Tuesday, September 30, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - chapter 15
"Ottaviani's I-told-you-so revenge was Humane Vitae"--Peter Hubblethwaite
Monsignor Ferdinando Lambruschini introduced the world to Humane Vitae at a press conference in Rome on July 29, 1965.
...Lambruschini was tagged with the job of explaining that the Pope had indeed chosen to reaffirm tradition.Casti Connubii (and of John Ford) survived intact....Wrote Pope Paul, "The Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law...teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life." And a little later: "Excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or a means...Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately tendered sterile and thus is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest by an otherwise fertile conjugal life." (pp 138-139)
Though he noted twice that the encyclical did not represent infallible teaching, Lambruschini said it was an authentic pronouncement of the Magisterium requiring "loyal and full assent, both interior and exterior."...
Paul himself had labored over the final version, removing specific references to mortal sin and adding a paragraph about tolerance and charity toward sinners....
Beneath the personalist tone, the essence of
NFP is an action which before sexual intercourse is "specifically intended to prevent procreation". NFP frustrates the "norms of the natural law" by interfering with the conjugal act. How then, can the Church permit NFP while at the same time condemning other barrier methods? There is nothing natural about a thermometer or a calendar or the question "Is it a good day?" asked before engaging in the conjugal act. IMHO, the acceptance of the rhythm method is tantamount to the acceptance of all barrier methods. NFP, at least in theory, renders the conjugal act sterile by intention. It is, admittedly, the least effective barrier method, and it can also be used to increase the chances of conception, though it is seldom used that way. Neither of these facts negate the fact that the conjugal act is interrupted by NFP when one spouse first suggests intercourse, and then has recourse to the calendar or temperature before continuing, if the intention is not to conceive.
The Pope did not respond to the content of the Majority Report other than to present his categorical dismissal: "The conclusions which the Commission arrived at could not be considered by us as definitive...because within the Commission itself no full agreement of judgment...had been reached, and above all because certain criteria...had emerged which departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church."(p. 139)
The encyclical hit the Catholic world like a comet--all the more so because this was not the decision generally expected. At the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Charles Curran and nine other theologians gathered in a basement meeting room on the afternoon of the encyclical's release, read the document slowly, and drafted a short statement. By the next morning they had the signatures of eighty-seven theologians, including Bernard Haring, on the statement and they presented it in a press conference at the Mayflower Hotel. (p. 140)
That, I believe, was the moment of birth of modern dissent in the Church.
Within a few weeks, some six hundred theologians worldwide added their signatures to the statement.(p. 140)
Two days later, on August 1, two members of the Birth Control Commission, Dr. Andre Hellegers and Thomas Burch, along with John Noonan, who had been the Commission's expert on the history of contraception, appeared at a news conference in Washington. Noonan, speaking for all three, said the encyclical suffers from "internal inconsistency" since the central teaching that every marriage act must remain "open to the transmission of life" contradicts the encyclical's parallel teaching that "the rhythm system of contraception may be used for appropriate reasons."
Obviously I agree with Noonan. The secrecy enforced on the Birth Control Commission was also an issue:
Also, said Noonan, "it is, to say the least, surprising that what is alleged to be the design of God could only be discovered in the utmost secrecy of a military character and without subjecting the statement of the alleged design of God to the scrutiny of moral theologians...or the comment of the faithful."(p. 140)
In England, Dr. John Marshall expressed astonishment in an open letter to the London Times. Even the Commission's minority, he noted, admitted "they could not demonstrate the intrinsic evil of contraception on the basis of the natural law." The majority had based its conclusions on years of study, research, and interchange, he wrote, only to see them not refuted but ignored. The Pope's claim that contraception would lead to wholesale immorality "casts a gratuitous slur" on married couples who practice contraception "and whose family life is an example to all." Marshall wondered what were the "criteria" that the Pope said the Commission had "departed" from in reaching its conclusions. The failure to specify these criteria creates a theological impasse, said Marshall, since "theology cannot advance without being in danger of falling into the same alleged errors." (p. 141)
Dr. Hellegers made a similar point in an article in US Catholic magazine: "I am not among those who believe the only course open to Pope Paul would have been to accept the data and recommendations of the...Commission. The Pope is obviously correct when he said that the conclusions which the Commission arrived at could not dispense him from a personal examination of this serious question. Moreover, it is clear that if he found the data and conclusions preferred by the Commission to be erroneous he should disagree with them. The problem of a scientist in studying Humane Vitae is that nowhere does the Pope disagree with the data but in essence pronounces them irrelevant--since they lead to conclusions different from those of the past." Because of this, said Hellegers, scientists "will have difficulty in seeing where the scientific method has any relevance to the Roman Catholic Church." (pp 141-142)
The reactions of many major Catholic theologians, though more nuanced than Burch's, were largely negative. (p. 142)
One member of the U.S. episcopacy, Auxiliary Bishop James Shannon of St. Paul-Minneapolis, resigned his position as a result of his inability to accept Humane Vitae. He told his superior, Archbishop Binz, a member of the Commission, "I must now...admit that I am ashamed of the kind of advice I have given some of these good people, ashamed because it has been bad theology, bad psychology, and because it has not been an honest reflection of my own inner reflection." Shannon took a leave of absence, and eventually resigned from the priesthood and married. (p. 144)
...fewer than half of the world's bishop conferences received the encyclical with a total embrace....
262 dioceses (or 17 percent) fully accepted Humane Vitae; 866 (or 56 percent) clearly mitigated their acceptance; and 428 (28 percent) were uncertain.
The significance of this hypothetical breakdown is critical. It suggests that only 17 percent of the world's bishops gave total approval to Humane Vitae, while at least 56 percent preferred to soften or reinterpret the strong message, with the others somewhere in between. (p. 145)
It appears to me from reading this chapter that it was Ottaviani and Ford primarily who changed Pope Paul VI's mind from the thinking of the commission. If Pope Paul was not willing to see it as the majority saw it, why the commission in the first place? Why didn't he disband the commission and simply take the lead of the head of the Holy Office? What did he expect to get from the Birth Control Commission--some sort of argument in defense of rhythm?
It continues to nag that this pope who took matters into his own hand in opposition to most of his advisors is the same pope who Randy Engel alleges was homosexual. Was he even eligible for ordination with that proclivity?
In RITE OF SODOMY, Engel writes:
Pope Paul VI is identified as a homosexual in numerous homosexual publications and his name appears on virtually all lists of prominent homosexuals found on various Homosexual Collective websites.(Engel, p. 1152)
During the mid-1930s, Hugh Montgomery was assigned a diplomatic post at the Vatican as the Charge d'Affaires under Sir Alec Randall, the British representative to the Holy See. It was here that Hugh met an equally up and coming Italian junior diplomat, Msgr. Battista Montini, who allegedly shared Hugh's sexual proclivities and the two men allegedly engaged in an affair.
According to [Robin] Bryans, Hugh Montgomery and his friend Battista Montini fraternized with some pretty eccentric characters during those days including Viscount Evan Tredegar, an artistocratic convert to Catholicism who served as a Privy Chanberlain to Pope Benedict XV.
The Viscount enjoyed titillating his friends with tales of his sexual exploits and the occult including his first-hand experiences with the Black Mass using human blood, urine and semen. (Engel, p. 1153)
Engel presents more evidence of Pope Paul's alleged homosexuality, but that's enough for now.