THE VISIT of the Pope results in a significant decrease in the number of people having sex, a new study has claimed.
Scientists led by a University of Brighton found abortion rates declined by up to a fifth in the 14 months following a visit from the Pontiff, in what represents the first study of its kind.
However, they found birth rates remained at the same level, prompting experts to draw the conclusion that couples are either having less sex or using more contraception.
The UK-based research team, which includes Queen’s University Belfast academics from, also found abortion rates fell by as twice as much when the Pope explicitly mentioned the procedure as being “unholy” in one of his speeches.
Again, normally a reduction in abortion levels would result in an increase in births.
But researchers once again found that birth rates stayed at the same level, meaning couples either used contraception or abstained from sex altogether.
Scientists looked at 129 official visits made to 85 Italian provinces by every Pope running from John Paul II through to Benedict XVI between 1979 and 2012.
The figures do not incorporate any visits made by Pope Francis, the current head of the Catholic church from 2013.
Study co-author Dr Egidio Farina, from Queen’s University Belfast, said:
“The research finds a decrease in the number of abortions starting from the third month until the 14th month after the visit of a Pope.
“The decrease seems to be driven predominantly by a reduction in unintended pregnancies as women choose abstinence, increase their use of contraception or a combination of both, after a visit.”
The study estimated that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI mentioned abortions in around a quarter of all their visits during the period.
The findings also indicated, rather alarmingly, that the Pope influenced sex much more than churchgoing.