Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the Vatican-based World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, wrote an article on the birth control pill that appeared in the January 4 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. In the article, he stated:
We have sufficient evidence to argue that one of the considerable factors contributing to male infertility in the West—with its ever decreasing numbers of spermatozoa in men—is environmental pollution caused by the byproducts of the pill.
Some scientists have taken issue with the reports’ findings. Gianbenedetto Melis, vice-president of a contraceptive research association stated, “Once metabolized, the hormones contained in oral contraceptives no longer have any of the characteristic effects of feminine hormones.”
Other scientists, on the other hand, have found that there is great evidence of adverse environmental impact from the use of synthetic estrogens and hormones, like those used in the pill. However, if the Vatican were really concerned with this impact, then the article would have also condemned GladWare, pesticides, shampoo, cosmetics, and other products which also contain these hormones.
Perhaps the folks over at the Vatican are simply trying to find new tactics to support their antiquated stance condemning contraception. And with good reason, as a majority of Catholics disagree with the Vatican on its stance on contraception. According to the recent surveys, 61% of Catholics agree that individuals should have the final say on contraception and 75% conclude that it is possible to be a good Catholic while disobeying church teachings on contraception.
The Vatican has recently begun to highlight its support of the environment and has, rightfully so, been praised for its actions. However, this report and Pope Benedict’s recent remark which equated saving the rainforest with saving gay men and lesbian women might signify a new Vatican strategy; that is, using its position on the environment to support church teaching that is not so popular.
However, if this strategy is applied unevenly and the Vatican kitchen does not rid itself of all its plastic storage containers promptly, then instead of true support for the environment, we are just seeing the Vatican’s longstanding attempt to control sex and sexuality—only in a different packaging.