Friday, July 25, 2008

But is it true?

For the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae The Tablet's editorial (and lead article) focuses on .... you got it. Statistics.
The Tablet's survey of Mass-going Catholics in England, conducted by the Von Hügel Institute in Cambridge, shows that, 40 years on, more than nine out of 10 of them do not think the use of condoms is wrong. That is their verdict on Humanae Vitae, though surprisingly half of them have never heard of it.
Their contention is the natural law argument is not persuasive. Fine (not agreeing with them, but let's go along). So are there better arguments? Well if there are, the Tablet isn't saying so. Because they'd rather the teaching be declared untrue, though they don't say it that way, and purportedly, talk about "the interests of truth."
There are plenty of issues to be revisited. Whether they would be considered by a body like the papal Commission on Birth Control seems unlikely today. Trust between hierarchy and laity has yet to recover from the blow suffered 40 years ago. That trust may well be repaired with honesty. That is why The Tablet believes the time has come to face the reality of Catholics and contraception by means of this definitive survey, in the interests of truth.
However, if the teaching is true, what weight do statistics have? A reminder of the pervasive power of secularism, or the complicated (and not entirely understood) relationship between economic development and fertility? Sure. The need for better arguments? Perhaps. Catechesis? Sure. Living Witness? Absolutely.

But to establish the truth of the matter? Umm.

And there is ample evidence out there to suggest (see previous post on the HV anniversary) that Pope Paul VI was on to something.

Fr. Lombardi (the Spokesman for the Holy See) addresses the issue raised by pro-contraception voices in the Church as well, in this statement.

And [H/t AmP Many great links there], Cardinal Stafford writes powerfully and eloquently of his personal experience of the reception of the Encyclical in the presbyterate of Baltimore in 1968, and the continuing effects of it down to this day: "The Year of the Peirásmos - 1968."

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