Richard Cardinal Cushing, Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, has rejected a former Harvard professor's contention that the Catholic Church might approve an oral contraceptive which the professor helped develop.
John Rock, clinical professor of Gynecology, emeritus, suggested in The Time Has Come, published yesterday, that the pill Enovid works on the same principal as the "rhythm method," which the church currently accepts, and expressed hope that the church might approve the pill.
Rock, a Roman Catholic, said that the pill duplicates the actions of the steroid hormone progesterone and argued that since the rhythm method depends upon the secretion of progesterone to prevent ovulation, the pills are merely "adjuncts to nature."
Rock also denied "the misconception that the Roman Catholic Church is completely opposed to birth control," pointing to the Church's approval of the rhythm method as evidence that Catholicism might approve a "natural contraceptive."
But Cardinal Cushing flatly denied Rock's contention. He said in The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston archdiocese, that several of the book's statements were "theologically incorrect and certainly misleading," and criticized Rock for falling to obtain an imprimatur, a statement by his local bishop that the book was free from doctrinal or moral error.
Although he praised Rock for presenting a correct picture of the Church's current birth control policy, he denied that the Church would approve the pill. "The Church is not opposed to birth control as such," the Cardinal explained, "but to the artificial means to control birth."
Cardinal Cushing found "much that is good" in the book, particularly praising Rock's call for federal funds to perfect the rhythm method.
However, he attacked Rock's interpretation of the "natural law," in which the doctor held that the natural law, which is "dynamic and flexible," is not violated by birth control through contraceptives.
Cardinal Cushing called Rock's view of the natural law "oversimplified." "Theologians must recognize the competence of Dr. Rock in the field of reproductive physiology, but he must recognize their competence in the field of Catholic moral teaching," he said.