ROME, June 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Nearly 500 British priests have issued a statement upholding Humanae Vitae and proposing it as the key to healing society, amid reports of moves within the Vatican to water down its teaching and accommodate the Church to modern trends.
In a letter released to the Catholic press on June 14 (see full letter below), the group of priests from Great Britain state that the Church’s perennial teaching on human sexuality should be at the forefront in re-building a culture of life, and stress its importance for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
The initiative, called “Humanae Vitae 50,” was set up as a call to priests to make their voices heard as the Church prepares to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the regulation of births.
Promulgated on July 25, 1968 — amid the turmoil of the sexual revolution — Humanae Vitae “affirmed … the purity and beauty of the spousal act, always open to procreation and always unitive” and rejected calls to allow artificial contraception in certain circumstances, the priests write.
They recall Humanae Vitae’s prophetic warning that a widespread acceptance of artificial contraception would lead to a loss in the “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.”
They further note: “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.”
Yet, they add, 50 years later and amid great detriment to human life and love, “many have come to appreciate again the wisdom of the Church’s teaching.”
“As priests,” they write, “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 letter represents a “significant shift” in favor of the Church’s traditional teaching, the organizers noted in an accompanying press statement. In fact, in 1968 very few priests spoke out confidently regarding this teaching and many dissented.
“This is a staggering contrast to the reception of the teaching in 1968 when 100 British priests wrote a statement against it and most remained silent and unsure,” one of the signatories told LifeSiteNews. “The truth is that priests here in this advanced country working closest to the culture of death have realized that the Church’s wisdom on human sexuality and human life is essential to our future,” he said.
In a cover letter inviting their brother priests to sign, organizers said they were encouraged to launch the initiative by laity who have found “inspiration and joy” in the message of Humanae Vitae.
They also told their fellow priests they believe that their people “will be encouraged by this positive message of fidelity from their pastors.”
Indeed, their priestly fidelity to Christ shines even more brightly amid efforts within the Vatican to water down Humanae Vitae in the name of “deepening” it, with members of the Pontifical Academy for Life publicly claiming that responsible parenthood requires contraception.
A lay organizer of the Humanae Vitae 50 initiative said: “Like so many of the committed lay faithful, the priests have realized the devastation caused by neglecting the moral truths contained in the encyclical. As Pope Paul warned, the widespread use of contraception has led to a breakdown in families, in general sexual morals, in respect for human life and for the dignity of women. After fifty years we are realizing just how prophetic Humanae Vitae was.”
Here below we offer our readers the full letter and cover letter. The full list of signatories is here.