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In 2018, over twenty conferences worldwide (so Janet Smith tells me) will celebrate Humanae Vitae (HV) on its 50th anniversary, but we are also likely to see concerted attacks on its teaching, which will not have been discouraged by various actions of the Vatican.
The mode of the attack is not difficult to guess. It will not take the form of direct contradiction but rather subversion – changes that would empty HV of its content through a putative “deepening” of its meaning.
Leaders - Bishops - Countries - Theologians - Establishments
The leaders, we can surmise, will be certain bishops, mainly from wealthy countries, and theologians from academic establishments. It will be claimed that because 80 percent of Catholics in certain countries (never mind how well they know or practice the faith) reject HV, the teaching was never “received” and therefore was never valid – at least in those countries, and therefore pluralism will be urged.
The consensus among enlightened people of goodwill in favor of contraception will be cited as a “sign of the times” and evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. We will be told that the Church must “listen” to these people in dialogue. Indeed, the Paul Erhlichs of the world have already told the Vatican that, in light of Laudato Si’, couples should have no more than two children. But how “feasible” is that policy without artificial contraception?
Elizabeth - Anscombe - Peter - Geach - Philosophers
Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach (British philosophers married to each other) are said to have toasted Paul VI when HV was promulgated. They were convinced it was the teaching of the Church, but clearly “it could have gone either way.” You need only read the history of a contentious general council – Nicaea or Ephesus, for example – to see that the orthodox party never took things for granted. The Church prevails because followers of Christ act heroically.
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