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"Provoking reflection" (Contrasting views on Humanae Vitae)
California Catholic Daily ^ | July 28, 2008 | staff

Posted on 07/28/2008 3:34:55 PM PDT by kellynla

Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper publishes contrasting views of Humanae Vitae on encyclical’s 40th anniversary

The Tidings, the newspaper of the Los Angeles archdiocese, carried two articles in its July 25 issue on the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the Church’s teaching on the immorality of artificial contraception. The first article, provided by the Catholic News Service, is generally favorable to the encyclical. The second, by Notre Dame professor Fr. Richard McBrien, casts doubt on its authority.

[[Olmsted072808.jpg]]The CNS article notes how Humanae Vitae is “rarely addressed from the pulpit.” It goes on to interview such pro-encyclical stalwarts as Dr. Janet Smith, moral philosophy professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit; Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix; and Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

The one Humanae Vitae critic the CNS article quotes is Fr. Charles Curran, professor of human values at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Curran was disciplined in 1986 for dissenting views on Church teaching. Curran admits that “the strongest argument in favor of 'Humanae Vitae' was the argument the pope himself gave, that this has been a constant teaching of the church and (he) can't change it… How can the Holy Spirit guide the church all these centuries and then make a mistake on a rather significant issue?” But, said Curran, "I think the answer is that the problem is that we claimed too much certitude on the teaching."

Bishop Olmsted, however, reported the CNS article, not only accepts the encyclical’s teaching, but “has regularly addressed the encyclical in his column in The Catholic Sun, the Phoenix diocesan newspaper.” Each of us is required, Olmsted told CNS, to “get into this document with the help of the Holy Spirit and prayer and see it as good."

[[McBrien072808.jpg]]McBrien’s article, however, quotes a column he wrote shortly after the issuance of the encyclical. "If the teaching of Humanae Vitae is faithful to the authentic tradition of the Gospel," McBrien wrote in 1968, "it will eventually produce a consensus of approval throughout the whole Church. If not, it will take its place with past authoritative statements on religious liberty, interest-taking, the right to silence, and the ends of marriage." In his Tidings column, McBrien then writes, “After four decades, it is clear that the teaching has still not been widely received by those to whom it was originally directed, namely, Catholic married couples of child-bearing age.”

McBrien laments that debate on artificial contraception “was never allowed to mature” under Pope John Paul II. And he quotes the Jesuit Richard McCormick “that the prohibition of any serious discussion of the encyclical had led to ‘a debilitating malaise that has undermined the credibility of the magisterium in other areas.’

“Is the situation any different today, on the fortieth anniversary?” concludes McBrien.

The CNS article, however, notes the current situation under Pope Benedict XVI, and quotes a statement he made in May. "What was true yesterday remains true also today," said the pope. "The truth expressed in 'Humanae Vitae' does not change; in fact, in light of new scientific discoveries, its teaching is becoming more current and is provoking reflection."

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: humanaevitae; thetidings

1 posted on 07/28/2008 3:34:55 PM PDT by kellynla
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