Skip to comments.[Catholic Caucus] The Siege of Humanae Vitae: Has the enemy almost breached the ramparts?
Posted on 07/19/2018 6:51:04 PM PDT by ebb tide
Sandro Magister has written a piece in which he proposes that a new book by Gilfredo Marengo on the genesis of the encyclical Humanae Vitae (HV) represents an unexpected obstacle to [t]he campaign that is underway to demolish Humanae Vitae the 1968 encyclical of Paul VI that said no to artificial contraceptives.
I respectfully disagree. Based on the extensive summary of the books account provided by Andrea Tornielli, which Magister views as sufficient to see where Marengo is going, it is quite clear that Marengo, a member of Pope Francis semi-secret commission to reappraise HV on its fast-approaching 50th anniversary (July 25), has set the stage for another application of Francis utterly destructive novelty in the realm of moral theology: i.e., that objectively binding moral norms admit of practical exceptions based on each persons subjective capacity to obey in his or her concrete situation. In other words, a form of situation ethics.
According to Torniellis summary, Marengo documents the following facts:
From all of this, Marengo draws a conclusion that hardly represents an obstacle to a retreat from HV but rather seems to prepare the way. He writes that with HV Paul VI negotiated a path between two extreme attitudes, which Marengo characterizes as a prejudicial rejection of [Church] teaching or a defense without ifs and buts that would give him [the Pope] a disproportionate role as a bulwark [or castle wall] during every crisis in the church and in the world.
If presenting an exceptionless moral norm without ifs and buts is now to be considered an extreme attitude, and if the Popes role in defending morals when they are under attack by the world and within the Church herself must now be limited, so that it is not disproportionate, on what ground does Magister stand in his claim that Marengos work poses an obstacle to the attack on the Churchs infallible teaching against contraception now underway? I do not see any reason for his confidence. I see only trouble ahead.
One should hope and pray that Magister is right, and I am wrong.
From the trenches at the parish level, I ain’t giving up on Humanae Vitae. Interesting times for sure.
I’ve read and studied HV since 1978. In concept it’s reverential to God and family and sort of a country ideal for very healthy and resilient couples. But in reality, who may justly (not a celibate old man in a palace surely?) order a woman today to have 6 or 8 children - or if trying to keep down the number of births so she isn’t totally overwhelmed, tell her to refuse her husband on the days he is most interested? NFP, if applied with scientific rigor, can work but it’s not fun. Should we really have faith and live at such a level of bestial instinct which is nature’s openness to life?
Well, I certainly think he was prophetic when he commented on the consequences for a contraceptive society. From an article in Aleteia from 2014:
“Paul VI met the same sort of contempt. Perhaps thats why his warnings went unheeded. In hindsight, they were ignored at societys collective expense.
He warned that severing sex from fertility, disconnecting passion from responsibility, would make it easier to rationalize sexual immorality. At that time, things like fornication, adultery, and pregnancy outside of marriage deviated from the norm. Today, they are comparatively normal.
He also believed the instrumentalization of sex would make it easier for men to treat women like objects. In our day, the proliferation of internet pornography is but one symptom of that dominant, disordered tendency.
The Pope foresaw that, if the world came to see contraception as morally neutral, then keeping it from becoming a tool of the state would be far more difficult. Indeed, across the globe, programs for the elimination of poverty often amount to plans for eliminating poor people.
Finally, the Pope cautioned that contraception would habituate humanity to unlimited, intrusive control over the human body. In reality, almost 25 years after Humanae Vitae the U.S. Supreme Court decreed these chilling words: For two decades, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. “
Excellent, thanks! I wonder if things will go on getting worse...
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