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A changing agenda at the Catholic Church?

Ian Brimacombe Ian Brimacombe | 11:24 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010


Hi, Ian here from the World Update programme.
One of the most senior Roman Catholic clerics in England and Wales has said he can see why arguments for using contraception to tackle poverty in developing nations are attractive.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said:

"I think when it comes to third world povery and the great pressure under which many women are put by men, I can see the arguments why in the short term, means that give women protection are attractive."

The South Africa based Treatment Action Campaign has argued the Church's influence could be better used to promote information about condoms and wider access to them.

Is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster's openness to the idea of contraception to protect women in developing countries a sign of a changing agenda in the Church?

Reformers in the Catholic church are being heard more often now, as the abuse scandal spreads from country to country. The recent Papal letter to the Irish church failed to satisfy many there.

One woman told the Tablet that her church in Dublin that used to see a regular attendance of 2000 at Mass are now getting around 600. The number of young men offering to serve as priests is falling in Ireland too.

So is the Roman Catholic Church now willing to consider revising some of its rules, many of which are based on decisions made a long time ago when cultures were very different?

Would the reform agenda, including not just contraception but an end to priestly celibacy and the introduction of women priests - who reformers say were common in the first years after Christ - now be a matter for serious discussion?

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