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We affirm Humanae Vitae’s noble vision
SIR – In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued a re-affirmation of central aspects of the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality. The encyclical Humanae Vitae affirmed, in harmony with the Church’s traditional teaching, the purity and beauty of the spousal act, always open to procreation and always unitive.
Humanae Vitae predicted that if artificial contraception became widespread and commonly accepted by society then we would lose our proper understanding of marriage, the family, the dignity of the child and of women, and even a proper appreciation of our bodies and the gift of male and female. The Holy Father warned that governments would begin to utilise coercive methods to control what is most private and intimate. At the time of the publication of Humanae Vitae many rejected its message and its warnings. Many found the teaching that the use of contraception was in all cases “absolutely excluded” and “intrinsically wrong” difficult to accept and challenging to proclaim. Fifty years later so much has unfolded in our society that has been to the detriment of human life and love. Many have come to appreciate again the wisdom of the Church’s teaching.
As priests we desire to affirm on this 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae the noble vision of procreative love as the Catholic Church has always taught and understood it. We believe a proper “human ecology”, a rediscovery of the way of nature and respect for human dignity, is essential for the future of our people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. We propose discovering anew the message of Humanae Vitae, not only in fidelity to the Gospel, but as a key to the healing and true development of our society.
Fr Robert Farrell, Fr Timothy Finigan, Fr David Marsden, Fr Francis Marsden, Fr John Saward, Fr David Palmer, Fr Andrew Pinsent, Mgr Gordon Read, Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Fr Michael Woodgate and 452 others priests (see catholicherald.co.uk for the full list of signatories)
An alternative to abortion in Ireland
SIR – Many people who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Irish referendum were impressed by suffering women who had opted for abortion in their crisis pregnancies (Cover story, June 1). The Irish government now opts for abortion on demand as a quick-fix solution to this problem. The experience of many countries is that this “solution” creates many more problems.
As an alternative to this recurring difficulty may I suggest that the department of health provide an alternative to abortion? It could do so in this affluent age by providing assistance to the women so afflicted – financial, as well as medical and psychological aid. Logic alone cries out that women, with their maternal instincts, will naturally opt to love their conceived babies.
In bygone years, with plentiful vocations, a cash-strapped government relied heavily on nuns, with frugal subsidies, to care for women and their infants in workhouses and mother-and-baby homes. Health services were sub-standard then, resulting in high mortality rates for infants and mothers.
The government could now provide mother and baby homes, with all services included, and an emphasis on privacy for the women, or provide services for those women who opt to live on their own. When their babies are born, the choice would be to retain their babies or put them up for adoption.
A practical and beneficial spin-off of this scheme would be that infertile couples could adopt “unwanted” babies in Ireland, sparing them the ordeal of travelling abroad at great expense and having to cope with intricate legal restrictions.
Politicians should consider and debate this alternative scheme, as our own government seems to be completely fixed
Fr Con McGillicuddy
SIR – Your leading article of June 1 blames the size of the Irish abortion vote partly on the clerical abuse crisis. I think the opposite. Delinquent clergy form a minute percentage of sexual abusers of children. The reason why they and their bishops are forever in the pillory is that the vociferous people who put them there ignore the shrewd advice of Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ (I, 25): ‘‘Especially study to avoid and overcome those faults which most displease you in other people.” The pot is here blacker than the kettle.
Critics of the Church are understandably revolted by clerical delinquency. So are the Church authorities, who, from the Pope down, have recognised the abuse for what it is and taken all measures possible to stem it.
Meanwhile, critics of the Church tolerate the systematic killing of children totally unprotected because not yet born. Those experienced in the psychology of pots know that there is usually some hidden motive for their indignation at the blackness of kettles.
SIR – Contrary to an otherwise well-written article, Andrew Tettenborn (Feature, June 1) suggests that the concept of reasonable adjustments was proposed by John Duddington in 2015. In fact, this legal concept originates in Canadian legal jurisprudence going back nearly 40 years and is presently used in the UK in disability discrimination under the Equality Act.
This framework could help in the Northern Irish Ashers Baking v Lee case, by finding practicable solutions to contested human rights: that no one should ever be forced to use their artistic skill for an act that causes moral guilt and discomfort, within limits, but especially when it is based on a fundamental religious worldview (falling under the right to freedom of conscience and religion), and when the only practicable harm caused was the hindrance of calling and/or visiting another bakery (not discrimination based on sexual orientation, since Ashers was willing to provide any cake for Mr Lee, just not one with the message “Support Gay Marriage”).
Forcing citizens to perform an act which their conscience finds morally repugnant runs against the grain of liberal democracy, and slides into the policies of totalitarian regimes. The House of Lords’ Clearing the Ground inquiry into whether Christians are being discriminated found that there is a failure to achieve sufficient accommodation for religious belief.
As a plural society, it is time that equality law ceases to be applied so bluntly as to repress religious belief below all other rights; reasonable accommodation may just be the answer.
Spoilt in Preston
SIR – We sympathise with Chris Evans (Letter, June 1), who finds the timing of Masses is not convenient for people in full-time employment. He evidently doesn’t live in the vicinity of a Jesuit parish. At St Wilfrid’s in Preston town centre there are daily Masses at 8.30 am, 12.15 pm and 5.35 pm – all preceded by the opportunity for Confession.
Catholics in Preston have enjoyed this service from the Society of Jesus for as long as we can remember. We are indeed very fortunate.
Michael and Mary Donlan
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