In the News

The New York Times

Pope Francis, Birth Control and American Catholics

by Frank Bruni

…The church came close to lifting its condemnation of contraception back in the 1960s, when a significant majority of theologians, bishops and cardinals who were asked to take a formal look at that teaching recommended such a swerve. Pope Paul VI overruled them — partly, it’s believed, out of fear that an admission of error on the birth-control front might prompt assaults on other teachings and open the fallibility floodgates.

But given the church’s chauvinism, was something additional in play? Patricia Miller, a former Catholic who has written extensively about the church and sexuality, advanced that perspective in a book, “Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church,” which was published last year.

“Maintaining the traditional family, in which men were leaders in the world outside the home and women were confined to the domestic realm by the demands of young children and repeated pregnancies, was a key concern of the Catholic Church,” she asserted, noting that in the 1950s, Catholic bishops had gone so far as to excoriate working mothers for giving child care short shrift.


The Los Angeles Times

Was the End of the Standoff a Win for U.S. Nuns?


… Tensions rose again in 1984, after a group of Roman Catholic nuns, priests and theologians posted an ad in the New York Times arguing that abortion can sometimes be a moral choice. “There were 24 nuns who signed it and the Vatican went after them like crazy,” said Patti Miller, author of “Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church.” “But most of the 24 nuns they pressured recanted. Some literally had meetings with Vatican officials.”

The ad led to an extensive Vatican review of women’s and men’s religious communities. The Vatican Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes said in a letter that those who signed the ad were “seriously lacking in religious submission of will and mind” to the teaching authority of the church.“That’s the back story of this and why there aren’t a lot of liberal voices in the Vatican now,” Miller said.


The Huffington Post

Pope Francis To Send Out Priests To Forgive The ‘Sin’ Of Women Who Have Had Abortions


Pope Francis is reportedly planning to offer a special pardon of sins to women who have undergone abortions, along with the doctors and nurses who helped them with that choice. … Patti Miller, author of Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion In The Catholic Church, told HuffPost she suspects church leaders in the U.S. may not react favorably to the pope’s new plan.

“By my calculation, they’ve spent 40 years building up the idea abortions are non-negotiable things, that a woman can never do it,” Miller told HuffPost. “It gets to the heart of Francis’ papacy, his pastoral and progressive approach to forgiving people.”

“The Catholic Church also officially prohibits contraception,” Miller said. “You can’t use contraception and you can’t get an abortion, so the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t have a lot of credibility here. It just doesn’t leave women with a lot of options.”


The Posner Show

Sarah Posner speaks with Patti Miller about the Extraordinary General Synod. Patti argues that conservative fears that the synod will produce radical changes are misplaced. She traces the church’s position on contraception to decisions made during the last synod in 1980 and discussess the role of pro-choice Catholics in the church.


State of Belief

A Brief History of the Scarlet ‘A’ — Abortion — In the United States


Patricia Miller talks about her new book Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church, which is an ethical-theological-historical page-turner if there ever was one! She walks us through the history of the Catholic hierarchy’s all-too-often political determination of “timeless” doctrines on abortion and contraception. This history is essential knowledge for everyone affected by today’s culture wars, in which uncompromising rhetoric around reproductive issues are so heavily influenced by particular powerful organized religions like the Catholic Church.

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