Hundreds of British priests sign statement backing Humanae Vitae

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Despite huge opposition, Pope Paul VI affirmed the Church’s traditional teachings on human sexuality, reiterating the Church’s ban on artificial contraception under all circumstances.

Nearly 500 British priests have backed a statement in support of the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

The clergy from across the country signed the document as the 50th anniversary of the encyclical approaches. Humanae Vitae affirmed traditional Christian teaching on the family and sexuality, and restated the Church’s total opposition to artificial contraception.

In the statement, the clergy said:

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.

The organisers noted that the sheer number of signatories represents a significant shift in favour of the encyclical’s teachings. “In 1968 very few priests spoke out confidently regarding this teaching and many dissented,” they said.

One priest commented: “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.

“We hope that the Church here will now recognise the importance of Humanae Vitae and place it at the forefront of our pastoral strategies and evangelisation. This marks an important moment for the Church in this country.”

The 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.∎

by Nick Hallett, from www.catholicherald.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. I’d also love to see a lay petition supporting the same encyclical. Yes- opinion has changed and Paul VI was right in every way and faithfully transmitted what God intended.

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