Fatima Perspectives #1218
An article by the Vatican correspondent Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service provides further ominous signs that Pope Francis intends to undermine the teaching of Humanae Vitae (HV), which reaffirmed the Church’s infallible teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception, in the same manner he has undermined the teaching of all his predecessors on the intrinsic evil of adultery in the form of divorce and “remarriage.” That is, he will reduce the teaching to an ideal that is worth pursuing, to be sure, but not a divine command to which there are no exceptions, violation of which involves intrinsically disordered and mortally sinful behavior.
In remarks to the press reported by Wooden, Msgr. Gilfredo Marengo, a member of Francis’ commission to study (read: find a way around) HV has given further indications of the subversive intent noted in my previous column on this subject.
First of all, as reported by Wooden, Marengo asserts that it “is very important” that Paul VI consulted the 199 bishops in Rome for the first session of his novel “universal synod” because “one of the accusations repeated most often after the publication of Humanae Vitae was that the pope decided to act alone, in a manner that was not collegial.”
Since when is it wrong for a Pope to act alone in reaffirming a constant and thus infallible teaching of the ordinary Magisterium on fundamental morality? Since when is a Pope in any way obliged to consult a couple of hundred bishops gathered in Rome before he reaffirms the Church’s infallible teaching? Since the novelty of “collegiality” was introduced at Vatican II — a vague neologism which implies, but obviously cannot mandate, that a kind of parliamentary episcopal involvement is necessary for the validity or acceptance of a papal teaching on faith and morals.
Wooden notes, as if it mattered for the truth of the teaching, that according to Marengo’s research, of the 25 responses received from the bishops in Rome, “only seven bishops asked Paul to repeat the Catholic Church’s teaching against the use of contraceptives.” So what? It wouldn’t have mattered if all 25 responses advocated a change in the teaching. A change was, and is, impossible.
Wooden further notes that Marengo’s research shows that among the other 18 responses was “a joint U.S. response from Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, Archbishop John Dearden of Detroit and Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh,” which exhibited “an openness to the use of artificial birth control in some circumstances, however ‘none of them would say that using the pill is a good thing,’ Marengo told Catholic News Service.”
If using the Pill is not a good thing, then it must be a bad thing. But how can a bad thing be justified “in some circumstances,” given that one may never do evil that some good will supposedly come of it? This is nothing but the same sort of situation ethics that, thanks to Francis, now divides and confuses the Church on the matter of divorce and “remarriage.”
Marengo further asserts — and this is quite ominous — that Pope Paul “found himself in a situation that was not easy. His judgment had matured, and he felt obliged in conscience to express it in virtue of his apostolic ministry, knowing well that going in that direction would place him at a predictable and painful distance from sectors of the Church community that were not marginal.”
Translation: The Modernist ecclesial subversives who opposed HV were Catholics in good standing, not marginal dissenters from the infallibly proclaimed truth about the intrinsic evil of contraception, which Paul would have had to affirm even if the entire hierarchy and the entire population of the world had been against him.
Next, Marengo all but tips his hand. As Wooden reports: “For Marengo, the process of drafting Humanae Vitae cannot be understood without recognizing the changes in the Church unleashed by the Second Vatican Council, including on the theme of marriage and parenthood.”
Off we go! Vatican II, with its illusory “changes” in Church teaching that cannot be changed, strikes again.
Quoth Marengo: “Since the council in Gaudium et Spes recognized ‘responsible parenthood’ as a value – changing in a fundamental way the vision of marriage – the idea of many was that it required a change in the Church’s sexual morality as well.”
No ecumenical council, no Pope, no one at all, has the power of “changing in a fundamental way the vision of marriage,” especially not by the mere coining of the empty phrase “responsible parenthood.”
Marengo next declares, according to Wooden, that HV’s “emphasis on the ‘inseparable connection’ between the ‘unitive and the procreative’ qualities of married love… marked a significant change in Church teaching from before Vatican II; previously, the Church taught that the primary purpose of marriage was for procreation.”
Previously but no longer? After HV procreation suddenly ceased to be the primary purpose of marriage? Utter nonsense, which exposes all of Catholic teaching to the charge that it “evolves” with the passage of time, which notion leads, as Saint Pius X warned in Pascendi, to “An immense collection of sophisms… that ruins and destroys all religion.”
But now the clincher. Marengo, as Wooden reports, argues that:
Paul’s personal work in rewriting the encyclical’s “pastoral directives” also reflects the teaching of Vatican II… Previously, “the magisterial task was to explain, and the pastoral task was to tell people to accept. ‘You must obey’ was the classic pastoral approach.” But, he said, “Pope Paul broke this schema, saying, ‘I will explain the teaching and if you try to understand it, you will see that it is true and is what is best for you.’”
There we have it: the groundwork is being laid for a revisionist understanding of HV according to which it does not command any obedience to a negative precept of the natural law from which no one is exempt under any circumstances, under pain of mortal sin, but rather merely advises the faithful “what is best” for them, avoiding altogether the matter of sin.
Compare this rubbish with the teaching of Pius XI in Casti Connubii:
“But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.
“Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes: ‘Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it.’“Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”
This is the true teaching of the Magisterium, now under attack from the very summits of the Church. And that attack is yet another sign of what Cardinal Ciappi, whose wholly traditional draft of Paul’s encyclical on contraception was blocked at the last minute, called an apostasy that “begins at the top.”
Hat Tip to Remnant reader John Seiler for alerting me to Wooden’s article.