Marking the 40th anniversary of “Humane Vitae,” Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message to the president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, in which he praises the Church’s teaching on contraception as the only way to understand the truth about human sexuality.
The papal message sent to Msgr. Livio Melina, president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, examines the wisdom of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae Vitae."
That important document, writes Pope Benedict, "deals with one of the essential aspects of the vocation of marriage, and of the specific path to sanctity deriving therefrom. In fact, the married couple, having received the gift of love, are called in their turn to give themselves to one another unreservedly."
Noting that the “possibility of procreating a new human life is inherent to the complete giving of the spouses," Pope Benedict explains that contraception seeks to “deny the intimate truth of married love."
Given the hindsight of 40 years, Benedict XVI writes that we are better able to understand "how decisive it was to our understanding of the great 'yes' implicit in conjugal love."
In the light of the Encyclical "children are not seen as the aim of a human project but are recognized as an authentic gift, to be welcomed with an attitude of responsible generosity towards God, Who is the primary source of human life."
That being said, the Holy Father also acknowledges that, "during a couple's life serious situations may arise that make it prudent to separate the births of children or even suspend them altogether. It is here that a knowledge of the natural rhythms of a woman's fertility become important."
"Methods of observation that enable a couple to determine periods of fertility," he continues, "allow them to administer what the Creator wisely inscribed in human nature without disturbing the integral meaning of sexual relations. In this way the spouses, while respecting the full truth of their love, can modulate the expression thereof in accordance with these rhythms. ... Clearly this requires a maturity in love, ... and mutual respect and dialogue."
The Pope also asks why the world and many faithful are unable to accept a teaching about sexuality that “explains and defends the beauty of conjugal love in its natural expression."
Although "technological solutions to the great human problems often seem the easiest,” the Pope cautions, “in reality they hide the basic problem which concerns the meaning of human sexuality and the need for responsibility so that its exercise may be an expression of personal love."
"Technology cannot substitute, … when love is at stake. Indeed, as we well know, not even reason is enough. ... Only the eyes of the heart can perceive the requirements of a great love capable of embracing the entire truth of human beings," writes the Pope.
The Pope finishes his Message by expressing the hope that the congress to commemorate "Humanae Vitae" may bring "abundant fruits and contribute to helping spouses hold their course with ever greater wisdom and awareness, encouraging them in their mission to be credible witnesses of the beauty of love before the world."