– Release date: 03 March 1999
The statements made last night by Archbishop Desmond Connell concerning contraception and family planning were misplaced, unbalanced and offensive.
Dr Connell has, of course, every right to restate his Church's official policy of opposition to artificial contraception on theological grounds. However he is open to challenge and criticism for the many sweeping, generalised and unsubstantiated comments he has made about the alleged negative impact of contraceptive choice and planned parenthood on society.
Tony O'Brien IFPA Chief Executive today commented: "It is extraordinary to hear a leading cleric resorting to fiction in an attempt to justify the teachings of the Catholic hierarchy. To suggest that children who have been 'planned' are not intrinsically loved by their parents is a fantasy, gratuitously offensive and without any basis."
He added; "These comments also show how little Dr Connell understands the lives of ordinary people or the mechanisms of family planning.
"Family Planning involves taking measures to avoid pregnancy. When a couple no longer wish to avoid pregnancy they stop taking these measures. At this point fertility returns to normal and for most couples, those fortunate not to have infertility problems, the process of conception involves reliance on the same random chance as for couples who never practised family planning.
"Family size and general fertility rates in Ireland show that the vast majority of Irish couples practise some form of family planning. It is time that Dr Connell tried to respect that. These comments may reflect the fact that the celibate life of a priest, in the privileged world of a bishop's palace are far removed from the daily reality of life for ordinary people. After a short period of reflection Dr Connell would be well advised to withdraw these remarks."