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  1. Introduction and method

It would be ambitious to think that one could totally assess every kind of reaction to HV on every level. Ultimately, it cannot be denied that each piece of evidence is relevant, even if to a very small extent. A papal encyclical, for instance, may have no  greater significance than how it effects the daily life of the average Catholic, or, to be more ecumenical, the impact it may carry for “all men of good will.” Researching such reaction, however, lies beyond both our scope and competence in this study as it would demand extensive research into sociological techniques, comparative anthropological analysis and a full range of political, economic, linguistic and religious studies which would be necessary preliminaries for simply situating the questions. Therefore, we have limited ourselves to a more or less internal assessment of this encyclical from the theological point of view.

The material considered here nevertheless includes some variety. Our main interest lies with the reaction of theologians, principally Roman Catholic thinkers who would be most familiar with the moral and ecclesiological issues involved. Further, the study is limited to published works which are available to a large audience and thus contribute to the world-wide dialogue over HV. But to be as fair as possible we have included some contributions which would escape a specific definition of theological. Thus, there are some works by philosophers, representatives of the human sciences, bishops writing independently to express personal opinions, and a few ordinary but thoughtful christians who offer personal reflections on the meaning of these important issues. This is why we have titled the second part “General and Theological Reaction.” What links the material for analysis is the concern about and reflection upon HV and the issues surrounding its genesis, promulgation and impact. The significance of that reflection has importance on the theological level insofar as it contributes to a greater understanding of the questions at hand.

The scheme of our endeavor is evident in the outline we will follow. Essentially, our study will attempt to elaborate upon the structure provided by analysis of the official episcopal reaction to HV and the style of interpretation heralded by that wide ranging body of material. But the full scope of the project will naturally encompass a much broader area of development untouched by the pastoral directives and declarations of bishops’ conferences. To recognize theology as a science itself demands attention to its employment of particular methods. In respect to this specific project, our plan combines a general approach with one that centers about those issues relevant to the encyclical. We will limit ourselves to an analysis of the reactions to HV and the use of extraneous data will be kept to a minimum except where considered of major importance.

The first part of this undertaking will center  around situating the question and the. more general issues necessary to understand the whole of the debate over HV. This will be done with special reference to the reactions to the encyclical and the view we acquire from the post-HV perspective.  Some of the issues at hand were widely discussed before July 1968 but that period does not constitute our principal concern unless it has special importance for the genesis of the document. Similarly, we will raise the broader questions dealing with the encyclical, its relation with other phenomena in the contemporary church and the meaning of this particular teaching assessed in a general way.

Following the overall findings of Chapter Four, we will turn to the more specific issues touched upon in the first part of this study and divide them into two larger areas. Chapter Five will analyze the moral issues brought up by HV, namely, those dealing with birth control, contraception and the theology of marriage. Chapter Six will turn to the questions of authority, the situation of this encyclical in respect to the magisterium in the church and the role of conscience interpreted in light of the Controversy. A final part of that chapter will introduce data and questions arising from an assessment of the situation as a whole.

The approach of both chapters, Five and Six, is thematic, centering around issues instead of positions. The character of specific perspectives will be treated in our own final synthesis.

II. The historical situation
A. The situation of doubt
To raise the issue of a situation of doubt preceding  the promulgation of HV in 1968 could seem to beg the question. The fact is that this inquiry can be posed on more than one level and in ways which reveal one’s attitude toward the entire discussion. The position one takes in regard to it is also intimately linked to how one assesses the “traditional nature” of HV.(1)  When we speak of “doubt,” therefore, we must be more specific. On the first and most general level, it seems safe to say that prior to July 1968 and especially from 1963 onward, there existed a situation in the church in which the teachings on birth control and contraception were being questioned. (2) Speculation about the issues is evidenced by the growing amount of literature on the subject and the fact that the official church responded by initiating extensive study in the related areas. While the fact that something is being questioned does not preclude its continuing validity, the use of ordinary language to characterize the state of the question in the mid 1960’s most easily sums up the situation by admitting to a very real state of doubt – if not in the substance of the teaching, at least in its mode of expression.

Ironically, it was Pope Paul VI who was sometimes quoted to attest to the reality of some doubt. During his allocution of 23 July 1964, he said,

…we must say openly that up to now we have not sufficient reason to consider the rules laid down by Pope Pius XII in this matter to be out of date and therefore not binding. These, therefore, must be considered valid, at least so long as we do not feel obliged in conscience to change them.(3)

Although the pope and a number of official commentators later were quite emphatic that no change whatsoever was anticipated and that this statement did not imply that the “traditional norms” were in question,(4)  its meaning has been pondered both before and after the publication of HV.(5)  As the more scientific and theological debate was being carried on in conjunction with data available from the experience of those most personally involved with questions of birth control, naturally a growing number of people both in and out of the church were inclined to certain assumptions. Unlike the sometimes esoteric discussion limited only to theological circles, these issues were vital to the average layperson. On this level, one could hardly deny that a real state of doubt existed in the minds of many.

Another assessment of the situation, however, lies chiefly within the bounds of theological discussion.  Here we would further like to distinguish two areas: that of the practical-pastoral problem and that of the fundamental inquiry. Ford and Lynch(6)  tried, before HV was promulgated, to show that a situation of “practical doubt” did not exist in respect to the norms applied to birth control by Pius XII and therefore one could not establish a situation of “probabilism” in which the individual conscience could chose a course of action favoring contraception. While attempts to uphold this view after the encyclical will be important for the role of conscience, it is relevant to the historical situation to point out that a number of theologians, as well as some bishops, held just the opposite view. Without necessarily going so far as an appeal to probabilism, a significant portion of the theological community both looked for and anticipated some change m the traditional thinking.(7)  On the pastoral level this attitude exhibited itself by some rather lenient practices by confessors. On the level of fundamental speculation, however, a number of arguments were being introduced that aimed more at the foundation of the traditional teaching.(9)  Some of these arguments found their way into GS, 47-52 of Vatican II which represented the official teaching of all the bishops and the pope himself. In deliberating upon these fundamental positions, the changes are often subtle and less obvious toward their conclusions for the debate over birth control. It remains to be judged whether their acceptance literally contributed to a situation of theological doubt. (10) Nonetheless, some vital questions were being asked – questions which raised doubts about the bases of the traditional teaching if not about its conclusions .
B. From Casti Connubii to HV
Relevant to an understanding of any encyclical is its relationship with other events and documents preceeding its appearance. When Pope Pius XI issued Casti Connubii,(11) dealing with all direct birth control in the harshest terms, he was directly replying to the Lambeth Conference of the same year. At that meeting the Anglican bishops became the first major body of christian hierarchy to accept some forms of contraception as morally justifiable means toward responsible parenthood. Roman reaction to this was swift, referring explicitly to the “guilt of grave sin.” While HV did not constitute any similar reaction of Rome to a specific event or document, it does relate to other statements of the magisterium.

The encyclical itself refers to CC six times.(12)  Some commentators saw the link here as firmly establishing the traditional nature of the teaching,(13) while it must also be seen that reference to a document only 38 years old is hardly overwhelming.(14)  Likewise, the status of CC and its acceptance by the church after 1930′(15) was an issue that received Some attention as a means of showing that there was a definite evolution between the documents. Gustave Martelet devoted the first chapter of his book on HV to elaborating this evolution. He cites three major differences: the teaching on the ends of marriage, the qualification of intrinsic evil and the type of pastoral advice given to priests.(16) Bernard Haring at first saw little difference between the two documents, but later chose to critique CC via its relationship with GS rather than HV,(17) implying at the same time that Paul VI’s ideas were closer to Pius XI’s in terms of God being a “legislator of natural law.” Other changes center upon the more subtle distinctions about the status of women in marriage and the meaning of coitus.

About the only theologian to remark that the CC to HV development included the acceptance of periodic continence was John Coulson (18) who notes that this, among other changes, was left to be inferred rather than explicitly stated. While I personally believe that this is due to the fact that too few people are actively aware that CC did not accept periodic continence, its assumption may be attributed to the later papal acceptance of this practice. This constitutes another important reference which HV makes: to Pope Pius XII’s address to the Midwives in 1951.(19) The allocution was the first time that the official magisterium took this step, some 21 years after CC, and HV contains five references to it.(20) The composition of the encyclical as a whole appears to aim at establishing a continuity and traditional grounding for its teaching, although the actual attention given in reference notes does not establish a lengthy background.(21)

Since the relation of HV to the Pontifical Birth Control Commission and to Vatican II will be treated separately, we can briefly mention here the encyclical’s connection with social teaching such as John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra (AAS 53(1961), 404-64) and Pacem in Terris (AAS 55 (1963), 257-304) and Paul’s own Populorum Progressio (AAS 59(1967), 257-99). Like some bishops who seized upon the issue of HV to address problems of social justice and renounce interference by powerful countries to impose programs of birth control, the mind of the pope was also attuned to these important aspects. The reaction in South America seemed to be particularly concerned with these problems(22), but the whole Third World was indeed affected. (23) Some form of efficient birth regulation was necessary for  overpopulated countries and Pope Paul s social teaching admitted this, (24) but there seems to have been two different methodologies at work here in these two sides of papal teaching. Paul VI has continuously upheld the principles of social justice and man’s right to determine his life and social interactions which implies a basically dynamic concept of human nature as reflected in Part I of GS. The notion of human nature operative in HV, however, emerged quite differently.

Finally, as Msgr. Lambruschini pointed out, HV can be seen in connection with the “Credo” delivered by Pope Paul on 30 June 1968, one month before the encyclical.(25) Both documents were evidently put forth as “reaffirmations” of the constant teaching of the church and both received wide reaction. The phenomena of 1968 and the events which followed indicated on the one hand that the thinking of the pope was following a clearly defined path. On the other hand, especially because of the reactions to these papal utterances, the question may be posed whether the entire church was moving in the same direction.
C. Authorship
Disregarding some brief, unfounded speculation to the contrary immediately after HV was published, it seems rather certain that Pope Paul was personally responsible for the final redaction of HV.  (26) However, it is important to note that the pope was much influenced by those around him in the years and weeks preceding the composition of this statement. Some commentators have exaggerated the so-called isolation which took place during this period saying that there was only one line of argumentation available for Paul to consult.(27)  While the preponderance of one school of thought dominated his personal theologians and did perhaps influence the pope’s final decision, it cannot be denied that he was personally aware of opposition to maintenance of the old formulations and that this had an important role in the final text of the encyclical. (28) Nevertheless, to broaden the picture it appears worthwhile to elaborate upon the gensis of HV and those who had a hand in it.

When the Pontifical Birth Control Commission completed its work, it handed over to the pope a dossier containing its findings and comprising more than 500 pages. The final report of the Commission is dated 26 June 1966.(29) The two years which elapsed between this report and the publication of HV were devoted to the study of all its findings and further consultation with other sources. But this period remains something of a mystery for which only fragmentary evidence exists.(30)  Some of the key figures operative at this time were Gustave Martelet, a personal consultant to the pope,(31) Jan Visser, M. Zalba and then Archbishop Carlo Colombo, also personal consultants, and Cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office and former president of the Birth Control Commission. Shortly after the Commission’s report was given to the pope, Card. Ottaviani is reported to have given him at least one more document which went contrary to that report and consisted largely of a defense of the positions of Popes Pius XI and XII on birth control.(32) The months following resulted m no forthcoming statement except that the pope felt the need for further studies.

At the end of 1966, another secret commission, the “Committee of Eight,” is believed to have been formed to contribute to the ongoing study and draft a schema to deal with the questions. The report of this committee (33) was a paper of 15 pages which was delivered to the pope at the end of 1967 and developed three principle arguments:

  1. It is not possible to contradict Casti Connubii for that would undermine the doctrinal authority of the Magisterium and seriously endanger the confidence of the faithful; 2. in the present atmosphere of general eroticism, in taking an open position, one risks opening the door to a tide of hedonism; 3. if one permits the use of contraceptives for individuals, governments are going to be able to claimhe recognition of their right to state organized family planning.(34)

It could well have been this document which prompted the reported protests of Cardinals Suenens and Dopfner (35) and its importance for our work here is the place it found in the genesis of 1IV. At the same time, there was a kind of balance in the historical setting supplied by two meetings in October 1967: that of the Synod of bishops during which the prelates were invited to express their opinions by personal letters, and that of the Third World Congress for the Apostolate of the Laity which demonstrated the urgency of this problem as well as the need for some practical solutions.

From the end of 1967 to the publication of HV, rumours circulated about the imminence of some papal statement. There was even a report that yet another committee of “Twelve superperiti” was formed to draft possible texts for the encyclical. During that time it appears that the theological debate was central to the formation of a text while the pressing need for an acceptable middle ground caused many to be optimistic of the results. Unofficial Vatican sources were giving very confusing signals (36) but in retrospect it may be clearer what the most important issues were to be considered. Two definite lines of thought were influential: that connecting the minority dissent in the sub-commission for Schema XIII – the so-called “minority report” of the Birth Control Commission – the “Committee of Eight” report – and the thinking of those theologians close to the pope; and that connecting the actual sub-commission recommendations for GS – the final report of the Birth Control Commission – and the growing voices calling for a reconsideration of the traditional teaching. It is necessary to understand these dynamics to clearly interpret the meaning of the final encyclical.
D. What is an encyclical?
The reaction to HV has naturally led to the consideration of the weight of various papal statements and the role of the central magisterium in moral teaching. We will discuss the general issue below, but here we raise the specific question of the meaning and status of an encyclical as such. This genre of papal teaching is an elusive one, including an entire gambit of topics and importance and having a rather short history. The term “encyclical” is best translated “circular letter” and came into frequent use only in the 18th century. Benedict XIV (1740-58) issued the first “encyclical” that was addressed widely and presumed to be a teaching for the whole church, Ubi Primum. (37) Since that time, a number of popes have used this means of communication and set forth some important teachings, especially in the area of social doctrine. But many, if not most, encyclicals have quickly become outdated and overruled, even by the same popes who issued them, and one would be hard pressed to find very many important examples which still accurately represent the current teaching of the church.(38)

The most often quoted papal admonition on the importance of encyclicals is from Pius XII’s Humani Generis (1951) which claimed ipso facto assent for all positions advanced in papal encyclicals. In the same paragraph, he writes,

…when the Roman Pontiffs go out of their way to pronounce on some subject which has been hitherto controverted, it must be clear to everybody that, in the mind and intention of the Pontiffs concerned, this subject can no longer be regarded as a matter of free debate among theologians.(39)

These are indeed strong words and appear to some theologians to put an end to our discussion, except that such an attitude ignores the fact that before HV there was hardly such a debated papal statement as Humani Generis itself. Any approach to the genre must recognize that the encyclical is certainly one of the most highly developed forms of what came to be called the “ordinary magisterium  of the pope, i.e. the day to day teaching as an expression of the pastoral care of souls. But caution must be exercised in assessing any given example of this magisterium and often the element of time is a great aid in determining individual significance. Attitudes exhibited in the reaction to HV range from a priori assent to this form of papal statement (40) to a rejection of the role of pope as supreme arbitrator.  Attempting to find the middle course is difficult because even the content of such teaching does not give a criterion for qualifying the form.(42)

Ultimately, the church’s acceptance of HV will depend upon its evaluation as an individual event and its authority will be assessed on a much broader level than its form of expression. The tone of the text is itself very soft, especially when compared to CC, and the pope’s call for further research suggests that he did not consider the issue a closed one. A personal theologian, Martelet, comments that an encyclical as such “orients true research on ardent subjects, but it does not close it.” (43) Thus, the importance of this, or any other encyclical, must be seen against a background of other factors. It is a part of magisterial teaching and not its complete embodiment. It must be compared with other manifestations of  authoritative teaching such as the conciliar documents.(44) Further, it must be subjected to the general criteria for interpreting statements of the magisterium, itself in need of more research in respect to moral teaching.

Finally, it must be weighed with the retrospect observance of how it is implemented, lived and evaluated by the church itself.(45) Obviously such an approach cannot serve to rate a given encyclical at the moment that it appears. But an historical understanding of the role of encyclicals in general can be a calming influence when one is faced with a drama such as that surrounding HV. Perhaps we are now in a better position to evaluate that phenomena specifically. Perhaps, as well, an objective analysis of the Humani Generis and HV events – their promulgation, interpretation and lasting significance – can be a valuable lesson for our spontaneous approach to authoritative statements, particularly to papal encyclicals.

III. The larger issues surrounding HV
A. Attitudes around the encyclical
The fact that HV cannot be evaluated solely on its status as a “papal encyclical” is highlighted by Fr. Pius who questions the appropriateness of this vehicle for stating moral principles. He chooses by example a comparison between John XXIII’s deploring the nuclear arms race in Pacem in Terris and Paul VI’s exclusion of contraception in HV. Then, in assessing their actual import on the church, he writes,

We have two very different “official” reactions to these statements -priests still bless submarines specifically designed and equipped to carry nuclear weapons; priests still remain suspended because they do not accept that Humanae Vitae is absolute and final.(46)

His own answer to the question why this difference exists is because the two statements represent two differently binding types of morality, the first is responsibility oriented and the other sin-entered. The latter, he says, has for too long been the type of approach that Catholic moral teaching has taken to problems involving sexuality: declaring what is right and wrong instead of encouraging personal responsibility and the exercise of prudence. Sin-centered morality is easier because it avoids the very difficult grey areas of moral decision making. Yet both approaches, including that of Pacem in Terris, are supposedly based upon an appreciation of man, human, nature and natural law.

We must not overlook, then, the substance and importance of the fundamental theologies underlying the issues of the HV debate. These are both moral and ecclesiological. Morally speaking, we have already implicated the attitudes toward human nature (and the human person), natural law, the meaning of sexuality and the theology of marriage. To these we must add the distinction between fundamental and concrete norms in the exercise of both theology and moral teaching. Louis Janssens relates a good deal of the HV controversy to the confusion of these two levels in the area of moral pronouncements and contrasts an attitude of openness to the evaluation of the material content of morality (“Autonomy and Historicity”) which he sees in GS to that which equates the specific content of a moral proposition with the meaning of divine law, as in HV.(47) Perhaps the roots of this latter outlook lie in the manual tradition which frequently became a highly complex science of ruling between good and evil. The attendant casuistry which first served to lend insight to complicated issues sometimes became an end in itself making the content of prudent solutions synonymous with irreversible judgments. To understand why this is only one way of looking at things and to appreciate the role of the magisterium in moral pronouncements throughout the entire tradition of the church, it appears helpful to employ the fundamental-concrete distinction, especially if genuine continuity is to be established in “the traditional teaching of the church.”

Ecclesiologically, the genesis of HV and the different types of reactions it received are also indicative of different fundamental theologies. We have already mentioned Bernard Haring who blamed the entire event on the power concentrated in the Vatican and criticized HV principally because it foresook the principle of collegiality in its method of composition.(48)  His disappointment reaches to issues beyond the moral controversy and warns of the implications of such ecclesial procedures. Similarly, Gregory Baum concentrates on the formative factors of the encyclical which he considers incompatible with the spirit and teachings of Vatican II. (49) These concerns are also implicit in the types of reaction the hierarchy gave to      The fact that different bishops’ conferences had various evaluations of the status of this papal statement raises problems for determining what ecclesiology is operative in the contemporary church. The only real answer seems to be “many ecclesiologies” and the implication is for further investigation. For our purposes, it is important to be aware that there is more than one fundamental notion to be dealt with before the debate can be resolved.

Parallel to the ecclesiological problem is the ecumenical one. While peripheral to the validity of HV itself, we must recognize that the promulgation of this encyclical had ramifications for the growing ecumenical movement. The problem of centralized, papal authority and the-‘role of the church as moral teacher are particularly relevant to the relationship with other christian churches. The impact of this particular teaching for different cultures and value systems was also a problem for dialogue with non-christians. On the practical level, HV raises difficulties in the area of mixed marriages as well as on the level of civil autonomy in regulating contraceptive information and material. While all these issues were involved in the aftermath of the encyclical, they did not seem to have any role in its coming to be. That fact alone, that HV was written from a particular Roman Catholic point of view and then issued to “all men of good will,” is itself a factor in appreciating its significance.

B. Attitudes behind the encyclical
Closely related to the fundamental beliefs which inspired both HV and its reactions are the more concrete issues and arguments advanced for its defense and critique. The most important of these will emerge in the following chapters but here some general remarks are intended as an introduction. It must be noted, for instance, that while the authority of the pope was a topic of discussion, most serious reaction took a respectful position toward the magisterium. Extremes on both sides were limited to occasional responses which essentially lacked depth and had no serious impact.(51) Criticism of the use of papal magisterium was often historically based though naturally not all of it occurred on the same level. Defense of the statement as authoritative was often  entered around the historical period between the two Vatican Councils.

The more widely discussed moral issues often reflected on what were – or were thought to be – specific attitudes in these areas. Here we encounter the generalized kind of response that wanted to collect the reactions into two major camps. (52) Unfortunate as this is, some were of the opinion that each “side” could almost be predicted to hold certain ideas.(53)  But that gratuitous assumption mostly lacked nuance or misunderstood the arguments. Kevin T. Kelly, for example, claims that the historical situation is responsible for the composition of HV as it was because opinions favoring contraception were advancing it as a good.(54)  Paul VI, he writes, was balancing the notion that man has total control over himself. While this is a valid point of discussion, it does not seem to fully understand the different positions on the matter both before and after HV. On the other hand, defending the position of admitting contraception sometimes did take a very optimistic view of man’s relation to nature and characterized the sources of HV as having an unscientific, outmoded view of the world.(55) These two types of generalizations should be taken seriously as an indication of spontaneous feeling toward the encyclical that points to difficulties in its acceptance and implementation. But they should not be understood as equivalent to the real scope of theological reaction in either direction.

A more serious issue introduced into the speculation on formative attitudes concerned the further implications of one’s general position on birth control. It can be easily admitted that the encyclical’s argumentation places great weight upon the procreative openness of every single act of intercourse. John McHugh, as an example, points out that this proposition is the exact same basis for nearly the whole of the church’s teaching on sexuality.(56)  In short, to reject Paul VI’s condemnation of contraception is to wipe out any basis for dealing with fornication, or what some refer to as every other kind of sexual “perversion.”(57)  This issue must surely be dealt with when one considers that the traditional teaching alone probably would be inadequate if stripped of this fundamental assertion. However, this line of argumentation is not completely justified because it presumes that criticism of HV was entirely negative. On the contrary, many responsible commentators often outlined a pre-existing evaluation of sexuality which was built on different propositions, and which constituted a whole moral approach. One could simultaneously accept contraception in some cases and still consider some other sexual activities as less than moral. Different approaches to sexual morality must be examined in more detail and other areas such as pre-marital sex may well do with a revaluation.

Bridging these areas is the question whether HV itself is traditional and, if so, was Pope Paul VI in a position to take a step beyond that tradition? As noted earlier, the encyclical took pains to link itself with “the constant teaching of the church,” even if its appeal was to rather recent sources. Not all commentators agreed with this perspective and implicit attitudes betrayed different notions of “tradition” itself. Reference to the historical evidence is itself sometimes contradictory in evaluating the status quaestionis prior to HV and usually went hand in hand with how one reacted to the encyclical.(58) The attitude directly behind HV in respect to this question seems rather obvious, but it was evidently not easily accepted.

C. Data from other quarters
It is an understatement to say that HV entered a world that was very different from that of CC. The Catholic populous was fresh from the effects of Vatican II still trickling down to their local levels. The advanced countries of the world were enjoying the largest post-war economic, cultural and intellectual boom where growing educational achievements shaped an increasingly sophisticated middle class. Developing countries were beginning to emerge more militant as more new nations gained independence and realized that the value and integrity of their own cultures had to be preserved from outside influence and their right of self-determination must not be overruled. It was a world which was becoming increasingly concerned with development, resources, planning, personal freedom, the quality of life and, involved with all these by way of example, population.

Since the days of Malthus, the relation between the rate of population growth and world resources has been an area for debate among scientists. Regardless of whether it can actually be determined if there is a critical problem of overpopulation or not,(59) it cannot be denied that for whatever reason, from survival to comfort, the question of limiting births has become the concern of a growing number of people. It is in the specifics of this issue, however, that large differences exist. Distinctions must be drawn, for instance, between family planning and population control,(60) objective techniques must be developed to assess specific problems and isolate their sources(61) and the means for achieving desired goals must be understood before they can be evaluated. Among the last of these is the application of means once the decision has been taken to avoid conception.

HV, reflecting current church teaching, accepts the principle of family planning, but it makes an implicit distinction between birth control and contraception.(62) To some observers, this total separation is itself artificial and not only exhibits a naive comprehension of the biological data (63) but places the credibility of the church in jeopardy by ignoring its most important role: not to deny the facts but to show christians how to live with them and effectively apply christian values to technological knowledge.(64)

The fact is that contraception of one form or another is widely known and practiced. (65) Another fact is that abortion has become widespread and is characterized by some as an alternative form of birth control. The unfortunate linking of HV’s condemnation of both practices did not help those who were trying to entirely separate the two while it did blur the issue for those who saw no essential difference. The common sense proposition that acceptance of contraception would necessitate fewer abortions, based as it is upon pragmatism and a non-idealistic view of the situation, did not carry any weight because of the Vatican’s hesitation in accepting the lesser of two evils. Still, it seems that a definitive separation of the two things should have been sought. Failure to do so has caused confusion and may have been counterproductive in the church’s attempt to preach moral values and the gospel message to the world.

Comparison of the total content of HV with information from experts in various fields shows it to be lacking when it attempts to teach anything substantive. The area of magisterial competence, one might expect, should rather be found in the theologizing, especially in its elaboration and reflection upon scripture. Yet when one turns to this area, the encyclical still encounters criticism. Its theology is characterized as more of a specific opinion on natural law and rational ethics. The use of scripture in HV is a particular problem since there is no mention of it in any of the moral teaching. (66) The traditional use of Gen 38 (the story of Onan) to condemn sexual sins could no longer be used, as Msgr. Lambruschini pointed out, and no other sources could be found in revelation to relate to the topic, quite obviously because there are none. What scriptural references we do find in HV are proof texts, quotes and references used to rubber stamp preconceived conclusions.(67) They deal mainly with texts on authority and on the pastoral exhortations (more than a third of them in HV,25 alone), the former being of a not-uncontested nature and the latter vague enough to relate to anything.

The only reference to exterior data in the encyclical, HV, 2, 3 and 5, amounts to little more than a polite nod. Outside information was not taken to be influential and HV,6, a reply to the Pontifical Commission, simply dismisses the findings of the pope’s own study because “certain criteria of solutions had emerged which departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church.” This, of course, begs the question: if the constant teaching was so firm, why the study? Since the reply to this involves the tensions surrounding the debate at Vatican II, we must begin searching for an answer by first comparing the encyclical with that council.

IV. HV and Vatican II
The first weeks of reaction to the encyclical exhibited differing evaluations of how this document related to the newly completed council. (68) The lines of comparison developed in two overall areas: the moral teaching of GS on marriage as related to HV and the statements of the council (specifically LG) with respect to the authority of the magisterium. The positions taken on these topics differed widely and the attendant interpretations of conciliar texts had a close relation to one’s assessment of the encyclical, although some commentators tried to be as objective as possible. Our comments will treat each area by concentrating on comparison with the two specific documents.

A. HV and GS
Although theological opinion differed on how closely these two documents could be compared,(69) the content of GS, 47-52 (Part II, Chapter I) on the theology of marriage in general must be considered as a background to any interpretation of HV. This is admitted by the encyclical itself, the reactions of the bishops, nearly every theologian who mentioned the subject and by Paul VI himself in comments after HV. To say that, it is a foregone conclusion is already to make a significant statement: on every competent level of church teaching, the doctrinal content of the conciliar texts are considered to be authoritatively superior. The interpretation of the text relevant here, however, was not always the same. Some commentators saw no immediate discrepancy between HV and GS while others took the former to be out of line with the spirit of the conciliar teaching.(70) Very often, one’s position on the encyclical had an influence on their view of GS, but the opposite relation in evaluating the two documents could certainly not be considered any less true.

One very objective analysis of these two documents done from the perspective of a historian serves as a virtually definitive starting point for textual criticism and interpretation. That is Philippe Delhaye’s  “L’Encyclique Humanae vitae et l’enseignement de Vatican II sur le” marriage et la famille (Gaudium et spes).”(71)  Without wishing to be repetitious of the findings of this article, some of its most important points should be noted which are relevant to our study.

HV refers to GS nine times in its text and notes. Five of these are references to general principles that Delhaye considers out of the context of GS but innocuous enough to be passed over. (72)The other four are rather substantive and highlight the relationship between the two.

  1. HV,9 (n. 8) quotes GS,50 on the orientation of marriage to begetting and educating children.(73) In doing so, it separates the essential parity which the conciliar document sought to achieve regarding all the meanings of marriage. In GS, the primary-secondary idea of marital ends is totally abandoned but the form of the final text suffers some separation of affirmations principally because of interventions of papal modi and the minority members of the subcommission.  HV quoted only one of these statements, dealing with procreation, and failed to mention the other in the same context.
  2. HV,10 (n. 10) refers to GS, 50 and 51 to confirm the statement of the basis for morality in these areas. Here a sharp contrast takes place in that HV bases itself on “the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and its acts,” whereas the parallel text in GS bases the moral decision on “the nature of the human person and his acts.”(74) Further, HV claims that its criterion is “manifested by the constant teaching of the church.” Turning to GS,51, we find the  phrase so often repeated in reactions which support the conclusions of HV:

Relying on these principles, sons of the church may not undertake methods of regulating procreation which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.

Examinations of the evolution of the conciliar text exposes the fact that this phrase is almost entirely the creation of the minority theologians and the papal interventions. While the “principles” referred to in GS are much broader, HV implies the text to be tied to its own notion of natural law. This is also the locus of footnote 14 which took cognizance of the developing state of the doctrine including a citation of Pope Paul’s speech of 23 June 1964 mentioned above. In short, HV’s citation at this point does not do justice to the highly nuanced position elaborated in GS.(75)

  1. HV,14 (n. 14) refers to, among other things, GS,50 for a condemnation of abortion. But the encyclical precedes this with a condemnation of “the direct interruption of the generative process already begun,” an ambiguous phrase which could include everything from ovulation to coitus. Without being able to define what HV means to include here, it must be noted that the style of approach is very different than that of GS which treated abortion in a very singular way.
  2. HV,24 (n. 30) quotes GS,51 to the effect that, “A true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to the fostering of authentic conjugal love.” This phrase is also the direct result of papal intervention in the conciliar text which, in its original version, recognized the independence of evaluating conjugal relations and, as stated above, did not identify the “marriage act” with procreation as a primary or even necessary end.

In summary, Delhaye notes how the use of GS by HV was either of a general character or in some way manipulated the original conciliar text to serve its own purposes. This was done either by modifying a thought or lifting it out of context. Of the four most important examples, three (HV, nn. 8, 10, 30) are more properly references to papal interventions at the council and not to the sense of the original document drawn up for the fathers to deliberate. It is worth noting that some of the same people forming the dissenting minority with respect to GS, 47-52 had a hand in shaping HV. The article discussed here does not name individuals but rather goes on to address some wider points of disagreement in relation to the overall thrust of the two documents: methodology, understanding of responsible parenthood, personalist criterion of morality, role of conscience, and the value of married love.(76)

Delhaye’s analysis is primarily one of textual criticism, but it addresses broader theological questions. Not every commentator agreed with him and there are those who came to contradicting conclusions. (77)  But this author’s personal association with the text of GS, being part of the preparatory commission, seems to qualify him as an interpreter of its meaning. That is a valuable asset in interpreting any official document and provides an insight into comparing this document with such a controversial encyclical. In a very real sense, the issues involved reached the heart of official circles in 1965 when Schema XIII was debated at Vatican II. The theological subcommission of the council included members of the dissenting minority both at this time and in the preparation of HV. Cards. Ottaviani and Cicognani on the council floor and John Ford and E. Lio in the commission among others, insisted on a restatement of the “traditional position” while the council fathers both rejected the old formulation and insisted on recognition of the open state of the question.

There was, then, a strong current of opposition to any change or rethinking of the positions of Popes Pius XI and XII on the matter – an opposition which some commentators on HV felt was achieving its victory in that encyclical three years later. One of its spokesmen was Card. Pericles Felici who wrote immediately after HV to prove the continuity of the two documents and revealed a very different picture of GS than did Delhaye, even though the former claims to be offering a similar insight into the background debate. (78) Felici writes that the bishops were worried that the notion of responsible parenthood was too subjective, that GS,51, n. 14 is an integral part of the document affirming that no doubt existed, and that GS affirmed that “in the moral appreciation of the procreative act, it is necessary to take into account the nature of the act itself and its intrinsic finalities.”(79)  If these propositions were correct, it would be hard to justify not only the majority of commentaries on GS but even a simple reading of the text of the document itself. Further, it seems nearly impossible to reconcile the cardinal’s assertion that he was presenting the feelings of the vast majority of bishops present at Vatican II with what one reads in the episcopal reactions to HV.

The arguments claiming both continuity and discontinuity between GS and HV have at least one point in common, that the latter cannot be read without consulting the former. Episcopal and theological reactions to the encyclical both emphasized this relation and implied the larger question of precedence in terms of authority. If, as seems evident, a cogent case can be made to establish a discontinuity between the two, how is one to evaluate the status of the papal encyclical? We will discuss this broad question below (Chapter Six) but here we must note that evaluation of papal statements was itself referred to another conciliar teaching, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

B. HV and LG
HV itself refers to LG only three times.(80)  Two of these are to the role of the laity in the church, the third reference concerns the role of the priests who are urged to be examples of obedience to the magisterium “because of the light of the Holy Spirit which is given in a particular way to the Pastors of the Church.” Two things are immediately striking when reading the encyclical in this context. First, the only conciliar reference to authority in HV concerns the magisterial office of the bishops. This is in keeping with the true spirit of LG which strongly emphasized the collegial participation of all the hierarchy in governing, teaching and sanctifying the church. An attentive reading of the document reveals its concern to balance the recognition of papal authority in Vatican I with an equal recognition of the authority of the full (that is, acting along with its head) college of bishops. Second, HV exhibits a conspicuous silence about LG when it attempts, in paragraph 4, to ground the competence of the magisterium. This absence of reference to the council recognizes that there was no basis present in the relevant texts to establish either the claim to an inspired interpretation of natural law or the concentration of magisterial teaching in the singular person of the pope. In sum, HV itself admits that there was no conciliar point of reference from which to judge or even establish – its authority.

This, however, did not prevent many commentators from introducing data from Vatican II to assess the situation. The majority of those reactions centered on the particular text of LG,25 which mentions the special place of the Roman Pontiff in teaching matters of faith and morals. (81) Some of these concentrated on the significance this document has regarding the right to dissent, either for theologians or for the practice of the lay-person.(82)  Others took a greater interest in the meaning this text may have in grounding papal authority.  But this area proved to be controversial and, like the references to GS, needed to be enlightened with a closer understanding of LG itself.

Ignoring the silence of the Vatican itself in this respect,(83)  a few reactions did try to establish HV’s authority on LG,25.(84) The thrust of this form of argument concentrates on the mention of the pope as enjoying a special place in the magisterium. But this avoids the rather strict way in which the council fathers themselves understood the meaning of the passage. Whereas the primacy of the pope was a recognized doctrine, LG,25 was about the bishops’ teaching office and not a repeat of Pastor Aeternus. Thus, a relatio which accompanied the introduction of this passage into the schema De Ecclesia states its purpose to be, “that it may become more apparent that the non-infallible magisterium of the Roman Pontiff is exercised in the context of the magisterium of the entire episcopal body.”(85) It is important how one reads a document and whether one is aware of the pitfalls of eisegesis. LG does not make a point of the papal priviledge; on the contrary, it better defines its context as the exercise of leadership of the episcopal college.

Similarly, the assertion that there is no need for reasons to be given for a teaching to be obeyed because of the assistance of the Holy Spirit(86) is also misinterpreted. The inspiration of the Spirit was predicated in LG to the whole of the magisterium, principally to the bishops in the church. The reference in the council document to the Roman Pontiff is, at this point, a historical one (“This is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff enjoys…”). Further, three successive notes in the text refer specifically to the explanation of the meaning of this affirmation at Vatican I by Gassar (Mansi 52: 1213 AC, 1214 A; and 1215 CD, 1216-7 A). This explanation limited the assistance of the Holy Spirit given to the pope to those times when he defined, “(87) only when he defined.” Neither Vatican I nor Vatican II made any specific mention of divine assistance to the teaching of the “ordinary magisterium,” but any connection between the two must be limited to those things already defined (i.e., infallible statements). Finally, LG,25 does specifically limit the magisterium’s official pronouncements to that which is bound up with revelation. (88) This is of great significance when evaluating magisterial statements in the area of morals, particularly m this area of birth control and contraception.(89)

In summary, then, a comparison of HV with the principal documents of Vatican II reveals a marked difference in orientation, method and conclusions which can be drawn from the respective texts. In relation to thespecific question of marriage as it centers in on the problem of birth control, there was a clear opposition of opinion in the background to the texts of HV and GS. The council fathers, though not resolving the question, took an open position toward rethinking the objective criteria necessary to make such decisions. They embodied this openness in their own text (abandoning the old formulations and the natural law approaches of Pius XI and XII) not only by promoting a personalist view of marriage but also by specifically stating that the matter remained under investigation.

The chief vehicle for that continuing investigation was the Pontifical Birth Control Commission. This body took up where GS left off, incorporating as well the tensions which existed behind the conciliar debate. Some participants were members of both theological commissions and the thoughts of both schools were equally present. The formation of the Commission, its enlargement, its acceptance by the fathers at the council and the anticipation which it inspired in most everyone who was familiar with it, all testified to the fact that many, if not most, people in the church saw a real possibility for a change in the teaching. In the. end, HV denied that any change was possible. What, then, happened?

V. HV and the Pontifical Birth Control Commission
The “Pontifical Commission for the Study of Population, Family and Births,” commonly referred to as the (Pontifical) Birth Control Commission, existed for three years and carried out its work in relative secrecy up to the completion of its final report, dated 26 June 1966.(90)  Less than one year later, in March 1967, the National Catholic Reporter, a U.S. independently published weekly, obtained and published the alleged reports of the Commission without the approval of its authors or recipient. These reports were subsequently published in other journals and books and came to be a focus for the debate on contraception both before and after HV was issued.

It is not our intention here to recapitulate the history of the Commission for that has been adequately done in other places.(91) However, some confusion does exist in regard to the “reports” of the Commission which should be cleared. The final dossier presented to the pope was a voluminous compilation of the data, schemas and findings which were the result of the Commission’s work. Probably contained in that body of material are the four documents which were later published. They are:

  1. The “minority working paper” of those theologians who represented the view that the “traditional formulation” of the positions of Pius XI and XII on artificial birth control were adequate and should be maintained. This was drawn up by four theologians, John Ford, Jan Visser, Marcelino Zalba and. Stanislas de Lestapis. This document, is sometimes called the “minority report” but was in no way a “report” of the Commission. “(92) As a working paper, it probably comprised part of the dossier given to Pope Paul in June 1966. It should not, as often happened, be confused with a totally separate document allegedly presented to the pope at the end of the summer of 1966. To my knowledge, this latter document has never been published.(93)
  2. The “majority working paper” also called “the argument for reform” of those theologians who felt that a substantial change in the “traditional teaching” was justifiable and should take place. This was drawn up (signed) by Josef Fuchs, Philippe Delhaye and Raymond Sigmond and was approved by the majority of the Commission’s theologians.
  3. The final report of the Commission presented to Pope Paul VI as the conclusions of the whole body of experts who undertook the work. An original version was presented at the final session on 23 June 1966 but did not receive the unanimous support of the prelates.(94) Thus, a second edition was drawn up and approved (without a formal vote) on 26 June 1966. The report was signed by nineteen theologians on the Commission and was said to be written by six of them: A. Auer, R. Sigmond, P. Anciaux, M. Labourdette, J. Fuchs and P. de Locht.
  4. The “pastoral indications” which was approved by the cardinals and bishops of the Commission to complement the final report. That report, being of a technical, theological nature, was felt by some prelates to be difficult for the layperson to understand. Thus, they asked for a more pastorally oriented, easily understandable statement to serve as an introduction to the theological report and possibly as a basis for an official pronouncement on the matter. This introduction is believed to have been written by Bishop Dupuy of Albi.(95)

The fact that these documents were never denied to be authentic by the Vatican and that some former members of the Commission commented on them after they were published (96) is evidence of their accuracy. The final report of the Commission represents the findings of the group as a whole while it cannot be doubted that there remained at least some opposition to the content of that paper. Nevertheless, what was revealed to be the recommendations of this papally appointed Commission constitutes one source of information which Pope Paul had before him prior to making his statement on the question. To gain some insight into his subsequent encyclical, it is necessary to understand what these recommendations were and to evaluate their acceptability. But we must also keep in mind that these were final, synthetic works and much more details must surely have been available in the entire dossier.

Before turning to some key arguments that dominated discussion of the Commission’s papers, some general remarks are in order. It must first be considered what the purpose of this body was. Surprisingly, it is a statement from the minority theologians that admits the real need for this study. In prefacing their remarks about why they believe the church teaches that contraception is always seriously evil, they write, “If we could bring forward arguments which are clear and cogent based 6n reason alone, it would not be necessary for our commission to exist, nor would the present state of affairs exist in the church as it is.”(97)  Simply reading the papers from the Commission one tends to be convinced that an actual state of doubt existed with regard to grounding any statement about contraception. But this led to a kind of prejudiced attitude: was the situation facing the magisterium a question of changing a previously existing teaching? More to the point, was there actually a solid, pre-existing doctrine that needed to be or could be changed?

This unfortunate formulation of the question proved to be a central point of the minority working paper (and presumably of other documents presented to the pope by those with similar ideas). Whereas the majority of theologians (and bishops) on the Commission mitigated such a feeling in the final report, it must be understood that the pope was confronted with some notion that, accepting the Commission’s recommendations would amount to a contradiction of established doctrine. The final report alone does not appear to give an adequate reply to this question, perhaps because it was not felt to be necessary. In any case, what was believed to be a de facto need for revaluation of the question of contraception by the majority of the members, by reason of the very fact of the Commission’s existence, was evidently not the way everyone saw the situation. The different papers emerging from the Commission were not always addressing the same questions or written in the same frame of reference. In analyzing what little evidence is available, it appears that there was little dialogue between the minority and majority opinions.

Reviewing the criticism of the Commission’s recommendations written after HV leads to a curious feeling that the published reports were taken  out of their proper context. During the year between their appearance and the encyclical, there was insufficient time to publish very much evaluation of the documents and their as yet unknown background material. But immediately after HV, the defenders of the encyclical felt compelled to point out the inadequacy of the Commission’s report. The inevitable difficulty here is the fact that the pope had already chosen one point of view. Subsequent positions on the Birth Control Commission were naturally influenced by one’s attitude toward (the authority of) papal teaching. The fact that the pope heavily emphasized the “constant teaching of the church” in his decision lent weight to that aspect of the minority position while it implied that the majority view had not given this enough consideration.

This, however, is putting the cart before the horse and a more fruitful perspective is to view the encyclical in light of the Commission. Guy-M. Bertrand wrote that comparing the two documents, “one gets the impression that the redactor of the encyclical either did not read this report or did not understand it.”(98)  It may be more accurate to say that many who read the report did not comprehend what it was trying to say. Some commentators took issue with the notion of developing doctrine put forth by the Commission, thus failing to take note of the actual changes that have taken place in moral teaching.(99) The problem with this position is that it neglects the fact that even the minority theologians could not establish an unambiguous tradition that would be developing, much less articulate rules for what constitutes legitimate evolution. Even some defenders of HV admit that it failed to make its case regarding the constancy of the teaching, a problem reflecting the minority position of the Commission.(100)  We will return to this issue in a later chapter.

Specific criticisms of the Commission’s final report are both gratuitous and substantial. One example of the former is that the majority position took as a starting point man’s total domination of (his own) nature.(101) However, this idea is not only scrupulously avoided in the final report, but the majority working paper specifically distinguished between the idea of nature as a sole dominion of God and the notion that nature implies finalities which must be ordered by the use of right reason. “Nature” is specified in the second sense and must be perfected. The report never speaks of dominating nature but of applying reason to act responsibly; (102) understanding the difference depends upon how one might define nature to begin with.

A more substantive criticism involves what the Commission put forth as the “principle of totality” to justify the use of contraception in individual acts.(103) Not only was the very applicability of this argument questioned, (104)but the principle itself was not completely understood as the Commission put it forth. (105)However, examining the argument as it stood still leaves a feeling of ambiguity, especially when comparing the majority working paper and the final report. The second, final idea is a broad one which draws its meaning from the fact that in this case the single sexual act cannot be morally defined without reference to its entire context.

The morality of sexual acts between people takes its meaning first of all and specifically from the ordering of their actions in a fruitful married life, that is one which is practiced with responsible, generous and prudent parenthood. It does not then depend upon the direct fecundity of each and every particular act. Moreover, the morality of every marital act depends upon the requirements of mutual love in all its aspects. In a word, the morality of sexual actions is thus to be judged by the true exigencies of the nature of human sexuality.(106)

The argument found in the “majority working paper” is somewhat different. That development, which was aimed primarily toward answering the objection of the minority theologians, tied the meaning of the individual act to a total principle of fecundity (of all the marriage acts taken together). Here the general intention toward procreation is determinative for the totality of marital acts while the individual act is morally specified by its absorbtion into the whole.

Some criticism of this argument seemed to be directed more toward the working paper than toward the final report.  (108) The encyclical rejected both formulations. Directly comparing the relevant texts with HV shows that no application of a totality principle was accepted because it obviously contradicted the approach that could be directly applied to each and every single action. The encyclical sought a criterion for the single act, the Commission recommended abandoning such an approach. The pope chose an act-centered morality instead of an intention-centered one.

The minority paper offered such an act-centered approach for reasons which were found in a further criticism of the Commission’s final report, namely, that altering the approach taken by Pius XI and XII would open the door to all sorts of other activity. This once again points to the fundamental differences between the encyclical and those who felt that change should be officially accepted, in this case the majority of theologians on the Commission. On the one hand, the entirety of sexual morality is tied to the need for a continuously operative connection between every sexual act and the procreative possibility. Since this is the only basis accepted by many, to remove it, i.e., to allow that sexual acts can take place which are not “possibly” biologically fertile, would imply that most anything is permissible, from intercourse outside of marriage to “perverted” non-coital sex. The overwhelming strength of this belief is evident in the alarmist views put forth in the minority position in respect to the “consequences if the teaching of the Church is changed” – and is reflected in the evil-consequences argument of the encyclical.(109)

On the other hand, the Commission report sought to separate the moral evaluation of sexual acts from the procreative necessity. The application of the “principle of totality” for moral determination, the emphasis upon the union as expression of conjugal love and the observation that in fact even in marriage every act of sexual intercourse is not open to procreation, caused a move away from the criteria employed in official teaching in the past. The criticism that the Commission did not show how such an approach would continue to find fornication, etc. immoral is not a valid one. This was not the question being posed. In response, the majority paper handles the problem poorly by settling for an a priori assumption that fornication does not fit into its view of what is moral. The final report avoids the issue by restricting its development to the meaning of intercourse within the conjugal community. The fact is that to address such a question would necessitate the complete elaboration of a whole new sexual morality. As an example, the issue could be turned back on the minority paper that if indeed periodic continence is morally acceptable, what restricts it to its use within marriage? Outside of an appeal to the “constant teaching of the church,” the answer does not seem easy in light of their limited criteria.

One final criticism of the Commission’s recommendations echoes some comments made with respect to GS as well. In an attempt to show that HV was appropriate at the time because those calling for change (specifically the Commission) did not prove their case, Norbert Rigali criticizes the final report for its acceptance that some physical evil must be permitted to achieve human ends.(110)  Linking this with what he considers to be a wrong view of nature, he writes, “one searches in vain for any trace of non-western influence on the Commission’s conception of what is natural to man.”(111)  This approach can also be aimed at GS’s conception of marriage – as well as the whole of the church’s teaching on morality. It is true that the basic thrust of historical church teaching is couched in Western terms and perspectives. But the same argument could again be turned around to say that the “traditional concept” of monogamous marriage or the “Western concept” of individual liberty is also part of church teaching. Kigali’s argument that contemporary ecological sensitivity proscribes human intervention in regulating conception is simplistic (112) and his defence of the encyclical’s conclusions as more attuned to contemporary ideas of nature is confusing because HV itself explicitly accepts birth control in principle. Finally, his criticism of the Commission’s report is inadequate because it totally ignores Part II, “Pastoral Necessities,” which, like GS, calls for christian education that respects cultural differences.

To understand the role played by the Pontifical Birth Control Commission in the genesis of HV it is necessary to see the work (and the result) it accomplished as a two sided affair. Regardless of the fact that there was a single set of recommendations presented to Pope Paul, the minority view of some theologians would carry a great deal of weight. The majority of those working on the project came to the conclusions that the contemporary theology of marriage centered around the personalistic concept of the community of love enunciated in GS, 47-52. Responsible parenthood, both generous and prudent, sometimes means that procreation must be avoided, but their conclusion was that the means for doing so was left to the conscience of the couple, informed by attention to objective norms based upon the person. The present situation of church teaching, along with a historical understanding of the context of previous statements on the matter, was open to a continuation of development by the magisterium, a development which would be part of a continuous tradition based on the affirmation of the values of conjugal chastity.

In opposition, the minority view stated that contraception had been univocally condemned throughout the history of the church. To offer any statement which might permit its use would amount to changing an established doctrine. Those calling for such a change are linked with relativism and situation ethics, and their position is implied to be open to most everything, including abortion which is considered under the same categories. It is strongly recommended that “the constant teaching” be reaffirmed for two principle reasons: because any change would drastically undermine the whole of the church’s teaching on sexual morality and because it would seriously cause the faithful to lose confidence in the magisterium.

It would be impossible to recreate the dilemmas of Pope Paul VI as he confronted these arguments, but we might speculate on how these particular recommendations were conceptualized. The minority claim that the teaching was firm and constant and although explicit statements only return to Pius XI’s CC, many (of the minority opinion) held this to be a solemn statement. To contradict such a recent Pope would be unavoidable in any terms since the condemnation of contraception as seriously evil was so recent and well known. Furthermore, to admit that sexual morals did not intrinsically rely upon a continuous link with procreation would inevitably call for a complete revision of sexual ethics. Against, this, the majority questioned the firmness of the traditional arguments by interpreting past teaching in a historical context – hardly acceptable without acknowledging a real development in doctrine. They posited the idea of development in concrete teaching in a period of time even shorter than that since CC. They claimed that admitting contraception would not open the door to other sexual activities, but they did not show why or how. To this purpose the final recommendations appealed to new insight and understanding in conjugal morality, but failed to explicitly construct; an alternative sexual morality which might apply to specific and individual acts. Finally, they made the fatal assumption that the faithful held confidence in the magisterium and even expected a development in official statements. Because of that assumption, the final report did not explicitate why a new papal statement would cause no threat to the status of the (papal) magisterium.

Whether the Commission (majority) proved its case is a matter of opinion largely related to the frame of reference one uses for reading the documents. Whether its findings overcame the beliefs and fears of the minority opinion, whether they had a significant influence on the pope himself, are questions answered by the encyclical. Perhaps the outline of the two positions given above may shed some light on the nature of the papal decision.
VI. General response to the encyclical
A. General orientation
A number of commentaries have been written about I1V which explain or elaborate upon its text. Some of these are. indifferent and objective, while others naturally present the encyclical in a light that favors their commentary. Like the reactions of the bishops, HV is alternately presented as an authoritative moral statement or as a pastoral document, but theological reaction generally took an approach that reversed the episcopal response. Whereas the bishops who mitigated HV’s content usually emphasized it as a pastoral guide, theologians who opposed it characterized it as a statement by authority to be interpreted by themselves. Conversely, episcopal acceptance of HV usually appealed to its authoritative status while theological endorsement emphasized the relevance, timeliness and direct applicability of its conclusions, with some worthy exceptions, of course. This reversal is probably attributable to the different roles of bishops and theologians in the church and their different relationships with authority.

Favorable reaction to HV very often followed the same lines of argumentation found in the encyclical itself. The competence of the magisterium, the constancy of the tradition and the link this teaching has with the general sexual morality are major topics put forth. But even some defenders had reservations about the absoluteness of the teaching. Louis Sahuc found the teaching to be in the genuine Catholic tradition, but maintains that the lesser of two evils argument is a difficult question,(113) although one he rejects. Similarly, Gustave Martelet  justifies HV as a statement of objective principles but leaves room on the pastoral level for the imperfect condition of man to incorporate lesser evils without grave sin.(114) Some other positive reactions accepted the conclusions of HV but attempted to ground their arguments in other methodologies.

Negative reaction to HV was, to say the least, widespread.(115) ”This may be taken as an indication of the general feeling that a different kind of statement had been expected, or was at least possible. Disappointment could also be detected by the fact that much of the Catholic press simply printed the text without comment while the more vocal editorials expressed outright opposition. Within the first months after HV’s publication, a curious phenomenon occurred perhaps unparalleled in the history of magisterial statements. The specific content of the encyclical, the. Question of contraception, receded into the background. In its place were the discussions of papal teaching and magisterial competence and, often but not always related, the issue of personal conscience in (this) moral decision making.

Because the wider topic of doctrinal coherence became increasingly important and the primary assertion of HV that it represented the “constant teaching of the church” was being disputed, a significant amount of attention was given to the notion of tradition, both in this specific question and on a more general level. Whether the teaching of HV was traditional will be treated below, but even if it could be established that the church had condemned contraception in the past, there was still the question of whether this could now be changed. To justify an affirmative answer here, several of HV’s critics pointed to historical examples where the magisterium was found to be in error and its teaching was largely altered. Some of the more common examples are as follows:(116)

–              The doctrinal and christological controversies of the early church, especially involving Popes Liberius (352-66), Vigi’iius (540-55), Honorius (625-38) and Alexander III (1154-81).

–              The rise of the Crusades to recapture the Holy Land by the use of violence, especially under Urban II (1088-99).

–              The banning of Jews from holding public office by Innocent III (1198-1210).

–              The justification of torture to acquire confessions of heretics by Innocent IV (1245-54).

–              The assertion that civil power is subordinate to ecclesiastical authority by Boniface VIII (1294-1303).

–              The justification of slavery over a long period, specifically by Nicholas V (1447-55).

–              The long condemnation of usury by popes such as Pius V (1566-72) and Sixtus V (1585-90).

–              The condemnation of those who received smallpox vaccinations by Leo XII (1823-29).

–              The condemnation of freedom of conscience by Gregory XVI (1831-46) and

Pius IX (1846-78).

–              The condemnation of the movement for christian unity by Pius XI (1922-39).

–              The various rulings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission invested with papal authority by Leo XIII (1878-1903), Pius X (1903-14) and Benedict XV (1914-22).

While this recitation of “past errors” proves nothing about the contraception controversy,(118) it does recognize a precedent whereby specific and even long standing teachings of the official church were reversed or allowed to pass into oblivion. This was done sometimes by later teaching which simply ignored previous statements of the magisterium, but it was also occasionally accomplished through the efforts of theologians or even laypersons.(119)

Finally, it must be remembered that the issue of contraception was probably a unique one in that prior to the papal statement, artificial means of regulating births were being employed by a large number of people, including many faithful members of the church. Many episcopal reactions recognized this and it. perhaps had an influence on the vocal character of some negative reactions to the encyclical from different sources. That is not to say that other moral teachings did not proscribe or condemn something that was at the same time being practiced by some of the faithful. The difference here lies in the fact that many who were using some forms of contraception were personally convinced they were acting morally and responding to the demands of their life situation. As will be observed later in this study, it does not appear that the encyclical significantly altered this fact.

B. The good points of HV
While the first weeks of popular reaction to HV saw some examples of outright rejection of the papal letter as well as a few unfair caricatures of its substance, more reflective evaluations were often careful to point to its good qualities. Both defenders and critics made note of the positive values of the encyclical, its advances or the possible good effects it might have.

It has already been observed that HV represented a step forward from CC by its basic pastoral tone and its omission of harsh condemnations. The general opinion was that it also gave “final quietus to the traditional view that the primary end of marriage is procreation,”(120) although many believed this to be a fait accompli in GS. Other ideas from Vatican II, which is the understood doctrine behind HV, include a concern for the dignity and integrity of the whole person, the positive value of love and chastity in the conjugal relationship and the fundamental idea of responsible parenthood.(121)

Elaboration of these values took place in the context of explaining what the encyclical had to say. The pope was praised for recalling the appreciation of the human person as an integrated whole. The context of the moral decision to regulate births is a difficult one that should not be treated with the facile use of mechanical and chemical means alone.(122) Critiquing those solutions, HV warned modern man to avoid falling into the myth that science and progress are always right, always capable of solving human problems.(123) In the same way, it must be credited to Pope Paul VI that the issue of contraception was revived for many who had easily accepted its use. His encyclical led to much discussion and debate that frequently centered on an appreciation of the values at stake and elevated the moral nature of the problems beyond sheer pragmatism.

The primary affirmation of responsible parenthood found in HV was a significant feature, though the term was neither understood nor applied in the same way as in GS. One of its essential aspects, however, that parenthood is a vocation which should be conscious and informed by objective facts is affirmed in the encyclical. This stops short of repeating GS,50 to the effect that “the parents themselves should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God,” and HV restricts the exercise of responsibility to the boundaries of its own moral dictates. Those boundaries were understood to be the laws of nature as expressing the will of God. While the moral controversy centered around this very point, it must also be recognized that the thrust of Paul’s teaching recalled the principle that God is the author of life and man’s procreative activity is a participation in Providence.

More widely understood values are also reflected in the encyclical when it is applied to the social realm. This aspect was particularly emphasized in the most Catholic areas of the Third World, especially South America.(124) Confronted with government programs of population control and the prerequisite demands of foreign powers granting aid, a parallel was drawn with Mater et Magistra and Populorum Progressio to emphasize, the social importance of the teaching. This warned against the dehumanizing effects of an indiscriminate birth control policy and called for a curb on the competence of civil authorities to interfere with the decisions rightfully exercised by the couple. It also emphasized the fact that social problems would not be solved simply by controlling population. Rather, principles of social justice must be applied to the entirety of these problems and the cause of genuine development must be carried out. “Overpopulation” and the. strain on presently available resources is only one aspect of the social problems facing underdeveloped nations. The solutions must address the complexity of the problems and we must not be satisfied with “partial perspectives.”

C. The core of the encyclical’s teaching
It is evident from the foregoing that a precise interpretation of what HV is saying is a difficult thing to achieve. If this is true on the level of asserting the encyclical’s positive values, it is even more obvious when confronting its critics or those who wish to interpret it out of existence.(125)  But the fault lies as much with the document as with its interpreters. To the average layperson, the idea that Msgr. Lambruschini pointed out as “the center, the nucleus, the apex, the heart and the key of the encyclical,”(126) namely, the negative propositions of HV,14, was confusing enough. The affirmation was usually reduced to the notion that “the pope says that all forms of contraception are wrong,” or more simply, “contraception is a sin.”

Naturally, such a reduction needed to be nuanced. Even if the equation with sin is implied by HV,25’s allusion to it, there remained the problem both of the absence of the explicit affirmation of sin in the moral teaching proper and the apparent toleration of recidivism for something that demanded such conscious forethought. When these distinctions begin to multiply, we face the problem of isolating exactly what is being said. We must also deal with the possibility that the real core of this teaching is not the question of contraception at all.

Attending first to the moral issue, we must notice a number of propositions in the encyclical which are intimately linked to outline the structure of HV’s argument.

–         Marriage is an institution for the generation and education of new lives  (HV,8).(127)

–         Responsible parenthood can only be exercised within the bounds of an “objective moral order” and “a correct hierarchy of values” (HV,10).

–         According to the norms of the natural law, “any use of marriage whatsoever must remain destined in itself to the procreation of human life” (HV,11).

–         The generative faculties have an “intrinsic orientation” toward raising up life (HV,13).

–         Abortion, sterilization and “every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” are to be excluded. To perpetrate these acts would constitute something “intrinsically disordered.” (HV,14).

–          The use of artificial methods of birth control would lead to various evil consequences (HV,17).

While this progression seems simple to those who accept its inner logic, it was by no means conclusive to all who analyzed it. As we shall see, each point was questioned and challenged. There was even disagreement as to what precisely constituted a contraceptive act. But the intention of the text, and the pope, does not seem deniable. It wanted to say that to use any means other than periodic continence to regulate birth was to act in a way that was “intrinsically disordered,” against nature and therefore not admissible to the moral order.

The root of this argument is built upon premises which can only be gained by investigation and interpretation. St. John-Stevas concluded “the sacrosanctity of the biological structure is the premise from which the conclusions of the encyclical flow.”(128)  That was the simplest opinion, though it was not without merit. On the other hand, Martelet drew attention to HV,12’s observation of “the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning,” and denied that the premises were biological. Rather, the encyclical, he said, is “placing the love of the spouses under the symbol of paternity.”(129)’ The essential premise in this case would be an affirmation of the genital sex-procreation link and a denial that sex could be used exclusively as a means of communication. Whichever of these and other variations one chooses, it seems that the heart of the matter postulates a single, well-defined notion of how sex is to be used, namely, in a way that is “natural.”

But continuing the analysis there appears to be a deeper dimension to this teaching. HV,17 states “Upright men can even better convince themselves of the truth of the teaching which the Church proposes in this field if they care to reflect upon the consequences of artificial birth control” (emphasis added). The encyclical was, in its specificity, addressing a much wider problem. The whole of the church’s teaching was being challenged at this time and the contraception issue was but a symptom. If contraception is permitted,(130) what would then follow? A curious statement in the same paragraph does not appear to have been observed by any of the commentators. “Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that…men have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, and that it is evil to offer them some easy means of eluding that law” (emphasis added) . The “moral law” here is not the same one spoken of earlier (HV, 10-14). Here the “moral law” is the proper (responsible) use of sexuality and the “means of eluding it” (artificial birth control) is an appendage. Moral law and natural law are thus able to be seen as separate, though the encyclical clearly would not take that position. One is tempted to see a different hand at work here. HV, 7-9 on the image of man and the meaning of conjugal love is written from the perspective of a dynamic moral law, like that formulated in GS. The underlying supposition here in HV,17 appears to be of the same orientation. The moral law is about virtue, the affirmation and pursuit of values. The natural law, as employed in HV, 10-14, is a static structure, a rule to measure the acceptability of specific acts. It would seem that the second is in service to the first.

But we cannot postulate more than one author. The encyclical is a whole and its author conceived the two “laws” to be intimately linked. There was a necessary bond between the moral and the natural law as conceived by Pope Paul. That bond is evident in a statement further on in HV,17:

If the mission of generating life is not to be exposed to the arbitrary will of men, one must necessarily recognize insurmountable limits…which no man…may licitly surpass. And such limits cannot be determined otherwise than by the respect due to the integrity of the human organism and its functions…(emphasis added).

If, as some would have liked, the pope had abandoned the natural structure for judging the licitness of specific acts, he would also have had to accept a new set of principles to take its place. From his point of view, limits had to be placed on man’s activity, limits that guided them to follow the moral law. But without the clear, simple, natural-unnatural distinction which was “self-evident” to all men, from where would these limits come?

What we see here is not merely “one more reason” to accept the teaching of the encyclical. There was a struggle going on at the time that reached to the very heart of the church’s entire teaching on sexuality. Even some Catholic moralists were abandoning the “traditional grounds” and were asking the magisterium to do the same. They were insinuating that the natural law approach was inadequate, and the pope could see the argument – he simply could not accept it. In the end, it might be more accurate to conclude that the core, the meaning, of HV was the essential re-affirmation of the traditional foundation of (this) moral teaching. At the same time, it was a reassertion of the authority which stood behind and taught that foundation.

A few commentators have pointed to this last observation as a central affirmation of HV.(131) In this view, HV, 4-6 are key paragraphs for understanding why the encyclical said what it did and why the recommendations of the Commission were rejected. HV,4 first sets the ground by asserting the competence of the magisterium to teach on the natural law. “It is indisputable, as Our Predecessors have many times declared, (132) that Jesus Christ…constituted (Peter and the apostles) as guardians and authentic interpreters of all the moral law…(including) the natural law” (emphasis added). With this perspective in mind, the pope began his argument in a direction that made his conclusions inevitable. First positing the “indisputable” competence of the (papal) magisterium to intei-pret natural law, then (also in HV,4 and n. 4) specifying the decisions of Popes Pius XI and XII as providing “a coherent teaching on both the nature of marriage and the correct use of conjugal rights and duties,” and finally classifying the data from the Commission as “opinions” which were solicited “so that the Magisterium could give an adequate reply” (HV,5), there was little surprise when the possibility for change was rejected “above all because certain criteria of solutions had emerged which departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church,” (HV,6).

The issue of authority was as important for the meaning of this encyclical as the moral principles it proposed to govern conjugal sexual activity. Those principles themselves had acquired an inalterable quality in the mind of Paul VI because of their close identification with the moral authority of the (papal) magisterium. To admit that the principles could change amounted to admitting that the approach employed by Pius XI and XII was no longer feasible and further implied that these previous popes had been in error. This formulation of the status quaestionis, placed squarely before the pope in these terms as observed in the work of the minority of the Commission, the opinions received from “other experts” and his personal consultants, was pre-determinitive in the mind of the pope who promulgated HV. To follow any other path was unacceptable. This characterization of HV’s teaching must be approached cautiously. It is not being alleged that the encyclical was the vehicle for an act of power – the assertion of magisterial authority over dissident voices, as some would have it. Rather, it was the result of a choice. The pope was being pressured to say something on the matter of contraception and the choices laid out before him clearly indicated the path he believed was the only acceptable one. If there is any truth in this scenario, Paul VI is to be congratulated for his refusal to reiterate the harsh condemnations of Pius XI. In their place, he acted as he felt he should, as the representative of the whole church who “shows herself to be the sincere and disinterested friend of men whom she wishes to help, even during their earthly sojourn, ‘to share as sons in the life of the living God, the Father of all men’ (Lk 2:24)” (HV,18).

The core of the encyclical, then, can be identified only through an interpretation of its text. The three possibilities mentioned here, the contraception question, the whole moral teaching on sexuality or the issue of authority, are really just different facets of the same phenomenon. The core of the teaching is all of these, and their individual prominence depends entirely upon the question being asked. We must, then, apply different perspectives to the encyclical before we can understand it. We will begin with the moral questions by focusing on their specific locus, namely, the morality of “artificial means of birth control,” and the attendant theology of marriage. We will then more closely examine the authority issue and the connected propositions. The exposure, of course, will take place in the context of the reactions we are studying.

Go to Chapter 5
or return to Index.

Part II   Footnotes

  1. Because the question of HV’s place in the “traditional teaching of the church” will be a major conclusion in this study it must be stated here that our position, while still evolving, is a result of weighing various arguments and not a preconceived one. For a more developed discussion of the issue, see below, Chapter Six.
  2. Apart from much material written before HV on the developing discussion, a few reactions to the encyclical included a recapitulation of the events. See, Shannon, op. cit. , pp. 12—101, St. John-Stevas, op. cit., pp. 13-1695 and M. Dayez, “Pour Comprendre ‘Humanae Vitae’,” (Part I), in Confrontations 1(1968), n. 5, pp. 375-92.
  3. AAS 56(1964), 581-9, pp. 588-9. Quoted from Shannon, op. cit., p. 13.
  4. Cf. Pope Paul’s allucution to the Italian Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, AAS 58(1966), 1166-70, pp. 1168-9.
  5. Just before HV was published John C. Ford and John J. Lynch wrote about the state of the question devoting considerable effort to eradicating any impression that the pope himself felt that change was possible. See “Contraception: A Matter of Practical Doubt?” in Linacre Quarterly 35 (1968), pp. 159-71. The exegesis of the particular statement continued after the encyclical and maintained opposing positions relative to whether any doubt existed. To mention only a few; no doubt: Joseph F Costanzo, “Papal Magisterium and ‘Humanae Vitae’,” in Thought 44 (1969), n. 174, 377-412, pp. 386-8; Christopher Derrick, Honest Love and Human Life: Is the Pope Right about Contraception? (New York: Coward-McCann, 1969), pp. 54-6; David Fitch, “’Humanae Vitae’ and Reassonable Doubt: in Homilectic and Pastoral Review 69 (1969), n. 7, pp. 516-23; doubt: Richard A. McCormick, “Notes on Moral Theology,” in Theological Studies 29 (1968), n. 4, 679-741, pp. 718-25; or by way of extrapolation, see Hans Kung, Infallible? An Enquiry (LOondon: Ciollins, 1972), pp.35-6.
  6. John C. Ford and John J. Lynch, Ibid.
  7. As mentioned earlier, our chief concern in this study is the post-HV reaction. But here it is worth pointing to the rather widespread feeling before the encyclical that change was possible, if not imminent. One need only consult the work of the members of the Pontifical Birth Control Commission, namely, those associated with the so-called “majority report,” among them, Ferdinando Lambruschini. Even closely “Roman” sources were giving signs of anticipated evolution. Giacomo Perico, “La superpillola,” in La Civilta Cattolica 118(1967), pp. 263-8, wrote that steroid drugs could possibly be permissible because they were not “directly contraceptive” properly so called. For a fuller development of the discussion as a whole, see H. and L. Buelens-Gijsen and Jan Grootaers, Mariage Catholique et Contraception (Paris: Epi, 1968) or Ambrogio Valsecchi, Regulation des Naissances: Dix annees de reflexions theologiques (Gembloux: Duculot, 1968).
  8. While this phenomena is hard to document, it would seem to be implicit in the reactions of the bishops to HV which occasionally noted the fact that pastoral practice had. grown lenient toward contraception and which themselves took a rather ambiguous position toward personal behaviour even after the encyclical. See above, pp. 91-6.
  9. For short summaries and quotes from a variety of perspectives, see Leo Pyle (ed.), The Pill and Birth Regulation (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1964) and Pope and Pill: More ocumentation on the Birth Regulation Debate (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1968), as well as historical sources mentioned above.
  10. It seems necessary to recall the famous footnote 14 of GS, 51 (see above, pp. 52-3, n. 15). The last sentence reads, “Sic stante doctrina Magisterii, S. Synodus solutions concretas immediate proponere non intendit.” It is imp[ortant to note that there is no comma between Sic and stante and the translation should read not “Thus, the official teaching remaining….” But “The official teaching standing in such a way…” (i.e., being investigated by the Pontifical Commission).
  11. AAS 22(1930), pp. 539-92; henceforth referred to as CC.
  12. In para. 4, nn. 1 and 4 on the competence of the magisterium, para. 11, n. 12 on the use of marriage, para. 14, n. 14 on abortion, n. 15 on sterilization and n. 16 on every contraceptive action.
  13. J.F. Costanzo, art. cit., pp. 383-5; C. Derrick, op. cit., p. 134; and John F. Kippley, Covenant, Christ and Contraception (Staten Island: Alba House, 1970), pp. xvii-xx.
  14. James T. Burtchaell, “‘Human Life’ and Human Love,” in Commonweal 89 (1968), n. 7, 245-52, p. 247.
  15. While those who considered HV and CC to be in exactly the same tradition (see above, n. 13, for instance) had rather strict ideas about the extreme importance of the earlier encyclical, others, like the bishops, went through pains to point out that HV was neither ex cathedra nor “infallible.” Cf. the lengthly development in John McHugh, “The Doctrinal Authority of the Encyclical ‘Humanae Vitae’,” in The Clergy Review 54(1969), nn. 8-10, pp. 586-96, 680-93, and 791-802. McHugh contrasts CC’s virtually unanimous acceptance in the church in 1930 with the ambiguous welcome received by HV (p. 798).
  16. Gustave Martelet, L’Existence humaine er 1’amour, op. cit., pp. 17-36.
  17. In an early reaction, “The Encyclical Crisis,” in Commonweal 88(1968), n. 20, pp. 588-94, Haring mentions the major difference between CC and HV as the abandonment of the attempt to base the teaching on scripture (Gen 38), p. 592. Later, in Crise Autour ae Humanae Vitae (Tournai: Desclee, 1969), his attention shifts to the CC-GS development, pp. 31-74, before he offers a critique of HV itself.
  18. “Living with Authority – The Nineteenth Century,” in Charles E. Curran (ed.), Contraception: Authority and Dissent (London: Burns & Oates, 1969), 19-40, p. 39.”
  19. AAS 43(1951), 835-54, esp. p. 846.
  20. In para. 4, n. 14 on authority, para. 1 1 , n. 12 on the use of marriage, para. 14, n. 14 on abortion and n. 16 on “contraception,” and para. 16, n. 20 on the licitness of periodic continence, constituting the only reference given for all of para. 16. (Note 29 in para. 24 is a reference to a different speech on the same general topic.)
  21. The only references in HV to the teaching of the magisterium before 1930 are the Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini in nn. 4, 14 and 16 and to other 19th and 20th century reference to the competence of the magisterium in nn. 1 and 4.
  22. Besides the entire statement of C.E.L.A.M., cf. “Statement on ‘Humanae Vitae’ by the Latin American CFM,” in Catholic Mind 66(1968), n. 1226, pp. 6-9.
  23. Cf. Jan Grootaers, art. cit., and F.V. Joannes (ed.), The Bitter Pill, op. cit., Chapter Six, pp. 262-366.
  24. In Populorum Progressio, see para. 48-55, AAS 59(1967), pp. 281-4.
  25. “Sollemnis professio fidei,” AAS 60(1968), pp. 433-45. See above, p. 11.
  26. Besides the pope’s allocution of 31 July 1968, cf. the NC News Service reports in “The Background to the Encyclical,” art. cit., p. 827.
  27. Among the most famous is Hans Rung’s already cited assessment in Infallible?, loc. cit., and B. Haring in a talk given at Holy Cross Abbey ^Colorado, U.S.A.) reported in “Rescue the Pope,” in The Tablet 222(1968), n. 6693, pp. 888-9 in which he characterizes the pope as a prisoner of the curia.
  28. It was hinted in the press at the time that Cardinals Suenens (Malines-Brussels) and Dopfner (Munich) protested an earlier version of the encyclical though neither saw the exact text (see above, n. 26). The influence of various schools of thought on the encyclical is considered responsible for its emphasis on the integral vision of man, conjugal love and responsible parenthood (HV, 8-10), its highly pastoral nature (HV, 22-9) and the essentially mild tone in which contraception is excluded .
  29. For a more detailed discussion of the work and reports of this Commission, see below, pp. 168-77.
  30. All the reports, documents and schemas which form the background to HV were and still are considered secret by the Vatican. Most of the information presented here is taken from three places, traceable to a single source. Jan Grootaers’ work “Histoire du deux Commissions: elements d’information, points de repere,” which constitutes Part II of H. and L. Beulens-Gijsen and J. Grootaers, Mariage Catholique et Contraception, op. cit., pp. 139-2.72, is a valuable contribution written just prior to HV. After the encyclical, a book entitled On Human Life: An Examination of Humanae Vitae (London: Burns & Oates, 1968), contributed a translation of Grootaers’ introduction to the Pontifical Commission (Ch. 7, pp. 162-9) and John Horgan’s “The History of the Debate” (Ch. 1, pp. 7-26) which is essentially a precis of Grootaers’ work. (The first printing of On Human Life gave no reference, but a second printing gives full credit for the source as Grootaers, p. 26.) Finally, an unsigned article appearing in the same year adds yet a few more details to this history; see, “Postkonziliare Hintergrunde einer Enzyklika,” art. cit., pp. 525-36.
  31. Despite hints that Martelet was a secret author of HV, and the pope’s own reference to him on 31 July, the news service reports effectively remove him from the scene prior to the final redaction of HV because of illness. See above, n. 26.
  32. Having retired for a “summer of study” at Castelgandolfo, Paul VI is reported to have received Card. Ottaviani in August and received a document supplementary to the Commission report. This document is not to be confused with the so-called “minority report” which was nothing more than a position paper contained in the final dossier of the Commission. The authors of this paper are thought to be Card. Ottaviani, Carlo Colombo, and possibly one or more of the four theologians who formed the dissenting minority of the Commission (i.e., Ford, Visser, Zalba and de Lestapis). Cf., Mariage Catholique…, op. cit., pp. 254-9.
  33. The names linked to this committee were: president, Card. Ottaviani, secretary, Bish. Colombo, the theologians E. Lio, M. Zalba, J. Visser, J. Fuchs, and less certainly connected are Bish. Moeller, G. Martelet or F. Lambruschini. Cf., Mariage Catholique…, op. cit., p. 265, n. 4 and “Postkonziliare..,” art. cit., p. 531. Prof. Fuchs is said to have had only a nominal relation with this committee and never contributed to any of its reports.
  34. J. Grootaers, iir Mariage Catholique…, op. cit., pp. 265-6.
  35. See above, n. 28. Grootaers attributes these reports to H. Fesquet (Le Monde, 25 Oct. 1967), G. Zizola (II Messagero, 12 Dec. 1967) and R. Laurentin (Le Figaro, 13 Dec. 1967).
  36. On the one hand, cf. the article by G. Perico, in La Civilta Cattolica, cited above in n. 7; on the other, two important articles appeared in Doctor Communis 21(1968), n. 2, just prior to HV: Guy de Broglie, “Pour la morale conjugale traditionnelle,” pp. 117-52, and Marcellino Zalba, “Sens et portee de la fin premiere du mariage,” pp. 153-66. Cf. also G. Martelet’s book cited by Pope Paul, Amor conjugal et renouveau concilaire, op. cit., and an article by Carlo Colombo, “Obedience to the Ordinary Magisterium,” in Obedience and the Church (Washington: Corpus Books, 1968). This latter book, originally published as Studisull ‘Obedienza (Seininarium 7 (1967), n. 3), contains many interesting – and diverse – articles on the subject of obedience and magisterial authority.
  37. For a capsule introduction to encyclicals in the reaction to HV, see Peter Harris, “Authority, Freedom and Conscience,” in On Human Life, op. cit., 86-104, pp. 87-90; Charles E. Curran, et. al., Dissent in and for the church: Theologians and Humanae Vitae (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1969), pp. 82-90. Curran refers to Bencinci’s treatise on “literis encyclicis” of 1728 and P. Nau’s Une Source doctrinal: les encycliques (Paris: Ed. Du Cedre, 1952).
  38. Examples of superceeded teaching are almost too numerous to mention here. Some popular ones in nour literature are Mirari Vos of Gregory XVI (1832) condemning freedom of conscience, Quanta Cura (and the Syllabus) of Pius IX (1864) and Humani Generis of Pius XII (1951). Harris, loc. Cit., mentions the amusing example of John XXIII’s Veterum sapientia (actually an apostolic constitution ) which called for the retention of latin in the church just as Vatican II was to condone the wide use of modern languages.
  39. Quoted from Karl Rahner (ed.) The Teaching of the Catholic Church as Contained in her Documents Cork: Merciert, 1967), p. 247. It is frequently pointed out that the sentence immediately preceedidng this reads “For the most part, the positions advanced, the duties inculcated, by these encyclical letters are already bound-up, under some other title, with the general body of Catholic teaching.” This qualification plays a great part both in the interpretation of this statement and in the application of HV.
  40. Cf., for instance, V.A. Berto, “L’Encyclique Humanae vitae et la conscience,” art. cit., pp. 33-6.
  41. The author of The Bitter Pill, op. cit., in commenting on an article on HV by Louis Salleron in Le Monde (6 Aug. 1S68), writes, “The analysis of the entire process that led up to Humanae Vitae is done, then, from the point of view of the crisis which the Church is at the moment going through. It may also be noted, however, that to look at Humanae Vitae in this way is to reduce it to something pitiful, to an example of power politics all the more controversial because of the influence it exercises over people’s consciences. This way of looking at the encyclical would turn it into a ‘political game’ where some of the most important values of faith are used as pawns: loyalty to and acceptance of the magisterium, and adherence to the religious truths in both the Credo of June 29 and in Humanae Vitae.” (p. 46).
  42. As Harris points out about the now outdated Mirari Vos and Mysterium Fidei, “freedom of conscience is clearly a more important, because, a more basic topic than contraception; eucharistic doctrine and its interpretation are concerned with clearly defined dogma (that is infallible) and not, as in the present case of contraception, part of the ‘ordinary magisterium’ of the Church.” (art. cit., p. 90).
  43. G. Martelet, L’Existence humaine et 1’amour, op. cit., p. 17.
  44. Cf. Jorge Mejia, “La enciclica ‘Humanae Vitae’,” in Criterio 41(1968), n. 1554, pp.* 608-19.
  45. While the implementation of official teaching in the daily life of the Catholic is an important indication, the use made of such teaching by the hierarchy of the church itself is a very valuable tool in qualifying the strength of its teaching.
  46. Fr. Pius, “Twelve Months Later,” in The Clergy Review 54(1969), 579-85, pp. 581-2.
  47. Louis Janssens, “Considerations on Humanae Vitae,” in Louvain Studies 2(1969), n. 3, 2.31-53, pp. 233-45. The distinctions made in this” article are for the most part based upon Thomas Aquinas’ notion of fundamental morality.
  48. See above, p. 148, n. 27, and B. Haring, “The Encyclical Crisis,” art. cit., pp. 589-90.
  49. Gregory Baum, “Ecclesiological Commentary on ‘Humanae Vitae’,” in The ” Ecumenist 6(1968), n. 6, pp. 180-5. Cf. John Wilkins, “Pro Ecclesia Dei” in The Tablet 222(17 Aug. 1968), n. 6691, p. 810.
  50. See the summary of implicit episcopal theologies, above, pp. 133-7.
  51. Examples can be mentioned of some few flippant remarks such as Robert McAffee Brown’s “An Ecumenical Boon?” in Commonweal 88(1968), n. 20, pp. 595-6; or Christopher Derrick’s rather sophist book, Honest Love & Human Life, op. cit. The latter attributes opposition to the encyclical to a general antagonism toward authority (pp. 14-5).
  52. John F. Kippley, Covenant, Christ and Contraception, op. cit., labels the two sides contraceptionists” or “contraceptive theology” and proponents of what he calls “the doctrine of non-contraception.”
  53. See, for instance, Michael Novak, “Frequent, Even Daily, Communion,” in Daniel Callahan (ed.), The Catholic Case for Contraception (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 92-102. This is a rather presumptious position but typical of a kind of assessment by implication.
  54. Kevin T. Kelly, “A Positive Approach to Humanae Vitae,” a four part article in The Clergy Pveview 57(1972) nn. 2-5, 108-20, 174-86, 2.63-75 and 330-48, p. 176. See below, the discussion of contraception as a non-moral evil, in Chapter Five.
  55. Gary MacEoin, “The Conscience of the Penitent and the Encyclical,” in William C. Bier (ed.), Conscience: Its Freedom and Limitations (New York Fordham Univ. Press, 1971), 343-53, p. 347.
  56. John McHugh, “The Doctrinal Authority…,” art. cit., pp. 800-2.
  57. C. Derrick, op. cit., pp. 74-5. See below, the discussion of “evil consequences,” in Chapter Five.
  58. Frequent reference is made to John T. Noonan’s book, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1966), but evaluation of what that: work says is very different. Some say it proves the constancy of the teaching while others say it proves the opposite. Noonan himself, in an article during the same year as his book appeared (“Contraception and the Council,” in D. Callahan, op. cit., pp. 3-18, taken from Commonweal of 11 Mar. 1966) does not identify the tradition with any unchangeable teaching: He also points out that the council evidently did see a real possibility for change and further restricted its only direct reference to the magisterium to “children. of the church,” implying that the divine (natural) law did not impose any answer to the question of contraception for “all men of good will” (pp. 16-7).
  59. The debate about “overpopulation” is still a hotly contested one in which, unfortunately, some of the most forceful arguments are couched in biased or questionable terms. The science of demography is a difficult and sometimes unrewarding one that is often blamed for the use of its findings by non-demographers. Summing up its critics, Joannes writes, “Demography, the daughter of mathematics, seems to have abandoned the unambiguous, fastidious precision of its mother to arrive at the more restful shores of opinion.” (the Bitter Pill), op. cit., p. 251).
  60. Joannes, Ibid., pp. 308-17, quotes liberally from Ricardo Bernardi, “La naturaleya como ajenidad,” in Vispera 2 (1968), pp. 89-93, who criticizes the method of HV and denies it had Any political motivations; it did not solve or even enlighten the debate goinbg on in the Third World. At the International Conference on Human Rights, sponsored by the U.N. in Teheran in 1968, 84 nations “proclaimed the right of parents to free and responsible determination of the number and the spacing of their children” (Cf. St. John-Stevas, op. cit., p. 308). Then, in 1974, at the U.N. World Population Conference (19-30 Aug. at Bucharest) it was strongly urged and recommended that national governments must respect the human rights and freedom to choose of individual families (see, U.N. Document E/CONF.60/WG/L./55/Add .3(Part III), p. 17 in the English version). It must be noted that population control or planning can be a euphamism for denial of human rights, but at the same time governments face serious problems when individual responsibility does not respond to the needs of a greater society.
  61. Again we must note the problems involved in evaluating data related to demographic problems on the distribution of wealth. Cf. PPCR%, op. cit.
  62. For a fuller discussion of the status of periodic continence in respect to contraception, see Chapter Five, below.
  63. Cf., for instance, Andre E. Hellegers, “A Scientist’s Analysis,” in Curran (ed.), Contraception…., op.cit., pp. 216-36.
  64. Jean-Marie Paupert wrote an essay on this topic in Le Monde (11-12 Aug. 1968), quoted in The Bitter Pill, op. cit., pp. 467-8. In spite of the fact that he sees Christianity and the gospel as a cross and scandal to the world in general, he writes, “The difficult and the True thing for Christians to do is to teach the world how to make a human and moral (and hence, difficult) use of contraceptive techniques, whichever they may be (as also to teach it the good use of atomic energy).”
  65. Outside of some developing countries where the issues are mainly political, contraception has now generally been legalized throughout the world. Even in Italy which at the time of HV outlawed contraception per se, the practice was widespread under other names. See, Leonard J. Berry, “Il Papa and the Pill,” in Commonweal 90(1969), n. 2, pp.44-6.
  66. Adrian Hastings, in “The Papacy and the Church,” On Human Life, op. cit., pp. 72-85, writes, “Pope Paul has in the encyclical Humanae Vitae done something which in the history of Christian doctrine is almost without parallel. He has attempted to lay down unchanging principles of morality without any reference to revelation….” (p. 82).; there are 16 scripture references: notes 2,3 (in HV,4); 6,7,,,(8); 18 (13); 22 (18): 24 (19); 31,33,34,35,36,37 (25); 40 (28); and 41 (29) – n. 33 contains 2 different references. The only reference within the moral argumentation (HV, 10-17) is n. 18 (HV, 13) to Rom 3:8, a reference to doing evil that good may come about.
  67. Theodore Mackin, in an article that basically defends HV and tries to establish its conclusions on other grounds, “The Theology of Marriage in Humanae Vitae,” in Thought 46(1971), n. 181, pp. 213-26, admits “the Scriptures are used only to illustrate and to support conclusions arrived at from principles of moral philosophy.” (p. 215).
  68. In The Bitter Pill, Joannes quotes liberally from newspaper accounts from C. P. Sporken (De Tijd, 3 Aug. 1000968) who sees “disagreement” and “discontinuity” (pp. 105-6) and Enrico Chiavacci (Rocca, 1 Sept. 1968) who says HV is based on ideas which are “typically conciliar” (pp. 106—7). Cf., H. Paul Le Marie, “Humanae Vitae and the Spirit of Vatican II,” in Philippine Studies 17(1969), pp. 133-45 for an overall, albeit critical, survey.
  69. Joseph T. Mangan, “Understanding the Voice of the Vicar of Christ: A Commentary on Humanae Vitae,” in Chicago Studies 7(1968), n. 3, 227-41, p. 231 writes, “one’s acceptance of Humanae Vitae flows gracefully and logically from one’s acceptance of the teaching of Vatican II;” Bernard Haring, “The Encyclical Crisis,” art. cit., p. 594 writes, “In my opinion it is harder to reconcile Humanae Vitae with the Council Constitution The Church in the Modern World than to reconcile the Declaration of Religious Freedom with the Syllabus of Pius IX, or at least no less difficult.”
  70. One statement which bears mention here is that of a group of 21 European, Catholic theologians after a meeting in Amsterdam, 18-19 September 1968. (See “Theologenberaad” in the bibliography.) The statement, translated as “A Call to Go Further,” in The Tablet 222(1968), n. 6697, pp. 973-4, reads in part, “In this context we note with surprise that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, does not respond to the expectations which the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes has awakened. In effect the Encyclical presents the conjugal life in a perspective which, according to the judgment of a great number of competent persons, appears to be inadequate,” (p. 973). The statement was signed by J.M. Aubert and C. Robert (Strasbourg), A. Auer (Tubingen), T. Beemer, P. Huizing and P. Schoonenberg (Nijmegen), F. Bockle (Bonn), W. Bulst (Darmstadt), P. Fransen, R. Gallewaerd, L. Janssens and M. DeWachter (Louvain), J. Groot, W. Klijn and F. Malmberg Amsterdam), R. von Kessel (Utrecht), F. Klostermann (Vienna), 0. Madr (Prague), E. HcDonagh (Maynooth), J. Pfurtner (Fribourg) and C. Sporken (Eindhoven).
  71. In Bijdragen: Tiidschrift voor Filosofie en Theologie 29(1968), n. 4, pp. 351–68. See bibliography for various translations and summaries.
  72. They are: notes 4 (in HV,4), 11 (11), 28 (24), 32 (25) and 38 (26).
  73. “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents.”
  74. HV: “ipsa matrimonii eiusque actuum natura.” GS: “personae eiusdemque actuum natura.”
  75. See below for a further discussion of the relations between HV and the genesis of the GS text. One other point, not sufficiently noted in Delhaye’s article, I believe, is the conciliar choice of referring to divine law here (GS,51) and to “the law of the gospel” (GS,50, parallel text) as the area open to “interpretation of the magisterium.” This distinction will be an important nexus for the understanding of fundamental (theological) ideas.
  76. These topics will return in our discussion. The last, however, includes a special mention of GS’s evaluation of the need for intimacy in marriage, even at times when it is felt that procreation must be excluded. This exceptional case was never acknowledged or even hinted at in HV.
  77. J. F. Costanzo, art. Cit., pp. 283-5, claimed that GS did in fact re-affirm the primary and secondary ends of marriage and Dietrich von Hildebrand imagines that “the proscription of artificial birth control has been solemnly proclaimed by the last popes and repeated in the Second Vatican Council (GS, 51).” Cf., The Encyclical Humanae Vitae: A Sign of Contradiction (Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1969; a translation of the German original of 1968), p. 59.
  78. Pericles Felici, “Delia Costituzione pastorale ‘Gaudium et spes’ alia Enciclica paolina ‘Humanae vitae’,” in L’OR 103(10 Oct. 1968), n. 223, p. 3. Translation used here is from Doc. Cath. 65(1968), n. 1527, cc. 1877-92. The author states at the beginning of his article that he is replying directly to the statement of the Amsterdam theologians (see above, pp. 161-2, n. 70). Examples of this debate should be read with a background of the commentaries on GS written during or just after the council. While these are many, some very readable examples exist such as Xavier Rynne (identified by some to be Francis X. Murphy), The Fourth Session (New York: Farrar Straus, 1966).
  79. Ibid., c. 1891.
  80. HV,25 (n, 32) refers to LG,35 on the vocation of married christians, HV,26 (n. 38) refers to LG,35 and 41 on the apostolate in the home, and HV,28 (n. 39) refers to LG,25 on the teaching of the bishops.
  81. Philippe Delhaye, “Intrinsequement deshonnete,” in Pour Relire, pp. 23- 34, points out that medieval theologians rarely used the term intrin- sece inhonestum but preferred terms such as ex genere suo, ex toto gen- ere suo (malum), variations on Aristotle’s ex natura sua.
  82. HV,14: “…videlicet in id voluntatem conferre, quod ex propria natura moralem ordinem transgrediatur, atque, idcirco homine indignum sit iu- dicandum, quamvis eo consilio fiat, ut singulorum hominum, domesticorum convictuum, aut humanae societatis bona defendantur vel provehantur.” HV,16: “(Ecclesia) usum earum rerum ut semper illicitum improbat, quae conceptioni directo officiant, etiamsi haec altera agendi ratio argu- menta repetat, quae honesta et gravia videantur.”
  83. Some works draw attention to the whole of LG and its overall structure as well as to different specific parts of the document in order to orient the evaluation of its mention of the pope. (Cf., for instance, Gustave Thils, “‘Sentire cum Ecclesia’,” in Pour Relire, pp. 15-22.) Most, however, concentrate on the one text of LG,25 found in Appendix D as LG,25 a-e.
  84. Charles E. Curran, et al, Dissent…, op. cit., pp. 112-3; St. John-Stevas, op. cit., pp. 229-32; J. Wilkins, art. cit., p. 810; Philippe Delhaye, “La conscience devant la loi,” in Pour Relire, pp. 35-50. 83.. Besides the silence of HV on this matter mentioned above, it is interesting to note that of all the “quasi-official” articles appearing in L’OR after HV, LG is hardly even mentioned, much less used to prove the authority of the encyclical.
  85. For instance, C. Derrick, op. cit., pp. 51-2 and J.F. Costanzo, art. cit., pp. 379-81, assert that LG,25 affirms the papal prerogative to act alone in moral matters.
  86. Quoted by Gregory Baum, art. cit., p. 185, n. 6.
  87. This statement appears in HV,28 at the locus of our discussion (n. 39), and is only a vague reference to LG,25. Cf, Curran, et al, Dissent…, op. cit., p. 114. It was, however, quoted in the statement of the Belgian bishops, see above, p. 45, n. 119.
  88. Mansi 52, 1213. See G. Thils, art. cit., p. 17.
  89. “When either the Roman Pontiff or the body of bishops together with him defines a judgment, they pronounce it in accord with revelation itself. All are obliged to maintain and be ruled by this revelation…”
  90. Cf. L. Janssens, art. cit., pp. 236-7. In the field of morals, Janssens summarizes the competence of the magisterium to be in three areas: 1. to define the existence of a real natural law, 2. to interpret, natural law to the extent that revelation gives content to the “christian moral life,” and 3. to interpret theses which are closely related to the moral domain. This development is closely related to the explanations given at Vatican I. Cf. Jorge Dominguez, La Moral y el Objecto de la Infalibilidad del Papa y de la Iglesia en el Concilio Vaticano I (unpublished S.T.D. dissertation, Univ. Cath. de Louvain, 1969; promoted by Prof. Janssens).

91. The final theological report, Schema Documenti de Responsibili Paternitate, 2e ed., was that document which erroneously came to be called the “majority report.” In fact this is the one, single report of the whole Commission.

  1. See the already mentioned sources, Shannon, St. John-Stevas, Paupert and especially Grootaers; and “The Papal Commission on Birth Control.,” in The Tablet 222(1968), n. 6696, 949-51, p. 949.
  2. It is interesting to note a statement made by Cardinal Heenan, a propresident of the Commission, in this regard, Speaking on the general topic of authority in the church, the prelate says, “… the minority report which, although I presided at many meetings of the Pontifical Commission, I had not seen it before it appeared in The Tablet. It was not signed by the cardinals or bishops.” In Leo Pyle, Pope and Pill, op. cit., p. 193 (quoted from The Tablet of 18 May 1968).
  3. See above, p. 149, n. 32.
  4. The vote was 9 in favor: Dopfner (Munich), Suenens (Malines-Brussels), Shehan (Baltimore), Lefebre (Bourges), Dearden (Detroit), Dupuy (Albi), Mendez (Veiiezuela), Reuss (Mainz) and Zoa (Cameroon); 3 against: Ottaviani (Holy Office), Colombo (pope’s theologian) and Morris (Cashel, Ire.); 3 doubting: Heenan (Westminster), Garcias (Bombay) and Biny (St. Paul); Archbishop Wojtyla (Cracow) was absent.
  5. While some doubt the authorship of Bishop Dupuy which was first reported The Tablet when the document was published, it seems relatively sure that he was responsible for it. The bishop himself wrote to The Tablet (see, “Letters to the Editor,” 222(1968), n. 6705, pp. 1170-71″) protesting the publication of this “secret” document and thus testifying to its authenticity, if not his authorship.
  6. See, for instance, John Marshall, “The Council and the Commission,” in The Tablet 222(1968), n. 6696, pp. 933-4.
  7. The version of these reports used here is that copyrighted by the National Catholic Reporter and reprinted in The Tablet 221(1967) as follows: minority working paper, n. 6623, pp. 478-85; majority working paper, n. 6624, pp. 510-13; final report, n. 6622, pp. 449-54. The Pastoral Approaches, not published in NCR, appeared .in 2.22.(1968), n. 6696, pp. 949-51. Here, see p. 480.
  8. Guy-M. Bertrand, “L’Encyclique ‘Humanae vitae’ et la loi naturelle,” in Cahiers de recherché ethique 3 (Montreal: Fides, 1976), 113-32, pp. 126-7.
  9. See below, Chapter Six, for reference to changed teachings as well as the notion of 1IV representing “traditional teaching.” C. Derrick, op. cit., pp. 73-4, goes to the most absurd extreme here saying that those holding to a real development are dishonest and in immediate disrepute.
  10. Cf. McHugh, art. cit., p. 800 (and below, Chapter Six, n. 76).
  11. See, for instance, K.T. Kelly, art. cit., pp. 178-83.
  12. A specific statement in the majority working paper may highlight this: “It is the duty of man to perfect nature…but not to destroy it. Even if the absolute untouchability of the fertile period cannot be maintained, neither can complete dominion be affirmed.” art. cit., above, n. 97, p. 512.
  13. See Chapter Five, below, for a more detailed discussion of “totality.” We are limiting the discussion here to the Commission’s arguments.
  14. Cf. Christian Duquoc, “Reflexions morales sur une encyclique,” in Lumiere et vie 18(1968), n. 95, 17-30, pp. 28-9.
  15. Cf. J.F. Kippley, “Continued Dissent; Is it Responsible Loyalty?” in Theological Studies 32.(1971), n. 1, 48-65, p. 52.
  16. Art. cit, above, n. 97, p. 451. Two things should be observed here: first, it does not appear that this statement is restricted to speaking only about sexual intercourse; second, the general application of “the requirements of mutual love in all its aspects” to each marital act is exempt from the totality principle and constitutes the prime moral criterion.
  17. Ibid., p. 512.
  18. See, John M. Farrelly, “The Principle of the Family Good,” in Theological Studies 31(1970), n. 2, 262-74, pp. 267-8. Farrelly disagrees with defining the totality in terms of marital acts alone and prefers to speak of the total human good to which indiviaual acts are directed
  19. Art. cit., above, n. 97, pp. 484-5: Section III of the “minority working paper.” Cf. HV,17 and Chapter Five below.
  20. Norbert Rigali, “The Historical Meaning of the Humanae Vitae Controversy,” in Chicago Studies 15(1976), n. 2, 127-38, p. 131.
  21. Ibid.
  22. The “ecological argument” against contraception has emerged as an alternative proposal to stating the same conclusions as HV. Cf., Mary and Robert Joyce, New Dynamics in Sexual Love (Collegeville: St. John Press, 1970) and John and Sheila Kippley, The Art of Natural Family Planning (Cincinnati: The Couple to Couple League, 1975). The development of this argument conveniently ignores the fact that a totally natural way of regulating population is by disease, starvation and a high infant, mortality rate. A more realistic view of ecology recognizes that man already has intervened in nature by attempting to diminate these factors and to restore the balance necessary for life he must make further interventions. The notion of ecology as a “back to nature” movement is, at best, naive. For a discussion of some of these issues, see Richard J. Connell, “A Defense of Humanae Vitae,” in Laval theologique et phiiosoplrique 26(1970), n. 1, pp. 57-87 and William R. Albury and R.J. Connell, “Discussion: Humanae Vitae and the Ecological Argument,” also in Laval 27(1971), n. 2, pp. 135-49.
  23. Louis J.-M. Sahuc, La Morale catholique est-elle humaine? (Paris: Bloud & Gay, 1970), pp. 79-20.
  24. G. Martelet, op. cit., pp. 139-41, seems to accept the lesser of two evils but shortly becomes confusing in his discussion of “justifying” the choice, pp. 148-9. This position appears to want it both ways: we can never perform an evil to achieve a good (HV,14) but our sinful condition (Martelet) sometimes makes us fall into this trap.
  25. Beside the Amsterdam meeting of 21 prominent european theologians mentioned above, pp. 161-2, n. 70, another general meeting of theologian took place in Wahsington, D.C. and issued a similar statement of disappointment over the encyclical. See, “The Theologians’ Retort,” in Commonweal 88(1968), n. 19, p. 562 (see bibliography). The statement was eventually signed by more than 600 American Catholic theologians .
  26. Cf. G. Baum, art. cit., pp. 183-4; C.E. Curran, et al, Dissent…, op. cit., pp. 66-80; Adrian Hastings, “The Papacy and the Church,” in On Human Life, op. cit., 72-85, p. 79; Daniel C. Maguire, “Moral Inquiry and Religious Assent,” in Curran (ed.) Contraception..., op. cit., 127-48, pp. 142-3; Francis X. Murphy, “Humanae Vitae: Two Years After,” in The Tablet 224(1 Aug. 1970), n. 6792, 736-7, p. 736; John T. Noonan, “The Amendment of Papal Teaching by Theologians,” in Dissent…, op. cit., pp. 41-75; and N. St. John-Stevas, op. cit., pp. 266-72.
  27. The source of this teaching is attributed to a 1829 Declaration of Leo XII by Abel Janniere (“Corps malleable,” in Cahiers Laennec 28 (1968), n. 1, 92-102, p. 94) which he quotes: “Quiconque procede a cette vaccination cesse d’etre le fils de Dieu…..La variole est un jugement de Dieu, la vaccination est un defi a l’adresse du ciel.”
  28. Other examples mentioned which apply to teaching in sexual morality have been omitted here because their relevance to our topic demands a more specific development.
  29. See John T. Noonan, art. Cit.
  30. “Birth Control and the Papacy,” in Herder. Correspondence 5(1968), n. 9, 259-65, p. 264. This conclusion, however, may very well have been premature.
  31. B. Haring, Crise autour Humanae vitae, op. cit., pp. 11-7.
  32. Ibid., p. 12.
  33. J.C. Gerber, “A Question of Conscience,” in Commonweal 88(1968), n. 19, 555-8, p. 557.
  34. Cf. “Statement on ‘Humanae Vitae’ by the Latin American CFM,” art. cit.; and “A Chilean View,” in Herder Correspondence 6(1969), n. 1, pp. 18-20.
  35. A good deal of “interpretation” applied to HV is necessary and very much to the. point, especially when considering that throughout the. history of the church, this function has constantly been applied to official pronouncements and has come to be expected, even by the magisterium. However, in a controversy as public as this one, there are risks involved in regard to the understanding of the faithful. P.J. McGrath, “On Not Re-interpreting Humanae Vitae,” in The Irish Theological Quarterly 38(1971), n. 2, 130-43, comments on one of those risks, “Reinterpreting the doctrine (of HV) so as to avoid admitting that a mistake has been made looks uncomfortably like treating face saving as a more important value than truth. And this is an area where the Church’s commitment to truth, or at least her ability to discover it is already suspect. The HV episode has shaken the faith of many people in the Church’s competence as a moral teacher. If they now find moral theologians claiming that the Pope did not say what he obviously did say, they can hardly be blamed for ceasing to regard moral theology as a serious subject.” (p. 142).
  36. See above, p. 11.
  37. The discussion over the ends of marriage was largely ignored by commentators on HV with the assumption that it was no longer an issue. Rather, the question shifted from the ends of marriage to the ends of the marriage act. This is discussed in the following chapter, but to validate our point here we turn to the Latin text of HV,8 which reads, “Quocirca per mutuam sui donationem…coniuges illatn persequuntur personarum communionem. . .uj; ad novorurn viventium procreationem et educationem cum Deo operam socient,” (emphasis added). This seems very much like a cause and effect relationship with one element clearly subordinate to the other.
  38. Op. cit., p. 2.48.,
  39. Op. cit., p. 76.
  40. See the papal allocution of 23 June 1964 discussed above. The formation, premise and charge of the Pontifical Birth Control Commission understood that this question, even if pre-judgea, was at the very least being entertained.
  41. Cf., for instance, Daniel C. Maguire, “Moral Inquiry and Religious Assent,” art. cit.; Charles E. Curran, “Natural Law and Contemporary Moral Theology,” in Curran (ed.), Contraception…, op. cit., pp. 151-75; J. Lerch, “After ‘Humanae Vitae’: Some Reflections,” in The Clergy Monthly 32(1969), n. 11, pp. 485-96; and Walter Dirks, “The Pope” and the Church,” in Cross Currents 19(1968-9), n. 1, pp. 1-11 (see biblio.).
  42. Note 1 of HV at this point identifies the “Predecessors” as Popes Pius IX, X, XI, XII and John XXIII. The historical spring cited here goes back only to Qui Pluribus (1846). The pontificate of Pius IX is a significant place to begin sorting out this claim of competence, but this is not our present task.

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