Saturday, September 20, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - chapter 9
This chapter concentrates on Pope Paul VI's indecision. As McClory describes it, major voices drawing him left and right included:
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office - opposed any change in the Church's position on birth control
Henri de Riedmatten, secretary of the commission - in favor of reform
Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens - a voice for reform who subsequently abandoned the discussions and, with the Pope's blessing, took up the charismatic movement
These men had direct access to the Pope, unlike other members of the commission.
In a remarkable interview with Italian journalist Alberto Cavallari at this time,[Pope] Paul groaned about his fate: "So many problems! How many problems there are, and how many answers we have to give! We want to be open to the world, and every day we have to make decisions that will have consequences for centuries to come....There are some questions that are particularly difficult for us, such as those connected with the problem of the Christian family.
"Take birth control, for example. The world asks what we think and we find ourselves trying to give an answer. But what answer? We can't keep silent. And yet to speak is a real problem. But what? The Church has never in her history confronted such a problem." Then, said Cavallari, the Pope started to say something, hesitated, then blurted out "This is a strange subject for men of the Church to be discussing. Even humanly embarrassing....So the commissions meet, the reports pile up, the studies are published. Oh, they study a lot, you know. But then we will have to make the final decision....We have to say something. But what? God will simply have to enlighten us." (p. 79)