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Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 10, 2014.Shutterstock

(Settimo Cielo) – The irrationality of many of Pope Francis’s decisions is found not only in the selection of cardinals – both promoted and excluded – as laid bare on August 31 between the serious and the burlesque by Milan archbishop Mario Delpini in his unforgettable commendation (at 2:14:20 of the video recording) of the bishop of the little diocese of Como, Oscar Cantoni, clad in purple unlike him.

The irrationality seems to have infected even the Vatican institutes most in tune with Jorge Mario Bergoglio, including the Pontifical Academy for Life presided over by Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, 77, a prominent figure of the Community of Sant’Egidio.

This, at least, is the severe judgment on the latest theological product of the academy formulated by two first-rate scholars such as Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, former prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and Professor Stephan Kampowski, full professor of philosophical anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

RELATED: The Church’s total ban on contraception cannot be changed by Pope Francis or anyone else

Falling under their criticism is the volume, edited by Paglia and published this summer by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, “Theological ethics of life. Scripture, tradition, practical challenges,” which collects the proceedings of a seminar held by the academy and proposes “a revolution of Catholic morality” that subverts the teaching of Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which defined artificial contraception as morally illicit.

But so far nothing new. Right after its publication in 1968 “Humanae Vitae” was already being contested and rejected not only by ranks of theologians but by entire episcopal conferences.

The innovation would instead be – in the judgment of Müller and Kampowski – precisely in the irrationality of the thesis maintained today by the Pontifical Academy for Life, which states it is in agreement with the teaching of “Humanae Vitae” and at the same time affirms the opposite, namely that artificial contraception can be morally licit, as this is held to be, beyond the letter, “the deeper intention” of Paul VI’s encyclical.

It is not clear whether Pope Francis shares this thesis or not. However, he is allowing it to be upheld by an important institute of the Holy See, and his hints on the matter are not lacking in ambiguity.

It is true that he has always said that he admires Paul VI more than any other pope of the last century. But in one of his first wide-ranging interviews, with “Corriere della Sera” of March 5, 2014, when asked about “Humanae Vitae” he replied that “all of this depends on how Humanae Vitae is interpreted,” since “the question is not that of changing the doctrine but of going deeper and seeing to it that pastoral care takes situations into account.”

Moreover, Pope Francis very often bends in support of the changes he hopes for – most recently in his conversation with the Jesuits of Canada published by “La Civiltà Cattolica” – the ancient saying of St. Vincent of Lérins according to which even dogma “progresses, being consolidated over the years, developed with time, deepened with age.”

RELATED: Cardinal Müller: The Pope has no power to change Humanae Vitae

In short, there are already those in the Church who reckon that the outcomes of the Synod on Synodality sponsored by the Pope – open as it is to the most varied and reckless proposals for innovation – could even include that of moving past the doctrine of “Humanae Vitae.”

But let’s get back to the essay by Cardinal Müller and Professor Kampowski. It is thorough and well argued, with a rich assortment of notes, and can be read in its entirety, for the first time in Italian, on this other page of Settimo Cielo, while in English it has been online since August 27 on the American site “First Things.”

Its very brief “incipit” ends precisely by denouncing the irrationality of the thesis upheld by the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is none other than “to state the opposite of the teaching, while at the same time claiming that one agrees.” Entirely the opposite of the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction.

Reprinted with permission from Settimo Cielo

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