encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was published 40 years ago and which he called a âsign of contradictionâ for todayâs world and for the time in which it was published..- The director of the LâOsservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, devoted his latest editorial to the importance of Paul VIâs
In his column, Vian recalled that âforty years ago, on July 25, 1968, Paul VI signed Humane Vitae, the encyclical that condemned contraception with artificial methods, hedonism and family planning policies frequently imposed on poor countries by richer ones.â
âSoon after its publication on July 29, the letter generated an unprecedented opposition inside the Catholic Church.â âRarely in the recent history of the MagisteriumâCardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1995--has a text become such a sign of contradiction as this encyclical written by Paul VI after a very painful decision,â Vian recalled.
He pointed out that on this âcrucial issue, Pope Montini did not change his mind,â and the encyclical âis consistent with the developments of the Council in the understanding of marriage.â
âIf we do not want the mission of engendering life to be subject to the will of man, we must necessarily recognize some impassable limits to the possibility of manâs dominion over his own body and functions, which no man, private or invested with authority, can licitly break,â Vian wrote.
He went on to note that before Humanae Vitae was published, a Pontifical commission had carried out a study concluding in 1966 that âcontraception within the framework of âresponsible parenthoodââ could be permitted. However, Paul VI did not feel bound by these conclusions, and he was criticized and attacked for his decision.â
âAn authentic sign of contradiction, Humanae Vitae is not fondly remembered, certainly for its demanding and against-the-current teaching. But also because it is not useful for the ongoing game of pitting one Pope against another, a method perhaps useful from the historical point of view to delineate obvious diversities, but that must be rejected when used as an instrument, as occurs frequently above all in the media,â Vian continued.
He went on to note that Cardinals Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger supported Humanae Vitae and that the encyclical confronts âthe problem of birth control, which on June 23, 1964, the Pope already defined as âextremely graveâ because âit touches the sentiments and interests closest to men and womenâ.â