|Unfortunately babies will not find real sustenance in eating the pages of Humanae Vitae|
Conservative moral theologian Germain Grisez, has recently released a set of personal documents surrounding the deliberations of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control. Grisez served as Fr. John Ford's secretary during the latter part of the deliberations. Ford was famous in the US for having been a primary contributor in the drafting of the minority report. It should be noted that the minority report represented exactly seven people associated with the commission of 72. Four were dissenting priests, and the other three were voting members, Cardinal Ottaviani and two bishops, one of whom was Karol Wojtyla. The following excerpt is from CNA and this link will take you to the NCR article.
New documents reveal inner workings of papal birth control commission.-
New documentation from a renowned moral theologian is shedding light on a controversial moment in Catholic history – the 1963-66 commission that considered the question of contraception prior to Paul VI's encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”
“The idea of what happened with the commission has been shaped by people who were pro-contraception.” said Germain Grisez, Professor Emeritus of philosophy and moral theology at Mount St. Mary's College in Maryland. “It's their account of what happened, that has been circulated over the years.”
Now, Grisez is seeking to set the record straight, by releasing documents that few in the Church have ever seen before.
They can be viewed through his website, at http://twotlj.org/BCCommission.html.
According to Grisez, who assisted commission member Fr. John Ford in his work, several misunderstandings about the commission date back to 1967 – the year before Pope Paul VI condemned artificial contraceptive methods in his encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”
During that year, a number of commission documents containing pro-contraception arguments were leaked to the public and the press.
The move led to the popular misconception of the Pope “overruling” a commission, although the commission had no authority to make decisions.
Those who supported the traditional teaching, like Fr. Ford, could have responded in kind with their own document leaks. But they chose not to do so at the time, considering themselves bound to keep the commission's work private and wait for the Pope to speak authoritatively.
“The people who weren't supportive of a change in Church teaching, believed that their knowledge of what the commission had done was confidential,” Grisez explained. “They didn't go around talking about it.”.....(Perhaps this is because they were very busy in the background secretly working on Paul VI.)
According to Grisez, this one-sided perspective on the commission's work made it appear that Pope Paul had simply disregarded the majority report.
But the new documents shows that the Pope took both sides of the issue seriously, and gave advocates of artificial contraception every chance to make their case.
It also shows how the commission's secretary general, Fr. Henri de Riedmatten, managed to exert a strong influence in favor of contraception, despite the opposing position of commission president Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani.(I love this, Reidmatten represented the thinking of 65 persons on the commission, and Ottaviani represented himself and six other clerics.)
Grisez noted that the Pope, rather than ignoring the pro-contraception arguments, was legitimately interested in considering the questions raised by new methods.
“He was perfectly happy to have a lot of people on the commission who thought that change was possible. He wanted to see what kind of case they could make for that view.”
But the Pope never intended to hand over his teaching authority to the commission.
“He was not at all imagining that he could delegate to a committee, the power to decide what the Church's teaching is going to be,” Grisez said.
Some proponents of a change in teaching believed that Pope Pius XI's encyclical “Casti Connubii,” which condemned artificial birth control in 1930, had not conclusively settled the kinds of questions raised by new methods of hormonal contraception.
They initially argued that the contraceptive pill was different from older methods, and could be accepted without contradicting prior teaching.
Pope Paul encouraged the commission to pursue this line of inquiry – not expecting that the commission's work, after being leaked to the public, would be set on the same plane as his judgment. (This is describing an entirely different world view and one I have difficulty digesting. It states the judgment of a pope is on some other higher plane than the rest of us.)
“He never intended the commission to be a public body, or that its study should be publicized in print,” Grisez emphasized. “He thought they were going to study, and make their presentation to him, so he would understand it and think the matter through.”
This spirit of inquiry, however, had consequences he did not intend.
“When the documents were leaked in 1967, Paul VI was extremely upset about it. He sent a letter to all the bishops and cardinals who were on the commission, about the documents. It wasn't what he had in mind at all.”
In the end, the majority of commission members actually lost interest in attempting to argue that contraceptive pills could be squared with “Casti Connubii.” (Hmmm, doesn't seem there are too many people left alive to dispute this statement.)
Instead, they simply advocated the acceptance of contraception, without attempting to reconcile this prospect with the previous teaching of the Church.
“Almost nobody, in the end, was arguing that the pill was anything different,” Grisez recalled.
“In the commission documents, you wouldn't find much of a case anywhere for that – although that was the starting point for the whole thing.”
Pope Paul VI considered their work, but grew more convinced than ever that the majority position was not correct.
“He became absolutely clear, in his own mind, that the pill was wrong. That led to the declaration in 'Humanae Vitae.'”
But in the public realm, the groundwork had already been laid for the disastrous reception of “Humanae Vitae” in 1968, through the leaking of the majority report that supported contraception.
Grisez hopes the new documentation he is providing might undo some of that damage, and help many people open their minds to the Church's teaching on sexuality.
“It would help the Church now, if people had a more sound notion of what did happen – an understanding of Paul VI's actual mentality, wanting to study the question without intending to hand over his authority.” (If this was true, he would have given the commission the mandate to come up with support for the position stated the 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii. That wasn't their mandate.)
The comments after the CNA article are fun to read in juxtaposition against the comments after the NCR article. After forty years the debate rages on but the numbers don't change. An overwhelming number of lay Catholics reject Humanae Vitae. They are not interested in having the size and spacing of their families arbitrarily decided by a papal encyclical whose main motivation appears to have been preserving the mythical notion of the infallibility of papal teaching and the equally mythical notion of the constancy of Catholic tradition.
Cardinal Sounens maintained at the time, that the Church could not afford another Galileo affair by rejecting the latest science on human reproduction, but even he could not persuade Paul VI to change his mind. So as Grisez decidedly implies, the welfare of women, families, and children were sacrificed on the altar of papal infallibility. Such is still the case in developing countries where over population and AIDS runs rampant and Church charities are the largest source of health care. No wonder the Vatican is leery of a lay mother running Caritas. What if in her compassion for the plight of other women she turned a blind eye to the distribution of condoms? Which reminds me, Germain Grisez was one the loudest voices attacking Catholic Relief Services for their alleged distribution of birth control and birth control information in Africa.
One of the comments which irritated me after this CNA article was one bringing up the proverbial 'Islamic breeding hordes will take over Europe' mantra and wasn't Paul VI prescient in his understanding of this inevitability if white Europeans contracepted themselves out of existence. Underlying this rational seems to be the idea that Catholic marriages are morally duty bound to provide cannon fodder for an Islamic war or engage in some sort of fertility contest with Islamic women. No wonder gay marriage is the biggest threat to Catholic civilization. What a waste of fertile sperm and ovum. That would be like having an ammunition factory which only produced blanks. Can't be having that.
On a more serious note, actually much more serious note, I can't help but wonder if these folks really understand what's happening in the Middle East. The over throw of the leadership of one country after another is not just about democracy. In every one of these countries the riots started over food prices and food availability. Food. They started over food. Babies need food. God did not design babies to live on air alone. Grisez needs to think about this because white European babies can starve just as well as Islamic or African or Philippine babies and democracy will not magically solve food shortages as the Japanese are now finding out.
Paul VI was wrong in 1968 and Benedict the XVI is just as wrong now. The Earth can not sustain unlimited population growth and the magical thinking behind papal infallibility will not change that one iota. Kudos to Philippine President Benigno Aquino who is holding fast on behalf of his five point strategy regarding the Philippine Women's Reproductive Health bill and doing it against the full power of the Catholic church. That kind of coercive power over the lives of lay women, men and their families needs to be broken once and for all. Especially now as Germain Grisez is telling us Humanae Vitae was never about the Will of God, it was always about the will of popes. Now that we know the rest of that story it's time to close the book and bury it in the Vatican Archives.