Dr Thomas Ward: The War on Parents and Humanae Vitae

By Dr Thomas Ward

This talk was delivered at “Humanae Vitae at 50: Setting the Context”, Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome, 28 Oct 2017

From the early 70s it had become evident to me as a Family Doctor, from speaking to many young girls, that they were being indoctrinated into early contraceptive sex.

In 1975 we gave a pregnant fifteen-year-old Catholic girl a home. My wife, also a doctor, spoke to the girl at length in an effort to identify her experience of this indoctrination. It came from teenage magazines and sex education, often emanating from the Family Planning Association under its many masks. The most interesting influence was the priest school chaplain who had written all of the contraceptive methods on the blackboard. When asked, “was contraception wrong?”, he replied that he did not know. Sadly, the children were less indecisive. Many of the fifteen-year-olds were already contracepting.

I turned for help for these young Catholics to the priest with the diocesan responsibility for youth. He promised he would consult the Bishop and get back to me. Having heard nothing I phoned him. He asked dismissively, “was I surprised at immorality amongst young people?”, I replied this was not immorality but rather an orchestrated massacre. He did not care. Nor did others I consulted. That was forty years ago. Something had to be done.

I approached our Anglican vicar, an Anglican headmaster and an Anglican nurse. They were horrified at the plight of young Catholics.  We decided to write a pamphlet on the sexual pressures on young people. In classical English tradition we became pamphleteers!

Providentially our little group made contact with a Mrs Valerie Riches, the Secretary of an academic think tank studying the agencies promoting the sexualisation of young people. She told us of her investigations into the vast network of national and international agencies, ideological, commercial and political, working together to promote this sexualisation and its necessary prerequisite, the removal of parent’s rights.

To learn that the worldwide assault on young people on an industrial scale was fully calculated caused us as parents of two little girls many sleepless nights. Helpfully Valerie organised a press conference  at which the Queen’s Gynaecologist press-released our pamphlet. Our mouse had roared!

Later Valerie Riches, her husband, the headmaster and his family became Catholics.

But back to the big picture.

In 1973 the State, under the influence of the birth control lobby, provided contraception to all irrespective of age. A year later the government enforced this in a legal Memorandum of Guidance which forbade doctors from telling parents when a child of whatever age asked for contraceptives and subsequently abortion.

We fine-tuned our resistance, targeting this Memorandum. With the support of millions parents we fought a campaign, achieving huge media coverage. It involved the Queen, the Prime-minister and leaders of major religions (Cardinal Hume was the least enthusiastic). Whilst many priests individually gave us support the dominant section of the English Catholic Establishment episcopal, lay and medical were unsupportive.

We opposed the Medical Defense Union, which legally underpinned the Memorandum. We opposed our local Area Health Authority which was putting the Memorandum into effect. When the democratically elected local Community Health Council seemed sympathetic to parents it was subjected to threats from the Family Planning Association.

When local action failed we went to law. In what was to become the most important socio-legal case of the 80s a heroic Catholic mother of ten, Mrs. Victoria Gillick sought a legal ruling declaring the Memorandum unlawful. In 1983 in the High Court she lost.

Just prior to her then going to the Court of Appeal in 1984 I mobilised over two thousand doctors, including some of the most eminent in the land. With huge media coverage we rebelled against the General Medical Council’s similar diktat that doctors might speak to parents on any health matters without the child’s permission — any that is except contraception and abortion.

In the Court of Appeal Victoria Gillick won and for the following 10 months doctors were prohibited from providing contraceptives or abortion to underage girls without parental knowledge or consent.

During these 10 months the attendance at contraceptive clinics fell dramatically. The abortion and illegitimacy figures fell. They did not rise.

So we decided to tell Pope John Paul of the restoration of the primary educator in England. We bought a Peugeot Familiale, a trailer tent and all eight of us drove to Rome. Divine Providence arranged that having briefed his secretary we all met the Pope.

I knelt and kissed his ring and standing said “Holy Father, thank you for defending our families.” “He looked profoundly sad for about fifteen seconds and then his look changed to granite and with rage he said “God bless your activities”. We had a very happy time with him and as he was leaving the library he suddenly wheeled round came back to me and again with a look of rage repeated “God bless your activities”.

But sadly in 1985  our government appealed against the judgement to the House of Lords and the hugely courageous Mrs Gillick lost. Today at this historic conference I pay tribute to these two great Catholic ladies – Valerie Riches and Victoria Gillick.

After the Law Lord’s ruling a number of us concluded that if the choice were between civil rights and the survival of Catholic families we must choose survival.

So we started the National Association of Catholic Families, a living catechesis of Familiaris Consortio and  Humanae Vitae based on mutual support of families for families. It has been blessed. Families have become Catholics, others have returned to the Faith, yet others have found their Catholic identity. There has been a considerable number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We have lots of large happy families who trust in God. Our association has spread to Australia, Ireland and Albania.

In 2012 we undertook the English and Scottish leg of the ‘From Ocean to Ocean’ pilgrimage of the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa from Vladivostok to Fatima. This was very beautiful. Our Lady filled five cathedrals and people heard Catholic moral teaching for the first time in decades.

But most important of all the great majority of our young people keep the faith.

However, it had become tragically clear to us as Catholic parents that many clergy who had given up on the evil of contraception in general had then given up on contraception for children.

Many clergy had accepted the replacement of parents by the State.

But Paul VI in Humanae Vitae had warned them both that it was an evil thing to make it easy for young people to break the moral law and he had specifically warned of State control.

“Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country [teenage pregnancy] resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people…” (No. 17 Humanae Vitae)

Contraception, which separates the procreative from the unitive, also separates the procreated, the children, from their parents.

In the interests of our children I thought it important to find out how all this had come about in the Church.

I spoke to Father Paul Marx Founder of Human Life International. He told me that the delay over the publication of Humanae Vitae had been rapidly ended in 1968 when four theologians convinced Pope Paul VI that the oral contraceptive had an abortifacient mode of action.

But we as medical students knew this from lectures in the early sixties. By 1935 Pincus, the Pill’s inventor, believed that oral progesterone had possible effects on implantation. Indeed, the interruption of pregnancy by administration of oestrogen was first reported in 1926.

Accompanied by two eminent medical colleagues I spoke to the bishop for the family, now deceased, asking him for help for our young people. Each doctor wept on realising the bishop already knew a great deal about the attack on the family and that he was not interested. I pointed to the copper on the end of an intrauterine contraceptive device which I had brought for the purpose saying that this abortifacient kills human beings, that it is a killing machine. Again no interest.

I then consulted the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Lambert Greenan who had written the statement on conscience in the Washington Case. He told me that in 1968 Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington disciplined a number of his priests who had publicly dissented from the encyclical Humanae Vitae.The case went to Rome. The Congregation for the Clergy decreed that if these priests accepted that Humanae Vitae was the teaching of the Church and also accepted Father Greenan’s statement that conscience must always be followed then the Cardinal must welcome them back. There was no third conclusion, urging that conscience be formed in the light of the teaching of the Church.

Later Cardinal O’Connor of New York commented that ‘Conscience’ had previously taken to refer to the Ten Commandments but was now taken to mean “what you will”. This watershed case was pivotal in the collapse of episcopal defense of Humanae Vitae. And Rome knew of the Pill’s abortifacient mode of action!

I sought the advice of a fine Scottish parish priest. He told me that in 1969 his diocese had instructed priests not to ask a penitent about contraception in confession and on a later occasion that if the penitent did mention contraception he or she was to be told neither to mention it again nor to seek the advice of another confessor.

In 1984 still seeking support for parents I spoke to Cardinal Eduard Gagnon of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He told me that on the very day the Charter of the Rights of the Family was to go to press he found that the section on the Parent the Primary Educator had been removed by a Western European hierarchy, and that the section stating that aid to Third World countries must not be contingent on population control had been removed by “IPPF’s friends in the Vatican”.

He immediately informed Pope John Paul, who ordered that they be restored.

In 1980 I spoke to Professor Winter, who had been the three permanent ecologists at the UN about the attack on the parent the Primary Educator. He was a Catholic with seven children. He said the attack on parents was totally organised. He told me his story.

He had been offered the job of contraceptive and abortion motivation for the Third World by the UN and he said that after the armaments industry the contraceptive and abortion industry was the second largest multi-national industry in the world. He had persistently put off accepting the job in order to find out who was behind the agenda. He was repeatedly and lavishly entertained by some of the most senior people in American industry who encouraged him to accept the job. All Masons and all multi-millionaires. Finally he was invited to Rockefeller’s house and offered a very generous inducement to accept the job. He turned it down. He was fired and on the aeroplane back to Vienna within two weeks without a pension.

In 2005 our bishops agreed to voluntarily welcome and monitor the equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders in our schools.

Six years later with little resistance our Bishops abandoned their moral duty to our 250 most vulnerable Catholic children for whom they were in loco parentis by closing down our adoption agencies leaving the children to possibly be adopted by homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders. Happily, we now have some much better bishops.

In 2015 in the Final Report on the Synod on the Family 257 (94%) of bishops voted that:

“The family, while maintaining its primary space in education (cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 3), cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality.”

With this doublespeak they obscured that they had in practice abandoned millions of Catholic families to indoctrination  by the birth control and homosexual lobby.

Contrast their words with-

            “Let your Yes for Yes,and No for No .

            Whatever goes beyond this, comes of evil”.

Matthew 5:37

So with even greater urgency I continued searching for support for parents. I spoke to … Pope Francis saying in Italian: “Your Holiness, may I say something.” He replied pleasantly, “Certainly”. I continued, “Our families have a great and urgent need for you to defend the Primary Right of parents as Educators of their children.” He replied “D’accordo” I agree.

But what followed did not quite confirm this.

In Amoris Laetitia (March 2016), Chapter 1, Pope Francis in a general sense supports the Primary Right of Parents as educators saying,

it is essential, inalienable , indeclinable, most serious duty which parents are called to defend”

However a hundred pages later on sex education, where it really counts, he gives the clarion call “Sì alla educazione sessuale” in the Italian edition. And the more restrained“The Need for Sex Education” in the English. But on the “great and urgent need” to defend parent’s rights as Primary Educators, silence!

And on chastity – silence. However, in 2014 he did speak of this virtue in the European Parliament.

“Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalizing tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism…”

What do you, a Catholic parent who wishes to withdraw a reluctant child from sex classes do, when the child tells you the teacher says that the Pope wants me to have sex education?

In July 2016 the Pontifical Council for the Family released The Meeting Point, the Vatican’s new sexual education program prepared under the leadership of Archbishop Paglia. My distinguished colleague, Dr Richard Fitzgibbons states that this program is the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that he has seen over the past 40 years. He describes it as sexual abuse of Catholic adolescents worldwide. He might have added:

“But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Matthew 18:6

On the Primary Educator in the Meeting Point -silence. “In the 518 pages of the program, parental involvement happens on one occasion, namely, when students are told to ‘ask your parents and grandparents to show you photographs of when they were children and young adults, and look at the changes together. It can be a really nice experience.”

In his Encyclical Laudato Si (May 2015), Pope Francis deals with sustainable development, an issue very closely aligned to the population lobby. Again on the parent, the primary educator – silence. During his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015, shortly before the Sustainable Development Goals were formally adopted Pope Francis said:

“The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope”.

One year later the Vatican hosted a workshop on using children in schools to promote the Sustainable Development Goals which include compulsory sex education and the universal provision of contraception and abortion.

On this occasion the silence on parents was finally broken. The briefing paper for this workshop warned against the opposition of religious parents.

I am reminded of a comment of a family planning spokesman: “Parents – they’re the most dangerous people of all”.

All of this becomes more frightening when one remembers that Pope Francis has led 300,000 young people in repeatedly chanting “It takes a village to raise a child”, the title of Hillary Clinton’s book on her vision of the state rather than parents looking after their children.

Ladies and gentlemen, the removal of parents’ rights as Primary Educators started with contraception and its indoctrination in sex education. It has now metastasised to include underage abortion, general medical services, school homosexual and gender theory indoctrination and in Germany even imprisonment of parents who exercised their Primary right as educators.

But the teaching of the Church is that:

“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents”. (Saint John Paul Familiaris Consortio N37)


“Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents…” (The Charter of the Rights of the Family, Article 5)

Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.

Ladies and gentlemen, because of Amoris Laetitia and the sinister possibility of a revision of Humanae Vitae these questions must now be asked:

  • Has, in the field of sexuality, the teaching of the Church on the right of the Parent, the Primary Educator been revoked in this Pontificate?
  • And, if so, who will protect millions of Catholic children from indoctrination by the wolves in the population and homosexualist lobbies and their powerful allies in the Vatican?

Where will our children hide?