Pius XII (1876-1958) became Pope in 1939 and continued the Vatican policy of collaborating with Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan inherited from his predecessor Pope Pius XI. Like Pius XI, Pius XII received no punishment for either his decisions or his behaviour. However, in October 1951, during an audience with Italian Midwives, he gave his approval for devout Catholics to use the ‘rhythm’ method if they had a serious reason for wanting to avoid procreation. As this method was known to be notoriously unreliable it received the name of ‘Vatican Roulette’, and because of this, Pius XII ordered more research be carried-out regarding this form of Vatican-approved contraception that was considered ‘natural’ (in other words, conception could be prevented purely by chance) and was not the product of an artificial ‘barrier’ devised by science (such as a condom), etc. The Vatican had previously decreed that sexual intercourse should only happen between a married man and woman, and be used solely for producing children. The Vatican defined the correct Catholic approach to a successful sexual encounter (in the eyes of god) to involve marriage, erection, ejaculation and conception. At no point in this natural (and ‘divine’) process was the ‘secular’ science of humanity to interfere in any way. This meant that those using the rhythm method had to ‘guess’ when to attempt sexual intercourse at a time when the woman is not ovulating. Outside of medical science, this is very difficult feat to achieve without expert assistance, but as sperm can survive in the birth canal for sometime, ovulation can still occur some days later, etc. As many Catholics possessed little formal education and lived within abject poverty, the rhythm method was simply a matter of pure chance more likely to end in conception rather than its opposite. Pius XII, by his decision to allow the consideration of the ‘rhythm’ method, however, moved the Church ever so slightly away from its previous position of the sexual act being used only for procreation.
In God’s Name: (The Road to Rome) By David Yallop (Kindle Edition) Loc 666 (Published 23.8.2012)