According to the Vatican's official newspaper, the contraceptive pill is a major cause of male infertility in the West and is also polluting the environment.
An article in L'Osservatore Romano claims there is substantial evidence available to show that the environment is being flooded with synthetic female hormones because of widespread use of oral contraceptives and the morning-after pill, resulting in a 'devastating' increase in male infertility with increasing numbers of couples struggling to conceive.
In Britain it is estimated that one in eight couples is considered to be either infertile or sub-fertile and many are relying on in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to have a family.
The scientific community does believe that chemicals mimicking female hormones may partly be to blame for dropping sperm counts but say such substances originate from a wide range of sources, including pesticides, plastics, shampoos and cosmetics.
The Vatican, however appears to believe the contraceptive pill and the morning-after pill are the culprits and this rather radical view appears to have the support of high-ranking Vatican officials.
According to Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, President of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, the Pill "has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature through female urine".
Castellvi says they have sufficient evidence to argue that one of the considerable factors contributing to male infertility in the West is environmental pollution caused by the by-products of the pill which presents a 'clear anti-environmental effect'.
The article was apparently based on a 100-page report published by the federation entitled 'Forty Years of Humanae Vitae From a Medical Perspective' and analysed scientific data on the effects of the Pill and included 300 bibliographic citations, mostly from specialised medical journals.
Experts in Italy have dismissed the claims and say the hormones such as oestrogen, which are contained in the contraceptive Pill, "are present everywhere... in plastic, in disinfectants and in meat that we eat".
Researchers say once metabolised the hormones contained in oral contraceptives no longer have any of the characteristic effects of female hormones.
The article also raised concerns about the 'abortive' actions of the morning-after pill and some types of birth control pills saying that low-dose hormonal birth control pills work not only by preventing ovulation but also by impeding the implantation of a very young human embryo into its mother's womb.
The article also states that a World Health Organisation report in 2005 says that the oral preparations of combined oestrogen-progestogens common in birth control pills are classified in a group of carcinogenic agents.
According to Castellvi very few people follow the church's teaching against artificial birth control because too many doctors do not accept the encyclical's teachings.