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Detroit, Mich., Jul 25, 2018 / 12:16 pm (CNA).- Fifty years after Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the landmark encyclical reaffirming Church teaching against contraception, many Catholics still don’t really understand the document and what it teaches.
“The woeful fact is that pathetically few have ever read Humanae Vitae or ever heard a homily or defense of it,” said Dr. Janet Smith, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
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However, she told CNA, “[t]here is encouraging evidence that when they do, they find it persuasive.”
Smith, who is also a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family, has written and spoken extensively on the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae.
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A quarter-century ago, for the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, she released “Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader” in the hopes of helping people see the wisdom in Catholic teaching.
For the 50th anniversary, Smith is releasing an update of essays, entitled, “Why Humanae Vitae is Still Right.”
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“Much has happened in the last 25 years, including the tremendous influence of the Theology of the Body on our understanding Humanae Vitae, and the scientific evidence of the detrimental effects of contraception on women's health and male/female relationships. While the first volume remains relevant, an update of essays was needed,” she explained.
In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI warned of serious social consequences that would follow if the widespread use of contraceptives became accepted.
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Smith said that 50 years have shown the “prophetic power” of Humanae Vitae to be “abundantly substantiated,” with clear connections between widespread contraceptive use and the rise in unwed pregnancy, abortion, divorce, pornography, same-sex unions and transgenderism.
“When the baby-making power of sexual intercourse is no longer considered a defining feature of sexual intercourse, virtually all sorts of sexual relationships are permissible, providing, I suppose, that they are consensual,” she said.
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