Tuesday, August 05, 2008
MORE INDICATIONS THAT HUMANE VITAE IS GOING TO BE REVISITED
An article in The Tablet states some of the reasons why this needs to happen:
The Commission began with the assumption that the immorality of artificial birth control was easily proved by natural law, and was astonished to find that it could not be. Pope Paul VI did not heed the implied warning that merely to repeat these natural law arguments would be to guarantee a strong reaction; to buttress those arguments by invoking papal authority would broaden that reaction into a challenge to that authority. It was a strategic miscalculation. Instead, in several places in the encyclical, Paul VI makes plain his view that natural law objections to contraception are so obvious, they hardly need explaining. The gulf of mutual incomprehension was immense. The Vatican thought millions of loyal faithful would put aside their newly acquired contraceptive pills and prophylactics, blow the dust off their natural family planning handbooks and temperature charts, and obey. The fact that they did not produced a seismic shift in the way many Catholics saw Church authority. And still do. The Tablet's survey of Mass-going Catholics in England, conducted by the Von Hügel Institute in Cambridge, shows that, 40 years on, more than nine out of 10 of them do not think the use of condoms is wrong. That is their verdict on Humanae Vitae, though surprisingly half of them have never heard of it. The encyclical failed to equip bishops and priests with good arguments that would change the minds of married Catholics who found, and still find, the Church's official teaching at odds with their experience. That is not to rule out that such arguments could be found in the future, or to suggest that the gulf between hierarchy and laity on this issue should remain unbridgeable.