Thursday, May 18, 2017

Is Humanae Vitae under threat?

In a recent missive Dr. Robert Moynihan notes that several sources that are usually well informed about the goings on within the Vatican believe that Pope Francis has appointed a secret committee to review Paul VI's famous and controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae. Adding fuel to this speculation is that the Vatican, given the opportunity to deny these reports, pointedly declined to do so. Hmm...

1 comment:

Gregory DeLassus said...

I am going to lay down a marker here, and if I turn out to be wrong I hope that people will call me out: Humanæ Vitæ will not be repudiated. Back when the pope was convening a synod to reconsider policy toward divorce and remarriage, there was great trembling about whether the pope would formally break with centuries of Catholic doctrine and practice, and in the end he did not.

This is what infallibility looks like in practice. The Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from formally committing to error. The pope can walk right up to the line, and informally espouse wrong doctrine. He cannot, however, formally commit the Church to erroneous teaching. However much he might like, the Holy Spirit will not let him.

We will no doubt get commissions, and speeches, and homilies (etc) that unhelpfully obscure the orthodox dogma of the Church. The pope may well do a great deal of harm to the understanding of the faith in the minds of individual faithful, and spread a great deal of confusion. What he will not do, however, is to formally promulgate an official teaching that contradicts Humanæ Vitæ. He will not do that because he cannot.

As I said, if I turn out to be wrong about this, please do call me out on it. I would have to seriously rethink my commitment to the Catholic Church if Humanæ Vitæ were to be formally contradicted. Somehow, however, having seen this movie before, I know how it ends and I am not worried that I will have to make good on the text in bold italics above.