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Guest post by Dave McClow, Pastoral Solutions Institute.
In the spring of 1968, almost three years after the Second Vatican Council closed, hope was still high that artificial contraception would no longer be considered a mortal sin. Rumors circulated that the committee studying the matter would advise the Pope to lift the prohibition. Reputable moral theologians were also purporting a lifting of the ban. Certainly some confessors were advising couples based on these expectations, influencing some to contracept. Then on July 29, 1968, a veritable bombshell was dropped from the Vatican: in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI had retained the prohibition against artificial contraception.
Day - Catholic - Theologians - Act - Advertisement
The following day, Catholic theologians, in a political act, publicly rejected the encyclical, running an unprecedented advertisement in the New York Times. The ad proposed at least three things, according to Ralph McInery’s What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained: 1) Pope Paul VI had “flunked theology”; 2) the Pope had no right to “dissent” from his own commission or their opinions and that his function was to go with the vote—the “witnesses”; and 3) for the encyclical to be infallible, it must be specifically declared as infallible.
In short, the dissenting theologians have set up the laity to believe they are choosing between arguments, when in fact they are choosing between authorities.
Theologians - Advertisement - Model - Magisterium - Confusion
Over 200 theologians signed the advertisement, setting up a highly successful model of an alternate magisterium that still creates confusion amongst Catholic laity on many matters of faith. In a 1999 Time/CNN poll, 86% of Catholics “found it possible to disagree with the Pope on an article of faith and still be a good Catholic¼.” According to a Pew Research poll from 2013, a majority of Catholics think the Church should change its teachings on birth control (76%), priests should be allowed...
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