By Junno Arocho Esteves
ROME (CNS) — The acceptance of artificial contraception by
some Christian churches and communities beginning in the 1930s has led “to
the monstrosity of what is today known as procreative medicine,” which
includes abortion, said German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller.
Inaugurating an Oct. 28 conference anticipating the 50th anniversary of
Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” Cardinal Brandmuller told
participants that in
ignoring traditional church teaching men and women today have seated themselves
“on the throne of the Creator.”
“Humanae Vitae,” published in 1968, Pope Paul underlined the
responsibility that goes with human sexuality and marriage. While he taught
that couples can space the birth of their children for valid reasons, they must
use only natural methods of avoiding fertility. Birth control, he said, causes
an “artificial separation” of the unitive and procreative aspects of
In his speech at the Rome conference, Cardinal Brandmuller said
that after the Second Vatican Council, the church faced significant pressure —
including from within its own ranks — to endorse contraception as
“morally justifiable” just as the Anglican Church had done at the 1930 Lambeth
Conference and the U.S.
Federal Council of Churches, the
precursor of the National Council of Churches, did in 1961.
Nevertheless, he added, Blessed Paul defended the sanctity
of life and brought “temporary closure to a series of doctrinal
affirmations on the matter of contraception.”
“Humanae Vitae” proves that ultimately, it is the
Holy Spirit that guides the process of “paradosis,” or teaching based
on church tradition, and “ensures that the faith of the church develops in
the course of time” while remaining faithful to Christ’s teachings,
Cardinal Brandmuller said.
He prayed that the document would continue to “irradiate
the ‘splendor veritatis’ (‘the splendor of the truth’), capable of illuminating
the current darkness of minds and hearts.”
Cardinal Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical
Commission for Historical Sciences, was one of four cardinals who formally
asked Pope Francis to clarify his teaching on Communion for the divorced and
civilly remarried. When the four prelates did not receive a response, they
released the letter — commonly referred to as the “dubia” — to the
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