Two California conferences to mark 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae


The California Catholic Daily reports that the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Diocese of Oakland will host two separate conferences this year marking the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae.  They will examine the encyclical of Pope Paul VI that discussed contraception and marital love.

The San Bernardino conference, sponsored by the California Association of Natural Family Planning, will take place April 11-12.  It will discuss both Humanae Vitae and the U.S. bishops’ 2006 document “Married Love and the Gift of Life.” 

Additionally, the conference will address the nature of Natural Family Planning and how it differs from contraception, the impact of contraception on society and married couples, what saying “yes” to children at the altar means, and whether couples have to leave their family size “entirely to chance.”

The conference’s speakers will include Dr. Janet Smith, who is a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family and an ethics professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

The Diocese of Oakland will hold a similar conference on August 9 at St. Mary’s College in Moraga in cooperation with the St. Anthony of Padua Institute.  Titled “Humanae Vitae:  Cornerstone of a Culture of Life,” the conference will feature in addition to Dr. Smith, the Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke, Father Brian Mullady, O.P., and Dr. Mary Davenport, who will also be at the San Barnardino conference.

Both conferences will examine Humanae Vitae’s practical implications for women’s health and for couples and families.

Cliff Price, a member of the board of St. Anthony of Padua Institute, explained the goals of the conference.

“Many people know Humanae Vitae came out sometime in the past and prohibited artificial contraception,” Price said.  “What they haven’t known, because it hasn’t been taught, is the actual teaching of Paul VI. Any consistent discourse about the culture of life has to take into account his teaching on contraception.”

In their document “Married Love and the Gift of Life” the U.S. bishops explained Catholic teaching against contraception, writing, “when married couples deliberately act to suppress fertility… sexual intercourse is no longer fully marital intercourse. It is something less powerful and intimate, something more ‘casual.’ Suppressing fertility by using contraception denies part of the inherent meaning of married sexuality and does harm to the couple’s unity. The total giving of oneself, body and soul, to one’s beloved is no time to say: ‘I give you everything I am -- except….’ The Church’s teaching is not only about observing a rule, but about preserving that total, mutual gift of two persons in its integrity.”

The document says that Church teaching does not require married couples to leave their family size entirely to chance, but in “serious circumstances” a couple who wish to avoid “for a good reason” having a child may engage in marital intimacy during the naturally infertile times of a woman’s cycle “without violating the meaning of marital intercourse in any way.”

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