Fifty years after the publication of Humanae Vitae, a prophetic document that linked the use of contraception to the decline of fidelity and marriage and respect for women and children, 500 priests from the UK published a statement offering their full support of this consequential publication.
The Catholic Herald is reporting on the statement signed by hundreds of priests last month that affirms the teaching of the Church on family and sexuality and restated its opposition to the use of artificial contraception.
Organizers told the Herald that when the document was issued in 1968, very few priests spoke out in support of it with many choosing to dissent. But the mood has definitely changed after the passage of years has validated much of the document’s assertions.
“It is hard to get 100 priests – the size of an average diocese – to do anything together but to get 500 is very significant indeed,” said one organizer.
“We hope that the Church here will now recognize the importance of Humanae Vitae and place it at the forefront of our pastoral strategies and evangelization. This marks an important moment for the Church in this country.”
To follow is their full statement:
In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued a re-affirmation of central aspects of the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality. The encyclical Humanae Vitae affirmed, in harmony with the Church’s traditional teaching, the purity and beauty of the spousal act, always open to procreation and always unitive.
Humanae Vitae predicted that if artificial contraception became widespread and commonly accepted by society then we would lose our proper understanding of marriage, the family, the dignity of the child and of women and even a proper appreciation of our bodies and the gift of male and female. The Holy Father warned that governments would begin to utilise coercive methods to control what is most private and intimate.
At the time of the publication of Humanae Vitae many rejected its message and its warnings. Many found the teaching that the use of contraception was in all cases ‘absolutely excluded’ and ‘intrinsically wrong’ difficult to accept and challenging to proclaim. Fifty years later so much has unfolded in our society that has been to the detriment of human life and love. Many have come to appreciate again the wisdom of the Church’s teaching.
As priests we desire to affirm on this 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae the noble vision of procreative love as the Catholic Church has always taught and understood it. We believe a proper ‘human ecology’, a rediscovery of the way of nature and respect for human dignity is essential for the future of our people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. We propose discovering anew the message of Humanae Vitae, not only in fidelity to the Gospel, but as a key to the healing and true development of our society.
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