Rome conference to defend Humanae Vitae’s ‘unshakable teaching’ against contraception

Rome conference to defend Humanae Vitae’s ‘unshakable teaching’ against contraception

Lisa Bourne

ROME, Italy, October 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — With concern growing that “the unshakable teaching of the Church” is being targeted as Humanae Vitae’s 50th anniversary approaches, a pro-family coalition has gathered a global roster of experts to spell out the important nature of the document as it pertains to human salvation.

“Humanae Vitae at 50: Setting the Context,” is scheduled for Saturday at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, in Rome.

Pope Paul VI accurately predicted in the Catholic Church’s landmark document on contraception and human life how a host of moral and social ills would afflict society should artificial contraception be accepted.

These troubles have included sexualization of the culture, promiscuity, legalized abortion, the collapse of marriage, and grave harm to the family.

Humanae Vitae’s prophetic nature notwithstanding, the document has been besieged by resistance from the beginning, and opposition to the Church’s teaching contained within it persists even at the Church’s highest levels.

This element is among those to be addressed at “Humanae Vitae at 50: Setting the Context.” Presented by Voice of the Family, the conference has nine speakers, among them theologians, philosophers, a cardinal, an archbishop and other experts.

Conference presenter Father Serafino Lanzetta, Ph.D, Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology for the University of Lugano in Switzerland, noted the significance of discussion on the authoritative nature of Humanae Vitae at this critical time.

“Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and it is important to highlight its great and always actual magisterial value on the regulation of birth,” he said. “Humanae Vitae is of primary importance because it was issued in order to fill a magisterial gap left by Gaudium et spes of Vatican II.”

Father Lanzetta pointed out that a footnote in #51 of the Vatican II document On the Church in the Modern World advises the reader that a commission for the study of population, family and births would have taken on the task of carefully investigating these topics so that the Supreme Pontiff may have passed judgment.

“That judgment came,” Father Lanzetta said, “and has to be considered as the authentic and — in the same words of Pope Paul VI (HV 31) — “the unshakable teaching of the Church, which teaching Peter’s successor together with his brothers in the Catholic episcopate faithfully guards and interprets.”

He added that a key statement of Humanae Vitae is found at #11 in the document: “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.”

“Although criticism and dissatisfaction about this teaching still remain in some consistent part of the Church,” Father Lanzetta said, “this is however what has always being held and believed.”

British physician Dr. Thomas Ward, another conference presenter, pointed out the link between Humanae Vitae, virtue and salvation.

“The central truth of Humanae Vitae is the evil of the artificial separation of the procreation from physical union, of life from love and of love from life,” Ward said. “Its true significance is our eternal salvation with God, the Source of life, in that it teaches the necessity of chastity to the married and unmarried.”

He said it’s important to discuss Humane Vitae’s significance now, “because chaste love and marriage are so despised in today’s world in which the sexual aggression of the culture is compounded by loss of faith and silence of so very many successors of the Apostles.”

Ward, founder of the Association of Catholic Families and former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said as well that the first consequence of “reinterpreting” Humanae Vitae — as has been suggested be done drawing from Amoris Laetitia — “is that the Magisterium of the Church would have done what is impossible for the true Magisterium in that it would have formally sanctioned the grave sin of contraception forbidden by all previous Magisterium.”

Jon-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, is a conference presenter as well.

Westen said the potential problem with “reinterpreting” Humanae Vitae in the light of Amoris Laetitia is that the same justification with Francis’ controversial document used to permit divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments could be used in cases of Catholics who use contraception.

“This approach could then logically be applied to all intrinsically evil acts,” Westen said, “which would thus always allow for exceptions in difficult cases.”

Maria Madise, manager of Voice of the Family, explained to LifeSiteNews both the goal and the historical reason behind the need for the conference.

“In Humanae Vitae, Paul VI predicted that the consequences of accepting artificial birth control would include a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and coercive government policies regarding reproductive technologies,” Madise said. “Almost 50 years on, not only have these predictions come true, but, furthermore, we have come to the point where society widely accepts that marriage can be separated from sexual relations and sexual relations from having children.”

“In order to spare future generations from the destructive effects of the contraceptive mentality, and to help restore an authentically Christian culture, Catholic teaching on chastity and openness to life in marriage must be defended and taught boldly,” she continued. “With the upcoming conference, we wish to offer an opportunity to study Humanae Vitae in the context of its time, as well as its proper place in the continuity of the Church’s perennial teaching and in the life of Catholics today.”

“Humanae Vitae at 50: Setting the Context” follows ongoing reports in recent months of a Pope Francis-approved “study group” – the existence of which was initially denied — assembled to “reinterpret” Humanae Vitae.

Despite the denials, fears persist that the quietly assembled commission’s goal is to interpret Humanae Vitae drawing from the pope’s controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Catholic theologians such as Josef Seifert and Father George Woodall have provided explanation on how Amoris Laetitia can be used to invalidate Catholic teaching against contraception. Seifert is another presenter for the Voice of the Family Humanae Vitae conference.

The event also comes as Pope Francis announced last month that he was replacing the renowned John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family with an institute centered on implementing Amoris Laetitia.

The late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra founded the JPII Institute at Pope John Paul II’s request after the close of the 1980 Synod on the Family. Cardinal Caffarra – one of the four cardinals to submit the dubia to the pope asking for clarification on the intent of Amoris Laetitia – had said the Institute’s “specific task” was upholding Humanae Vitae.

“Humanae Vitae at 50: Setting the Context” is also taking place as the Pontifical Gregorian University kicks off a series of talks running from this month through next May to take a new look at Humanae Vitae “in the context of a time of change” and because difficulties have become “more complex.”

The Gregorian University was also the site of a “secret synod” in 2015 during which a number of theologians collaborated to influence the Synod on the Family to approve same-sex unions, dispose of the term “intrinsically evil” and present the controversial “theology of love” idea, a seeming replacement of Pope John Paul II’s “the theology of the body” that suggests bodily acts are irrelevant in matters of love.

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