L'Osservatore: Paul VI Never Looked Back
Vatican Paper Remembers "Humanae Vitae"
| 1448 hits
VATICAN CITY, JULY 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Although "Humanae Vitae" was rejected by many in favor of artificial birth control, Paul VI never regretted the stance he took in the encyclical, says the director of L'Osservatore Romano.
Giovanni Maria Vian commented on Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on the front page of today's edition of the Vatican newspaper. The encyclical was signed 40 years ago today.
The text, he said, "rejected contraception with artificial methods" and went "against the hedonism and family planning policies, often imposed on poor countries by the richest."
The director noted the Pontiff's opinion wasn't something altogether new, as Paul VI had already in 1964 described the topic as "extremely grave" because "it touches the feelings and interests related to the experience of man and woman."
Nonetheless, Vian continued, upon it's publication "Humanae Vitae" triggered "an unprecedented opposition within the Catholic Church herself."
The director recalled the words in 1996 of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who said, "Rarely a text of the magisterium's recent history became so much a sign of contradiction as this encyclical, which Paul VI wrote after a profoundly painful decision."
Despite the reaction, Paul VI remained firm in his position, continued Vian.
On June 23, 1978, weeks before the Pontiff's death, in an address to the College of Cardinals, the Pope reaffirmed the decisions he made, "following the confirmations of serious science," and which sought to affirm the principle of respect for the laws of nature and of "a conscious and ethically responsible paternity."
Vian said the encyclical "is consistent with the important conciliar novelties on the concept of marriage," but above all it was a prophesy for our days.
He said the so-called encyclical of the pill has also proved to be "ahead of its time" with regard to the evolution of genetic engineering.
"Humanae Vitae" states, "Unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions -- limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed."
The director of L'Osservatore Romano described the encyclical as an "authentic sign of contradiction," adding that "it is not remembered with gratitude [...] because of its exacting and countercurrent teaching."