention of avoiding conception is morally legitimate. The reason is that in so doing a couple stand “within the limits of the order of reality established by God” and “use a faculty provided them by nature” (HV §16).

Assessment of the Argument from Natural Law

§3. HV’s argument is not supported by the relevant evidence.

§3.1. HV’s argument is that because the biological “laws of conception” reveal that sexual intercourse has a “capacity to transmit life” (HV §13), each and every act of sexual intercourse has a “procreative significance” (HV §12) and “finality” (HV §3), and an “intrinsic relationship” to procreation (HV §11).

This misinterprets the biological evidence. The causal relationship between insemination and, on the other hand, fertilization, implantation, and ultimately procreation, is statistical, not necessary. The vast majority of acts of sexual intercourse do not have the biological “capacity” for procreation, and therefore they cannot have procreation as their “finality” or “significance.”

§3.2. Secondly, it is mistaken to derive a moral prescription directly from a factual description, i.e. a judgment of value (about what morally ought to be) directly from a judgment of fact (about what is).

However, this is what HV does when it infers that people engaging in sexual intercourse must always be open to the possibility of procreation from the (incorrect) fact that each and every act of sexual intercourse has a procreative finality.

For the same reason, it is also incorrect to deduce a divine command directly from the existence of a law of nature, contrary to what HV does when asserting that the above mentioned moral prescription is God’s will.

§3.3. The affirmation that human beings may not interfere with the biological laws regulating human reproduction because they have been established by God is in contradiction with observational evidence on how human beings interact with the created order.

As agents of reason, human beings have a unique capacity to intentionally alter the schedule of probabilities inherent in the physical, chemical and biological laws of nature. This is a reality of daily life: for instance, any sort of medical intervention, from something as insignificant as taking pain-killers to something as consequential as performing cardiovascular surgery, affects probabilities – of healing, survival, death, etc. Furthermore, the decision not to intervene in natural processes also affects those probabilities, just as choosing to intervene does.

The moral question is not whether to alter the schedule of probabilities within natural processes, but rather whether, when, and how doing so is conducive to human flourishing and the flourishing of all creation.

§4. Furthermore, it is contradictory to affirm, on the one hand, that as a general principle “sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive [is] intrinsically wrong,” and on the other that it is morally legitimate to practice NFP with the “intention to avoid children and [the] wish to make sure that none will result” (HV §16).

Assessment of the Arguments from Authority

§5. Although HV contends that its main argument is valid on the strength of natural law alone, it also complements it with two arguments from authority. Both of them might be interpreted as arguing in favor of the infallibility of the magisterial teaching that contraception is immoral.

§6.1. In one, HV argues that the Church magisterium has a God-given duty to proclaim the “natural moral law” (HV §4), which includes the ethics of contraception. It further affirms that the “natural law […] declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men’s eternal salvation” (HV §4).

This has sometimes been interpreted as entailing that HV must be infallible because the magisterium could not err in something which is necessary for people’s eternal salvation.

§6.2. Secondly, Pope Paul VI states the reason he rejected the final report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control was because “certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church” (HV §6).

Again, the implicit assumption seems to be that the constant teaching tradition by the magisterium of the church on that subject cannot be reformed, and is therefore infallible.

§6.3. However, according to Catholic theology, for a doctrine – including a moral doctrine – to be able to be defined infallibly and thus irreformably it must be either revealed or required for the defense or explanation of revealed truth (Cf. CDF: Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), DH 4536 [AAS 65 (1973) 401]). If it is not, then it cannot be defined infallibly.

The teaching that using “artificial” contraception is an intrinsic wrong always and everywhere is not revealed, nor has it ever been shown to be essential for the truth of the Christian revelation. Accordingly, it cannot become the object of an infallible definition.

Hence, the appeal to a supposed constant tradition of magisterial teaching on the subject cannot by itself settle the question and foreclose the discussion, because the requirements for an infallible definition are not met.

Finally, because the ethics of using contraceptives is a matter pertaining to the so-called non-revealed “natural moral law” (HV §4), its correctness can only be proved by reason.

The Moral Evaluation of Using Modern Contraceptives for Both Family Planning and Prophylactic Purposes

§7. The morality of any human action is determined by the motives and intentions of the agent, the circumstances of the situation, and the consequences of that action.

§8. The Bible identifies a variety of morally worthy non-conceptive motives for engaging in sexual intercourse. This is confirmed by evolutionary biology and modern sociological surveys, among other disciplines.

Those non-conceptive motives for sexual intercourse include pleasure, love, comfort, celebration and companionship. They are morally worthy even without the concurrent occurrence of either a “procreative significance” of the biological “laws of conception,” or the agents’ procreative intention.

The use of modern contraceptives can facilitate one or more of sexual intercourse’s non-conceptive meanings, as well as have additional morally worthy purposes – e.g. family planning, following the requirements of responsible parenthood (HV §10).

Therefore, the decision to use modern contraceptives can be taken for a variety of morally worthy motives, and so it can be ethical.

§9.1. HV permits NFP. The encyclical admits that NFP can be used with the same intention as modern contraceptives, namely, to avoid conception for family planning purposes. To that extent, and all other things being equal, the two contraceptive methods are morally equivalent.

§9.2. Abortifacient methods should ordinarily be avoided, unless there is a proportionate reason for doing otherwise. In evaluating the proportionate reason, the traditional moral principles of the “lesser evil” and “double effect” can be applied.

§10. Using modern contraceptives has many proven benefits: among other things, it makes it much easier for both men and women to plan a family, it substantially lowers maternal morbidity and mortality, infant and child mortality, and abortion. Conversely, it can increase maternal, infant and child health.

Evidence also suggests that family planning via modern contraceptives leads to substantial increases in women’s education and contribution to the common good. In turn, the resultant greater investment in children improves their cognitive development, health, educational achievements, and future opportunities to contribute to the common good.

Because of the exceptional breadth of its potential benefits, promotion of family planning via modern contraceptives was regarded as an essential contributor to all eight Millennium Development Goals.

§11. The use of barrier methods of contraception for prophylactic purposes – namely in order to minimize the probability of spreading the HIV virus or other STIs from one person to another, or via the pregnant woman to the unborn child – can be not only responsible but even morally imperative.

§12. Those who subscribe to the condemnation as morally wrong of the use of contraceptives for family planning purposes can still argue in favor of the morality of using of barrier methods for prophylactic purposes, e.g. on the basis of the principle of the “double effect.”

CONCLUSION

§13. In conclusion, there are no grounds, either from the Bible or from nature, to support current Catholic teaching according to which each and every act of sexual intercourse has a procreative significance and finality, and that consequently using “artificial” contraceptives for the purposes of family planning is always wrong, or “intrinsically wrong” (HV §14).

On the contrary, the choice to use contraceptives for either family planning or prophylactic purposes can be a responsible and ethical decision and even, at times, an ethical imperative.

RECOMMENDATIONS

§14. With regard to the use of modern contraceptives as prophylactic.

In view of the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the fact that Catholic-run health care centers and schools constitute approximately 25% of the total worldwide, and that the topic has already been extensively researched, we recommend to the competent authorities in the Catholic Church that the following two steps be implemented as a matter of urgency:

§14.1. The 2006 document by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers which suggested that barrier methods of contraception can be morally legitimate when used by married Catholic couples for prophylactic purposes should be made public.

§14.2. An official magisterial document should be published affirming that the use of non-abortifacient modern contraceptives for prophylactic purposes can be morally legitimate and even morally obligatory.

The statement could include an explicit provision allowing for the distribution of such modern contraceptives for prophylactic purposes by Catholic-run health care facilities, with the provision of adequate guidance.

§15. With regard to the use of modern contraceptives for family planning.

In societies such as the Catholic Church there are many specialized and complementary domains of expertise. The collaboration between those different domains is important for the common good of the society.

Therefore, we recommend that the Catholic magisterium seek the opinion of Christian theologians and experts in other relevant disciplines with regard to the ethics of using modern non-abortifacient contraceptives for the purposes of family planning.

We also recommend that their opinion be sought on the other areas of Catholic sexual ethics which will likely be affected by a revision of the present teaching banning the use of contraceptives for family planning, namely the negative evaluation of masturbation, homosexual relationships, and in vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the consultation process adopted, the opinions gathered should be independent, representative of the majority view of the pertinent academic communities, and made public.

In case of a lack of unanimity, the names and arguments of those who disagree with the majority opinion should also be made public.

The present report can be regarded as the initial step towards such a consultation.

§16. Should the evidence and arguments put forward in the present report be accepted, the recommended official magisterial document should revoke the absolute ban on the use of “artificial” contraceptives, and allow the use of modern non-abortifacient contraceptives for both prophylactic and family planning purposes.

§17. As soon as possible after the publication of that official magisterial document, and conditional on its conclusions, national episcopal conferences should recommend that Catholic-run health-care facilities make modern non-abortifacient contraceptives available for both prophylactic and family planning purposes, with the provision of adequate guidance.

§18. Acceptance of HV as a mark of orthodoxy should be removed from all selection procedures, including that of bishops and the teaching staff of Catholic academic institutions.

§19. Where possible, damage to the career of Catholic scholars who have been censured for speaking out in defense of the ethical use of modern contraceptives should be undone.

Authors of the Academic Report on the Ethical Use of Contraceptives and Principal Signatories of the Statement

  1. Prof Mark Joseph Calano, Philosophy & Marriage and Sexuality, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, the Philippines;
  2. Dr Luca Badini Confalonieri, Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, London, UK;
  3. Prof Roger Burggraeve, Systematic and Moral Theology (Emeritus), Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium;
  4. Prof Ricardo Chica, Development Economics, Economic Development Consultant, Cartagena, Colombia;
  5. Prof Christine Gudorf, Christian Ethics, Florida International University, Miami, USA;
  6. Dr Nontando Hadebe, Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria;
  7. Prof Jan Jans, Moral Theology, School of Humanities, University of Tilburg, the Netherlands;
  8. Emily Kahm, Practical Theology/Lived Religion, doctoral candidate at the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver, Colorado, USA;
  9. Prof William Lemaire, MD. Emeritus Professor. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine;
  10. Prof Michael G. Lawler, Amelia and Emil Graff Chair in Catholic Theology (Emeritus), Creighton University, Omaha, USA;
  11. Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Microbiology, Medicine and Theology, Head, Tissue Bank, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India;
  12. Dr Aloma Lobo, General Practitioner, Chair of Adoption Consultancy Services, Bengaluru, India;
  13. Prof Gerard Loughlin, Moral Theology, University of Durham, UK;
  14. Prof Dietmar Mieth, Theological Ethics (Emeritus), University of Tübingen, Germany;
  15. Dr Irina Pollard, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia;
  16. Dr Cristina Richie, Health Care Ethics, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, USA;
  17. Virginia Saldanha, BA Economics, for many years Executive Secretary of the Office of Laity, Family and Women’s Desk of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, Mumbai, India;
  18. Prof Todd Salzmann, Amelia and Emil Graff Chair in Catholic Theology, Creighton University, Omaha, USA;
  19. Prof Joseph Selling, Moral Theology (Emeritus), Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium;
  20. Prof David Stronck, specialization ‘Sexuality Education’, Biology and Science, Department of Teacher Education, California State University, USA;
  21. Dr Agneta Sutton, Associate Lecturer, Christian Ethics, University College Chichester, UK;
  22. Dr John Wijngaards, Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, London, UK.

Catholic Co-Signatories of the Statement

endorse10

  1. Prof. Anthony Suárez-Abraham, Theology, Dominican University, River Forest IL, USA;
  2. Prof Mario Aguilar, Chair of Religion and Politics at the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, Scotland;
  3. Prof Subhash Anand SJ, Philosophy and Religion (Emeritus), Pontifical Athenaeum Jnanadeep Vidyapeeth, Pune, India;
  4. Prof Maria Pilar Aquino, ‘Theology and Religious Studies’, San Diego University; co-founder of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians, USA;
  5. Prof Antonio Autiero, Moral Theology (Emeritus), University of Münster, Germany;
  6. Prof Teresa Berger, Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology, Yale University, New Haven CT, USA;
  7. Prof Juan Barreto Betancort,New Testament, University of La Laguna, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain;
  8. Prof Paulo Agostinho N. Baptista, Doctor in the Sciences of Religion & Post-Doctorate in Demography, State University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil;
  9. Prof William W. Bassett JCD JD, Religion and Law (Emeritus), School of Law, University of San Francisco CA, USA;
  10. Prof Gregory Baum, Religious Studies (Emeritus), McGill University, Montreal, Canada;
  11. Prof Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Roehampton, London, UK;
  12. Prof Peter Beisheim, Religious Studies & Director Catholic Studies Program, Stonehill College, North Easton, MA, USA;
  13. Prof Eugene C.Bianchi, ‘Sexism and Woman-Man Liberation’, Religion (Emeritus), Emory University, Atlanta GA, USA;
  14. Prof Alberto Bondolfi, Ethics (Emeritus), Theological Faculty, University of Geneva, Switserland;
  15. Prof Sharon Bong, Religious Studies , Monash University, Malaysia;
  16. Assistant Prof Agnes M. Brazal, Theology, Research Fellow, De la Salle University, Manila, the Philippines;
  17. Prof Sidney Callahan, Paul J. McKeever Chair of Moral Theology (Emerita), St. John’s University, Queens, New York, USA;
  18. Prof Deirdre Carabine, previously International University of Health Sciences, Kampala; now Director of Programmes at the Virtual University of Uganda, Kampala;
  19. Assistant Prof Maria Lorena Carlo, PhD MPhil MA in Biomedical Informatics, MS Computing, MBA. Position: Assistant Professor in Computational Science, ESPOL University, Guayaquil, Ecuador;
  20. Prof Miguel Angel Sanchez Carlos, Theological Ethics, Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de México, México;
  21. Levy Checketts, PhD candidate in Christian Ethics, Graduate Theological Union; adjunct lecturer in Philosophy and Religious Studies, Holy Names University, Oakland California, USA;
  22. Prof Juan Masiá Clavel SJ, Theology (Emeritus), Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan;
  23. Ana Laura Jiménez Codinach MA Theol, Foundress of the Community of John XXIII in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México;
  24. Prof John J. Collins, Theology and Scripture, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA;
  25. Dr Paul Collins, Church Historian and writer, Australian National University (Emeritus), Canberra, Australia;
  26. Prof Christopher C. H. Cook, Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK;
  27. Prof Michael L. Cook SJ, Religious Studies (Emeritus), Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA; now Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, CA, USA;
  28. Dr Mary Condren, Religion, Gender and Culture, Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland;
  29. Prof José A. Cuenca T., Theology, University of Alcalá de Hemares, Madrid, Spain;
  30. Prof Charles E. Curran, previously professor of Moral Theology, the Catholic University of America; at present Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA; see endorsement;
  31. Prof James Dallen, Religious Studies (Emeritus), Gonzaga University, Spokane WA, USA;
  32. Prof Gabriel Daly OSA, Theology, Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland;
  33. Associate Prof María Teresa Dávila, Christian Ethics, Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, MA, USA;
  34. Stephen Devol, BA Economics, Director Dayton Catholic Worker Movement, Executive Producer Catholic Internet Television Network, Dayton OH, USA;
  35. Prof John A. Dick, History of Theology, Leuven University; visiting professor University of Ghent, Belgium;
  36. Prof Paul E. Dinter,, Religious Studies, Manhattan College, New York, USA;
  37. Dr Donal Dorr, Irish independent scholar and activist, Dublin, Ireland;
  38. Prof René van Eijden, ‘Women and the Church’, Dogmatic Theology (Emeritus), University of Utrecht, the Netherlands;
  39. Prof John Esposito, Religion and International Affairs, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA;
  40. Prof Juan Antonio Estrada PhD & ThD,, Catedrático de Filosofía, Campus de Cartuja, Universidad de Granada, España;
  41. Prof Benjamín Forcano, ‘Moral Theology’ for many years at Universities in Spain, Italy, Colombia and Mexico; now retired in Spain;
  42. Prof Marcio Fabri Dos Anjos, Theology & Bioethics, coordinator of Doctorate program, Catholic University, San Camilo, Brazil;
  43. Dr Edward McGlynn Gaffney, founding member, Council on Law and Religion, Journal of Law and Religion; Senior Research Scholar, Valparaiso University School of Law, Indiana, USA;
  44. Dr George McGuire, MA History, MA School Psychology, PhD Clinical Psychology, former Assistant Director of Field Studies, State University New York, Old Westbury NY, USA;
  45. Prof Robert Gascoigne, Moral Theology (Emeritus), Australian Catholic University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia;
  46. Prof Frederick Glennon, Religion, Social Ethics and Society, Le Moyne College, Syracuse NY, USA;
  47. Roz Graham BA MSc FRSA, former senior lecturer in Ethics, Winchester University & St Mary’s University, Twickenham, England;
  48. Prof Mary Grey, ‘Feminist Liberation Theology’, ‘Theology & Social Justice’ (Emerita), St Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK;
  49. Prof Andrea Grillo, Sacramental Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, Rome, Italy;
  50. Prof Hermann Häring, Systematic Theology (Emeritus), Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands;
  51. Prof Hille Haker, Richard McCormick Endowed Chair of Ethics, Loyola University, Chicago, USA; also President of the Societas Ethica, European Society of Research in Ethics;
  52. Prof Wilfrid Harrington OP, Theology and Scripture (Emeritus), Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy & the Church of Ireland Theological College, Dublin, Ireland;
  53. Prof John F. Haught, Senior Fellow, Science & Religion, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA;
  54. Prof Karin Heller, Theology, Whitworth University, Westminster, Spokane WA, USA;
  55. Baroness Françoise Holvoet Bourguignon, BA Law & MA Philology, previously lecturer in Zaire, Tunisia, Paris and Toronto, Brussels, Belgium;
  56. Prof Michael Hornsby-Smith, Sociology (Emeritus), University of Surrey, UK;
  57. Dr. Dorothy Irvin, Theology;
  58. Raymond Hervey Joliffe Lord Hylton, Doctor h.c. Southampton University, member of the British House of Lords since 1971, London, UK;
  59. Dr Albert Jaxa-Chamiec, Director Medicinal Chemistry (until 2007), GlaxoSmithKline; Head of Medicinal Chemistry (Emeritus), Drug Discovery Centre, Imperial College, London, UK;
  60. Prof Erik Jurgens, Government Law (Emeritus), Free University of Amsterdam, former Assistant President of the Upper House of Parliament (Eerste Kamer), the Netherlands;
  61. Prof Othmar Keel, History of Religion, Theology and Exegesis (Emeritus), University of Fribourg, Switserland;
  62. Prof David Kelly, Theology and Health Care Ethics (Emeritus), Duquesne University, Pittsburgh PA, USA;
  63. Dr Michael Bernard Kelly, Adjunct Research Associate, Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia;
  64. Prof the Hon Kristina Keneally, Director of Gender Inclusion at Macquarie Graduate School of Management and 42nd Premier of New South Wales, Australia;
  65. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, twenty-six honorary doctorates in law, Member of the House of Lords, London, UK; see endorsement
  66. Prof Ursula King, ‘Theology and Religious Studies’ (Emerita), Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol; Professorial Research Associate, Department of the Study of Religions,School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Fellow of Heythrop College, University of London, honorary doctor of the Universities of Oslo (Sweden), Dayton Ohio (USA) and Edinburgh, UK;
  67. Assist. Prof Stefanie Knauss, Theology & Religious Studies, Villanova University, Radnor, Pennsylvania, USA;
  68. Dr Ad Krijnen, Sociology (Emeritus), Central Government Planning Body for the Province of Brabant in the Netherlands;
  69. Prof Gerhard Kruip, Christian Anthropology and Social Ethics, University of Mainz, Germany;
  70. Prof Paul Lakeland, Professor of Religious Studies & Director Center for Catholic Studies, Fairfield University, Fairfield CT, USA;
  71. Prof Bernard Lang, Biblical studies (Emeritus), University of Paderborn, Germany;
  72. Prof Paul Lauritzen, Theology and Religious Studies, John Carroll University, University Heights OH, USA;
  73. Prof Michel Lejeune, founder of the Institute of Medical Ethics and Law, Makerere University, Kampala; now Vice Chancellor of the Virtual University of Uganda and Chairman of the Uganda Vice Chancellors’ Forum, Kampala, Uganda;
  74. Prof Gertrude Jaron Lewis, specialization ‘women mystics in the Middle Ages’, German Literature (Emerita), Laurentian University, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada;
  75. Dr Aloysius Lopez Cartagenas, formerly Rector of San Carlos Seminary and professor in Theological Ethics and Catholic Social Teaching, School of Theology, Cebu City, Philippines; at present an Independent Scholar;
  76. José Oscar Córdoba Lizcano, LicPhil, LicTheol, MA Anthropology, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia;
  77. Prof Robert Masson, ‘Theology Bridging Traditions, Cultures, and Disciplines’, Marquette University, Milwaukee WI, USA;
  78. Prof Kathleen Maas Weigert, ‘Women and Leadership’, Loyola University, Chicago IL, USA;
  79. Prof Darryl Macer, Director Eubios Ethics Institute, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand; President American University of Sovereign Nations, San Carlos AZ, USA;
  80. Prof Joseph Martos, previously ‘Religion and Philosophy’ at various Catholic Universities; now independent author and scholar, Louisville, Kentucky, USA;
  81. Prof Joseph Mattam SJ, founder Gujarat Jesuit Regional Theologate; Theology (Emeritus), Vidyajyoti University, Delhi, India;
  82. Luis Carlos Marrero MA Theol & MA Religious Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, Religion and Gender, Contextual Theology, Instituto Superior Ecuménico de Ciencias de las Religiones, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba;
  83. Prof Mary McAleese, previously Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Queen’s University, Belfast; President of the Republic of Ireland (1997-2011); see endorsement;
  84. Assist. Prof Mary McAuliffe, Gender Studies , Women’s Studies Centre, University College, Dublin, Ireland;
  85. Assistant Prof Dr Rosemary McHugh, ‘Reproductive Endocrinology’ and ‘Family Medicine’, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, USA;
  86. Prof Michael McKale, Philosophical and Religious Studies & Director, Institute for Ethics, Saint Francis University, Loretto PA, USA;
  87. Dr David B. McLoughlin, Senior Lecturer, Newman University, Birmingham, UK;
  88. Dr Gina Menzies, lecturer in Medical Ethics, The Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland;
  89. Prof Norbert Mette, Religious Pedagogy and Practical Theology, University of Dortmund,Germany;
  90. Dr Sr Amirtham Metti, Theology, writer and guest lecturer at many colleges in India, visiting fellow Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA;
  91. Assistant Prof Alex Mikulich, ‘Theology of social and political transformation’, Loyola University, New Orleans, USA;
  92. Prof Andrew Miles MSc MPhil PhD DSc [hc], Senior Vice President and Secretary General, European Society for Person Centered Healthcare; Clinical Practice, Centre for Public Engagement, Kingston and St. George’s Joint Faculty of Health, University of London, UK;
  93. Prof Paul Misner, Theology (Emeritus), Marquette University, Milwaukee MI, USA;
  94. John O’Leary MA LLB, Attorney in private practice; member of Professional Conduct Committee for the Archdiocese of Cape Town; part-time lecturer, Mediation & Conflict Resolution, Universities of Cape Town and Western Cape, South Africa;
  95. Prof Joseph O’Leary, Theology (retired), Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture; English literature (retired), Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan; see endorsement
  96. Prof Thomas O’Loughlin, Historical Theology, University of Nottingham, UK;
  97. Prof Francis Oakley, President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies, New York; Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas & President Emeritus , Williams College, Williamstown MA, USA
  98. Prof Stanisław Obirek, Religion in Modern Cultures, Interreligious Dialogue, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland;
  99. Prof Joseph Pathrapankal CMI, New Testament Studies (Emeritus), long-time President Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram University, Bengaluru, India;
  100. Prof Jesus Peláez del Rosal, New Testament Philology, University of Córdoba, Spain;
  101. Prof Frances M. Pelham,, English Literature (Emerita), Communications, Holy Family University, Philadelphia PA, USA;
  102. Prof Peter C. Phan, , three doctorates: ‘Sacred Theology’ (Salesian University, Rome), ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Divinity’ (both University of London); now ‘Catholic Social Thought’, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA;
  103. Dr Pat Pinsent, Senior Research Fellow, University of Roehampton, London, UK;
  104. Prof Margarita Mª Pintos de Cea Naharro, President of the Association for Interreligious Dialogue, Madrid; Feminist Theology, University Carlos III de Madrid, Spain;
  105. Philomena Jacinta Prakashappa, MATheol, Researcher Feminist Theology, former Women’s Desk Secretary, Mysore Diocese; Director,Media Center for Rural Women, Mysore, India;
  106. Associate Prof Gunter Prüller-Jagenteufel, ‘Moral Theology’, the University of Vienna, Austria;
  107. Dr Mary Racelis, Research Scientist, Institute of Philippine Culture & Professorial Lecturer, Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines.
  108. Prof Michael Raske, Practical Theology (Emeritus), Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt a. M., Germany;
  109. Geoffrey Robinson PhL STL DCL, Professor Emeritus of Canon Law at the Catholic Theological Institute of Sydney; Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Australia;
  110. Prof Amando Robles Robles OP, Coordinador del Programa Maestro Eckhart, Centro Dominico de Investigación, Heredia, Costa Rica;
  111. Prof Susan A. Ross,, Theology, Loyola University, Chicago, USA;
  112. Prof Kenneth M. Sanchagrin,Sociology (emeritus), Mars Hill University, North Carolina; Director, Glenmary Research Center, Fairfield OH, USA ;
  113. Prof Michele Saracino, Chair of Religious Studies Department, Manhatton College, Riverdale NY, USA;
  114. Prof Sandra M. Schneiders, New Testament and Spirituality (Emerita), Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, Berkeley CA, USA;
  115. Prof Flavio Senra, philosopher and researcher of religion, Brazil;
  116. Prof Thomas A. Shannon, Religion and Social Ethics (Emeritus), Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA, USA;
  117. Prof Thomas Sheehan, Religious Studies, Stanford University, California, USA;
  118. Prof Rosemarie Smead, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Mental Health and Family Therapy (Emerita), Indiana University, Bloomington IN, USA;
  119. Prof David Smith, Healthcare Ethics, Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland;
  120. Dr Jean Ponder Soto, 2016-2017 Fellow, Lonergan Institute, Boston College, USA;
  121. Prof Brian Stiltner, Theology and Religious Studies, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT, USA;
  122. Prof Peter Steinfels, Professor (Emeritus), Fordham University, founding co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, New York City, USA;
  123. Dr Bridie Stringer, Lecturer, Pastoral Theology, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK;
  124. Prof John Sullivan, Christian Education (Emeritus), Hope University, Liverpool, UK;
  125. Prof Edward Sunshine, Moral Theology (Emeritus), Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, USA;
  126. Prof Luiz Carlos Susin, Religion and Theological Anthropology, Catholic Pontifical University, Rio Grande del Sol, Porto Allegre, Brasil;
  127. Prof Len Swidler, ‘Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue’, Temple University; Founder/President, Interreligious, Intercultural, International Dialogue Institute; Founder/President of the ‘Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church’; Philadelphia, USA;
  128. Prof Juan José Tamayo, President of the Asociación de Teólogos Juan XXIII; Theology, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain;
  129. Prof Faustino Teixeira, Sciences of Religion, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Mato Grosso, Brazil;
  130. Prof Sam J. Thomas, History (Emeritus), Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, USA;
  131. Prof Margaret Susan Thompson, ‘History, Religion and Women & Gender Studies’, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY, USA;
  132. Prof Milburn Thompson, Theology (Emeritus), Bellarmine University, Louisville, Kentucky, USA;
  133. Prof Luiza Tomita, Theology, Salesian University, São Paulo, Brazil; see endorsement
  134. Prof Geoffrey Turner, Head of Theology (Emeritus), Trinity University, Leeds, UK;
  135. Prof Edward Vacek SJ, Religious Studies, Loyola University, New Orleans LA, USA;
  136. Prof Bryan W. Van Norden, Philosophy, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY, USA;
  137. Prof José María Vigil, Theology, previously at the Centro Regional de Estudios Teológicos de Aragón, of the Pontifical University of Salamanca,Spain; and the Central American University, Managua, Nicaragua; coordinator of the Latin-American Theological Commission of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians;
  138. Prof Evaristo Villar Villar, Biblical Theology and the Science of Religion, “Lumen Gentium” Institute & la Escuela Bíblica de Madrid, Spain;
  139. Dr Michael Walsh, historian and author, former Librarian, Heythrop College, University of London, UK;
  140. Aloys Wijngaards Sr MA (Doctorandus), ‘Pastoral Theology’ (Emeritus), Diaconal Training College Dijnselburg, Zeist, the Netherlands;
  141. Dr Aloys Wijngaards Jr, Researcher, specialisation ‘Theology and the Ethics of Economics’, Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
  142. Nelleke Wijngaards-Serrarens MA Soc (Doctoranda), Sociology & Family Guidance (Emerita), Diaconal Training College Dijnselburg, Zeist, the Netherlands;
  143. Prof Guus Wijngaards, previously Secretary General of AEDE (l’Association Européenne des Enseignants), Deputy-Director of EUN (European Schoolnet in Brussels); ‘eLearning’ (Emeritus), InHolland University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands;
  144. Associate Prof Tobias Winright, ‘Health Care Ethics’, Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics, and ‘Theological Ethics’, Dept of Theological Studies, Saint Louis University, USA;
  145. Prof Werner Wolbert, Moral Theology (Emeritus), Salzburg University, Austria;
  146. Prof William Wood Basset, Law (Emeritus), University of San Francisco, USA; Editorial Board, Concilium;
  147. Prof Leslie Woodcock Tentler, History (Emerita), Catholic University of America, Washington DC, USA;
  148. Prof Hans-Georg Ziebertz, Practical Theology, Würzburg University, Germany.

Ecumenical Co-signatories

  1. Prof David Carr, Ethics and Education, School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK;
  2. Prof Cynthia Crysdale, Christian Ethics and Theology, School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Canada;
  3. Revd Duncan Dormor MA MSc BA, Director of Studies, Faculty of Divinity, & Dean, St John’s College, University of Cambridge, UK; see endorsement;
  4. Prof Esther Dusabe Richards, Religion, Reproductive Health Rights and International Development, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK;
  5. Prof Manuela Kalsky, Edward Schillebeeckx Chair for Theology and Society, Free University, Amsterdam; and director of the Dominican Study Centre for Theology and Society, Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
  6. Prof Jennifer Knust, Associate Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Boston University School of Theology, and Director of Graduate Studies, Graduate Division of Religious Studies, Boston University, USA;
  7. Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church College, University of Oxford; previously Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, and Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute, UK;
  8. Prof Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin MI, USA.

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