Our daughters and HPV

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Should you or shouldn’t you be vaccinated for HPV? That is the question. Well, at least “a” question of the day. HPV is an STD which causes warts and possibly leads to cervical cancer.  Both men and women are exposed to the virus through sexual activity and also by skin to skin contact. In most men it causes temporary warts but often men have no symptoms, become carriers and cannot be tested for HPV.

So let’s reduce this to the bare bone facts:

  • This is a disease that can kill women
  • Men are carriers and have few or no symptoms
  • So… the Catholic School Board in Halton wants to ban the vaccine that may protect from HPV.
  • A public relations disaster for the Catholic Church!

There are certainly other considerations that are important. Is the vaccine safe? What is the most appropriate age to give this vaccine? How do we remind young people… and all of us that sexual activity is best expressed in marriage (trust me, young people are not the only ones that need reminding!)   But it does us no good to be seen as attacking something that protects women.  Our leadership needs to nuance its positions and not only care about women but be PERCEIVED as caring about women.

Consider this true story:

A young woman gets married. She is a virgin and only has relations with her husband. They are both faithful in the marriage. The husband, in his early early twenties had sex twice with two different women.  Although he did not know it, he became a carrier for HPV. He passed it on to his wife where it remained dormant for several years. At her last PAP smear she was found positive for HPV.   What do we tell the young woman?

If that young woman was my neice I would be very angry if she had been denied the HPV vaccine.  I think, that if the vaccine is safe, it should be possible to protect our daughters, sisters and nieces… the women of our Church from this disease AND invite them and our young men to respect themselves and their bodies by reserving sexual activity to the one who will receive them completely in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

We can’t afford to waste our credibility and our “prophetic voice” as a community with ill-thought positions. Just spend some time watching MTV or MuchMusic and see how “the pill” is being pushed to young people… “try something new” as if it were a new flavour of gum. Our work is cut out for us. We are not going to succeed by making stupid statements and having people write us off as out-of-touch.  We need to be thoughtful and INSPIRE young men and women to discover the freedom that Christ offers them to be themselves, to be free and to find true joy.


  1. Thank-you Friar Rick for putting that so clearly. Having three daughters, I was curious what the churches stand would be on this new vaccine.
    I appreciate the blog and the opportunity to hear your thoughts on important issues.
    Thanks again!

  2. “There are certainly other considerations that are important. Is the vaccine safe?”

    I think that should be the first consideration.

    The medical community is nowhere near a clear vote of confidence on this vaccine.
    The Ontario bishops have even come out with a statement about this. They strongly encourage parents to be informed of the pros and cons of the vaccine.
    The schools are probably covering themselves by allowing it to be administered on their property but have left it up to the parents to make a clear, informed decision about if their child should have this vaccine or not.

    What about complications that arise following the vaccine?
    Long term side effects might not be known for many years when these children are in their 20’s or 30’s.

    I read various articles about the serious complications that have arisen from this vaccine given to young girls.

    My daughter will not be made into a guinea pig.

    Pax Christi,
    Teresa B.

  3. Good morning,

    Personally, I think that vaccines are not always safe. I’ve been practising homeopathy since 1981 and I’d rather take vaccine in the form of homepathic doses rather than the vaccine itself which is, after all, ‘a kind of’ poison injected into the body.

    Would be nice to see what a North American homeopath has to say about vaccines in general.


  4. I agree with Friar Rick…The message that we do everything possible to protect our daughers and our grand daughters is very important. I do not believe the medical community is trying to mislead us or to express a moral oponion on sexual activity outside of marriage. Please remember that even the flu vaccine has been known to cause death in a few isolated cases. Would we endanger the lives of the elderly or sick patients for whom getting the flu from one of us would mean death, by not getting the flu vaccine?


  5. I would certainly avoid the flu vaccine and give the elderly some homeopathic medicine. By taking such medicine (with no side effects) on a weekly basis and starting from September to January, is I think a lot less dangerous than the vaccine.

  6. I would suggest Catholic parents “reduce this to the bare bone facts” in this way:

    1) There is NO cervical cancer epidemic in Canada, and Canada has some of the lowest cervical cancer rates in the world.

    2) 70% of women with HPV infection clear it spontaneously within 1 year; 90% within 2 years. This means that even if a woman has a high risk strain of HPV there is a very good likelihood that their immune system will be able to resolve it naturally.

    3) The risk of any cervical disease is already greatly decreased with a yearly Pap smear.

    4) There are 15 different types of HPV that cause cancer. Gardasil was developed to address only 4 types. The vaccine won’t work if the woman/girl doesn’t have HPV 6, 11, 16 or 18 when she receives her first vaccine shot.

    5) Gardasil is not gender neutral because is doesn’t target the young men who are the ones primarily spreading the virus.

    6) Vaccination sends the message to girls as young as nine that they will inevitably engage in sexual activity outside of marriage, or marry a man who has. Like contraception, mandatory vaccination will contradict the Catechism’s teaching to young women as well as abdicate Catholic parents responsibility to form the conscience of their children in God’s truth about their sexuality. Behavior is crucial in the transmission of this virus which causes cervical cancer and yet Catholic teaching on sexuality is eclipsed by the aggressive lobbying by Merck to obtain mandatory compliance for this enormously expensive vaccine.

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