Sir,—It is unfortunate that your correspondent Mrs. Edna Phillips, should not only have selected the feeblest of Dr. John Rock's arguments for justifying the use of the pill, but also failed to quote the very clear reasons for the findings of the Vatican Theologians, which Dr. Rock himself mentions in the relevant paragraph.
They are as follows: "Monsignor Ferdinand° Lambruschini, professor of Moral Theology at the Lateran University, pointed out that victims of rape do not have the alternative of abstention to which married couples can resort in order to avoid conception. Francis Hurt, a Jesuit professor at Gregorian University, noted that a farmer has the right to defend his property even with machine guns and that human beings are justified in certain circumstances in suspending various bodily functions.
"Similarly, a woman threatened with rape would be justified in defending herself by suppressing ovulation. Monsignor Pietro Palazzini, the secretary of the Vatican's Conciliar Congregation, concurred in the Jesuit's views."
Dr. Rock then adds his howling non-sequitur: "Thus, it seems, wilful suppression of ovulation is not in itself an evil deed (sic)." It is tantamount to saying that because killings in certain exceptional circumstances, self-defence, for example, is licit, wilful murder is not in itself an evil deed.
H. P. Rae London, S.W.3.
Sir,—(1) The majority of married couples can be shown without any difficulty their fertile and infertile times by the CMAC temperature method based on *Holt, Marshall and Geller.
(2) In practice this method gives eight or nine days which are infertile in each month to all couples. Five or six additional days can be given to most couples.
(3) This information is available free to everyone. if one's telephone directory does not give a Catholic Marriage Advisory Council number then the London centre will give advice by post. The address is 15 Lansdowne Road, London, W.11.
(4) There is no long delay before the method can be applied. In most cases the wife's first monthly chart clearly shows the couple when their infertile days have begun.
(5) The quite infrequent cases requiring hormone therapy can be diagnosed and treated by CMAC advisers and consultants. As far as 1 know no Couple has been sent away unaided.
Marie Arnall, Medical Adviser, CMAC, Manchester.
*Holt: Marriage and Periodic Continence, Longmans; *Marshall: The Infertile Period, Burns & Oates; *Geller: The Temperature Guide for Women, Burns & Oates.
Sir,—By God's grace, I am the mother of seven wonderful children.
I write in support of Hugh Kay's letter. Perhaps it is because most of my married life has been spent amongst Indians, (Scans and Africans, that I regard the dignity of motherhood as very high. Where is this dignity to he found in this country?
Since I came to England. I am either regarded with pity, disgust, or as having a very low I.Q. Such people should see African mothers at Mass, often daily Communion. She has one baby at the breast, Another on her back, and several following her. With what joy a baby is welcomed to a mud hut!
May 1 be so self-righteous as to assume that 90 per cent of "pill addicts" want "to have their cake and eat it' , with no responsibility. Parenthood is a means to sanctification. Parents of small families can still be selfish, and selfishness leads to many sins.
A woman who has had several babies is "different". She is more understanding, gentler, humbler: with so many little ones in her care, she observes human nature in the raw. From her trials will eventually flourish the flowers and fruits of virtue — and all the more luxuriantly, because the soil is enriched by many sufferings.
The Archbishop's statement was clear. As Catholics, we must obey. It makes me ashamed of my fellow-Catholics who have criticised him, and our celibate priests.
Let us pray for larger families.
Eleanor A. Whitfield Burnoplield.
Sir,— In our arguments about the pill we have reached the unhappy stage where couple A who, by the accident of a regular menstrual cycle, are able legitimately to regulate the size of their family, possibly to a minimum, are roundly condemning couple B for seeking to explore means of maintaining normal marital relas tions after keeping the spirit of the law and • having as large a family as they can afford.
Surely research into the pill should he encouraged and its use as a cycle regulator fully explained, both to give to all an equal opportunity of using the legitimate safe period method to space their families and indeed to enable some otherwise childless couples to produce a family of their own.
In another twenty years it is likely that such a system of controlling the irregular cycle will be accepted as part of everyday life just as we accept today that it is normal for people with defective vision to wear glasses.
What is important. therefore, is that we are ready for this situation, so that instead of achieving parenthood by being unable to avoid it our children inherit the positive desire for a full family life.
Peter A. Freeman Chigwell,